Georgios Jakobides

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Painter, Scholar (1853 – 1932)

Georgios Jakobides was one of the chief representatives of the Munich School. His paintings have earned him the nickname “Painter of Childhood” because they depict scenes with children. He held a significant number of powerful positions in the academia, allowing him to influence and direct the art movement in Greece. He is considered one of the most important oil painters of modern Greece.

He was born in the island of Lesbos in the then Ottoman Empire. He studied sculpture and painting in Athens. One of his teachers there was Nicephorus Lytras. After earning a scholarship, he continued his studies in Munich. There, he founded his own art school for girls. He was member of the German Museum of Nuremberg.

Jakobides painted primarily sceneries from everyday life, which included children, flowers, nature and in-door places. He also painted portraits. Some of his most well-known paintings are The Naughty Grandson, Girl with Distaff and Spindle, The First Steps, The Flower Seller, Grandma’s Favourite, Children’s Concert, Cold Shower, Reversal of Roles, The Smoker, Granddaughter’s Combing and The Toilette. His paintings were characterized by realism expressed through movement, vivid colours and lighting.

He was the recipient of numerous achievement awards, namely the golden medal of Athens in 1888, the honour award from Bremen in 1890, the economian award of Trieste in 1895, the golden medal of Paris in 1900, the excellence award of Letters and Art in 1914 and many others. He became the first headmaster of the National Art Gallery of Athens in 1900 and was a professor of fine arts in the University of Athens. With the foundation of the Academy of Athens in 1926, he was chosen as one of its initial 38 members. Jakobides was one of the few wealthy painters in Greece as well as the most beloved painter of the royal family as shown by several of his portraits of the Kings and Queens of Greece.

By the end of his life, he had painted almost 200 paintings. Today they are found in museums all around the world, primarily in Greece and America.

Bibliography

  1. Uzunoglou, Maria-Zografou. ΙΑΚΩΒΙΔΗΣ!!Ο ΖΩΓΡΑΦΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΠΑΙΔΙΩΝ!!. ΤΕΧΝΗ ΚΑΙ ΖΩΗ. Texni-zoi.blogspot.bg. Web. November 7, 2014.
Georgios Jakobides

Strabo

strabo-1

Philosopher, Geographer, Historian (63 BC – 24 AD)

Strabo came from Amasya of Pontus. He was a Stoic philosopher, but he is mostly remembered today for his work as a geographer and a historian. Nearly all of the information drawn from his life comes from his own work. He was a contemporary of Poseidonius.

He studied in Caria, Rome and Alexandria and travelled to many different places of the world, from Italy to Syria and from the Euxine Pontus to Aethiopia. Based on his travels, he wrote his magnum opus consisting of 17 books called Geographica. With this work is remained in history, as it was the Bible of geography throughout the ages. It contains scientific geographical data on nearly the entire known world at the time, except for the Americas. The first two books contain the definition and the methodology of geography, as well as a short description on the history of geography. In the following books he proceeds with descriptions of the entire Mediterranean, starting from Iberia and Gaul and going north to Great Brittain, Ireland, Thule and the Alps. Moreover, he provides with detailed descriptions on Italy, Sicily, the pardanubian territories, the Balkans and Greece before passing to the lands of Asia, beginning with the Caucasian lands and going to Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Africa, Egypt and India.

Additionally, Strabo compiled information on the ethnographic background of each country, their agricultural and industrial activities, the histories of their cities, geological phenomena such as the volcanic landscapes of Italy and Sicily, the tides of Iberia, the rise and fall of the waters of Nile etc and attempted to identify the cities mentioned by Homer in his epics. His main purpose of writing this massive treatise was to show what the earth of each country gave to its peoples and what these peoples did with it.

Strabo also wrote another treatise called Historical Sketches consisting of 47 books of historical content. The books chronicle the history starting from the Carthagean war in 146 BC until the foundation of the Roman Empire. It is considered to be a follow-up of Polybius’ Histories. In constrast to Geographica, only a number of fragmnets survive.

His work exerted a great influence in geographic science in the Roman and Middle Ages. His books were reprinted all over Europe during the Renaissance and continue to this day to be an invaluable geographic source of the ancient world.

Bibliography

  1. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  2. Lasserre, Francois. Strabo. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web.
  3. “Strabon”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
Strabo

Manto Mavrogenous

manto_mavrogenous

Heroine of the Greek War of Independence (1796 – 1848)

Manto Mavrogenous was one of the few women who distinguished in the Greek War of Independence. She descended from the wealthy Phanariot family Mavrogenis (meaning Blackbeard), who was involved with commerce. She spent her entire family’s fortune to support the Greeks in the war, ending up poor and forgotten.

She was born in Trieste. When the Greek War of Independence began, her family moved to Paros and Manto was initiated into the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia). She actively joined the war and contributed initially by clearing the Aegean archipelago from Turkish and Algerian pirates with her fleet. Afterwards, she funded the equipment of Mykonian ships, with which she participated in battles in Karystos, Pylion, Leivadia and Phthiotis. In 1822 she led the Mykonians into battle against the Algerian invasion in Mykonos. The same year, as captain of her own private navy, Manto descended to Peloponessus where she fought in battles dressed as a man. For a woman, this was very radical, at the time. She was recognized as the spirit of the Greek War of Independence of Mykonos.

As a result of her huge economic support to the Greek War of Independence, her governing skills in the navy and her epistles to French and English women for their support in the War, Manto’s name became very popular in Europe. Her contribution in the battles has been written extensively by foreign historians. Shortly after the nation’s independence, she was appointed leutenant general by John Kapodistrias as well as inspector of the orphanage of Aegina.

In the end, Manto had given everything she owned for the freedom of the nation. She had even given all her jewlery so that 2000 people from Messolonghi would be nursed and sheltered. In her own words, she said “It is not important what I will become, as long as my country is free. After I give everything I can provide for the holy cause of freedom, I will go to the battlefield of the Greeks to die if it is needed”. She died of typhus in Nauplion, in a house she had been granted by the government in utter poverty.

Bibliography

  1. Konstantaras, Konstantinos. Το Άδοξο Τέλος των Αγωνιστών του 21᾿. Hilektron Publications: Athens, 2016. Print.
  2. Lampsidis, Georgios. Μαντώ Μαυρογένους – Μια μαύρη σελίδα της επανάστασης του 1821. History of Macedonia. History-of-macedonia.com. Web. February 17, 2011.
Manto Mavrogenous

Julian

julian

Philosopher, Byzantine Emperor (331 – 363)

Flavius Claudius Julianus was Caesar of the Roman Empire and Emperor of the Byzantine Empire during the latter’s first years of establishment. He was also a Neoplatonic philosopher with rich philosophic and scientific work. The Christians gave him the name “Apostate”, which they use to this day, because he did not accept Christianity. He was the only Byzantine Emperor who opposed Christianity as the new state religion and struggled to revive the Ancient Greek religion, philosophy and spirit, in spite of being Emperor only 20 months.

He was born in Constantinople and was the nephew of Constantine, the first Byzantine Emperor. He studied philosophy, rhetoric and science in Athens, then returned to Constantinople where he served as Caesar of the Roman Empire from 335 to 360 together with Constantius II and then alone from 361 until his death in 363.

Julian was the only Byzantine Emperor who was not a Christian. He reigned at a time when Hellenism was being hunted down in favour of Christianity that was quickly gaining a fertile ground and imposed as the new religion. Followers of the “old religion” were persecuted and their temples destroyed. Julian saw this as a threat against the Hellenic thought and decided to take actions to stop the dissemination of Christianity.

Aside from his military and economical reforms, by far the largest part of his politics was aimed at reviving the Greek civilization. He issued proclamation on the freedom of worshiping all religions, banned Christians from teaching in public education or occupying positions in politics and the military and obliged them to pay for the damages they had done on the Ancient Greek temples. Numerous Greek cities began regaining their former glory. Festivals and games in Olympias, Delphi and Antioch were revived, temples and cities that were mere ruins were repaired such as Athens, Macedonia, Epirus, Nicopolis, Eleusis and philosophic schools were protected by edict. Philosophers and priests were sent throughout the empire to promote the Greek civilization, which they successfully accomplished without bloodshed.

In parallel, Julian was involved with Neoplatonism, a continuation of the Platonic philosophy established by Plotinus and Iamblichus. He wrote numerous treatises on philosophy and astronomy as well as hymns and publicly supported Aristarchus’ heliocentric model.

Julian was not against Christianity; rather, he wanted to bring an order so that both religions were practiced. In his own words, he did not want the Christians to be killed, beaten or treated badly. He founded public hotels where people were treated independently of their religion. He did not forbid Christians to practice their religion nor did he persecute them, as he was against violence. Indeed, Christians were tolerant to his reforms.

During his last days as Emperor he embarked on an expedition to Mesopotamia to defeat the Persians. He was assassinated by a Christian on the way back. Shortly after, his reforms did not last and the situation was reverted back to how it originally was before his reign as Emperor. Destruction, persecutions and slaughter continued, reaching the apex with the destruction of the Library of Antioch by the Christians.

Julian remains a controversial figure who distinguished for his military and spiritual virtues. His big love for Greece and his ill efforts to reconcile the tensions between the two religions resulted to much unnecessary hate against him, even by modern scholars. The goal of his life to revive the Greek spirit would not be realized until 1000 years later by Georgios Plethon – Gemistus.

Bibliography

  1. Ayfantis, Georgios. Ο Βωμός της Ελπίδος. Hellenikon Selas: Athens, 2007. Print.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  3. Ιουλιανός,o Μέγας. Ένας πραγματικός Έλληνας. Theasis.gr. Web.
  4. Stewart Henry Perowne, Christian Kopff. Julian. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web.
Julian

Saints Cyril & Methodius

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Theologists, Missionaries (826 and 815 – 869 and 885)

Constantine and Michael were two brothers from Thessaloniki, theologists and missionaries, who under the order of Emperor Michael disseminated Orthodox Christianity to the Slavs and created their first alphabet, the Glagolitic. While their work’s importance in Greece is somewhat negligible, they are considered as the most important saints of all in the Slavic civilization.

During the 9th century, when Emperor Ratsislav of Moravia sought help from the Byzantine Empire to neutralize the Franco-Bulgarian alliance that had posed as a threat to his empire, he turned to Byzantine Emperor Michael, who chose 2 theologists to introduce Orthodox Christianity to Great Moravia and translate its teachings to Slavic language, as part of a treaty, in return for the Byzantine Empire’s support. These two theologists were brothers Constantine and Michael. Constantine had graduated from the University of Constantinople with a degree in philosophy. Because of his ease to learn languages very quickly, he had great success as a diplomat of the Byzantine Empire with the Arabs and the Khazars. Michael, the older brother, had a familiarity with the Slavic language having worked in the monastery of Polichronos in Asia Minor.

There had been many missionaries from various kingdoms prior to the two brothers that were preaching the word of Jesus Christ. However, Constantine and Michael were the ones to successfully disseminate Christianity to them because they taught it in the Slavs’ own native language. Since there was no written Slavic language, they created the Glagolitic alphabet, the very first alphabet of the Slavs, which was used to translate hundreds of Christian works from Greek to Slavic, including the whole mystery of the Divine Liturgy. Many new words were created using Greek roots to express higher notions and meanings from Christianity. Thus, the Slavs could adore their God and perform the ecclesiastical mysteries in their own language.

Constantine and Michael laid the foundations of the Slavic literature; they transformed it from a language that was limited to expressing daily activities to a language that could express their God’s adoration. Michael translated the entire Old and New Testament as well as the Holy Scripture from Greek to Slavic with the help of two of his students while Constantine wrote numerous original treatises in Slavic.

Constantine and Michael received the highest honours from Pope Nicolas I for their offering to the Slavs. Shortly before his premature death, Constantine received the name Cyril while his brother Michael changed his name to Methodius and continued his work as a missionary in Moravia, preaching Orthodox Christianity and challenging many conservatives of the old religion. Even though he had a respectable amount of followers, Methodius and his students were imprisoned, tortured relentlessly and eventually sold as slaves. Their original alphabet also fell into disuse shortly after Methodius’ death due to its complexity.

The consignment of the two brothers to the Slavic world is enormous and eternal. After their deaths, their students and followers disseminated Christianity and scripture to Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Russia, where they found fertile ground to grow. The Glagolitic alphabet was replaced slowly over the centuries by the Cyrilic, so named in honour of Cyril, made by Climent of Ohrid, one of Methodius’ greatest students. It is the one used to this day by over 10 nations in Europe and Asia. Both earned the title of “equal-to-apostles” and co-patron saints. They were canonized by the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches and are commemorated on May 11th or May 24th.

Bibliography

  1. Άγιος Κύριλλος καὶ Μεθόδιος Φωτιστές των Σλάβων. Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής. Saint.gr. Web.
  2. Gonis, Dimitrios. Ιεραποστολικοί αγώνες των αγίων Κυρίλλου και Μεθοδίου-Αποτίμηση της προσφοράς τους. Βιβλιοθήκη «Πορφυρογέννητος». Apostoliki-diakonia.gr. Web.
Saints Cyril & Methodius

Myron

μυρον

Sculptor (5th century BC)

Myron was one of the greatest sculptors of antiquity, together with Scopas, Pheidias, Polycleitus, Lysippus and Praxiteles. He was born in Eleutheres, Attica and was student of Ageladus of Argus, one of the most renowned sculptors of athletic themes. The great sculptors Pheidias and Polycleitus were also Ageladus’ students.

Myron worked in Athens, where he ran his own business of statues. He received commissions from Asia Minor and Sicily. He worked almost exclusively on bronze. His themes included mostly representations of Gods, heroes, athletes and animals.

Many of Myron’s statues are some of the most well-known in the world today. He built the statues of Athens and Marsyas, which originally stood in the Acropolis of Athens, the statue of Apollo of Ephesus, the statue of Athena with her helmet, the bronze cow that stood in the marketplace of Athens, the statue of the Minotaur and the statue of Ladas, which in antiquity was considered his greatest work. It depicts an Olympic runner falling dead to the ground on the moment of his victory. It was displayed in Olympia. In addition, Myron built 2 statues of Lycinus, a Spartan king who had won in a horse race and a statue in honour of an Olympian.

His most famous sculpture today is the Discobolus, or the Disc Thrower. It depicts a young athlete back swinging a discus at the moment before he is about to throw it. It is considered to be a masterpiece of art because Myron has achieved in depicting the athlete’s most intense moment with his body’s expression, yet his face remains completely unexpressed.

Being a few years older than Pheidias, Myron was considered to be the greatest sculptor of his times. He is often credited with the introduction of realism and vividness in sculptures. During the Roman times, many of his statues were replicated in marble with great accuracy and are displayed today in museums. A large part of his works has still to be discovered.

Bibliography

  1. “Myron”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Ο αρχαίος Έλληνας γλύπτης Μύρων ο Αθηναίος, (περ. 480-440 π.Χ.). ΠΕΡΙ ΤΕΧΝΗΣ Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ. Peritexnisologos.blogspot.bg, Web. April 30, 2016.
  3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Myron. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web.
Myron

Nicholas Christofilos

χριστοφιλος

Physicist (1916 – 1972)

Nicholas Christofilos was an autodidact physicist, a pioneer in the field of accelerator and nuclear physics, who first conceived the strong-focusing principle. The “Crazy Greek” as he was nicknamed by the press, went on to have a highly prestigious career in the United States and his name today is connected with one of the largest space experiments ever conducted on Earth, Operation Argus.

As a child, he would invent improvised radio transmitters. Christofilos graduated from the University of Athens with a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. During the axis occupation in Greece, he worked in an elevator manufacturing company – he would later found his own – and in the meantime, studied physics by himself from various American and German books he could get his hands on. It was then that he made the discovery of the strong-focusing principle of the synchrotron accelerators. His original patents on the synchrotron particle accelerator, a circular accelerator combining electric and magnetic fields to accelerate charged particles in enormous velocities was first patented in 1946. However, it was left unpublished for many years, until scientists across the Atlantic recognized his discovery’s importance and offered him a place in the Brookhaven experimental laboratory.

Having all of a sudden become from an elevator technician in Greece to a nuclear physics researcher in one of the most important research institutes in America, Christofilos began participating in top-secret physics research projects in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The most famous one, which was proposed by him, was Operation Argus. The operation, which was prepared in less than 4 months and was approved by President Eisenhower under complete secrecy, aimed at creating some sort of magnetic “mirror”. Thus, in 1957, in the midst of the Cold War, three atomic bombs were launched into space. Their explosions released countless of high-energy electrons that were entrapped in the Earth’s magnetic field, creating, as Christofilos had predicted, an artificial zone of electrons around the Earth’s magnetosphere between the zones of Van Allen, which lasted for nearly 2 weeks. It turned out to be even more successful than anticipated.

Operation Argus was one of the largest and most impressive space operations ever to be conducted by the American government. The nuclear blasts from the atomic bombs were so strong that disabled every satellite and blacked-out all radars above the North Atlantic, including the Russians’ satellites in orbit. It also marked the first time man created an artificial aurora.

Today, over 200 research papers bear his name, mostly on nuclear fusion such as the proposed Astron, antennas of continental dimensions and particle accelerators. They also include multiple other operations of huge proportions such as: Operation Sanguine, a project on telecommunication with extremely-low frequencies between submarines and Operation Starfish, a nuclear-war scenario project that turned night into day, creating yet another aurora which took 10 years for the Earth’s magnetic field to recover. His principle that was put into action in Operation Argus was named the Christofilos effect after him. He was awarded multiple prizes and recognition for his everlasting contributions to nuclear and particle physics. The fact that he could put his knowledge to effect in such terrifying nuclear experiments proved that he was two things in life: a visionary and a crazy Greek.

Bibliography

  1. Δαγκλής, Ιωάννης. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος: ο τρελο-Έλληνας του πειράματος “Argus”. Secret Real Truth. Thesecretrealtruth.blogspot.com. Web. September 30, 2012.
  2. Lahanas, Michael. Nicholas Constantine Christofilos. Mlahanas.de. Web.
  3. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος, ο «ατομικός» Έλλην πίσω από τους διαστημικούς και πυρηνικούς θριάμβους των ΗΠΑ!. Triklopodia.gr. Web. August 14, 2016.
Nicholas Christofilos