Skip to content

A myth about the Metaxa Line refuted

There is a widespread inaccuracy in the use of chemicals by the Germans in the forts of the Metaxas Line. Veterans of the era denied it, especially general Theodoropoulos (a captain at the time).

T.H. Wisdom an RAF officer at the time mentions a little known attempt of the RAF to air supply the defenders of “Metaxas Line” and mentions for the first time about parachutists attacking the forts[1] something that Greek sources and eyewitness accounts deny. The same is repeated by Stanley Casson, a member, of the British Mission in Greece, who also talks about employment of poison gas by the Germans against the forts.[2] The “fog of war” can possibly justify this misinformation. In 1948 Christos Zalokostas published a book in Greek titled: “Rupel, The fort of History and Memory” and repeats the same claims but General Esftathios Theodoropoulos -a captain commanding the Malianga Fort at the time- refuted these claims. In his interview to the POLEMOS & ISTORIA (War & History) magazine said the following:

“Q: Did the Germans use poison or asphyxiating gas?  

Gen: No, they used dynamite, hand grenades, flamethrowers & of course their artillery.”[3]

As for the parachutists, the only recorded such attack took place in Corinth[4]. The most logical explanation about parachutist activity at Metaxas Line is that the crews of multi-crew bombers of the era were mistaken for parachutists when they bailed out from falling airplanes. It is also possible that the supplies that RAF dropped to the Greeks according to Wisdom might also be mistaken for parachutists. Beevor gives an unusual explanation: “The other bird to cause confusion was the stork. Alighting in great numbers in the course of their northern migration, they provoked wild reports of parachute landings”[5].

Defenders have been subdued with the employment of smoke grenade and the destruction of the ventilators. (photo: The end of the heroes of Istibei’s fort re-enacted by the Historical Representation Group, ’42 ’45)



[1] Wisdom T. H. Wings over Olympus page London 1942 p79

[2] Casson S. Greece vs Axis. Page 127

[3] General Theodoropoulos in «Polemos kai Istoria (War & History), April 2001 translated interview here:

[4] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR Hellenic Army History Directorate Athens 1997 p 238

[5] Beevor A. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance John Murray (Publishers) Ltd London 2005 p 22


Περί του Μύθου των αερίων…

Υπάρχει μια διαδεδομένη ανακρίβεια περί χρήσης χημικών από τους Γερμανούς στα οχυρά της Γραμμής Μεταχά. Βετεράνοι της εποχής το διέψευσαν, ειδικά ο στρατηγός Θεοδωρόπουλος (τότε λοχαγός Δ/κτης Οχυρού Μαλιάγκα) σε συνέντευξη του στο Περιοδικό «Πόλεμος   & Ιστορία» (τεύχος Απριλίου 2001). Οι υπερασπιστές όσων οχυρών υπέκυψαν εξουδετερώθηκαν από τα καπνογόνα και την καταστροφή των εξαεριστήρων.

(Φωτό Ιστίμπεη το τέλος των ηρώων από την Ομάδα Ιστορικής Αναπαράστασης Ιερός Λόχος ’42 ’45)


Ημέρες Οχυρών 2018 και Ζωντανή Ιστορία στο Πολεμικό Μουσείο.

Το Πολεμικό Μουσείο έχει μια μακρά παράδοση στη στήριξη εκδηλώσεων σχετικών με την Εθνική μας Ιστορία.

Το Μάρτιο του 2018 το Μουσείο συνέχισε την ωραία προσπάθεια που άρχισε από το Νοέμβριο του 2015 να εμπλουτίζει τις εκδηλώσεις του με την παρουσία αναβιωτών που αναπαριστούν του μαχητές που σχετίζονται με το θέμα της ιστορικής εκδήλωσης

Στο αίθριο του Μουσείου εκτός από τα για πρώτη φορά εμφανιζόμενα κειμήλια του οχυρού “Καράτας” ελληνικές ομάδες αναβιωτών έδειξαν στους υπεύθυνους του Μουσείου και στο κοινό στολές κι εξοπλισμό των Ελλήνων μαχητών των οχυρών αλλά και του τότε Γερμανικού στρατού.

Ο Αντιπρόεδρος του Μουσείου σε αναμνηστική φωτογραφία με του αναβιωτές

Η ομάδα αναβίωσης “Απόσπσσμα Μάχης Νότος”

Η ενθουσιώδης ανταπόκριση του κοινού

ADONIS: The deified toy boy…

Dying Adonis by Vincenzo di Raffaello de’ Rossi. Photo Yiorgos Nimkiteas

The cult of Adonis seems to have been imported in Greece from Cyprus and even there it was not a native one. The island had received strong influences from its Middle Eastern neighbors, especially the Syro- Canaanites who were commercial partners but it had also been subjected to the power of the Assyrians during the 8th century BC. It also had a number of Phoenician settlements whose population seemed not to have been hellenized until the 3rd century BC. There is no wonder that the middle-eastern religions influenced the Cypriots who in their turn influenced the people of mainland Greece. The name Adonis is believed to be from the shemitic root “adon” meaning “lord” Adonis himself is being identified with the Babylonian god Tammuz It also appears that the cult of Adonis seem to have spread in mainland city stated during the Hellenistic-Roman period. Our major literary sources about Adonis and his cult come from the roman period.


Adonis was the product of the incestuous love of Smyrna with her father Cinyras, king of Paphos who committed suicide when he discovered the abominable act. (Hygin. Fab. 58, 242; Antonin. Lib. 34; Ov. Met. x. 310, &c.). But according to the cyclic poet Panyasis Smyrna was the daughter of Theias, king of the Assyrians who tricked her father into incestuous union with the aid of her nurse. On discovering this Theias attempted to kill her but the god transformed her into a plant. (ap. Apollod. l. c.) Both versions of the myth take a story, which might have been inspired by events that might have taken place in an Assyrian or Phoenician Iron Age harem. Both possible fathers of Adonis are described as having Asiatic origins so this testifies to the introduction of a foreign cult into the Greek world.


Adonis was famed for nothing more than his external appearance, which got him into trouble. He survived birth only because Aphrodite, for the sake of his beauty, hid him in a box and entrusted it to Persephone, queen of the Underworld. When the boy grew up in a very handsome and Aphrodite wanted him back but Persephone who had become infatuated with him refused to let him go. To avoid the calamities of the two goddesses conflict Zeus decreed that the lad should spent a third of a year with Persephone, a third with Aphrodite and a third to do as he pleases. (Hygin. Poet. Astron. ii. 7.) But the goddess of love being who she was, made him spent that time also with her. Aphrodite and Adonis spent many hours together, as lovers do, hunting and telling tales. Aphrodite also told Adonis not to hunt wild beasts but to hunt only those, which are safe to hunt meaning birds and herbivores. Adonis though took advantage of his good looks and had relations also with Apollo “being like a woman to him”. (Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 5 summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) Another story has it that Dionysus, inflamed with lust carried off Adonis. (Phanocles ap. Plut. Sumpos. iv. 5.)

Adonis & Dionysos from Getty Images

But Aphrodite surprisingly was not jealous of Adonis and the couple spent many hours together, as lovers do, hunting and telling tales. Aphrodite again was cautioning Adonis not to hunt carnivores. Her toy boy though was not much of a hunter either for the goddess of love had the Cupid assisting him with his bow when Adonis missed his shots, and also to ward of any dangerous animals in his path. (Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 264 ff) So the lover boy thought he was a great hunter and in his arrogance offended Artemis by boasting of superior hunting prowess compared to her. (Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 522 & 705 ff ) Artemis who was never hesitant to punish those who offended her reminded her brother Apollo that Aphrodite was the cause of his son Erymanthus blindness. She also informed the god of war Ares that his paramour was not only cheating on her husband Hephaestus but also on him with a mortal! (Apollodorus 3.14.4,)

Venus and Adonis Abraham Bloemaert National Gallery of Denmark

Angered the gods put a wild boar in Adonis path when he was hunting in the Lebanon forests. Throwing his lover’s cautions away as toy-boys always do, Adonis cast a javelin and wounded the boar This served only to get the beast enraged so it attacked the wannabe great hunter who promptly fled. (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2. 69b-d) But the boar managed to reach him and mauled him badly. Adonis died in Aphrodite’s arms, which came to him, having heard his screams of pain.

Sebastiano del Piombo Death of Adonis La Spezia, Museo Civico „Amedeo Lia. Source: wikimedia

The cult of Adonis was popular among women for some legends said that he had come back to life. It has also been linked to shemitic a god of vegetation. This seems to be the only divine element in his cult for Adonis was just a mortal plaything of gods and most importantly goddesses and according to his legend he had done nothing important to be elevated to god status unlike Hercules or other heroes who had protected people by standing their ground in the line of combat.



Ioannou, Christina, “Cypriotes and Phoenicians”, in the website: Kyprios Character. History, Archaeology & Numismatics of Ancient Cyprus:

Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking & Pieter Willem van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 1999, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing,.

Richard Watson, A Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Explanatory of the History, Manners, 1832, B. Waugh and T. Mason Publisher.

Stephanie Dalley, The Legacy of Mesopotamia, 1998, Oxford University Press.

H. Roscher: Ausfürliches Lexikon der griechischen un römischen Mytologie.Leipzig 1890 Teubner

IFHEMA Athens 2017

The annual General Assembly of the International Federation of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) for 2017 was successfully completed in Athens under the auspices of the Hellenic Federation of HEMA. Representatives and observers from 15 countries participated in the sessions. Sweden officially joined the Federation. Swedish experience and assistance will be useful in organizing and further disseminating the Historic European Martial Arts. The International Federation is pleased to announce that the International Federal Cup (IIC) for 2018 will be held next December in Lisbon, Portugal. The Hellenic Federation will ensure that Greece will have a strong presence in the Contests.


Convention members after the sessions end

At the end of the meeting, the participants were offered a guided tour at the Athens War Museum and had the opportunity to get acquainted with the Greek Military Tradition. Both the Hellenic and the International HEMA Federations wish to express their warm thanks to the BoD and the staff of the Athens War Museum for allowing us to examine swords of the Greek War of Independence thus allowing us an invaluable vivid sense of the heroic past of Greece.

IF HEMA Athens 2017

Being able to touch History… Priceless!!!

IFHEMA Αθήνα 2017

Ολόκληρώθηκε με επιτυχία η ετήσια γενική συνέλευση της Διεθνούς Ομοσπονδίας Ιστορικών Ευρωπαϊκών Πολεμικών Τεχνών (International Federation of HEMA) για το 2017 η οποία έλαβε χώρα στην Αθήνα υπό την αιγίδα της Ελληνικής Ομοσπονδίας Ι.Ε.Π.Τ.

Συμμετείχαν αντιπρόσωποι και παρατηρητές από 15 χώρες. Η Σουηδία ενετάχθει επίσημα στην Ομοσπονδία. Η Σουηδική εμπειρία και αρωγή θα είναι χρήσιμη σε θέματα οργάνωσης και περαιτέρω διάδοσης των Ιστορικών Ευρωπαϊκών Πολεμικών Τεχνών. Η Διεθνής Ομοσπονδία βρίσκεται στην ευχάριστη θέση να ανακοινώσει ότι το Διεθνές Ομοσπονδιακό Κύπελο Ι.Ε.Π.Τ. (IIC) για το 2018 θα γίνει τον επόμενο Δεκέμβριο στην Λισαβώνα της Πορτογαλίας. Η Ελληνική Ομοσπονδία θα φροντίσει ώστε η χώρα μας να μια ισχυρή παρουσία στους αγώνες.


Τα μέλη του συνδρίου μετά την λήξη των εργασιών

Μετά το πέρας των εργασιών της συνέλευσης οι Σύνεδροι ξεναγήθηκαν στο Πολεμικό Μουσείο Αθηνών και είχαν την ευκαιρία να γνωρίσουν από κοντά την Ελληνική Πολεμική Παράδοση. Η Ελληνική και η Διεθνής Ομοσπονδία εκφράζουν τις θερμές ευχαριστίες τους προς το το ΔΣ και το προσωπικό του Πολεμικού Μουσείου Αθηνών γιατί μας επέτρεψαν να εξετάσουμε από κοντά κειμήλια του Αγώνα του 1821 και μας έδωσαν μια ανεκτίμητη ζωντανή αίσθηση του ηρωϊκού παρελθόντος της Ελλάδος.

IF HEMA Athens 2017

Να μπορείς να αγγίξεις την Iστορία… αξία ανεκτίμητη!!!

The Siculonorman Army, The unknown enemy of Byzantium

siculo-norman knight

Modern reconstruction of Sicilian Norman knight Source:

The Normans were descendants of Scandinavian raiders. The Frankish kings gave them the northern provinces of their kingdom in exchange for paying tribute and obligation for military service. The former raiders accepted the French language and Frankish feudal customs, and their heavily armed infantrymen evolved into knights. According to the custom of the time, the first-born son inherited the father’s estate, and the younger ones, if they did not secure a marriage with a wealthy heiress, would leave to seek their fortune by their skill in arms. At that time the Christian kingdoms were hard pressed by Islamic invasions, and determined warriors fighting horseback were precious. The temptation to descend to the mythical South to find their fortune there was great. The arrival of the Normans in Italy took place in the first decades of the 11th century.


Reconstruction of a 12th century Siculo-Norman helmet

Chronicler Geoffrey Malaterra wrote about the Normans that: «They are particularly distraught by cunning, despising their inheritance in the hope of gaining bigger property, willing to gain and dominate, prone to all sorts of hypocrisy, striding between generosity and greed, and combining peculiarly these two seemingly opposite properties. Their leaders are particularly generous in their desire for reputation. They are also a breed skillful in flattery, absorbed in the study of eloquence, so that even the boys are skillful orators, an unruly breed, unless the yoke of righteousness restrains it. They endure fatigue, hunger, and cold whenever fate throws it upon them. They are absorbed in hunting and falconry, and they especially like horses and all the weapons of war … »

Thanks to their ruthless energy and determination, the Hauteville family managed to be recognized as the Kings of Sicily by the Pope. The Normans retained the Byzantine bureaucracy, but also some elements of the former Islamic rulers. Together with the Norman notion of feudalism, the new sovereigns set up a unique for its time state, maintaining the balance between their Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim subjects, all of whom found a place in the army of the new state.


The Ηauteville coat of arms from the Μonreale Cathedral in Palermo

The main shock weapon was of course the cavalry, consisting of armored knights. As mentioned above, most of the horsemen were harsh nobles from Normandy but with the passage of time Lombard aristocrats and wealthy Italian bourgeoisie found their way in the heavy cavalry units. The Normans had not forgotten the lesson of the Battle of Ofante where the Byzantines had soundly defeated them. They adapted themselves to the Byzantine tactics, and many of these methods, such as charging with the lance couched, were adopted by them. Initially, most horsemen were Normans, but slowly Sicily began to be flooded with Latin-speaking Lombard refugees who had been persecuted by the Byzantines and the German emperor. However, the recruitment of French-speaking knights seems to have never ceased, nor were the suitable Italian or Greek speaking warriors dissuaded from joining the army of the Sicilian kings.

The wealthy citizenry of the towns formed small cavalry units with the main task of guarding the surroundings from bandits and the repulse of Saracen raiders. These horsemen usually carried a fabric made cuirass or no armor at all, helmet, and shield and were armed with javelins. The Muslim horse-archers began to disappear gradually and being replaced by Lombard settlers, but as long as they existed, they provided light cavalry service.


Detail from the Palermo Cathedral with a depiction of Norman fighters.

The infantry was usually the militia of the Italian and Sicilian cities. The Calabreans and several Sicilians were Greek-speaking, but the Apulians were mostly Italian speaking in their majority. The infantrymen, armed with helmets, shields, spears, and a single edge short sword usually covered the archers and were a support element for the knights. Most Muslims who remained in the Norman’s Italian holdings were forced into a serving as light infantry archers, in exchange for their religious freedom. It is believed that Sicilian monarchs did not allow them to convert to Christianity in ordered to maintain good light infantry. Various mountain herders armed with clubs and slings were specially recruited in wartime and their sole motivation was to pillage. The infatrymen were useful as a guard in fortified sites and in siege warfare.

The Normans also inherited the well-organized engineer corps of the Byzantines and the Arabs, as well as the siege and anti-siege techniques of their predecessors. Most craftsmen and operators of the siege machines were bourgeois of Italian cities or Sicilian-Muslim conscripts. Another element of support for the army was Salerno’s medical school, which was flourishing away from Western European religious prejudices, resulting in that health care at least for those being able to afford it, was far superior to other armies of the period.

The naval cities of Lower Italy and Sicily provided ships and crews for the Sicilian-Norman navy. Marines originated as mentioned above from the coastal city militias. The most effective officer of the Hauteville was, Admiral Margaritis from Brindisi (from Greek descent), who dominated the Ionian and Aegean Sea, turning the area into Sicilian-Norman lake. This efficient naval power conflicted with the interests of Venice and this explains the Venetian willingness to ally with the Byzantines against the Sicilian-Normans. The kingdom and its army passed through royal marriage under Hohenstaufen domination until their overthrow by the House of Angevin (Anjou)

2abfaLucania - Basilicata - Sepolcro di Roberto il Guiscardo nella Chiesa della Santissima Trinità a Venosa

The grave of Robert «Guiscard» D’Hauteville at Venosa


Norwich, John JuliusThe Normans in the South 1016-1130. Longmans: London, 1967.

Vincenzo Salerno Sicilian Peoples: The Normans Best of Sicely magazine Oct. 2007

Carlo Trabia  The batte of Palermo Best of Sicely magazine Mar. 2005

Αρέσει σε %d bloggers: