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I feel deeply honored that the «Naftiki Hellas» (Naval Greece) magazine include in his millennial issue my article about the Shield devices of the Thespians. My English speaking friends can read the translation here:

Metaxas death and conspiracy theories – A critical view


Ioannis Metaxas

Introduction

Even foreign historians with a knowledge of the Greek language and access to official sources or even personal interviews with people who lived through the events at the time, have fallen victim to their sources prejudices or the inaccuracies of records. It has to be mentioned though that Greek people interested on the internal political developments are always trying to connect the history of World War II and the Cold War with developments in Greek politics and society, Skepticism exercised by the foreign historian is a good thing although his work presented in Greece would be not always be favorably received by an audience whose school texts might not always allow them an objective judgment To examine the conditions in which Metaxas died, we must first examine the world around him after he came to power.

 A troubled world around an authoritarian Prime Minister

From 1925 to 1935 a succession of weak governments and the economic crisis of the early 30s led the then Kingdom of Greece into political instability. In order to curb political chaos in 1936 the Greek King allowed Prime Minister Metaxas to establish an authoritarian regime[1] loosely based on the Italian fascists but Metaxas had to tread very carefully between Germany, France and Britain.

2585a12500000578-2946354-image-a-23_1423522078579

King George II of Greece (left) with Premier Metaxas (right) Source dailymail.co.uk

 

Greece was very much influenced by France, in culture and science, so usually French experts were employed when new skills had to be imported[2]. French influence in Greece was decreasing during the 30s. France was seen as a power that had deserted Greece during her struggle against the Turks in 1920 and against Italy in 1923. That made French influence decline[3]. The King of Greece also rejected French influence in favor of the British[4] and the French defeat in 1940 invalidated its pre-war guarantees. These developments destroyed the pro-French political fraction in Greece and left only pro-British or pro-German political forces.

Britain as a maritime power took interest in Greece because of its strategic location between Europe Asia and Africa. Britain was the first creditor of the new state[5] and Greece being a littoral country had always to take the British factor into consideration[6]. Before the WWII, 80% of Greek raisins were exported to Britain but tobacco exports were minimal[7]. Metaxas in September 1936 tried unsuccessfully to connect the drachma to the British gold sovereign[8]. The two countries though ratified the treaty along with clauses on the restructure of the Greek debt in June 1939 for political reasons[9]. In this way Greece had effectively linked itself to Britain, who also had investments in the Greek finance sector and through the actions of Neutral Tonnage Policy Committee of the Ministry of Economic Warfare hired extensively Greek merchant ships, especially after the outbreak of the war[10]. The Germans naturally criticized this agreement along with another Anglo-Greek agreement limiting exports to Germany as a breach of neutrality[11]. But the purchases of British goods & weapons were also limited due to Greek credit difficulties and this checked the limits of London’s influence on Athens[12]. The British had to take into account that British public opinion was opposed to wars for the maintenance of the post WWI status quo[13]. There were also many British war planners that viewed Greece as a liability rather than as an asset in the event of war[14]. The event of Munich though made Britain-in accordance with France to promise a vague guarantee to the Balkan States if the later were attacked but the Greeks felt little reassurance[15].

The Greek educated classes who pursued science, started to turn to Germany for education and commercial cooperation. Early 20th century Germany was at the leading edge of technology and a working knowledge of the German language was essential for someone who wanted to follow technical and scientific developments[16]. The Nazis had plans for the economic domination of the Balkans. Political, cultural and diplomatic domination would serve their plans just as well as military conquest[17].

Germany was a good client for Greek tobacco exports[18] but Greece was also heavily dependent on Germany for chemicals imports[19] and electro-technics[20]. As from 1937 Greece also bought a lot of weapons from the Reich[21] and these transactions were settled with clearing accounts, something that both governments liked.[22] Germany was gaining a dominant position in Greek military infrastructure[23] and the fact that the Greek premier had studied in the German Military Academy made many to think that Greece would adopt a pro-Axis stance[24]. The Germans even made unofficial suggestion that they would support Greek efforts for Cyprus to be united with Greece in a post war settlement[25] but when Metaxas asked German assistance for improving relations with Italy, Hitler burned his diplomatic chip by advising Greece to submit to Italian demands and further expressed his displeasure for the use of the Greek merchant ships by the British[26]. So he Greek government decided to stay neutral in the conflicts of the Great Powers but to seek British protection in case of a foreign attack[27].

The Italian annexation of Albania in 1939 worsened the Greek strategic position as except from Bulgaria a threat materialized from the Albanian soil[28]. The King of Albania fled to Greece before going to London[29]. This was used by Mussolini as an excuse of stating that Greece and Britain conspired against Italy. The governor of the Dodecanese, De Vecci openly accused Greece that she was giving support to the British Navy[30]. This was not true though. The British Naval attaché in Athens admitted that British ships had violated Greek territorial waters during re-supplying operations[31]. This was not very helpful to Greek position. Whatever Greece did to stay out of the war it was to no avail. Fascist Italy was determined attack anyway.

Metaxas understood that things were ominous and had started preparing for war from 1937 but he didn’t want to be drawn in it and declared the country neutral. Greece bought material from Britain, France, Germany and even Poland in attempt not to be dependent on a single supplier but this simply worsened the maintenance problems. With Poland, Belgium and France overrun by the Germans support for equipment bought from these countries disappeared[32]. Britain fighting for survival could not spare much stuff for sale either. Hellenic Armed Forces would enter WW2 with serious disadvantages. Greece desperately asked Britain if their guarantee was still valid but the British underestimated the value of Greece and especially the RAF HQ in London had a very pessimistic opinion over Greek ability and will to resist the Axis. In case of Italian attack the country was expected to fall in fifteen days. The Greeks from their part overestimated the British ability to support them[33]. While British strategists thought of a Balkan front that could possibly divert the Axis main effort and allow them to complete their war preparations,[34] the British guarantee was also unilateral and the recipients undertook no specific obligations in return[35].

When the Italians invaded Egypt in September 1940 the British could spare even less to aid Greece. Mussolini believed that the British were finished. He was also irritated by Hitler’s successes and the German advances in the Balkans, who considered them in the Italian sphere of influence and decided to attack Greece no matter what[36]. Mussolini had become dangerously overoptimistic because of the Italian advance in North Africa. In his meeting with Hitler at Bremen he had got the OK to attack the British in Africa but not license to steer trouble in the Balkans[37]. But in the early hours of 28th October the Italian Ambassador in Athens visited Metaxas and presented him with an ultimatum demanding from Greece to allow the Italian Army to occupy “Strategic Points in Greece” without specifying them. Metaxas rejected the ultimatum with the words “So it is war”[38] and this answer became part of the Greek National Myth. The day of the ochi (“no” in Greek) is commemorated as a national holiday every October since then. The flimsy neutrality was over. It was one of the very few moments in Greek history where people united in the common fight overlooked political differences. Metaxas have never been more popular among cheering crowds who be fore this moment could not count all of them as his supporters[39].

Triumph and Tragedy

But it was Britain that had the biggest issue. Churchill’s first reply was: “Britain would do her best[40]”, not very reassuring in the ears of a struggling ally. Britain was effectively under siege from the Axis and had limited resources to spare for Greece[41]. The successful British air attacks against the Italian fleet also showed that something was done[42]. The first British servicemen were RAF personnel and arrived on 2nd November 1940 but Anglo-Greek cooperation was strained. Metaxas considered the RAF forces sent to Greece insufficient[43]. On 15th November 1940 Metaxas refused to participate in a conference of the Allied Governments in Exile that was to be held in London because he did not want to provoke Hitler[44] and he knew that the Greek position was precarious.

Greece was expected to fall[45] but instead she was fighting and its Army seemed to have the upper hand in the conflict. The Greek army had advanced in Albania and had been welcomed by the ethnic Greeks living there.[46] The mighty Italian empire had been humiliated by small agrarian country. There was a severe crisis in the Italian High command[47], which was humiliated by pleading for German aid[48]. For the first time it was proven that the Axis was not unbeatable. Against all odds the Greeks had scored the first victory against the Axis. Vichy-France and Spain had second thoughts in joining Hitler and the once powerful Mussolini was seen as a comic figure[49] but Hitler would not accept the humiliation of his ally.

The Greeks stressed that they were fighting Italy and not Germany. They refused to allow the RAF using the northern Greek airports in order to avoid provoking the Germans. They also did not impose restrictive measures against Germans living in Greece-especially German reporters much to the irritation of the British who were forced to live side by side with their enemies as if they were in neutral ground[50]! Greek authorities were of the opinion that not all should be told to the British[51]and Air Chief Marshal Longmore viewed the Greek campaign as a sideshow of the main British operation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean[52].

The fortifications of the Greco-Bulgarian border were incomplete. British aid was insufficient to defend Greece but sufficient to provoke a German attack and the Greeks were hesitant to accept British ground forces[53]. British proposals for sending troops to Greece took the form of diplomatic pressure[54] but Metaxas who had German contacts from old engaged in unofficial diplomacy. The German military attaché through the mayor of Athens had offered German proposals for mediation[55]. The Hungarian ambassador in Madrid approached the Greek ambassador with German mediation proposals. The British knew these actions, but there was little they could do. The vague Anglo-French guarantee of 1939 did not impose any specific obligations on the receivers and Greece was not officially at war with Germany. It will be never known if German mediation would have helped Greece to avoid the future calamities that befell her because Metaxas died on 29 January 1941. His death prompted lots of conspiracy theories –most likely by Greek germanophiles- that English doctors murdered him.

death-ioannis-john-metaxas

Metaxas Funeral. Source: metaxas-project.com

The basis of this theory is based on articles from the newspapers VRADINI and KATHIMERINH of 30th January 1941, both stating that Metaxas before his death was treated by British doctors. Examination of the VRADINI 30-January-1941 issue shows no mention of a non-hospital Greek or foreign doctor treating or even visiting Metaxas. KATHIMERINH does mention that the hospital’s director called a British military doctor friend of his (figure 1). Either hospital archives or British official sources do not corroborate this event. It would be highly irregular for a British military doctor to treat the governor of a foreign state without approval or knowledge of his superiors and some record of his own actions or his superiors’ official authorization. It would be absurd to think that British RAF personnel (the only British troops in Greece at the time) approached key allied leaders without the knowledge of their commander namely Air Marshal Sir John D’Albiac. The only still classified records related to him and troops subordinated to him at the time concern activities in Iraq not Greece. The death certificate, the coroner’s report and the record of Metaxas death in the municipal registry are also missing thus fueling more speculation. But considering the chaos that was reigning in Greece from 10th to 30th of April 1941 due to the German attack record loss was not unusual.

The Greek Prime Minister until his death had said a second “NO” to British ground troops intervention in Greece. His stance would have allowed the British to finish off the Italians in North Africa and force Mussolini to accept Hitler’s mediation for a ceasefire with Greece. Greece would have benefited from stopping its war losses and revert to its neutrality but Britain would have lost its only foothold in Europe[56]. Britain’s aim was to fight Germany but Metaxas aim was to safeguard the interests of Greece and the continuation of war would bring only ruin. His death occurred in a convenient time and his peace efforts through Hitler came to nothing. The possibility of a coincidence since he was a frail old man cannot be ruled out and evidence of foul play are simply in the realm of conspiracy theory.

The only real fact is that his steady attitude was dearly missed during the tragic days of April 1941 and one can also speculate that his funeral was also the funeral of whatever little hope existed for the avoidance of the horrors of the Axis occupation.

kathimerini

Figure 1 The marked text reads: “The director of Evangelsmos (hospital) Mr. Lorandos called an English doctor friend of his (lieutenant of the medical corps) from the nearby English military hospital, who had a special oxygen inhaling device by air pressure. The employment of this device and a new blood transfusion, done in a different method suggested by the English doctor, and finally the infusion of serum and the heart revival injections showed some improvement that unfortunately was superficial.

Sources:

Books:

AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN AND GREEK-GERMAN WAR 1940-1941 Hellenic Army History Directorate Athens 1997

Axelrod A. The Real History of World War II: A New Look at the Past Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. N. York 2008

Bernard P, Dubief H, ForsterA The Decline of the Third Republic, 1914-1938 Cambridge University Press, 1988

Carr J. The defence and fall of Greece 1940-41 Pen and Sword London 2013

Casson S., Greece Vs Axis London 1941

Hasluck E. Lewis The Second World War Blackie, London 1948

Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship,

Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993.

Higham R. Diary of a Disaster: British Aid to Greece, 1940-1941 University Press of Kentucky, 2015

Jelavich B. History of the Balkans:Vol 2 Cambridge University Press,

Metaxas I. Personal Diaries 1933-1941 Vol. II ed, by Paedon Vranas, Icarus Athens 1960 (in Greek)

Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics: Greece and Germany from World Crisis to World War, 1929-41 Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 1998

Overy R. J. (Editor) Times» Atlas of the 20th Century” Harper Collins Publishers Ltd London 1996

Papastratis P. British policy towards Greece during the second world war 1941-1944 Cambridge University Press, 1984

Plowman J War in the Balkans: The Battle for Greece and Crete 1940-1941Pen and Sword, London 2013

Rossides E. T. Greece’s Pivotal Role in World War II and its Importance to the U.S. Today American

 Articles

Eichengreen, B., & Portes, R. (1989). Settling Defaults in the Era of Bond Finance. The World Bank Economic Review, 3(2), 211-239. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3989893

Roberts, G.. (2011). Moscow’s Cold War on the Periphery: Soviet Policy in Greece, Iran, and Turkey, 1943–8. Journal of Contemporary History46(1), 58–81. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25764609

Ritschl, A. O.. (2001). Nazi Economic Imperialism and the Exploitation of the Small: Evidence from Germany’s Secret Foreign Exchange Balances, 1938-1940. The Economic History Review,54(2), 324–345. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3091909

Ringrose Daniel M. (2004) Minot State University «Nomadic Technicians and Migration in the Francophone World», Proceedings of The Western Society for French History Volume 32, ISSN: 0099-0329

 

Websites:

SFIKAS A. (2004) DOOMED NEUTRALITY: GREEK FOREIGN POLICY, 1936-1940, Dodone Journal, Ioannina University Vol 33 pp 212-248 a seen on 3-Sep-2016

http://olympias.lib.uoi.gr/jspui/bitstream/123456789/25380/1/4.%20Doomed%20neutrality%20Greek%20foreign%20policy,%201936%20-%201940.pdf

Sophia Lazaretou GREEK MONETARY ECONOMICS IN RETROSPECT: THE ADVENTURES OF THE DRACHMA Bank of Greece publications as seen on 3-Sep-2016

http://www.bankofgreece.gr/BogEkdoseis/Paper200302.pdf

Sophia Lazaretou, The Drachma in the Metal Numismatic Regimes, Economic Bulletin No 13, Bank of Greece July 1999 (In Greek) as seen on 3-Sep-2016

http://www.bankofgreece.gr/BogEkdoseis/oikodelt199907.pdf

United States State Department, Office of the Historian. Documents about Greece in WWII

https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1940v03/ch10 as seen on 3-Sep-2016

United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1940. General and Europe (1940) 3-Sep-2016

http://images.library.wisc.edu/FRUS/EFacs/1940v02/reference/frus.frus1940v02.i0008.pdf

[1] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans: Vol. 2 Cambridge University Press, p211

[2] Daniel M. Ringrose Minot State University «Nomadic Technicians and Migration in the Francophone World», Proceedings of The Western Society for French History Volume 32, 2004 ISSN: 0099-0329

[3] Bernard P, Dubief H, ForsterA The Decline of the Third Republic, 1914-1938 Cambridge University Press, 1988 p103

[4] Veremis Th. “Introduction» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center1993 p8

[5] Sophia Lazaretou Greek Monetary Economics p7

[6] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans Vol II p215

[7] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p52

[8] Sofia Lazaretoy, The Drachma in Metal Numismatic Regimes, Economic Bulletin No 13, Bank of Greece July 1999 p12

[9] Barry Eichengreen and Richard Portes, SETTLING DEFAULTS IN THE ERA OF BOND FINANCE, II – THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENTS, The World Bank Economic Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, May 1989, p 219

[10] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p98

[11] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p98

[12] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p77

[13] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans:Vol 2 Cambridge University Press, p213

[14] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center1993 p97

[15] Hasluck E. L. The Second World War p45

[16] Bower T. The Paperclip Conspiracy: The Hunt for the Nazi Scientists Michael Tzoseph London 1987 p3

[17] Hasluck E. Lewis The Second World War p133

[18] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p52

[19] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p55

[20] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p56

[21] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p70

[22] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p83

[23] Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p77

[24] Casson S. Greece Vs Axis pp5-7 Mogens P. Tobacco, Arms, and Politics p106, p118

[25] US State Dpt 740.0011 European War 1939/4105: Telegram The Chargé in Germany (Heath) to the Secretary of State Berlin, June 22, 1940

[26] Hasluck E. L. The Second World War p122

[27] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans Vol II p215

[28] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans:Vol 2 Cambridge University Press, p228

[29] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans Vol II p218

[30] OTTOBRE 1940: LA CAMPAGNA DI GRECIA – IMMAGINI DI STORIA p29

[31] US State Dpt 740.0011 European War 1939/4563: Telegram The Minister in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State Athens, July 10, 1940

[32] Close D.H. «The power base of Metaxas regime» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p47

[33] Rossides (2001) Greece’s Pivotal Role In World War II pp25-31

[34] Overy R. J. (Editor) Times» Atlas of the 20th Century” p94

[35] Jelavich B. History of the Balkans Vol II p219

[36] Plowman J War in the Balkans: The Battle for Greece and Crete 1940-1941 pp 11.12

[37] Hasluck E. Lewis The Second World War p 125

[38] Carr J. The defence and fall of Greece 1940-41 p 35

[39] Carr J. The defence and fall of Greece 1940-41 p 38

[40] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R, Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p 100

[41] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p27

[42] Carr J. The defense and fall of Greece 1940-41 p59

[43] Carr J. The defense and fall of Greece 1940-41 p59

[44] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R. Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p 100 & Document 20 Telegram no T32984 of Metaxas to Greek Ambassador in London rejecting the proposal AHD 1940-1941 Greek Diplomatic documents.

[45] Hasluck E. Lewis The Second World War p123

[46] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p106

[47] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p112

[48] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p113

[49] Hasluck E. Lewis The Second World War p126

[50] T.H. Wisdom, WINGS OVER OLYMPUS pp 76-78

[51] Carr J. The defence and fall of Greece 1940-41 109

[52] Carr J. The defence and fall of Greece 1940-41 p110

[53] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p171

[54] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center 1993 p 101

[55] AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE GREEK-ITALIAN & GREEK-GERMAN WAR p169

[56] Koliopoulos J. «Metaxas and the Greek foreign policy» from Higham R., Veremis Th. (ed.), Aspects of Greece 1936-1940: The Metaxas Dictatorship, Athens, Εliamep-Vryonis Center,1993 p 103

An unusual shield device monogram


Ancient ceramic art from Ancient Athens gives a good indication of the usage of Greek letters as emblems for shield devices and some times it yields really unusual information although open to subjective interpretations and theories as the evidence are like some bits of along lost puzzle.And some times real gems can be found in artifacts not exhibited in museums.

There exists a truly exceptional calyx-shaped red figure crater in Athens. It is the product of an ancient Attic workshop and is dated to the end of the 4th century BC. The style of the drawings upon its surface helps us to classify it as “Kerch style” pottery. It is registered in the archaeological collection of the Bank of Greece with code ΤτΕ.ΑΡΧ/79. It depicts a Dionysian scene but of note is a shield at the bottom of the image

Crater depicting shield with monogram

Attic red figure calyx-shaped crater – of the “Kertsch type”. Upon it a shield carrying the “FS” or “PS” is depicted. (The Bank of Greece archaeological collection) Courtesy: the Bank of Greece

Upon this shield is depicted an unusual letter that did not pass in the modern Greek alphabet. We know it from inscriptions of Arcadia and it is a consonant with phonetic value «FS» or «PS». The first thought is that this is a shield with the monogram of the Arcadian city of Psophis. But the coins of this city bore the initials of the city, «XO» (where the X is pronounced “PS” in the Arcadian dialect), along with depictions of fish and stags. According to Pausanias, the hero Zakynthos was descended from Arcadian Psophis. This hero founded the settlement of the island of Zakynthos (modern Zante). The people of the island stayed loyal allies to the Athenians until the end of the Peloponnesian War. In addition, the citadel of Zakynthos was called Psophis. So it is very likely the image on the crater to represent a shield with the emblem of the Zakynthian elite hoplites that probably had their barracks at the citadel, as was the custom in Antiquity.

Spartan mustache NOT shaven!!!


It’s a widely held concept, coming probably from the popular history books that there was a tradition for the Spartan Homioi to shave their mustaches at least once a year.

This is based on a bronze statuette from a Laconian workshop that was found in Dodona and depicts a warrior wearing an “illyric” helmet. He is having a beard but not a mustache. But another statuette of the same period and origin depict a warrior with a mustache. Why the difference?

statuetes

Close ups of the Dodona warrior statuettes, products of a Laconian workshop (Author’s archive)

While Plutarch’s Life of Agis and Cleomenes is more widely known, a little less known version, translated by John & William Langhorne in 1770, is describing the two kings separately. In section 9.3 it says: “Hence it was that the Ephors (as Aristotle tells us), when they entered upon their office, caused proclamation to be made, that the people should shave the upper lip, and be obedient to the laws, that they might not be under the necessity of having recourse to severity. As for the shaving of the upper lip, in my opinion, all the design of that injunction is, to teach the youth obedience in the smallest matters.”

All these created the General concept that the Archaic and Classical Era Spartans did not have mustaches because the law forbade it. It is possible though that his is an oversimplified generalization.

The prototype Greek text in Plutarch’s work uses the word “keiresthe” (“th” as in Thursday) which is the infinitive of the verb “Keiromai” which means to shorten or limit something by clipping it. The verb to cut in Greek is also “kopto”.

moystax

If we check the original text in Aristotle fragment 539 we se the phrase: “mi trephein mystaka” which means in Greek not to overgrow a mustache.

aristotelis-539

One is to wander because Greek art rarely if ever shows men with overgrown moustaches. Or at least so most people think because impressive mustaches appear in Greek fashions from the Bronze Age.

maskofagamemnon

Mask of Agamemenon from National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Source : wikimedia commons

It can be argued here that Ancient Greek Art depicts what was idealized or fashionable and that not every body appeared in the limited number of forms that we see in our modern era museums or books. There are examples of really impressive mustaches in ancient Greek Statues though, that they are usually worn with a beard.

ancient-beard-styles

Ancient Greek impressive mustaches. Source: beardstyles101.com

In ancient Greek language the verb to shave is “xyro” and it can be found in any Ancient Greek language wordbook both ancient and modern.

shaving-word

From Liddell-Scott Word book

If the Ephors of Ancient Sparta ordered the shaving of the mustache why at least one of the ancient sources does not use the verb “xyro”. As MacDowell wrote in his work Spartan Law “…the power of the Ephors was tyrannical. They did not enforce written laws, imposed penalties on any contact which they considered wrong.” There was no law on mustaches. “The Ephors simply ordered it on their own authority” according to MacDowell. As shown above the Ephors were NOT ordering mustaches to be shaved but rather to be clipped and for no other reason than because they could do so.

Well, imagine a common soldier elected to the office and then being able to go to his former superior officer, who might have mistreated him once, and ordered him to clip his mustache. Or imagine some Homios who expected to be subjected to the penalty and shaving his mustache beforehand and thus cheating an Ephor of his chance to impose his authority. What ever the case the mustacheless Spartans cannot be taken as a fact.

Sources:

Spartan Law – D.M.MacDowell, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh 1986 pp 110,111

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057

Plutarch. Lives, Volume X: Agis and Cleomenes. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Philopoemen and Flamininus. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Loeb Classical Library 102. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1921.

Published on «Ναυτική Επιθεώρηση»


Ευχαριστώ την Υπηρεσία Ιστορίας του Πολεμικού Ναυτικού για την τιμή που μου έκανε να φιλοξεvήσει το άρθρο μου για το Ναυτικό του Ξέρξη στο τεύχος 596,  τόμος 176 του επίσημου οργάνου του Πολεμικού μας Ναυτικού ¨Ναυτική Επιθεώρηση».

I thank the Hellenic Navy Historical Service for bestowing me the honor to publish my article «Xerxes Navy» in the issue 596, vol 176 of the official Navy’s journal «Naftiki Epitheorisi» (Naval Review)

ne-eksofyllo ne-arr

Pythagorean Star on Athenas shield – Αστήρ Πυθαγορείων εν ασπίδη Αθηνάς


1801066_10207300653657445_1412892879_n

An artist’s impression of the goddess Athena as Promachos (Leading fighter – defender) and Hygeia (Health) sporting the Pythagorean’s five-ray star on her shield. (MF150 Muse d’Art et d’Histoire –Geneve) It is the geometric combination of the number three that was sacred to the Pythagoreans with the five elements that they also believes comprised the essence of the Universe is the word for health in Greek (YGEIA)

  1. Hydor (water -liquids) 2. Gaea (earth – solid material) 3.Eile (solar heat – energy) 4. Idea (our ability to comprehend our surroundings) 5. Air (wind –the gasseous materials)

Digital imaging E. Kastelloriou

Η Αθηνά σε διπλό ρόλο: Πρόμαχος αλλα και Υγεια με το άστρο των Πυθαγορείων στην ασπίδα (MF150 Muse d’Art et d’Histoire (Γενεύη) Ο γεωμετρικός συνδυασδμός συνδυασμός του ιερού τους αριθμού τρια με τα πέντε στοιχεiα των δοξασιών τους σχηματιοζει ακροστοιχιδα τηε λέξης ΥΓΕΙΑ :

  1. Ύδωρ
    1. Γαία 3.
    2. Ειλή (θερμότητα του ήλιου – ενέργεια)
    3. Ιδέα ή Ιερόν
    4. Αήρ;

Ψηφιακή εικόνα. Ε Καστελλοριού

Ζωντανή Ιστορία στην Ελλάδα μεταξύ φθοράς και αφθαρσίας.


Παρά τις οποιεσδήποτε αντιξοότητες η «Ζωντανή Ιστορία» στην Ελλάδα ήρθε για να μείνει. Η Ιστορική αναβίωση άρχισε να διαδίδεται και να γίνεται αποδεκτή ακόμα  και στη χώρα μας. Τον περασμένο μάλιστα Νοέμβριο το Πολεμικό Μουσείο συνεργάστηκε με συλλόγους αναβιωτών και διοργάνωσε την εκδήλωση «Ελλήνων Τέχνη Πολεμική – 3.000 Χρόνια Ελλήνων Πολεμιστών». Οι επίσημοι και το κοινό είχαν την ευκαιρία να δουν ζωντανούς του Έλληνες πολεμιστές δια μέσου των αιώνων. Ηταν μια από τις κορυφαίες στιγμές της Ιστορικής αναβίωσης στη χώρα μας, τουλάχιστον στα δέκα χρόνια που ασχολούμαι με το χώρο.

Και φέτος ήταν μια χρόνια πλούσια σε εκδηλώσεις και οι αναβιωτές έλαβαν μέρος στις εκδηλώσεις που έγιναν σε διάφορες περιοχές της χώρας τις περιόδους των ιστορικών επετείων. Είχα γράψει στο παρελθόν ότι όσοι αναβιωτές ασχολούνται με την Νεώτερη Ιστορία της Ελλάδας δείχνουν να τη σέβονται περισσότερο και αυτό επιβεβαιώθηκε για μια ακόμα φορά. Τον Απρίλιο που μας πέρασε αναβιωτές του Δευτέρου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου έλαβαν μέρος στις εκδηλώσεις για τη «Μάχη των Οχυρών». Ο σύλλογος «Φίλοι του Οχυρού Ιστίμπεη» με τη συνεργασία της ομάδας «Ελληνικός Στρατός 1940» των Πολωνών αναβιωτών της ομάδας «Edelweiss» παρουσίασαν μια εξαιρετική αναπαράσταση επεισοδίων από τις μάχες του Απριλίου 1941.

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Ενδιαφέρον ήταν και το γεγονός ότι τον Μάιο έλαβαν χώρα εκδηλώσεις υπό την αιγίδα του Δήμου Σιντικής και του Υπουργείου Αμύνης στο Οχυρό Ρούπελ. Με τη συνεργασία των ομάδων «Σερραίοι Ε.Σ. Β ΠΠ» και «LAH» παρουσίασαν στο κοινό αναπαραστάσεις των γεγονότων της εποχής.

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Πηγή: Huffington Post Ελλάδας

 

Οι αναπαραστάσεις έγιναν με απόλυτο σεβασμό στην Ιστορία.

Στην Ιερά Πόλη του Μεσολογγίου ο σύλλογος ιστορικής φορεσιάς και οπλισμού «ΛΙΑΡΟΣ» έλαβε μέρος στις εκδηλώσεις για την επέτειο του 1821 αλλά και για την Έξοδο του Μεσολογγίου.

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Η ποιότητα των αναπαραστάσεων τους είναι εξαιρετική (πηγή: messolonghinews.blogspot.gr)

 Στο τομέα της Αρχαίας ιστορίας τα πράγματα ειναι πολύ αμφιλεγόμενα. Τον περασμένο αιώνα και ανάλογα με τα τότε διατιθέμενα μέσα η ποιότητα των αναπαραστάσεων ήταν κορυφαία για την εποχή της.  Αδιάψευστη μαρτυρία η φωτογραφία από τις Δελφικές Γιορτές που οργάνωσε ο Άγγελος Σικελιανός το 1927 και το 1930.

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Δυστυχώς σήμερα τα πράγματα δεν ειναι ευχάριστα για τις αναπραστάσεις με θέμα την Αρχαιότητα. Ο «ωχαδερφισμός» και ανευθυνότητα κυριαρχούν, ενώ ή λογική του «..σιγά και ποιός θα το καταλάβει…»  καταστρέφει το τελικό αποτέλεσμα. Τα ριχτάρια του καναπέ εμφανίστηκαν πάλι στους τόπους θυσίας των προγόνων μας  μαζί με…ποδοσφαιρικές  σημαίες!!

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Καμαρώστε τα σανδάλια με νelcro που φοράει άλλος «οπλίτης» (αριστερά) και μετά γελάμε με τα «καραγκιοζιλίκια» που κάνουν οι Σκοπιανοί» στις αναπαραστάσεις τους.

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Προσωπικά πιστεύω ότι οι περισσότεροι αυτόκλητοι αναβιωτές που ισχυρίζονται ότι τιμούν τους αρχαίους προγόνους μας μάλλον τους μισούν γιατί δεν θα τους φτάσουν ποτέ. Αλλιώς δεν εξηγείται η συνεχής τάση τους να ασελγούν κατα συρροήν κι εξακολούθηση πάνω στην Αρχαία μας Παράδοση και να κατακλύζουν το Διαδίκτυο με τις φωτογραφίες των βδελυγμάτων τους.

Δείτε και φρίξτε….

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