Kitsos Tzavelas

Kitsos_Tzavelas

Hero of the Greek War of Independence, Prime Minister of Greece (1801 – 1855)

Kitsos Tzavelas was a general and hero of the Greek War of Independence of 1821. He fought in many battles, on the side of numerous prominent heroes, distinguished himself as a skilled general and went on to serve as Prime Minister of Greece from 1847 to 1848.

Tzavelas was from Souli, home to notable fighters of the Greek War of Independence. At the age of 19 he acquired the rank of Captain. Before the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Tzavelas was sent to Pisa, Italy to seek funding for the War.

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Tzavelas participated in the 1st Siege of Messolonghi in 1922, fighting alongside fellow Souliote Markos Botsaris. The two fought together in the Battle of Cephalovrison, where Markos Botsaris was killed. In 1824, he joined forces with Georgios Karaiskakis and Panourgias in the Battle of Ampliani, which resulted in the victory of the Greeks against the Ottomans.

In 1825 he entered Messolonghi with his men to reinforce its defenses. One year later, he was one of the protagonists of the Third and final Siege of Messolonghi, together with Notis Botsaris, Nikolaos Kasomoulis, Nikolaos Stournaris, Demetrios Makris, Christos Kapsalis and Alexandros Mavrokordatos. In the heroic sortie, Tzavelas led 2500 men outside the gates of Messolonghi, of which only 1300 survived, including him. He continued struggling for freedom, fighting against the Ottomans in the Battles of Plaka, Karpenisi, Vrachori and Distomon. Following the death of Georgios Karaiskakis, Tzavelas succeeded him as general of Piraeus.

With the liberation of Greece and the arrival of John Kapodistrias, Tzavelas was tasked with clearing the lands of Sterea Hellada from Turks, Albanians and Egyptians. He served as hypaspist of King Otto, twice as Minister of Military Affairs in John Kolletis’ and Constantine Canaris’ cabinets and later succeeded the former as Prime Minister of Greece for a short and unsuccessful term.

After retiring from politics, he organized a movement for the liberation of the subjugated Greek lands. In 1854, during the Crimean War, Tzavelas and his Souliotes occupied the lands of Epirus in attempt to liberate them from Ottoman rule, a plan that eventually failed, forcing Tzavelas to return to Athens, where he died one year later.

Today he belongs to the Pantheon of the Heroes of ’21.

Bibliography:

  1. Κίτσος Τζαβέλας 1800 -1855. σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web.
  2. Κίτσος Τζαβέλας (1800 ή 1801 – 1855). Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας καὶ Πολιτισμού. www.argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 21, 2018. Web.
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Kitsos Tzavelas

Mikis Theodorakis

theodorakis

Composer (1925)

Mikis Theodorakis is a songwriter and composer of international fame, widely regarded as Greece’s most important composer of the 20th century, who developed the modern Greek music more than any other composer of his era. His 70-year career spans an extraordinarily wide spectrum of compositions, from symphonic works and hymns, to operas, stage plays and film scores, having composed almost 1000 songs.

He was born in the island of Lesbos. From a young age, he became fascinated by music, poetry and literature. He began composing at a very young age and made his first concert at the age of 17. He was awarded a scholarship and studied music in Paris next to teachers Olivier Messiaen and Eugene Bigot. He lived a troubled life during the Second World War, the Greek Bandits’ War and the junta, with imprisonments and exiles, mainly due to his political affiliations with the Left. To this day, his compositions have become the symbol of the struggle against political oppression and freedom.

Theodorakis wrote all kinds of musical scores. He wrote music for modern plays, music for ancient Greek drama, symphonic works, hymns, chamber music, ballets, operas, cantatas and oratorios. He wrote musical score for motion pictures such as Zorba the Greek, Z and Serpico, set into music the works of Nobel-Prize nominees Yiannis Ritsos and Angelos Sikelianos, as well as Nobel-Prize laureate’s Odysseus Elytis’ Axion Esti. His collaborations with numerous intellectuals in the field of music included Manos Hadjidakis, with whom they set the foundations of entekhno. Throughout his musical career he earned numerous awards, starting with the 1st prize of the Moscow Music Festival in 1957, awarded by Shostakovich himself.

Mikis’ work transcends music and expands on politics, literature, philosophy and metaphysics. In politics, he struggled for world peace and human rights. He expressed it through his music by performing thousands of concerts worldwide, in countries that faced political issues similar to Greece. His songs became synonymous to freedom. He founded the Greek-Turkish Friendship Society in 1980 to promote better relations with Turkey, was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1983, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

In 1942, Mikis Theodorakis created and, throughout the years, developed his own personal theory on the Universal Harmony of the Celestial Bodies. From a young age, he could “hear” subconsciously the sound that is produced from the friction of the movement of the planets and the aether. This sound was first described by Pythagoras and later by Anaximander and Plato, who could also “hear” this music. They named it the Universal Harmony of the Celestial Bodies. Theodorakis used this unknowingly as the source of his influence to create his music. By the time he had accrued enough knowledge on the matter, he had created his famous musical galaxy.

Mikis Theodorakis has cemented himself as the most important Greek composer of the 20th century, the embodiment of Greek music. His musical masterpieces prove that musicians of the modern world, including Vangelis, can possess the ability that Pythagoras and the ancient Greek philosophers did 2500 years ago, to turn their look to the sky, seek out the Universal Harmony and interpret it with their own music in our mortal world.

  1. Mikis Theodorakis. Famous Composers. Famouscomposers.net. Web.
  2. Βιογραφικό Σημείωμα Μίκη Θεοδωράκη. Mikis Theodorakis Orchestra. Mikistheodorakisorchestra.gr. Web.
  3. Θεοδωράκης, Μίκης. «Ἀπὸ τὴν Ἁρμονία τοῦ Σύμπαντος ἐκπηγάζει ἡ μουσική μου». Δαυλός, ἔτος 25ον, Νοέμβριος 2006, ἀρ.296. σελ. 20303 – 20329.
Mikis Theodorakis

Praxiteles

praxiteles

Sculptor (4th century BC)

The greatest sculptor of antiquity together with Scopas and Lysippos. Praxiteles earned widespread fame for his creations, which decorated numerous cities in Greece. He influenced the art of sculpture more than any other sculptor in the world.

His father Cephisodotus was also a sculptor and a teacher of Praxiteles. His aunt was married to Phocion, who was a student of Plato. This presumably allowed Praxiteles to not only have connections with the political upper-class of Athens, but also delve into Platonic philosophy, which he applied to his art.

Praxiteles was the one of perfected sculpture. His sculptures were primarily idols of Gods, depicted in human form. It is estimated that the minimum number of sculptures he created were 70. Some of them were commissions for other city-states of Greece. Praxiteles was also a teacher of sculpture.

Among his most famous sculptures, widely known to this day are the following:

  • Leto, Apollo and Artemis depicted on a series of slabs excavated in Mantineia, with Apollo battling against Marsyas in the presence of the Muses.
  • Hermes and the infant Dionysus, regarded as Praxiteles’ most recognizable work. The sculpture was excavated in Olympia. Hermes is holding an infant Dionysus with his left hand supported on a tree bark. It has come to be known as Hermes of Praxiteles.
  • Aphrodite of Cnidus was the first statue of a naked Aphrodite ever created and was the one that skyrocketed Praxiteles’ fame in the Greek world due to its daring nature at the time. It is accepted as one of Praxiteles’ most beautiful sculptures. The statue was bought by the Cnidians, who held it on display in their hometown.
  • Cupid (Heros) depicted as a young boy with wings. It was found in Propontis, Asia Minor.
  • Apollo Sauroktonos, a statue showing Apollo as an ephebe pointing an arrow against a lizard. The statue has not survived. Depictions of it were found on the coins in the city of Mysia in Asia Minor.
  • The marble triad of Cupid, Phryne and Aphrodite where Cupid, a personification of the Platonic idea, suffers from love (heros). The statue was discovered in Thespiae.

Some other of his masterpieces include the bronze Resting Satyre, the Petworth Head of Aphrodite, the head of Euvuleus,the statue of an enthroned Leto, made of precious stone in Lycia and Artemis of Antikyra. In addition, Praxiteles built the statues that decorated two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

Praxiteles’ unparalleled skill remained unsurpassed in time. His statues were literally vessels by which the Gods descended to the physical field of man. His, as well as other great sculptors’ statues played an important role in the meditation (Διαλογισμὸς) of the ancient Greeks. Today, his works adorn museums inside and outside the Greek boundaries.

Bibliography:

  1. “Praxiteles”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Πραξιτέλης. Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Μείζονος Ελληνισμού. Asiaminor.Ehw.gr.Web.
Praxiteles

Philolaus

philolaus

Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer (c.470 BC – c.385 BC)

Philolaus was a second generation Pythagorean philosopher from Tarentum (or Croton) of Magna Graecia. An initiate of the Greek meditation (Ἐλληνικός ΔΙΑ-Λογισμός) and the mystery schools, Philolaus was involved with astronomy, cosmology, music, medicine and metaphysics. As one of the most influential Pythagoreans, he contributed significantly to the spread of Pythagorean philosophy.

Philolaus was born 100 years after his teacher Pythagoras. He founded his own Pythagorean School of philosophy in Thebes and Phlious. Upon returning to Tarentum, he initiated Archytas into Pythagoreanism, who in turn initiated Plato. Furthermore, two students of Philolaus, Simmias and Ceves became Socrates’ students. It is believed that Philolaus and Plato met each other during their lifetimes.

As every Pythagorean philosopher, Philolaus taught through aenigmata (riddles). He His first and most notable book De Naturae (On Nature), is considered to be the first book written by a Pythagorean. He is credited to have written another book, Bacchae. The founder of the theory of numbers that became a basic concept in Pythagorean philosophy, Philolaus taught that numbers are the only constant characteristic of matter. Everything in the universe is ordained by numbers and their relations. We can only can gain knowledge of the universe insofar we can understand the numbers from which it is built because numbers define the essence of things.

According to Philolaus, the universe is one and eternal. The world and everything in it are composed of a combination of two types of things: unlimited and limited. Nor modern science nor modern philosophy have yet understood what Philolaus meant with these two terms. Perhaps he sought the 4 elements on which the cosmic bodies were formed: fire represented by the tetrahedron, wind represented by the octahedron, water, represented by the eicosahedron and earth, represented by the cube. Limited and unlimited combine together forming a harmony. Philolaus compared harmony to a musical scale, the Pythagorean diatonic, where the combination of limited and unlimited are in accordance with ratios of numbers. He saw the natural world as a cosmos, an order governed by numbers.

Philolaus introduced his own astronomical system. The universe is spherical and at its centre is the central fire, around which all celestial bodies orbit, arranged in 10 concentric circles. These include the stars in the first circle, the five known planets of antiquity, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, which rotates around its own axis and the Counter-Earth (Aντίχθων/Antichthon). He explained the creation of the cosmos by drawing an analogy with the birth of the human embryo. Not only did Philolaus’ astronomical system and his cosmogony have a scientific background, but also a mythological/philosophical one.

His contributions in psychology and medicine are noteworthy as well. He distinguished four parts of the soul. Nous (intellect), limited to human beings, psyche, defined as emotions and desires of the soul, the third responsible for growth and the fourth for generation. These he termed the four psychic faculties. He associated each one with the head, the heart, the umbilicus and the genitals respectively as their seats. Plato later expanded this philosophy in his books. Furthermore, soul was a harmony of limited and unlimited was capable of transmigration and was immortal. He explained the concept of disease based on the disequilibrium of the three constituents of the human body: blood, bile and phlegm.

Philolaus’ books were widely popular in antiquity and his books were sold at very high prices. One of his books was studied by Plato and influenced him in writing his magnum opus Timaeus. His work has tremendous influence not only on Plato, but also on the Pythagorean successors. As the precursor of most astronomers of the Renaissance, including Copernicus, Galileo and Bruno, he was one of the first to place the Earth away from the centre of the universe, giving it the characteristics of a planet.

Bibliography:

  1. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1996. Print.
  2. Huffman, Carl. “Philolaus”. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2016/entries/philolaus/&gt;.
  3. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications: Athens, 2013. Print.
Philolaus

Nicephorus Theotokis

theotokis

Theologist, Priest, Physicist, Teacher of the Greek Nation (1731 – 1800)

One of the most important Teachers of the Greek Nation during Greece’s subjugation to the Ottoman Empire was Nicephorus Theotokis, a theologist and priest with rich academic background, who struggled to enlighten the enslaved Greeks. His work was mainly educational and aimed at a spiritual awakening of the Greek Nation.

He descended from Corfu, which at the time was ruled by Venice. From 1749 to 1752 he studied mathematics, physics, astronomy and philosophy in the Universities of Padua and Bologna. Returning to Greece in 1752, Theotokis sought to depart the scientific knowledge he had acquired from the West in order to combat illiteracy, which was a widespread issue, and follow the progress of the rest of Europe. He founded the Common Phrontisterion, a school where he taught the people of his hometown without payment. Lessons included algebra, geometry, physics, philosophy and Greek language. One of his most notable students was Anthony Maria Kapodistrias, father of John Kapodistrias.

He served shortly as headmaster of the Academy of Iasi before heading to Vienna and then Leipzig, where he published his works on physics, theology and philosophy. These he used to create the curriculum of his school. He returned to Iasi only to serve as headmaster of the Academy again, laying down the foundations of the educational renaissance of all the Balkan areas. Moreover, he was forced to decline an offer of becoming Archbishop of Philadelphia by the Greek community of Venice.

Theotokis was a close friend of Evgenios Voulgaris, another eminent Teacher of the Greek Nation. Voulgaris invited him to Russia in 1776, where he became the Archbishop’s advisor in Poltava. He later succeeded Evgenios Voulgaris as Archbishop of Kherson and Slavonia. His actions were responsible for bringing many Raskols back to the Orthodox Church, as well as converting many Muslims and Tsars to Christianity. He retired from his obligations in 1792 to live as a monk in Moscow, writing perhaps his most important work Kyriakodromion of the Apostolic and Evangelical Readings, a book on the writings of the Apostoles and the Evangelion, targeted at illiterate people.

His work in education included the following: He funded the foundations of schools, wrote numerous textbooks on mathematics, physics and theology, approved the publication of books, funded them with his own money and delivered them to schools and libraries.

Theotokis gained significant recognition and followers as a preacher in favour of education, Christianity and the liberation of the Greek Nation. He believed very strongly in the “Greek plan”, according to which Russia would help fend off the Ottoman oppressor from all Christian Orthodox states. He stood out as one of the most prominent intellectuals, ideologists and patriots in the whole Balkans and Russia, who believed above all in the spiritual awakening of the Greeks, without of which there could not be liberation. His work paved the way for the Greek Enlightenment.

Bibliography:

  1. Χριστοδούλου, Αλέξανδρος. Νικηφόρος Θεοτόκης (1731 -1800). Πεμπτουσία. Pemptousia.gr. Web. December 13, 2016.
  2. Μουρούτη – Γκενάκου, Ζωή. Ο Νικηφόρος Θεοτόκης (1731 -1800) και η Συμβολή Αυτού εις την Παιδείαν του Γένους. Βιβλιοθήκη Σοφίας Ν. Σαριπόλου. Αθήναι, 1979. Thesis.ekt.gr. Web.
Nicephorus Theotokis

Menaechmus

menaechmus

Mathematician, Philosopher (c.380 BC – c.320 BC)

Menaechmus was a famous mathematician and Platonic philosopher of the 4th century BC from Alopeconnesus. He is remembered for his contributions in geometry. As Proclus puts it “(he) and his brother Deinostratus made the whole of geometry still more perfect”.

Menaechmus was a student of Eudoxus, a polymath who was in turn a student of Plato in the Academy. He served as the tutor of Alexander the Great in geometry. It is believed that he had founded his own school of mathematics. His most important contributions were in the field of conic sections.

The conic sections, one of the most applicable chapters in analytical geometry were discovered by Menaechmus when he was attempting to solve the doubling of the cube, a famous geometrical problem of antiquity known for its high degree of difficulty. Menaechmus managed to solve the problem with two solutions by using the conic sections, thus paving the way for Apollonius of Perga to develop them years later.

He showed that by cutting a cone with a line that is not parallel to the base, one could obtain different shapes, which he named ellipses, parabolas and hyperboles, depending on the angle. It is asserted that the mathematician used mechanical devices to help him in drawing the shapes, something which Plato disapproved in geometry. His works were translated into Arabic and then to Latin during the late Middle Ages. This contributed significantly to the Renaissance and the revival of mathematics.

Menaechmus endorsed Eudoxus’ theory on the heavenly bodies and further developed it based on Theon of Smyrna’s writings. Moreover, he studied the structure of mathematics and was involved with astronomy. His work was continued by Apollonius of Perga, Archimedes and by the mathematicians of the Renaissance.

Bibliography:

  1. JJ O’Connor, E.F. Robertson. Menaechmus. University of St.Andrews. www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk. Web.
  2. Ο Μέναιχμος, ο Μεγαλέξανδρος και η Οδός της Γεωμετρίας. Ιστορίες στο Περιθώριο.. dimitristsolakis.blogspot.bg. Web. August 19, 2012.
Menaechmus

Paulus Aegineta

Paulus_Aegineta_initial

Physician (c625 – c.690)

Paulus of Aegina was a physician and scientist who lived during the 7th century. He was one of the last famous Greek physicians, whose work exerted significant influence on the medicine of the Middle Ages. He is mostly known for his work Epitome, a medical compendium used extensively throughout history.

He was born in the small island of Aegina and studied medicine in Alexandria, later becoming a teacher there. He was a pioneer in general surgery as well plastic and reconstructive surgery. Some of the most well-known operations he performed are described in his book; these are operations for nasal fractures, jaw fractures, treatment of gynaecomastia and hypospadias, catheterization of the urinary bladder, lithotripsy for the treatment of urinary bladder stones, surgical techniques for the treatment of inguinal hernia and liver abscess.

In addition, he described surgical operations of the eye, identified the aneurysm as a disease and wrote extensively about the cancer of the cervix and the uterus. Paulus Aegineta achieved remarkable success as an obstetrician and gynaecologist, earning the name “Al Qawabili”, meaning “The Obstetrician” from the Arabs, who recognized him as one of the greatest physicians of all time.

The book that made him a household name in medicine up until the Renaissance was the Epitome, an encyclopaedia consisting of 7 books, incorporating his own experiences with the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Aëtius, Dioscorides and other renowned physicians of antiquity. The first book is about hygiene, the second on fever, the third on internal medicine, the fourth on diseases of the external organs, mainly of the skin, the fifth book on diseases of the environment such as insect stings, bites and wounds, the sixth book was devoted entirely on surgery and the seventh book on pharmacology, which was based on the works of Dioscorides.

Paulus’ work was translated into Arabic in the 9th century thus bridging Western and Arabic medicine. Later, it was translated into most European languages and was used as the main textbook in the medical schools of Salerno and Montpellier. Its first edition was printed in 1528 by the Aldine Press. Among the people influenced by Paulus Aegineta were Rhazes, Avicenna, Fabricius, Albucasis and Hally Abas. He died in Rome in 690, leaving behind him an enormous consignment to the medical world. Even before his death, Paulus Aegineta was acknowledged as one of the greatest physicians in history.

Bibliography:

  1. Αίας ο Τελαμώνιος. Άγνωστες Μορφές του Ελληνισμού: Παύλος ο Αιγινήτης. Χρυσή Αυγή. Xryshaygh.com. Web. September 21, 2016.
  2. Καραμπερόπουλος, Απ. Δημήτριος. «Παύλος Αιγινήτης». Karabelopoulos.gr. Web. March 11, 2004.
  3. Παύλος ο Αιγινήτης (Paulus Aegineta). Aegina.blogspot.bg. Web. August 20, 2010.
Paulus Aegineta