Georgios Joakimoglou

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Physician (1887 – 1979)

During a council in Greece, a German professor said: “You can sleep quietly because Joakimoglou remains sleepless to ensure the safety of your medicine.”

A pioneer of modern pharmacology, he is credited as the first person to combine modern medicine with experimental pharmacology as well as the first person to prove the potential hazards of drugs and modern medicines. His research expanded to fields that had never been researched before.

He was born in Asia Minor in 1887 to an affluent family. He studied medicine in the University of Berlin and chemistry under Nobel prize winner Emil Fischer. He was appointed curator of the pharmacology lab in the University of Berlin in 1913 and Associate Professor of pharmacology in the Medical University of Berlin 1918. He became professor of pharmacology at the same university and then served as director of the university’s pharmacology lab.

In 1928, he was appointed Professor of experimental pharmacology in the University of Athens, director of the biochemical lab at the Greek hospital Evangelismos and became a regular member of the Academy of Athens, among many other honors. He also took over and the Athenian Pharmacology Lab, saving it from closing down.

Throughout his academic career, Joakimoglou published a series of books on pharmacology and numerous papers in medicine. Indicatively, 123 of his papers referred to pharmacology, 10 to physiology, 16 to microbiology and 9 to chemistry and toxicology. He also published several articles on hygiene, microbiology, chemistry, physiology and toxicology in German scientific magazines. At the time, he was one of the most respected and cited academics in Europe.

His biggest contribution was in the field of pharmacology and research. He was the first person to medicate arsphenamine in order to treat syphilis that was plaguing Smyrna. He developed groundbreaking methods of tracing poisonous substances in drugs. These methods were established in the international pharmacological bibliography and made Joakeimoglou a renowned pharmacologist.

He became the first person to research the chemical components of drugs and warn of their addiction and dangers both within and outside the medical establishment. He was responsible for banning by law several drugs and toxic medicines in Greece, including hasish and heroin 25 years earlier than Germany.  He was also able to predict the disastrous hazards of the teratogenic drug thalidomide, which caused over 10,000 infants around the world to die from phocomelia. Thanks to Ioakimoglou, the drug was banned in Greece, saving thousands of lives.

He also became one of the first people to declare legal war against drugs. He served as vice-president and later president of the drug control division of the World Health Organization, inspecting and banning several drugs and hazardous medicines. Furthermore, he proved that several food colouring chemicals caused cancer and objected to their import in Greece.

Joakimoglou’s contribution to the science of medicine and pharmacology was recognized around the world at a very early stage of his life. In 1920, he was invited by prime minister Eleutherios Venizelos to establish and organize the University of Smyrna along with renowned mathematician Constantine Caratheodory. When he presented himself to the high commissioner of Smyrna, the commissioner remarked: “You are very young!”, to which Ioakimoglou replied: “Indeed sir, it is a setback. But trust me, it will improve over time“.

Bibliography

  1. Cosmote Tv. Those Who Dared. Cosmote Tv, 2016. Film.
  2. “Ioakeimoglou”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  3. Laskaratos, Giannis. “Αφιέρωμα Ο Ελληνικός 20ος αιώνας τα πρόσωπα”. Ta Nea, 1999 Web. 29 Jun. 2017.
Georgios Joakimoglou

Konstantinos Tsiklitiras

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Athlete (1888 – 1913)

The greatest athlete in the history of track and field of Greece and the greatest Greek Olympian, Konstantinos Tsiklitiras wrote history as one of the legendary Greek athletes who won 4 medals in the Olympic Games of 1908 in London and 1912 in Stockholm. He possessed a rare talent in multiple sports as well as a sense of patriotism.

He played several sports on competitive level such as football, high jump, javelin throw and polo, but he is most remembered for his performances in standing long jump and standing high jump. His achievements began in 1906 when he won third place in the Panhellenic games in standing long jump. In 1907 he won three golden medals in the Panionian Games of Smyrna in high jump, standing high jump and standing long jump as well as two more golden medals in the Panhellenic games that year. In the years 1907, 1908 and 1910 his team won the Panhellenic football championship. Tsiklitiras was playing as their main goalkeeper.

In the 1908 London Olympics, Tsiklitiras won two silver medals; one for standing long jump and one for standing high jump. In the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, he was the flag-bearer of Greece during the opening ceremony. There, he won the gold medal in standing long jump with a 3.37 meter long jump and a bronze medal in standing high jump. Earlier during the year he had tied for the world record in standing long jump (3.47 meters).

The 24-year-old had beaten Panhellenic records and held a world record in standing long jump. He was apotheosized upon his return to Greece and made the headlines as Greece’s most celebrated Olympian at the time. He was also offered a working place in the National Bank of Greece, since he had studied economics.

In 1912, the 1st Balkan War broke out. Tsiklitiras volunteered to fight on the first line in the Battle of Bizani. He contracted meningitis and died at the age of 25, having sacrificed his career and his life for Greece. In his memory, the Athens Grand Prix Tsiklitiria athletics were founded and continue to be held every year to this day.

To date, having won 1 golden medal, 2 silver and 1 bronze, he ranks as Greece’s greatest Olympian with the highest number of medals ever conquered by a Greek athlete, a title he holds together with Pyrros Dimas and Nikolaos Georgantas.

Bibliography:

  1. Κωνσταντίνος Τσικλητήρας. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web.
  2. Ο αετός του αθλητισμού –Ο κορυφαίος αθλητής και Ολυμπιονίκης Κωνσταντίνος Τσικλητήρας. Pronews. Pronews.gr. Web. January 8, 2016.
Konstantinos Tsiklitiras

Nikiforos Vrettakos

Brettakos

Poet (1912 – 1991)

Nikiforos Vrettakos is regarded as one of the greatest writers and poets of modern Greece. He lived an adventurous life with multiple struggles during some of the most difficult times of modern Greek history. He was honoured by multiple prestigious bodies inside and outside of his homeland.

He was from Laconia. After graduating from high school he enrolled in the University of Athens where he studied law. Because of his family’s hardships, however, he did not graduate and he remained in Athens, working to survive. Nevertheless, his big love for poetry did not stop him from publishing his first two poetic collections Under the Shadows and Lights and Down to the Silence of the Centuries, at the age of 17. It was not long before Vrettakos rose to fame, intriguing Kostis Palamas, who wanted to meet him in person.

During the Second World War, Vrettakos enlisted in the army and fought against the Italians in the Albanian front. He partook actively in the Resistance in the midst of the axis occupation and became member of EAM during the guerrilla war of 1946 – 1949. He was removed from the Communist Party of Greece following his disagreement with their politics. He was self-exiled to Switzerland during the junta for 7 years. When he returned to Greece he settled peacefully in Laconia.

Throughout his hard life, Vrettakos never ceased writing poems. The poems he wrote between 1929 and 1938 are characterized by a melancholic tone that reflects his life’s hardships. The second period of his literary work, which spans from 1939 to 1950, is characterized by optimism and struggle. They predominated the Second World War, the axis occupation, the resistance and the guerrilla war. The poems written between 1961 to 1974 are characterized by love and purity and are mostly about nature and the light. The final poetic era from 1975 until his death in 1991 have a similar aura. His works have been translated in several languages such as Turkish and Russian.

Numerous awards were bestowed to Vrettakos. Among them were the National State Prize of Poetry in 1940, 1965 and 1974, the Ourani Prize in 1974, the Knocken Prize of the Sicilian Society of Arts and Letters in 1980 and the Academy of Athens Prize in 1989. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize of Literature 4 times, one of which was nominated by his friend Yiannis Ritsos, with whom he was schoolmate. Vrettakos himself claimed to be a “servant of poetry” and that he would not have anything to live for if God hadn’t given him poetry. His highest virtues were love and homonoia (solidarity). He believed that with these two, man could achieve anything.

Bibliography

1.  Νικηφόρος Βρεττάκος, ο πάμφτωχος ποιητής που είπε: «Αν δε μου ’δινες την ποίηση, Κύριε, δε θα ’χα τίποτα για να ζήσω». Ο δικτάτορας Μεταξάς έκαψε το βιβλίο του, πολέμησε στο μέτωπο του ’40 και προτάθηκε 4 φορές για Νόμπελ. Μηχανή του Χρόνου. Mixanitouxronou.gr. Web.

2.  Cartali, Anna. Νικηφόρος Βρεττάκος,Ο ποιητής της ειρήνης και της αγάπης. Artic. Artic.gr. Web. January 22, 2013.

Nikiforos Vrettakos

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

Nicholas Christofilos

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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

Altani

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Writer, Researcher (1933)

During the Renaissance, Greek scholars that fled to the West struggled to keep the candle of Hellenism flaming so that the eternal wisdom of the Ancient Greek philosophers be disseminated to the peoples of tomorrow. Altani is one of today’s such people, one of the most erudite philologists, who continues to pass on the hidden knowledge of the Ancient Greek thought in a deciphered way, so that it affects the readers’ souls.

She studied philology and foreign languages, then continued her studies in music in Conservatio di Santa Cecilia di Roma and in the Royal School of Music in London. Thereafter, she got involved in studying the Ancient Greek philosophy and mythology.

The writer’s first book that started it all was Epidauros Tholou Apocalypsis. It was the beginning of a series of books of mythological-philosophical-psychological content called Arrhetoi Logoi, and which bridged mythology with philosophy, proving the former’s profound meaning on man’s soul. In it, Altani first made a worldwide discovery about the heliocentric system and the precession of the equinoxes exactly displayed on the pavement of the Tholos of Epidaurus, 40 years before its discovery by Aristarchus and 170 years before the birth of Hipparchus, respectively. The analogic relationship between the microscopic human being and the macroscopic celestial universe has been realized.

In the following books were introduced or decoded key concepts of understanding the Greek philosophy, such as symbols, Gods and deities, archetypes, Pythagoras’ arithmosophy and the Pythagorean theorem, anagrammatisms of the Greek language based on Plato’s Cratylus and the “monsters of the soul”. In the fourth book, Altani managed to reconstruct the ancient system of Greek Meditation (Ἑλληνικὸς Διαλογισμὸς) by putting together the lost pieces of the puzzle based on the surviving works of Orpheus, Hesiod, Homer, Plato and Pythagoras. Its enormous success attracted the interest of academia, where Greek psychiatrists confirmed the practical importance and the beneficial effects of the Greek Meditation. Her works are products of the Greek Meditation.

The cultivation of the ancient Greek inheritance and the promotion of the Greek philosophy and thought are but a result of Altani’s hard work. The greatness of her work lies in her ability to decipher what eminent scholars cannot, provide us with a clear understanding of the profound wisdom of the Ancient Greeks and most importantly, her achievement to rebuild an incredibly ancient and complicated method that was lost thousands of years ago. That method’s purpose is not only to give valuable fruits to the meditationist but also to aid humanity’s soul to become one with the Divine. Such work can only be undertaken by people with virtue, memory and discipline.

Bibliography

  1. Altani. Arrhetoi Logoi Thaumas enanti Exousiaston Titanon. Kaktos: Athens, 2017. Print.
  2. Altani. Arrhetoi Logoi Hellikos Dia-Logismos. Georgiades: Athens, 2006. Print.
Altani

Manolis Kalomiris

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Composer (1883 – 1962)

Musician and composer Manolis Kalomiris is heralded as one of the most important composers in modern Greek history. He is the founder of the Greek National School of Music and one of the musicians who helped create the identity of the Greek music.

Kalomiris made his debut in 1908 as a composer in one of the most renowned concerts of the Odeon of Athens. He wrote a total of 222 works, including operas, orchestral music, symphonies, songs, chorals, room music etc. His most famous ones, The Mother’s Ring (1917) and Symphony of Leventia (1929) have received significant attention outside Greece. Other important works include The Protomastoras (1915) and Magivotana (1912-1913), a series of poems by Kostis Palamas set to music. His music was influenced by a multitude of factors, namely Wagner, national Russian music, the Greek demotic songs and by Greek poets such as Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Apart from the Greek National School of Music, Kalomiris also founded the Greek Odeon and co-founded the Union of Greek Composers. He served for the first time as Director of the National Opera in 1945, was elected member of the Academy of Athens, the first musician to achieve such a distinction and served as Inspector Archmusician of the army. Kalomiris was a pedagogue of music and scholar; he wrote numerous children’s books on the theory of music and taught in the University of Athens. In this way, he became the founder of the Greek pedagogic system of music.

His influence on the Greek music in the first half of the 20th century was enormous not only as a musician and a composer, but also as a pedagogue, a music critic, an author and a manager, the main representative who shaped the national Greek music.

Bibliography

  1. Μανώλης Καλομοίρης. Σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.
  2. Politopoulos, H. The Composer. Manolis Kalomiris. Kalomiris.gr. Web. December, 1999. Retrieved on March, 19, 2017.
  3. Tsetsos, Markos. Ο ΜΑΝΩΛΗΣ ΚΑΛΟΜΟΙΡΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΟΙ ΜΟΥΣΙΚΟΙ ΘΕΣΜΟΙ. Tar.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.
Manolis Kalomiris