Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ephors

Article from Wiki:

An ephor (Classical Greek Ἔφορος) (from the Greek ἐπί, epi, "on" or "over", and ὁράω, horaō, "to see", i.e. "one who oversees") was an official of ancient Sparta. There were five ephors elected annually, who swore each month to uphold the rule of the two kings, while the kings swore to uphold the law.

Herodotus claimed that the institution was created by Lycurgus, but it may have arisen from the need for governors while the kings were leading armies in battle. The ephors were elected by the popular assembly, and all citizens were eligible for election. They were forbidden to be reelected. They provided a balance for the two kings, who rarely cooperated with each other. Plato called them tyrants who ran Sparta as despots, while the kings were little more than generals.

The ephors presided over meetings of the Gerousia, the oligarchic council of elders. They were in charge of civil trials, taxation, the calendar, foreign policy, and military training for young men. The year was named after one of them, like the eponymous archon of Athens. Two ephors accompanied the army in battle, and they could arrest and imprison the kings for misconduct during war. The ephors were also considered to be personally at war with the helots, so that they could imprison or execute any of them for any reason at any time without having to bring them to trial or violate religious rituals.

Cleomenes III abolished the ephors in 227 BC, but they were restored by the Macedonian king Antigonus III Doson after the Battle of Sellasia. The position existed into the 2nd century AD when it was probably abolished by the Roman emperor Hadrian.

The Apella

After a break with references to the more recent past of the descendants of the Spartans, lets return to the main scope of this blog with an article from wikipedia about the Apella:

Apella was the official title of the popular assembly in the Ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, corresponding to the ecclesia in most other Greek states. Every Spartan male full citizen who had completed his thirtieth year was entitled to attend the meetings, which, according to Lycurgus's ordinance, must be held at the time of each full moon within the boundaries of Sparta.

They had in all probability taken place originally in the Agora, but were later transferred to the neighbouring building known as the Skias (Paus. iii. 12. 10). The presiding officers were at first the kings, but in historical times the ephors, and the voting was conducted by shouts; if the president was doubtful as to the majority of voices, a division was taken and the votes were counted. Lycurgus had ordained that the apella must simply accept or reject the proposals submitted to it, and though this regulation fell into neglect, it was practically restored by the law of Theopompus and Polydorus which empowered the kings and elders (gerousia) to set aside any "crooked" decision of the people (Plut. Lycurg. 6). In later times, too, the actual debate was almost, if not wholly, confined to the kings, elders, ephors and perhaps the other magistrates. The apella voted on peace and war, treaties and foreign policy in general: it decided which of the kings should conduct a campaign and settled questions of disputed succession to the throne: it elected elders, ephors and other magistrates, emancipated helots and perhaps voted on legal proposals. There is a single reference (Xen. Hell. iii. 3. 8) to a "small assembly" ἡ μικρα καλουμενη εκκλησια) at Sparta, but nothing is known as to its nature or competence. The term apella does not occur in extant Spartan inscriptions, though two decrees of Gythium belonging to the Roman period refer to the μεγαλαι απελλαι (Le Bas-Foucart, Voyage archéologique, ii., Nos. 242a, 243).

The apella was responsible for electing men to the gerousia for life. Candidates were selected from the aristocrats and presented before the apella. The candidate who received the loudest applause became a member of the gerousia.

The apella also elected the five ephors annually. Ephors presided over meetings of the gerousia and the apella. They could not run for re-election.

The gerousia presented motions before the apella. The apella then voted on the motions. However, unlike the ecclesia in Athens, the apella did not debate; it merely approved or disapproved of measures. Moreover, the gerousia always had the power to veto the decision of the apella.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Recent Thermopylae of the Greeks, Part IV

The Holocaust of Arkadi

A little known historical fact to many, the Holocaust of Arkadi is a significant date in Hellenic history. This key event was an important precursor to the emancipation of Crete from the Turks in 1898, and in enosis (union) with Greece in 1913.

The Holy Monastery of Arkadi is one of Crete's most acclaimed symbols of freedom. Here, hundreds of people perished in the fight for freedom. Its history dates back to Byzantine times, and this fortress- like monastery is said to be named for Arkadios, a monk who founded the holy order. By the 16th century, the monastery played an important role in the cultural life of Crete, as it contained a library and a school. This legendary monastery still stands today, as a reminder of the great sacrifices made by these brave individuals for freedom. One can visit the monastery, located in the area near Rethymnon. There is a museum inside, which houses relics from the holocaust as well as some beautiful icons. Currently, two monks reside there and a massive restoration effort began a few years ago.

The Cretans and the Turks had a long history of frequent and bloody uprisings. Cretans, long known for their bravery and survival skills, were determined to fight with every available tool-whether a rifle or farm implements. They wished to guard family and country, with the ultimate goal of gaining independence and union with Greece. Steadfast in this mission, by 1866, a 16-member revolutionary committee had formed, and with its strategic placement, made Arkadi Monastery its headquarters.

When the Turkish Pasha that ruled in Rethymnon became aware of the committee, he ordered Abbot Gabriel Marinakis to disarm the committee immediately and eject the rebels, or the monastery would be destroyed. Little did the Pasha know, Abbot himself was acting as chairman of the committee.

Therefore, Abbot Gabriel refused the command. The rebels began to prepare, as they knew a Turkish attack was imminent.

In the early morning hours of November 8, 1866, the rebels were wakened to the sight 15,000 Turkish soldiers surrounding the monastery, and at least 30 cannons ready to fir members, were guarding the monastery walls. To further complicate matters, there were 700 women and children within the confines of monastery, who had sought refuge from the Turks.

The Turkish commander demanded surrender. The response was gunfire, and the battle ensued. Turkish forces attacked the monastery and met with heavy fire from the Cretan rebels, as well as snipers hiding in a windmill. As that first day drew to a close, the area was filled with Turkish corpses. The snipers were killed, but somehow, the gate and walls were held.

During the night, two of the rebels snuck out, dressed as Turkish soldiers. They went for help in a nearby town. Unable to secure reinforcements, one of the rebels actually snuck back into the monastery, to continue the fight.

The next morning, utilizing heavy artillery, Turkish troops smashed the gate and destroyed the entry walls. The abbot gathered all the people into the chapel to administer the last sacrament. He advised them to die bravely, as he himself was going to do.

Undaunted, Abbot Gabriel went out on an unguarded terrace and began shooting at the Turks. The Pasha ordered the abbot to be taken alive. The Turks tried to follow orders, but one Turkish soldier found the ease of murdering Abbot too tempting. Abbot was shot in the stomach and fell to his death. Shortly before dying, Abbot gave his blessing to a rather desperate plan, developed by rebel Konstantine Giaboudakis. The refugees preferred death to falling into the hands of the Turks, so they went along with the plan. The committee unanimously approved and they moved forward.

Though the rebels waged a fierce battle, resulting in hundreds of Turkish casualties, they knew they couldn't continue at that level, as munitions were running low. By nighttime, the Turks launched a massive assault, storming the monastery and entering the inner courtyard. Fearless, the rebels fought them in hand-to-hand style combat.

During this time, Giaboudakis led the women and children into the gunpowder storage room. They prayed together and waited until the Turkish troops were pounding at the door. As the door began to break, Giaboudakis lit a gunpowder keg, resulting in a massive explosion. All the refugees were killed, as well as hundreds of Turkish soldiers. The final death toll was 864 Cretans, including men, women and children, plus 1500 Turkish troops. Of the 114 prisoners taken by the Turks, all were put to death. Somehow, three rebels escaped and lived to tell of the astonishing events that took place.

News of the holocaust rocked Europe, and won much support for the Cretan freedom movement. In 1898, with the assistance of Greece, England, France, Italy and Russia, the Turks withdrew, ending their occupation of the island that dated back to 1669. At long last Crete had won its independence. By 1913, the ultimate goal was achieved-unity with Greece.

This is yet another tale of the bravery and unwavering courage of our Hellenic ancestors in the fight for freedom from the Turks. May these brave individuals rest in peace and may we always remember their courage and determination. Visit this historical place when visiting Crete; yet another piece of our proud Hellenic history.

Original Text
About the Arkadi monastery (in greek)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Recent Thermopylae of the Greeks, Part III

the Greeks were actually celebrating their entrance to WW 2 (!!!)

Recent Thermopylae of the Greeks, Part II

Recent Thermopylae of the Greeks, Part I

A new chapter in this blog celebrating more recent heroic deeds of the descendants of the Spartans.

Begining with the Ottoman-Egyptian invasion of Mani and following with a couple of videos about the first allied victories of the second World War...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quiz: Where are the Spartans today? THE ANSWER

Finally some time to answer my quiz question, I am copy/pasting from Wikipedia part of the chapter on the Maniots (the history of Maniots from Mycenaean to Medieval times, records prove that the inhabitants of the area remained faithful to the old Gods until at least the 9th century AD):

The Maniots (or Maniates; Greek: Μανιάτες) are the Greek inhabitants of the Mani Peninsula (the middle leg of the Peloponnese) located in the southern Peloponnese in the Greek prefecture of Laconia and prefecture of Messinia. They were also formerly known as Mainotes in English and the peninsula as Maina. Etymologically, the name "Maniot" means "one who comes from Mani". Geographically, the peninsula itself is an extension of the Taygetus mountain range. Modern Maniots claim descent from the ancient Lacedaemonians (Spartans). Throughout history, the Maniots have been known by their neighbors and their enemies as fearless warriors who practice blood feuds.

As early as Byzantine times, the Maniots were also known as pirates, as a result of lack of raw materials and resources, and insufficient capital for trade. For the most part, the Maniots lived in fortified villages (and "house-towers") where they defended their lands against the Ottomans and even against the armies of William II Villehardouin.

Mycenaean Mani
Homer's "Catalogue of ships" in the Iliad mentions the cities of Mani: Messi (Mezapos), Oetylus (Oitylo), Kardamili (or Skardamoula), Gerenia, Teuthone (Kotronas) and Las (Passavas). Under the Mycenaeans, Mani flourished and a temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo was built at Cape Tenaro. The temple was of such importance that it rivaled Delphi which was then a temple dedicated to Poseidon. Eventually, the temple of Tenaro was dedicated to Poseidon and the temple at Delphi was dedicated to Apollo. According to other legends, there is a cave near Tenaro that leads to Hades. Mani was also featured in other mythological tales such as the one where Helen of Troy and Paris spent their first night together on the island of Cranae, off the coast of Gytheio.

In the 12th century BC, the Dorians invaded Laconia. The Dorians originally settled at Sparta, but they soon started to expand their territory and by around 800 BC they had taken over Mani and the rest of Laconia. Mani's inhabitants were given the social caste of Perioeci. During that time, the Phoenicians came to Mani and were thought to have established a colony at Gythium. The Phoenicians built the colony at Gythium in order to collect murex, a sea shell that was used to make purple dye and was plentiful in the Laconian Gulf.

Classical Mani
While the Spartans ruled Mani, Tenaro became an important gathering place for mercenaries. Gythium became a major port under the Spartans as it was only 27 kilometres away from Sparta. In 455 BC, during the First Peloponnesian War, it was besieged and captured by the Athenian admiral, Tolmides, along with 50 triremes and 4,000 hoplites. The city and the dockyards were rebuilt and by the late Peloponnesian War, Gythium was the main building place for the new Spartan fleet. The Spartan leadership of the Peloponnese lasted until 371 BC, when the Thebans under Epaminondas defeated them at Leuctra. The Thebans launched a campaign against Laconia and managed to capture Gythium after a three day siege. The Thebans only briefly managed to hold Gythium, which was captured by 100 elite warriors posing as athletes.

Hellenistic Mani
During the Hellenistic period of Greece, Mani remained under Spartan control. The Macedonians under the command of Philip V of Macedon invaded Mani and Laconia (219 BC - 218 BC) and unsuccessfully besieged the cities of Gythium, Las and Asine. When Nabis took over the Spartan throne in 207 BC, he implemented some reforms. One of these reforms entailed making Gythium into a major port and naval arsenal. In 195 BC, during the Roman-Spartan War, the Roman Republic and the Achean League with assistance from a combined Pergamese and Rhodian captured Gythium after a lengthy siege.

The allies went on to besiege Sparta and forced Nabis to surrender. As part of the terms of the peace treaty, the coastal cities of Mani were liberated. The cities formed the Koinon of Free Laconians with Gythium as the capitol under Achean protection. Nabis not content with losing his land in Mani, built a fleet and strengthened his army and advanced upon Gythium in 192 BC. The Achean League's army and navy under Philopoemen, tried to relieve the city but the Achean navy was defeated off Gythium and the army was forced to retreat to Tegea. A Roman fleet under Atilius managed to re-capture Gythium later that year. Nabis was murdered later that year and Sparta was made part of the Achean League. However, the Spartans, while searching for a port, attacked Las and captured it. The Acheans responded by seizing Sparta and forcing their laws on it.

Roman Mani
The Maniots lived in peace until 146 BC with the advent of the Battle of Corinth. The conflict resulted in the destruction of Corinth by the forces of Lucius Mummius Achaicus and the annexation of the Achaean League by the Roman Republic. Even though the Romans conquered the Peloponnese, the Koinon was allowed to retain its independence. The Maniots suffered from pirate raids by Cretan and Cilicians who plundered Mani and pillaged the temple of Poseidon. The Maniots were delivered from the pirates when Pompey the Great defeated them. Most probably in gratitude, the Maniots supplied Pompey with archers in his battles against Julius Caesar during Caesar's civil war (49 BC - 45 BC).

During the Civil war between Antony and Octavian (32 BC - 30 BC), the Maniots and Laconians assisted Augustus by sending him men to join his navy. Augustus defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII of Egypt at the Battle of Actium (September 2, 31 BC) and in gratitude, he officially recognized the Koinon and visited Psamathous and it became a semi-independent state. This signified the beginning of the Golden Age of the Koinon.

Mani flourished under the Romans. The Koinon consisted of 24 cities (later 18), of which Gythium remained the prominent. However, some parts of Mani remained under the also semi-independent Sparta, the most notable being Asine and Karymili. The Mani became the center of the purple dye, which was popular in Rome as well as being well known for it's rose antique marble and porphyry. Las is recorded to have been a comfortable city with Roman baths and a gymnasium.

Pausanias the geographer left us a description of the town as it existed during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161 - 180). The agora, the Acropolis, the island of Cranae (Marathonisi) where Paris celebrated his nuptials with Helen of Troy, the Migonium or precinct of Aphrodite Migonitis (occupied by the modern town), and the hill Larysium (Koumaro) rising above it. Nowadays, the most noteworthy remains of the theatre and the buildings partially submerged by the sea all belong to the Roman period.

The Koinon remained semi-independent until the provincial reforms of Roman Emperor Diocletian in 297. With the barbarian invasion affecting the Roman Empire, Mani became a haven for refugees. In 375, a massive earthquake in the area took its toll on Gythium which was severely devastated.

Medieval Mani

From Theodosius I to the Avar invasion
On January 17, 395, Theodosius I who had managed to unite the Roman Empire under his control died. His eldest son Arcadius succeeded him in the Eastern Roman Empire while his younger son Honorius received the Western Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had split for the last time and Mani became part of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. Between 395 and 397, Alaric I and his Visigoths plundered the Peloponnese and destroyed what was left of Gythium. Alaric captured the most famous cities, Corinth, Argos, and Sparta, selling many of their inhabitants into slavery. He was at last defeated by Stilicho and then crossed the Gulf of Corinth towards the north.

In 468, Genseric of the Vandals, trying to conquer Mani, with the purpose of using it as a base to raid the Peloponnese and then conquer the Peloponnese. Genseric tried to land his fleet at Kenipolis but as his army disembarked the inhabitants of the town attacked the Vandals and made them retreat after they suffered heavy casualties. Byzantine general Belisarius on the way to his campaign against the Vandals, stopped at Kenipolis to get supplies, honor the Kenipolians, for their victory and to recruit some soldiers. According to Greenhalgh and Eliopoulos, the Eurasian Avars (along with the Slavs) attacked and occupied most of western Peloponnese in 590. However, there is no archaeological evidence for any Slavic (or Avaric) penetration of imperial Byzantine territory before the end of the 6th century. Overall, traces of Slavic culture in Greece are very rare.

During the Macedonian dynasty
There is a description of Mani and its inhabitants in Constantine VII's De Administrando Imperio:

“ Be it known that the inhabitants of Castle Maina are not from the race of aforesaid Slavs but from the older Romaioi, who up to the present time are termed Hellenes by the local inhabitants on account of their being in olden times idolaters and worshippers of idols like the ancient Greeks, and who were baptized and became Christians in the reign if the glorious Basil. The place in which they live is waterless and inaccessible, but has olives from which they gain some consolation. ”

The area inhabited by the Maniates was first called by the name "Maina" and was associated with the castle of Tigani. The Maniots at that time were called "Hellenes", that is, pagans (see Names of the Greeks), and were only Christianized fully in the 9th century AD, though some church ruins from the 4th century AD indicate that Christianity was practiced by some Maniots in the region at an earlier time. The Maniots were the last inhabitants of Greece to openly follow the pagan Hellenic religion. This can be explained by the mountainous nature of Mani's terrain, which enabled them to escape the attempts of the Eastern Roman Empire to Christianize Greece by force.

Also see: Grand Magne, Mani Hellas, Mani on Wiki, Photos of Mani

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

300 - Patrida mou

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC (repeat)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Taygetus - Taleton - translated

I have added the English translation to the documentary about the mountain of the Ancient Spartans in the COMMENTS. The translation is almost literal from Greek to English, so please forgive some "greeklish" expressions.

For your better view you can open the "comments section" and watch the movies at the same time.


Taygetos Taleton 1

This is a series of 5 small documentary films about Taygetus the mountain of the Ancient Spartans


Taygetos Taleton 2

Taygetos Taleton 3

Taygetos Taleton 4

Taygetos Taleton 5

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