Dionysios the Philosopher

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Revolutionary (1541 – 1611)

Many believe that the Greek War of Independence marked the Greeks’ first attempt to overthrow the Turks and regain their freedom. This is far from the truth. Numerous revolutions took place before its onset. Two of the most important ones were organized by Dionysios of Triki, otherwise known as the Philosopher.

Dionysios was a metropolitan bishop and revolutionary, who in 1600 sparked a revolution against the Ottoman Turks in an attempt to liberate Greece and the whole Byzantine Empire. His attempt failed and Dionysios was captured and killed by the Turks. He was nicknamed the Philosopher for his eumathy and his great knowledge.

He was born in Greece. He studied philosophy, mathematics, medicine, logic, astronomy and poetry in the University of Padua. During his time in Europe, Dionysios came into contact with the Western hegemones, seeking help to fulfill his life-long dream: the freedom of Greece and the revival of the Byzantine Empire.

Upon his return to Greece, Dionysios was appointed Metropolitan bishop of Trikala. He quickly began organizing a revolution and funded it in secret. With the help of harmatoles and klephts he had mobilized, Dionysios started the first of his two revolutions only to result in a disastrous outcome, forcing him to flee to Italy and later to Spain and have his rank removed by the Church.

Nevertheless, Dionysios was not disheartened by the revolution’s failure, let alone discouraged; he quickly regained his strength and contacted the French duke Never as well as King Philip III of Spain, prompting them to incite a revolution against the Turks. Following numerous efforts, Dionysios managed to organize a united attack with the help of Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Venice.

In 1611, Dionysios and his army of 800 men reached Ioannina and started the second revolution. Unfortunately, the outcome was grim; after fleeing to a near-by cave he was captured and skinned alive by the Turks. Following hours of inhumane torments and public humiliation, Dionysios was executed.

Dionysios’ reception has been mixed. Some have accused him of provoking two needless revolutions which caused more damage than was necessary, while others hail him as a tireless hero who risked everything for the rebirth of the once powerful Byzantine Empire. What is certain is that Dionysios the Philosopher was a patriot who placed the value of freedom above his own life. He has been recognized as a Saint by the Orthodox Church and today he belongs to the pantheon of Greek heroes.

Bibliography:

  1. “Dionysios Trikis”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Ἅγιος Διονύσιος ο Φιλόσοφος. Ορθόδοξος συναξαριστής. www.saint.gr/. Web.
  3. Ἅγιος Διονύσιος ὁ Φιλόσοφος. Ὁ φλογερὸς Δεσπότης ποὺ ξεσήκωσε τὴν Θεσσαλία καὶ τὴν Ἤπειρο καὶ τὸ μαρτυρικό τέλος του. 10 Ὀκτωβρίου. Χώρα του Αχωρήτου. Choratouaxoritou.gr. Web.
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Dionysios the Philosopher

Euclid of Megara

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Philosopher (450 BC – 380 BC)

Euclid was a philosopher from Megara, a student of Socrates and founder of the Megarean School of Philosophy. His work, although all of it lost, was profoundly influenced by Socratic and Eleatic philosophy and exerted important influence in the world of philosophy itself there after, most notably ethics of biology.

Euclid was one of Socrates’ most loyal students. After the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War Megara and Athens became rivals. As a result, in order to avoid being caught, Euclid would dress as a woman and go to Athens to listen to Socrates’ teachings. Euclid was one of the students who were present in Socrates’ death. Afterwards, Euclid became a student and close friend of Plato.

Euclid’s philosophy was a combination of Eleatic philosophy and the teachings of Socrates and Plato. He wrote 6 books, presumably similar in structure to Plato’s dialogues. According to Euclid the Being is one. Anything that different from the Being does not exist. Diogenes Laertius wrote that Euclid identified the Being as Socrates’ and Plato’s Agathon (Good). For him, anything that constituted an antithesis to the Good/Being did not exist. An example of this would be Evil. Furthermore, all motion and degeneration are non-existent. This ideology corresponds to the contemporary ethics of biology as well as Darwinism, according to which ethical is considered that which contributes to the integration of existence. In biological ethics, whatever promotes existence and living is good, while whatever harms it is evil.

Logic was another field with which Euclid was involved. He was characterized for his rigidity and his insistence on logical facts to prove a statement. Euclid proposed to always adhere to logical facts and to never overcome them with irrational generalizations.

Like most philosophers, Euclid was not without criticism. Disputes were one of the main teaching methods employed in the dialogues of his philosophical school and as such, he was accused of having spread eristic dialectic to the Megareans. These dialogues, as a result, would often take a more vehement tone. Nevertheless, Euclid is credited to have been an influential philosopher, revered by many for his ethos and dignity of his character.

Bibliography:

  1. Euclides. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosphy. Iep.utm.edu.com. Web. August 28, 2018.
  2. “Euclides of Megara”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  3. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications: Athens, 2013. Print.
Euclid of Megara

Christodoulos

χρηστοδουλος

Archbishop (1939 – 2008)

Christodoulos was Archbishop of Athens and of All Greece, serving as the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece from 1998 until his untimely death in 2008. During this decade, Christodoulos struggled for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, always occupying the front lines in every religious and national issue. He was loved more than any other figure within the ecclesiastical circles and his legacy holds strong to this day.

Born as Christos Paraskevaidis, he studied law and theology in Athens, as well as foreign languages and music. He became Metropolitan bishop in 1974 and was involved with reorganizing the internal structure of the Church, as well as encouraging youths to study theology and become clerics.

As Archbishop, Christodoulos undertook a massive philanthropic work. He promoted the involvement of the Church in a wide range of social and national affairs by founding multiple Synodic Commissions, supported vulnerable social groups by establishing foundations for the families, abused women and immigrants, encouraged actions against AIDS, drug abuse and unemployment, bestowed scholarships to the children of the poor, implemented programs for the support of Greek families in Thrace, provided food for 3000 people daily and founded the non-governmental organization “Solidarity”, allowing the Church to expand its philanthropic work worldwide. Christodoulos inaugurated the digital technology into the Church of Greece. Furthermore, he showed interest in European issues, founding a representative branch of the Church in the European Union and UNESCO.

Christodoulos was a religious and national leader. He stood by the side of every individual regardless of their nationality, political ideology and religion. His unconditional love and devotion for the people drove hundreds of youths to the Orthodox Church, attracting a huge amount of young followers. His public appearances gathered thousands of followers who resonated with his fiery speech.

Throughout the years as Archbishop, Christodoulos strongly opposed the schemes of the New World Order, making extraordinary efforts to inform the Greeks through television, radio and public speeches about the fore coming evil. He distinguished as the strongest voice of opposition against the New World Order in Greece and a powerful proponent of Hellenism and its values, which was very rare for a Church official.

Christodoulos acted during difficult circumstances, at a time when the Greeks were devoid of any spiritual leader. He left an enduring legacy after filling this needed role. His struggle against globalization led him into multiple conflicts with the Greek government and ultimately cost him his life in 2008.

Bibliography:

  1. xristodoulos.antibaro.gr
  2. Χριστόδουλος Παρασκευαϊδης (1939 – 2008). Σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web. July 29, 2018.
Christodoulos

Eratosthenes

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Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer, Writer, Poet, Musician, Scholar (c.246 BC – c.194 BC)

Eratosthenes was one of the greatest sages of ancient Greece. He was headmaster of the Library of Alexandria and the founder of geography as a science as we know it today. His most famous achievement was the measurement of the circumference of the Earth.

He was born in Cyrene, a Greek colony of North Africa. He was 11 years older than Archimedes, with whom he was good friend. Eratosthenes studied mathematics and astronomy in the Academy of Athens under his teachers Ariston and Arcesilaus. He then continued his studies in Alexandria under his teacher Callimachus, where he remained and worked for the rest of his life. He was one of the many Greek intellectuals who comprised the staff of the Library of Alexandria, the greatest spiritual center of humanity as the time, including Ctesibius, Hipparchus, Apollonius of Perga, Apollonius of Rhodes, Conon, Aristarchus, Heron and Philon of Byzantium. He served as the third headmaster of the Library of Alexandria.

Eratosthenes was a polymath; he was nicknamed “Pentathlos” because he excelled in numerous fields such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, geography and music. By far his most notable contribution in the sciences is the measurement of the circumference of the Earth, a feat that is recorded for the first time in ancient history. Knowing that at the river Syene (modern Aswan), 500 km away from Alexandria, during the summer solstice, the sun’s rays fall vertically at noon and that at the same date and time at Alexandria, the rays fall with an angle of 7,2 degrees, Eratosthenes calculated the distance between the river and Alexandria at about 820 km. By accepting that the sun rays are parallel to each other and that the difference in the geographic latitude between Syene and Alexandria is equivalent to the angle the sun rays form during that time, Eratosthenes, using a rod and its shadow calculated the equatorial length of the Earth at 41.000 km, with a negligible error of 1000 km, because he miscalculated the distance of Alexandria and Syene instead of 800 km.

Eratosthenes was a prolific writer. He wrote several books ranging from mathematics and astronomy to poetry and philosophy, most of which do not survive today. In his treatise Catasterism he compiles a catalogue of constellations and their respective stars, calculates the Earth’s polar diameter with great accuracy as well as the distance of the Earth and the Sun. One of his most famous contributions to mathematics is the Sieve of Eratosthenes, a method for finding prime numbers, of which Eratosthenes is the inventor. He also solved the Delian problem, the doubling of the cube in his treatise Mesolavos.

The scientific foundations of geography were laid by Eratosthenes. In his now lost treatise Geographica, he presents the history of geography, mathematical and physical geography and perigraphic (discriptional) geography, including oeconomic and ethnographic elements. Furthermore, he created a world map as well as a calendar called Chronological Table, which covered 1076 years starting from the Fall of Troy, featuring most significant scientific and historical events recorded at the time for each date, regarded as a groundbreaking undertaking in the history of sciences. In philosophy, Eratosthenes was concerned mostly with ethics, poetry inspired from astronomy and comedy plays.

Eratosthenes had the rare privilege of being recognized as a great scientific mind during his own time. He was praised for his wisdom by notable intellectuals of his time such as Archimedes and Ptolemy Euergetes. The fact that he calculated the Earth’s circumference using nothing but geometry, a sacred science to the Greeks, proves Eratosthenes’ wisdom and justifies his influence on the ancient world and the Western civilization.

Bibliography:

  1. “Eratosthenes”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1996. Print.
  3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Eratosthenes. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web. July 15, 2018.
Eratosthenes

Pavlos Melas

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Hero of the Macedonian Struggle (1870 – 1904)

Pavlos Melas was a Captain of the Greek Army who became the symbol for the Macedonian Struggle after sacrificing himself for Macedonia. He is one of the most celebrated heroes in modern Greek history and his influence holds strong to this day in the hearts of the Greeks.

Descending from a wealthy and historical family, Pavlos Melas rejected the luxuries and convenience offered by his high status, choosing instead a life of suffering and hardships, travelling to Macedonia to organize the freedom fighters and liberate Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire.

Pavlos Melas was a patriot. He graduated from the Evelpidon Military Academy and participated in numerous military campaigns for the liberation of the subjugated Greek lands, including the Graeco-Turkish war of 1894. A restless spirit, he was always concerned about the struggles of the unredeemed Greeks and more about Athens’ disregard on their efforts for liberation.

In 1904, driven purely by his love and sense of duty towards Greece, Pavlos Melas left Athens and travelled in secrecy to Macedonia, where he organized the Greek military forces, mobilizing men from the neighbouring villages in an attempt for immediate action in Macedonia. His plans, however, were thwarted early in the course of the operation, when during a clash with the Bulgarian militias, Pavlos Melas was shot and killed.

The death of Pavlos Melas shocked Greece. His sacrifice sparked the patriotic element of the Greeks, causing a massive number of volunteers to follow his example and flood Macedonia, fighting by the side of the Macedonian freedom fighters. The apogee of these enormous efforts was the victories of the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913.

Pavlos Melas became an immortal paradigm of the Macedonian Struggle, a man determined to sacrifice everything in order to wake up the Greeks. The fact that he was only one to leave his life behind and go to Macedonia to face an outnumbered enemy was of no concern to him, rather, to act obedient to his laws and become the example that others would follow. His heroism was sung by many, including intellectuals such as Kostis Palamas. To this day his soul resonates with the hearts of all the Greeks who defend Macedonia, yelling to the enemy across time “Famous Macedonia, the land of Alexander”!

Bibliography:

  1. Παύλος Μελάς (1870 -1904) «η Ζωή καὶ το Έργο ενός Ήρωα». ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΓΚΟΣΜΙΑ. Greekworldhistory.blogspot.com. Web.
  2. Παύλος Μελάς (1870 -1904). Σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web.
Pavlos Melas

Diodorus of Sicily

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Historian, Writer (1st century BC)

Diodorus Siculus was one of the most famed historians of antiquity, widely considered today as a pioneer in historiography. His massive work Bibliotheca Historica comprises 40 books and spans the universal history of mankind, from the mythical era until the age of Julius Cesar. With the majority of the work having been destroyed, Diodorus nevertheless presents himself as a master of his art and an authority on world history.

As his name implies, Diodorus was born in Sicily and was active primarily in Rome. A restless spirit, he dedicated 30 years risking his life and subjecting himself to dangerous feats in order to accumulate the best material needed to compile his magnum opus, travelling to various parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In Rome he learned Latin and researched the libraries, collecting information that could be found elsewhere.

Years of meticulous research resulted in the compilation of the largest history treatise that existed at the time, the Bibliotheca Historica. Diodorus follows a chronological order, describing not only the most significant events that occurred during each year, but also the geographical relations, the culture, the customs and the traditions of peoples. Furthermore, he names notable individuals in the fields of arts and poetry, not solely on politics and military affairs. Even though he did not possess the experience and the skill of his predecessors Thucydides and Xenophon, Diodorus adheres to the scientific method of historiography.

Bibliotheca Historica is divided into 3 parts. The first part covers the mythical era up until the fall of Troy. The second part contains the history from the fall of Troy until the death of Alexander the Great. The third part picks up from the second part ends and ends with the conquests of the Romans against the Britons. Out of the 40 books in total, only the first five and the second decade survive in their complete form.

In the remaining surviving books, Diodorus writes about the following: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Atlantians, the Assyrians, the Scythians, the Hyperboreans, the Persians, the Indians, the Arabs, the Africans, on the Greek mythology, the Greek islands and the Greek colonies, Xerxes’ campaigns against Greece and Cyprus up until the battle of Syracuse, the 30 Tyrants of Athens until the fall of Rome by the Galatians, King Philip’s rule of Macedonia, Alexander’s conquest of Asia, his death and the Diadochi up until the contemporary events of Diodorus.

Overall, Diodorus’ ambitious undertaking of writing down the entire history of mankind from the beginning until his contemporary times places him among Greece’s most acclaimed historians Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius. His writings are the only surviving source of certain parts of history that are considered as landmarks at a time when the Greek history was synonymous to universal history.

Bibliography:

  1. “Diodorus Siculus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Badian, Ernst. Diodorus Siculus. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Iranicaonline.org. December 15, 1995. Web
Diodorus of Sicily

Dimitrios Plapoutas

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Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1786 – 1864)

Dimitrios Plapoutas was a general of the Greek army who fought in the Greek War of Independence of 1821. One of the greatest and most heroic figures of the war, Plapoutas’ deeds and bravery are often overshadowed by those of Theodoros Kolokotronis, with whom they fought side by side in almost every battle. He played a decisive role in numerous battles, most notably in the Battle of Valtetsi as well as during the civil war against Ibrahim.

Plapoutas was from a family of heroes with a military background. He was employed by the Ottoman army as a kapos (commander) in Karytena. He had also served the English army in Zakynthos prior to the start of the Greek War of Independence.

A flaming patriot, he was initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia). Together with his father and brothers in 1821, Plapoutas hoisted the Greek flag of independence in Gortynia and gathered an army of 800 warriors. From that point onward, Plapoutas never stopped fighting, partaking actively in numerous major battles of the Greek War of Independence.

Plapoutas fought in the victorious Battle of Valtetsi in 1821, together with Theodoros Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Mitropetrovas and Anagnostaras. The same year he fought in the Battle of St. Vlasios of Tripolitsa and the Battle of Tripolitsa, in which the Ottoman forces were decimated. He participated in almost every battle of Peloponnesus together with Kolokotronis’ son Ioannis Kolokotronis. He was the first to face Dramali outside of Argos in 1822 with his army, during the latter’s expedition in Peloponnesus. Of course, Plapoutas could not have been absent from the most important battle of the Greek War of Independence, the Battle of Dervenakia, where together with all the major generals of the war he granted one more victory to the Greeks and halted Dramali’s descent to southern Greece.

During the Civil War, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis’ affiliations were temporarily compromised. Nevertheless, with Ibrahim’s arrival in Greece in 1825 on the side of the Ottoman Empire, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis rejoined forces and took out Ibrahim’s forces in many subsequent battles.

After Greece’s independence, Plapoutas served John Kapodistrias loyally and occupied several political positions. Following Kapodistrias’ assassination, Plapoutas, alongside Kolokotronis were charged with conspiring against King Otto, imprisoned and sentenced to death, only to be made innocent by two judges Georgios Tertsetis and Anastasios Polyzoidis. He later became general, member of the Parliament and aide-de-camp of King Otto.

Plapoutas is remembered today for his glorious victories, philopolemic attitude and insuperable courage. He was one of Kolokotronis’ most worthy warriors and his participation in the struggle for freedom was crucial and influential. He possessed a rare charisma in battle and an ethos rivaled only by a few.

Bibliography:

  1. Πλαπούτας Δημήτριος ή Κολιόπουλος (1786-1864). Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας και Πολιτισμού. www.argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 12, 2009. Web.
  2. Δημήτρης (Δημητράκης) Πλαπούτας: Ο ακούραστος κλέφτης αγωνιστής.  Arcadiaportal.gr. December 20, 2014. Web.
Dimitrios Plapoutas