Demetrius of Phalerum

demetrius

Philosopher, Rhetorician, Statesman (c.350 BC – c.280 BC)

Demetrius of Phalerum was a statesman, orator, rhetorician and writer, member of the Peripatetic School of philosophy and student of Theophrastus, who served as epistates of Athens under the rule of Cassander. He is best known in history for being one of the greatest rhetoricians and writers of the 4th century BC and the founder of the Library of Alexandria together with Ptolemy I Soter.

As an epistates, he ruled Athens for 10 years, proving to be a skilled governor. He increased the total financial income of Athens, passed into law numerous social innovations, conducted the very first census in recorded history and beautified Athens as a city overall. Legend says that he was so well received by the Athenians that 360 statues of him were made, one for each day of the year, as a token of appreciation.

Demetrius’ role as an epistates of Athens ended in 307 BC when Demetrius the Poliorcetes arrived in Piraeus escorted by 20 ships and took control over Athens. Demetrius of Phalerum initially fled to Thebes and then to Egypt, where he befriended Ptolemy I Soter. Demetrius’ life long dream to create the greatest spiritual center of Hellenism, where all knowledge in the world could be stored in one place earned Ptolemy’s approval and thus, in 300 BC, works for the Library of Alexandria began being implemented.

Having been governor of Athens, Demetrius knew very well the function and organization of a library as he had studied most likely in the Lyceum of Aristotle. In addition to the Library, which would become the storehouse of all knowledge man had acquired at the time, Demetrius founded the “Musaeum”, a university within the Library of Alexandria dedicated to the 9 Muses, based on the principles of the Athenian schools. Undoubtedly, his influence in Alexandria was significant. He was in the epicenter of the spiritual life of Alexandria. He wrote an estimated 45 historical, rhetorical, philosophical and political works, none of which survive today, wrote commentaries and critiques on ancient texts, advocated the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphic chronicles to Greek and encouraged the study of letters in Egypt.

Demetrius of Phalerum inaugurated a new era to the Alexandrians. He transferred his love of letters and knowledge to them, promoting the arts and sciences to a great extent that had never before been done. Many of the Alexandrian philosophers and scientists were influenced by him either directly as students or by means of his works. It is thanks to his efforts that Alexandria became the world’s largest and grandest spiritual center of its time.

Bibliography

    1. “Demetrius Phalereus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
    2. Δημήτριος ο Φαληρεύς : Ο φιλόσοφος που διετέλεσε επιμελητής της πόλης των Αθηνών. Αυτόχθονες Ἐλληνες. Autochthonesellhnes.blogspot.gr. Web. May 11, 2014.

 

Demetrius of Phalerum

St. Theodore of Tarsus

0919_theodore-of-canderbury-

Philosopher, Theologist, Archbishop of Canterbury (602 – 690)

Theodore was a Byzantine Greek born in Tarsus of Asia Minor. Serving as the 7th Archbishop of Canterbury for over 20 years, he created the English Church and laid the foundations of the Anglo-Saxon philology. He was called “the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed” because he became the first to control the whole English Church as one. He has been canonized by the Catholic Church.

He studied mathematics, philosophy and astronomy in Athens and Constantinople and earned the title of philosopher. His work as a reformer of the English Church began at age 60, when he was called up by Pope Vitalian from Rome to become Archbishop of Canterbury following his predecessor’s death. Theodore set out for England, only to find the Church completely disorganized as a result of the crisis that had broken out because of local pagans.

His first move was to organize the country; he made visitation to all churches of the English nation and divided the country into parishes and dioceses, appointing capable priests and bishops in charge. With the Council of Hertford in 673, he passed numerous reforms that put order and discipline back to the Church, the monasteries and the people and passed legislations forbidding bishops to interfere with other dioceses. Moreover, he made Easter an obligatory celebration, disconnected the Church from the movement of the Monothelites and implemented the teaching of music and sacred learning in the churches. Thus, Theodore managed to create one single, unified Church out of the many, heterogeneous ones that existed independently throughout England.

Theodore not only possessed strong administrative skills, but was also a cultivated man of letters. He founded schools throughout the entire country, the most famous school of Greek and Latin being in Canterbury, and promoted art and sciences in the monasteries. Theodore, together with Abbot Adrian, taught all the sciences themselves, including astronomy, Greek language and philosophy, music and arithmetic. Thanks to his reforms, the English Church became a center of culture that helped the development of Christianity as well as the dissemination and integration of the Greek language in England. None of his successors ever made any changes to the system which he had created.

Bibliography

  1. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury. New Advent. Newadvent.org. Web.
  2. Νέος Συναξαριστής της Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας”, υπό ιερομονάχου Μακαρίου Σιμωνοπετρίτου, εκδ. Ίνδικτος (τόμος πρώτος – Σεπτέμβριος, σ. 205-206)
  3. Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. September 19, St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, Confessor. Bartleby.com. Web.
  4. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Saint Theodore of Canterbury. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web.
St. Theodore of Tarsus

Germanos III of Old Patras

Palaion_Patron_Germanos

Priest, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1771 – 1826)

Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras, member of the Philiki Hetaireia and the figure most closely associated with beginning the Greek War of Independence on March 25th, 1821.

He was born in Dimitsana as Georgios Kontzias or Gozias to a poor family of goldsmiths and farmers. He studied among the most renowned and respected teachers of his time in Dimitsana and then in the city of Argos. While in Argos, he was named deacon Germanos and stayed there as a monk for seven years. He later moved to Smyrna and then in Constantinople, serving as arch-deacon. In 1806 he was appointed Metropolitan of Old Patras, the highest rank of priesthood. With this rank he became a protector of the citizens and an advisor of the Turkish leaders of the local areas.

His significant diplomatic and nationalist work for the Greek War of Independence began in 1818 when he joined the Philiki Hetaireia, a secret society formed for the War. He went on to recruit many chieftains and metropolitans from Central Greece and raise the necessary money for the funding of the War. Despite his active involvement in the society, he believed that Greece was not yet ready for a revolution. He changed his mind when he realized that the Turks were surrounding the Peloponnese.

In March 1821, he traveled to Patras, Peloponnese to unite all priests of the Orthodox Chruch against the Turkish army. With the city under siege, Germanos united the priests and the chieftains, sent a letter to the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Austria) informing them that they will fight for freedom or die and blessed the Greek flag and armaments. Thanks to Germanos, the revolution had already started in the Peloponnese and on March 25th, 1821, he officially declared the Greek War of Independence in the monastery of Hagia Lavra.

Germanos continued his struggle for the independence of Greece for the remainder of his life. He took place in the First and Third National Assembly and later went to Italy with Georgios Mavromichalis to persuade the Pope to support the revolution. Although he was prevented from doing so, he managed to meet and unite several Greeks living in Italy for the causes of the revolution. His continuous acts of diplomacy and conciliation in the Greek and European field provided important physical and mental support for the success of the revolution.

His contribution to Greek history is also significant due to his memoirs, which chronicle the events from the preparation for the revolution until 1823 and provide detailed insights to the Greek War of Independence. Greek historian Ioannis Philemon described Germanos as “pure in his priesthood, zealous in his struggles and righteous in his politics”.

Bigliography:

  1. “Germanos”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. “Palaion Patron Germanos”. Sansimera. Web. 14 Jul. 2017.

 

Germanos III of Old Patras

Anaximenes

anaximenes

Philosopher, Physicist, Astronomer (c.585 BC – c.525 BC)

Anaximenes, the third and chronologically last of the great Milesian philosphers, was a pre-Socratic philosopher and student of Anaximander. He exerted important influence on pre-Socratic philosophy with his theory on the genesis of the cosmos. The thesis that air is the origin of life is unique and belongs to him.

Before Socrates, philosophy was almost exclusively focused in studying nature. Hence, philosophers back then were synonymous to physiologists (from φύσις + λόγος/ the science of nature). Anaximenes was primarily influenced by his predecessors Thales and Anaximander but introduced his own principles in philosophy. He believed that air was the first principle and that all life comes from air. He based in theory on 3 observations that he made: 1) Air is the most abundant element in nature, 2) air surrounds everything, 3) without air, every living organism would die. Anaximenes asserted that the quality of matter depends on the different quantity and distribution of air caused by motion. As such, it is the difference of air quantity and distribution that creates different beings. Because the Greeks considered the first principle as God, Anaximenes believed air to be the Divine principle. An ancient writer asserts that Anaximenes indeed believed air to be God

Another theory of Anaximenes was the following: Air lacks characteristics and is invisible when motioness. However, when in motion, it manifests in the form of temperature, humidity and velocity. For example, if air becomes thinner, it turns into fire. If it condenses, it creates clouds that produce water. If condensed even more, water transforms into earth and then stone. According to Anaximenes, all varieties are attributed to motion of air, which creates condensation or dillution.

Apart from philosophy, an indistinguishable part of science at the time, Anaximenes had a particular interest in physics and meteorology. He suggested that the planets are held in place by the atmosphere and that the moon reflects the light of the Sun. He presented correct theories on the formation of snow and hail from frozen rainwater, explained that lightning was formed when air was thinned out to fire, was the first to explain correctly how the rainbow was formed and the first to note that the rainbow could also be formed by the moonlight. Moreover, he attempted to provide an explanation for the earthquakes and the eclipse of the Sun.

In astronomy and cosmogony, he attempted to explain the creation of the universe, creating his own cosmogonic model. He theorized that the Earth, which was created by air, was trapezoid in shape and that the world turns like a mill. The sun and the stars rotated around the Earth like a hat rotates around the head. Much like the Earth, the celestial bodies were flat bodies that floated in air.

Today, even though his theory of air being the primordial element of the world is not accepted as scientifically correct, his influence in philosophy up until the 18th century was significant, especially his meteorological findings. For instance, Stephen Hales in his book “Vegetable Statics” in 1727, influenced by Anaximenes’ theory writes “Air takes part in the composition of bodies wherein it is found in a solid form without its elasticity. Air is the universal link of nature”. The fact that Anaximenes came up with the theory that beings differ from one another due to their difference in air density and distribution makes him the forerunner of the atomic theory.

Bibliography

  1. “Anaximenes”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Graham, David. Anaximenes. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Iep.utm.edu. Web.
  3. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  4. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Athens: Hilektron Publications, 2014. Print.
Anaximenes

Michael Kokkinis

Engineer, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (c. 1785 – 1826)

One of the most obscure heroes of the Greek War of Independence, albeit one of the brilliant minds of modern engineering and important figures of war; he was responsible for the fortification of Missolonghi during the siege.

Kokkinis was born in the island of Chios. He studied engineering in France and then taught mathematics, geography and site planning in the Greek School of Bucharest. He was fluent in Greek, Italian, German, French and Romanian. It was during this time that Kokkinis was initiated into Philiki Hetaireia and fought in the revolution of Wallachia alongside Alexandros Hypsilantis. Following the defeat of the Greeks against the Ottomans in the battle of Dragashani, he went to offer his services in Missolonghi.

In Missolonghi, he was assigned by Alexandros Mavrokordatos to fortify the city for the siege of the Ottoman army. Despite the lack of funding and the difficult living conditions, Kokkinis took on the immense task along with fellow architect Stavros Koutzoukis.

The construction took 7 continuous months to complete. Kokkinis proved a surprisingly competent leader as he directed 400 workers day and night, including men and women. He had divided his workforce according to their profession and published a daily list of duties to be carried out by each unit. He gave inspirational speeches to motivate his workers, who often worked with very little payment. He was responsible for the work shifts and wages of the 400 workers as well as obtaining funding from philhellenes and external loans.

His influence was such that every citizen of Missolongi contributed to the fortification, even children and seniors. They called him “The Fence Engineer”. Later, Kokkinis even brought his wife and children from Wallachia to finish the construction.

The fortification consisted of 23 external bastions which covered a total distance of 2 km. Each bastion was named after an influential figure of the revolution as a tribute and token of respect. The wall was built out of stone and asbestos and was covered by wooden barriers between the gaps. It was 3,5 meters tall and 7-18 meters wide. Outside the wall, he dug two 2 meter ditches, a small road and a bank. Finally, the fortress was armed with 48 cannons, placed throughout the 2 km wall. It was completed in June 16, 1824 and was blessed by Joseph, Bishop of Rogon. It was named “Hellenic Heptagon No.1”. The people of Missolonghi declared him honorary citizen and the government appointed him the rank of tribune.

Moreover, Kokkinis fortified the nearby lakes surrounding Missolongi in order to block the Ottoman fleet from entering. He called the fortifications “Fortress Byron”, in honor of Lord Byron who funded them. Finally, he created bridges that would be used when the time came to evacuate the city.

The fortress posed impregnable for the Ottoman and Egyptian army. It sustained all of the attacks during the two sieges. Every night, the people of Missolonghi would re-build the fortress from the ruins of their demolished houses. Kokkinis would step outside the wall to oversee its construction. Tunnelers would pass under the fortress and blow up the Ottoman camps.

On April 11, 1826, the heroic Exodus of Missolonghi took place. Using the bridges he had constructed, the people of Missolonghi charged towards the enemy. Kokkinis died fighting during the Exodus, alongside the many unsung heroes of the Greek War of Independence.

Bibliography:

  1. “Kokkinis, Michael”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Philistor, Ioannis. “Ο μηχανικός Μιχαήλ Κοκκίνης και η οχύρωση του τείχους του Μεσολογγίου (1823-1824)”. Istorikathemata. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
  3. Retsina, Dimitra. “Μιχαήλ Πέτρου Κοκκίνης – Μηχανικός Επιστήμων και Ήρωας Εξόδου Μεσολογγίου (1826)”. Freepen. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
  4. Tasios, Theodosios. “Three Modern Greek Heralds of Engineering”. Archaeology and Arts. Jul. 2011: 97. Print.
Michael Kokkinis

Demetrios Galanos

Dimitrios_Galanos

Philosopher, Indologist (1760 – 1833)

Demetrios Galanos was the first and most renowned Greek Indologist and Brahmin, having spent 47 years of his life in India, researching and translating the Hindu culture and religion as well as popularizing their philosophy.

Galanos was born in Athens. He studied Greek philology, theology and music in Athens, Mesolonghi, Patmos and Constantinople before settling in India in 1786 after invitation by a wealthy Greek merchant from Calcutta to work as a teacher for his children. Galanos studied the Hindu religion and philosophy, especially the Vedas, learned Sanskrit, Persian and a number of other Eastern languages.

In 1793 he settled in the holy city of Benares where he became a Brahmin and lived an ascetic life of meditation and virtue alongside the other Brahmins. He was honoured as a sage and a saint by the Brahmins and the peoples alike.

His life-long work consists of translations of the Hindu philosophy, including the Vedas from Sanskrit to Greek. He compiled dictionaries of Greek-English-Sanscrit language, lexicons and books on their mythology. His books were donated to the Academy of Athens, which created the Library of the University of Athens, 4 years prior to the University’s foundation using his collection. In return to the knowledge he acquired from the Indians, Galanos, being a Greek philologist and philosopher, disseminated the Greek philosophy to them to the point where he was called the “Plato of his time”. The Greek mythology and the Greek philosophers, such as Pythagoras and Isocrates, became known to the Indians thanks to Galanos.

Galanos became the first European Indologist ever recorded in history; his works introduced the Hindu studies in Europe, which were unfamiliar prior to his contribution. Although he never returned to Greece after his departure to India, he kept contact with his family and friend in Greece, who kept him updated on the events of the Greek War of Independence. He died in Benares, where he is buried, 3 years after learning of the independence of Greece.

Bibliography

  1. “Galanos, Demetrios”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Kargakos, S.Ι., 1994, Δημήτριος Γαλανός ο Αθηναίος (1760-1833)-ο Πρώτος Ευρωπαίος Ινδολόγος, Gutenberg. Athens. Print.
Demetrios Galanos

Geminus

Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer (c.110 BC – c.40 BC)

Geminus was a polymath from Rhodes. He studied in the philosophic school of Poseidonius and was initiated into the Stoic philosophy. Geminus wrote numerous books on mathematics and astronomy, only fragments of which survive today.

Although he was mistaken for Roman because of his seemingly Latin name, he was purely Greek as his name’s true origin suggests (from γέμος/gemos = φορτίον/ load). His primary field of interest was astronomy and mathematics. He wrote the book Isagogue to the Phenomena or Introduction to Astronomy, which fully survives. It contains the most important theories of ancient Greek astronomy, serving as a simple astronomical textbook. It includes commentaries on the works of Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer who ever lived as well as detailed descriptions on the constellations, the variation of on the length of day and night at different latitudes, rising of the signs of the zodiac cycle and the lunar month’s length. Furthermore, Geminus explains the solar and lunar eclipses, the motion of the planets and the weather prognostications connected with the movement of stars.

His books Epitome on Poseidononius’ Meteorological Explanations and On the order of Mathematics survive only in fragments. The latter is a book on the history of mathematics. It features works on arithmetics and geometry, as well as applied mathematics such as logistics, geodesy, harmony, optics, mechanics and astronomy. In it, Geminus provides historical data on how mathematical terms such as hypothesis, axiom, theorem, figure, angle etc were founded. This mathematic encyclopaedia was one Proclus’ most valuable tools on mathematics since he quotes it extensively in his own works. It was also used extensively by Eutocius and Heron of Alexandria.

Geminus’ mathematical and astronomical work, while not as influential as his predecessors, exerted great influence to the mathematicians and philosophers of the late antiquity. Today, a crater on the moon bears the name “Geminus” in his honour.

Bibliography:

  1. D.R. Dicks. Geminus. Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Encyclopaedia.com. Web.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  3. Tziropoulou, Anna Eustathiou. Ἀρχιγένεθλος Ἑλληνικὴ Γλῶσσα. Georgiades, Athens: 2011. Print.
  4. J J O’Connor, E F Robertson. Geminus. University of St. Andrews, Scotland. www-groups.dsc.St-and.ac.uk. Web.
Geminus