“I Understand Greek But Can’t Speak It” | How to Speak Greek with Confidence

A common phenomenon of language learning students is when they reach a point where they can comprehend others but can’t speak in their target language. Greek language students are no exception. In today’s bilingual video, you are provided with the reasons why this happens and how you can overcome this. Here is how to speak Greek with Confidence.

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Learn Greek at Home During Quarantine

If you are interested in learning Greek but there are no classes taking place in your area, don’t be discouraged. Helinika, a platform dedicated to the Greek language, history, and culture, offers affordable Greek language lessons online. Learn Greek during Quarantine.

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Why learn Greek?

Why should you spend your precious time learning a new language spoken by over 13 million people around the world?

Greek Cases Exercises. Practice Your Greek Language Skills

You have learned the modern Greek cases (Ονομαστική, Γενική, Αιτιατική, Κλητική) but you may not feel 100% confident when using them. Here are three exercises to practice your Greek grammatical skills, specifically for the declensions of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.

The Dragon Slayer, the Mermaid, and the Secret of Marmara | Legends from Medieval Greece #2 (Byzantium)

Interested in stories from Medieval Greece (Eastern Roman Empire)? Last time we discussed the Marble King, among other Byzantine legends. Today, we will discover the stories of the priest who vanished in Hagia Sophia, the secret of the Sea of Marmara, the giant Mermaid, and the Christian dragon slayer.

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The Priest Who Vanished in Hagia Sophia

One of the greatest architectural wonders of Byzantine history is the Orthodox Christian Basilica of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). The Church is located at the Old City of Constantinople and it is surrounded by numerous legends. One of these stories is the legend of the vanishing priest.

When the Ottoman troops attacked the city of Constantinople on the spring of 1453, they entered Hagia Sophia in search of civilians who might have sought refuge there. According to the legend, a priest was holding a liturgy at that time.

Before the troops were able to catch him, he entered a door and vanished. The door closed behind him and couldn’t be opened nor destroyed. Rumor has it that the door will open once Hagia Sophia becomes a Greek Orthodox Church again. The priest will reappear and continue the liturgy.

If you know any additional details regarding this legend, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section.

The Hidden Secret of the Sea of Marmara

The Sea of Marmara, also known as Propontis, connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea. It is the area ancient Greeks from Megara explored before they established the colony of Byzantion, as we’ve seen in the first episode. There is reportedly a part of Propontis that is always calm. The passage is safe to cross, no matter the weather conditions. According to a Byzantine legend, this part of the Sea of Marmara has a secret. That is the Hagia Trapeza, the Holly Table of Hagia Sophia.

According to a book by the Greek intellectual Dorotheos Monemvasias, three Venetian ships had reportedly taken the Hagia Trapeza and other relics from Hagia Sophia, intending to bringing them in Venice. The Byzantines wanted to protect the Christian relics from the Ottomans who had invaded Constantinople.

As the Venetians transported the items, the vessel that transported the Hagia Trapeza sunk. The Holly Table is reportedly still at the bottom of the sea for someone to discover and the area seems to be unaffected by the weather conditions.

The Giant Mermaid

When hearing the term “mermaid” a beautiful creature comes to mind. Half woman, half fish, probably looking like Ariel. But there is a mermaid in Greek folklore, that is feared by sailors and islanders all over Greece. This is the Gorgona (Γοργόνα) – a giant mermaid who is supposedly related to Alexander the Great.

Although inspired by historical figures of late antiquity, the myth of the Gorgona probably originates in Byzantium. This was the time period in which the mythical sirens, the half bird – half women creatures turned into the mermaids we know today.

According to this legend, princess Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great, had washed her hair with the water of the “Fountain of Immortality”. That meant it would be impossible to die, even if she tried to.

When her brother, Alexander, died, the princess was shocked. She attempted to end her life by jumping into the sea from a cliff. But, instead of dying, she turned into a mermaid. A giant mermaid to be precise who terrified sea men and islanders.

Thessalonike then migrated to the Black Sea but she would sometimes return to the Northern Aegean in search of her brother. The legend says that she desperately asks the sailors if King Alexander is alive. If they give her a positive reply, she dives into the water, looking happy. If they reply “no”, Gorgona destroys the vessel. After a while, she regrets her action and starts crying, causing a storm.

Do you know any other variation of this story? Comment down below.

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St. George, the Dragon Slayer

George of Lydda was a Roman soldier of Greek origin who is recognized as a Christian Saint. The Saint is associated with a Byzantine legend, the one of the evil Dragon. There are many variations of the story but the most popular one takes place in Libya.

George of Lydda was passing by a Libyan city (Silene), when he saw a beautiful woman crying, while being transported to an unspecified location. Saint George overheard that the woman was selected to be fed to a bloodthirsty Dragon that terrorized the area.

The Dragon looked like a winged giant lizard. It breathed fire and was able to kill humans from a distance. Rumor had it that it had arrived in the area centuries ago, causing chaos. The locals managed to appease the beast by offering it two sheep. And they would do the same every year to make sure that the dragon doesn’t attack their city. But there was a time when there was no more livestock to feed the Dragon. Or, according to another variation, the Dragon couldn’t be appeased by feeding on animals. It demanded human flesh.

For the past few years, a member of the local community, usually a peasant, was selected annually to be fed to the dragon. The selection process was not clarified but we assume that they used a draw. That year, the unlucky human to be sacrificed was no other than the beloved princess of the city. The locals protested but no one was willing to take her place.

Saint George was moved by the story. He wanted to end this custom, just like Theseus did in the myth of the Minotaur. The soldier Saint followed the trail that led to the Dragon and stopped the princess from entering the Dragon’s lair. He volunteered to be the offering. But as the beast laid down, waiting to be fed, Saint George revealed a spear and killed the dragon to everyone’s surprise.

It goes without saying that the local King named the soldier a hero and offered him a fortune. But Saint George distributed the treasures to the locals instead. It is important to note that Saint George is not the only Christian Dragon Slayer. Similar legends and stories have spread all over the world. If you know any of these, feel free to share in the comment section.

Now, if you haven’t watched the previous videos covering various Byzantine legends, don’t forget to do so. In Helinika’s channel but also in helinika.com, you can find plenty of videos and articles on the Greek language, history, and culture. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow Helinika on social media to stay connected.

Greek Stores and Shops | Stores You Can Find in Greece

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What are some typical Greek stores and shops? What stores can you find in Greece? What is a periptero? What is a bakaliko? Where do Greeks buy sweets from? And what about the bread? Today we are talking about some typical Greek shops you can find in almost every corner!

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Stores You Can Find in Greece:

The Marble King, The 100 Gates Church and More | Legends from Medieval Greece #1 (Byzantium)

People around the world read and narrate myths from ancient Greece or legends from Medieval Central and Western Europe. But stories from Medieval Greece are lesser known. Here are some legends from Greece’s Byzantine Past (Eastern Roman Empire). Keep in mind, that some of these legends are based on real historical events.

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The Legend of the Last Emperor (Constantine XI Palaeologus or…?)

Constantine Palaeologus is an important historical figure; he was the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire. His reign lasted for four years, from 1449 AD until his death in the battle of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD. But Constantine is also known as the “Marmaromenos Vasilias” (Μαρμαρωμένος Βασιλιάς) – the “Marble King”.

According to a legend, when the Ottomans started taking over the city of Constantinople, an angel transformed the emperor into marble and hid him beneath the Golden Gate of Constantinople. The legend says that Constantine will be revived one day and return the city to the Greeks.

But is this legend really about emperor Constantine? Some scholars argue that the “Marble King” is Emperor of Byzantine Nicaea, John III Doukas Vatatzes, who died 200 years before the Fall of Constantinople. He is often called the “Father of the Greeks”, since he was one of the most peaceful and just emperors to have ever existed, according to the scholars.

Many people who have heard this story from their grandparents, mention certain signs and omens that will prepare us for the return of the king. For example, a bright star, probably the Star of Bethlehem that shined on the night Jesus Christ was born, will appear in the night sky.

Have you heard any other variations of the story? Feel free to share in the comment section down below.

The Church with 100 Gates

The story of the “Marble King” has inspired other legends across Greece. An example of that is the legend surrounding the historical church “Panagia Ekantotapyliani” (Παναγία Εκατονταπυλιανή) in Paros island.

 The Byzantine church is dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God and its name “Ekantotapyliani” means “100 gates”. The church reportedly has 99 visible gates and a hidden one that, according to the legend, it will be revealed when the marble king awakens.

In another variation of the legend, the 100th gate will be revealed when another hidden door will be found in Hagia Sophia, which is allegedly under the ground. This will be another omen that the Marble King will be awakened soon.

Kassiani’s Wit and the Emperor’s Ego

Kassiani or Kassia is a historical figure. She was a Byzantine abbess and poet who lived between 810 AD and 865 AD. According to an allegedly true story that has become a legend, Kassiani almost became the empress of Constantinople, but her wit and overall attitude scared away emperor Theofilos.

The mother of Theofilos, Thekla, had organized a “bride-show”, a Byzantine tradition that bears similarities with many other traditions around the world. The most beautiful maidens of the Byzantine Empire had gathered at the palace as soon as Theofilos was old enough to get married. Kassiani was rumored to be the new empress. She was the most beautiful and smartest of all the contestants.

The young woman immediately caught his attention and he approached her saying that the “worst things come through women” (Ἐκ γυναικὸς τὰ χείρω), referring to Eve. But Kassiani replied “the same for the better things” (Kαὶ ἐκ γυναικὸς τὰ κρείττω), referring to the birth of Jesus Christ by Mary.

Theofilos failed to understand Kassiani’s humor and became defensive. As a result, he rejected Kassiani and selected another woman, Theodora, instead. Kassiani ended up following a monastic life which is explained by scholars in two different ways. She either fell into depression after her public rejection or that was her initial plan anyways.

The Devilish Dog

A legend that has survived over the years is the one of a vicious black dog that would target monks and priests at Mount Athos. Some said that the dog was possessed, other that it was a demon residing in hell. But some believed that it was the devil himself.

Saint Parthenios, bishop of Lampsakos, who lived in the 4rth century AD in the Byzantine Empire, was allegedly attacked by this dog but managed to escape by blowing at it and making the sign of the cross. In his book “From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium”, William Dalrymple briefly narrates this story.

If you liked these stories and you are interested in learning more about Greece’s Byzantine history, don’t forget to subscribe and stay connected. In next week’s episode, we will reveal the hidden secret of the Sea of Marmara, the dragon slayer Saint, and many more Medieval Greek legends.

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Smart Cities and Maritime Shipping? | 6 Facts About Greece (Modern Times Edition)

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When talking about the achievements of the Greeks we often think of Democracy, the Olympic Games, Astronomy, and Mathematics – all bound to our ancient past. With Modern Greece celebrating 200 years of independence, it is important to see some facts related to the achievements of Greeks in modern times.

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6 Facts About Modern Greece:

  1. Greece Continues Being the Leader in Maritime Shipping
  2. Two Nobel Prizes for Modern Greek Literature
  3. Athens Continues Being the Capital of Theatre
  4. Greek Island Holds the Secret to Longevity
  5. A Leading Smart City in the Greek Countryside
  6. 3% of the World’s Greatest Scientists are Greek

Greece Continues Being the Leader in Maritime Shipping

When thinking of Greece’s economy, the first thing that comes to mind, after the recent debt crisis, is the tourism and service industry. But one of the most important industries in Greece is maritime shipping. The country is in the top 10 ship owning nations, competing with Japan for the first place. The current fleet value is at 100.5 billion dollars, according to VesselsValue. The small country of approximately 11 million people surpasses China, a country of 1.4 billion people. As we have seen in previous videos, Greeks have been exploring the sea in search of resources, trading opportunities, and lands to establish new colonies, since the Bronze Age. And they never stopped dominating the seas.

Two Nobel Prizes for Modern Greek Literature

Western literature has been greatly influenced by ancient Greek literature, and especially epic and lyric poetry. Greece continues producing great writers and poets in modern times as well. Odysseas Elytis, the romantic modernist poet, and Giorgos Seferis, the well-known poet and diplomat, have been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first in 1979 and the second in 1963.

Athens Continues Being the Capital of Theatre

Western theatre was born in ancient Athens and specifically in the theatre of Dionysus. And Athens continues being a cultural center with a focus on theatre. According to Athens Social Atlas, the capital city of Greece has more than 152 theatre halls, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus that was built on 161 AD. The city is the perfect destination for any theatre lover.

Greek Island Holds the Secret to Longevity

The Greek diet and overall lifestyle have been connected to longevity for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, Greeks living in big cities and industrial areas have adopted different lifestyles – they stress more, cook less, and consume highly processed foods. But those living in the Greek countryside have generally continued following their traditional way of living. A specific island has caught the attention of scientists; that is the island of Ikaria. You might have heard the “Ikaria Study”, since the island has one of the highest percentages of people above the age of 90. It is worth mentioning that it is not just the diet that, according to the study, may contribute to the longevity of the islanders. The overall lifestyle, including the active social life and optimistic attitude, contribute to that. The NYT have called Ikaria “the island where people forget to die”.

A Leading Smart City in the Greek Countryside

In Greece, we might love tradition, but that doesn’t mean we are not open to innovations, following the paradigm of “polymechanos Odysseus”. Trikala is one of the first smart-cities in Europe by integrating new technologies into the daily lives of the citizens. The city, located in Thessaly, has over 80.000 inhabitants. The city has seen driverless buses, robotics kits in its 120 public schools, and countless other innovative programs and solutions.

3% of the World’s Most Referenced Scientists are Greek

Greeks make up around 0.13% of the world’s total population. Professor of Medicine at Stanford Prevention Research Center, John P.A. Ioannidis, presented statistics that showed that the percentage of referenced Greek scientists in the world reaches 3%. Many of them conduct research for foreign Universities. To be more specific, data retrieved from the database of Google Scholar, showed that 672 Greek scientists have been referenced approximately 17.000 times in various scientific reports.

Is Byzantium Even Greek? | Introduction to Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire)

The term “Byzantium” often creates confusion when brought up in conversations. Was it a city-state or an empire? Was it inhabited by Greeks or Romans? And how did it get its name?

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Disambiguation of Byzantium/ Byzantion

The term itself is the latinized version of “Byzantion” (Βυζάντιον), which can refer to two different but connected things: the ancient Greek colony on the European side of the Bosporus, and the Byzantine Empire, which is another name for the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Ancient Greek Colony Named Byzantion

In 667 BC, a group of Dorian Greeks from the city-state of Megara, sailed in the northeastern Aegean to establish a colony. Their leader was allegedly Byzas, although some scholars are now doubting his existence. According to the legend, Byzas was informed by an oracle that he will establish a city opposite to the “Land of the Blind”, without providing more information. But now, let’s focus on the historical events that we know from the ancient historians Herodotus and Pausanias.

After some exploration, the Dorian Greeks of Megara found a perfect location for creating a port-city. The new Greek colony was located where the Sea of Marmara meets the Bosporus – where two continents, Europe and Asia, connect. The area allegedly took the name of Byzas and it was called “Byzantion”.

Along with the Chalcedonians, who were settled on the opposite side of the Bosporus, the Byzantines controlled the entrance to the Black sea. In fact, the Greeks of Megara were surprised to see that the Chalcedonians hadn’t sieged the opportunity to take full control of the area before they arrived there. They reportedly called Chalcedon “Land of the Blind” for this exact reason, fulfilling the prophecy.

Byzantion was a successful trading city, which comes as no surprise considering its location. It soon conquered Chalcedon and expanded. But in 513 BC, Byzantion was conquered by the Persians under the leadership of King Darius I. In 411 BC, it was taken over once more by the Greeks. First, at the hands of the Spartans, later at the hands of the Athenians. But Byzantion’s destiny forever changed in 196 AD.

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The Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire)

Outside of Europe, many scholars tend to focus on the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods of Greece’s history. Some even imply that Greeks vanished with the Roman conquest in 146 AD, after the battle of Corinth. But Greek populations continued living and thriving in the areas in which they resided in ancient antiquity.

The lyric poet Horatius (Horace) is quoted saying “Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit” (Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror). Indeed, the Greeks influenced the Romans culturally more than the Romans influenced Greeks. Many Roman Emperors were fond of Greeks, including Nero and Hadrian. During the Pax Romana, the Greek language became the lingua franca in the eastern part of the empire and Roman intellectuals would often produce their work in Greek.

As time passed by, the differences between the East and the West became more prominent. It was obvious that the areas that were inhabited by Greek populations before the Roman conquest, were under Greek rather than Latin influence.  Between the 3rd and 5th centuries, the Roman Empire’s structure changed, and two different administrations were established.

The Eastern Roman Empire included the Greek-speaking areas, and the grand majority of the population were of Greek origin. Byzantion (Byzantium in latin) was the most important city, due to its key location. The city was later named Constantinople, after the emperor Constantine the Great. The latter had moved the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantion.

When it comes to religion, the Hellenistic polytheistic traditions had declined, and most people were now converting to Christianity. In 1054, the Great Christian Schism occurred, which resulted in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The differences between the Latin West and the Greek East were becoming more and more prominent. It is important to note that the Eastern part of the empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, changing the course of history.

Conclusion: Is Byzantium Greek?

Today, modern scholars refer to the Eastern Roman Empire as the “Byzantine Empire”. Modern Greeks study the history of the Byzantine Empire along with the history of Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Greece. It is the Medieval history of Greece and equally important to our ancient history.

From time to time, the Greek origins of Byzantium are disputed, mostly for geopolitical reasons. After the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, the Greek populations were able to create an independent state. But not all Greek-populated regions were freed, including Constantinople. One of the arguments was that Byzantion was never Greek but Roman.

But not everyone who disputes that the Byzantine Empire is Medieval Greece is doing it for geopolitical reasons. The term “Eastern Roman Empire” implies that the people residing there were Romans. But the term “Roman” is used both for the people who belonged on the cultural and ethnic group of ancient Rome and those who lived under Roman rule. The Greeks living under Roman rule were also called Romans, although they did maintain their linguistic, religious, and cultural differences.

After this short introduction, more videos will be posted in the future on Greece’s Byzantine history. If you are interested in the Greek language, history, and culture, don’t forget to subscribe to stay tuned. Also, feel free to check the description for some helpful links and discounts.

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Greek Stores and Shops | Stores You Can Find in Greece

What are some typical Greek stores and shops? What stores can you find in Greece? What is a periptero? What is a bakaliko? Where do Greeks buy sweets from? And what about the bread? Today we are talking about some typical Greek shops you can find in almost every corner!

The Rebirth of Greece (in 10 Minutes) | 200 Years since the Revolution of 1821 (Greek War of Independence)

greek war of independence

The history of Greece and the Greeks spans thousands of years. These include years of prosperity and decline, times of conquests, and revolutions. But there was a moment in time that is of great importance for modern Greeks. That was the spring of 1821, exactly 200 years ago.

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The Background – The Years Before the Greek Revolution

Many people outside of Europe know a lot about ancient Greek history, especially everything related to classical Athens. But fewer know the medieval history of Greeks, known today as Byzantium (395 AD – 1453 AD). During this time period, they lived in what was known as the “Eastern Roman Empire”.

Byzantium’s greatest city was Constantinople that you may know as Istanbul. The biggest population of the Eastern empire consisted of Greeks (Byzantine Greeks) who were now Orthodox Christians. An impressive feat of that time was the construction of the church of Hagia Sophia, which was the place of worship of the Christian Orthodox population.

The Byzantine empire had the strongest economy and military for many centuries, until 1204. The city of Constantinople was attacked by Latin crusaders and, since then, the empire started to weaken. It was separated in three Byzantine successor states (Nicaea, Epirus, Trebizond) and in 1341, a civil war ensued, weaking the empire even further. At the same time, a new empire rose in the East, the one of Ottoman Turks. On May 29, 1453, the city of Constantinople fell and was captured by the Ottomans, after a 53-day siege. What followed was the so-called 400 years of Ottoman rule, also known as Turkocracy.

Circumstances, Events, and Influences that Led to the Greek Revolution

During the years of the Ottoman rule, Greek peasants were generally allowed to maintain their Orthodox faith and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch was able to control the Greek population. But Orthodox Christians were often forced to convert to Islam in indirect ways, mainly through taxation. Greeks were extremely overtaxed: they paid a tax land, heavy trade taxes, and an extra tax (jizya) for having a different religion. Failing to pay the religion tax could lead to forced conversion, slavery, or even death. Some Greek peasants were therefore forced to convert, since they couldn’t afford paying these heavy taxes.

But there was another tax that was undeniably the worst: the devshirme or “blood tax”. Every family had to give a son to be raised as a Muslim and then join the corps of the Janissaries. Young girls would also sometimes be taken by force to live in harems. Greeks who rebelled against the blood tax were often beheaded.

The Greeks living under Ottoman rule did not only have to undergo heavy taxation and have their children taken away, but they also saw their economy deteriorating. Although Byzantine Greeks lived in prosperity in highly developed cities, they were now forced to live in rural areas, working as farmers. At the same time, they had to pay all the previously mentioned taxes.

In the 1600s, a new class of Ottoman landlords emerged. These were the owners of the so-called chifliks. Military officials now owned huge parts of land and Greeks and other minorities were forced to work for them. A large percent of their harvest was taken away from them and they were not allowed to work for their own monetary gain. All of the above, made the Greek populations feel oppressed in the areas where they resided for thousands of years. As a result, countless small riots occurred since 1457. But it was the 19th century during which all the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire and abroad were able to fully unite and fight against their oppressors.

Greek nationalism was the ideology that started in the 18th century and played a crucial role in the rebellion that started in the spring of 1821. Greeks had maintained their native language and a form of national identity with the help of the Greek Orthodox Church. Nationalism as a movement promotes the interests of a particular nation, the Greek nation in this case, to gain or maintain their sovereignty of its homeland. The idea of self-governance begins with the French Revolution, however, modern scholars disagree with each other on the possible connection between the Greek Revolution with the French Revolution. So, in an essence, the oppression, financial decline, and the creation of the Greek national identity were the three main forces that led to the Greek War of Independence.  

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Important Dates and Figures

A key-date in the history of the Greek War of Independence is the formation of the Philiki Etaireia (Friendly Brotherhood) in 1814. It was a secret society founded by the Greek merchants Emmanuil Xanthos, Athanasios Tsakalov, and Nikolaos Skoufas in Odessa. Their goal was to establish an independent Greek state and in 1820, the leadership of the Brotherhood was given to the officer Alexandros Ypsilantis. The latter launched the revolt against the oppressors in the spring of 1821.

By 1822, the Greeks, under the leadership of the Greek general Theodoros Kolokotronis, managed to gain control of the Peloponnese. Other revolts were suppressed by the Ottomans often with the help of the Egyptian navy. At the same time, tensions between the generals who led the revolution weakened the Greek forces. In 1826, The Ottomans with the help of the Egyptian navy successfully invaded the Peloponnese and the town of Athens. But in 1827, Russia, Britain, and France, known as the “Great Powers”, who favored the independence of Greeks, finally decided to intervene. They sent their naval fleets to Navarino to destroy the Egyptian forces, weakening the Ottoman empire. The war continued and in 1822 we had the First Hellenic Republic with Nafplio as the capital city.

Important figures of the revolution other than general national hero Theodoros Kolokotronis and the members of the Philiki Etaireia, are commander Georgios Karaiskakis and general Athanasios Diakos. There is also commander Odysseas Androutsos, admirals Constantine Kanaris and Andreas Miaoulis. Markos Botsaris, Laskarina Bouboulina, Manto Mavrogenous, and Papaflessas, among countless other heroes and heroines who fought in the war.

Greek writers and political thinkers also contributed to the revolution by keeping the Hellenic spirit alive. Such an example is Rigas Feraios, who is remembered as a national hero. Civilians also showed immense strength and courage before and during the war. Great examples of that are the massacre of Chios in the year 1824 and the siege of Messolonghi some years later.

These stories traveled outside of Greece. The Greek War of Independence was supported by an international community of people who called themselves “philhellenes” (admirers of Greeks). Important writers and poets, such as Lord Byron, advocated for the freedom of Greeks. Lord Byron himself even joined the war and died after contracting a disease.

The Rebirth of Greece

In 1830, Greece was declared as an independent state, under the protection of the European forces. With the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1832, the Turkish sultan had recognized the Greek independence. It is worth mentioning that not all areas that were originally inhabited by Greeks were recovered at that time. In 1832, the successor state of the First Hellenic Republic was established. That was the Kingdom of Greece. This was dissolved in 1924 with the Second Hellenic Republic, when democracy was restored.

The Controversies

The Greek War of Independence was about freedom. But freedom is an abstract idea. For some, the revolution was all about the sovereignty of Greece. Not paying taxes for your religion, giving away one of your children, or working for the chifliks. For others, especially those influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution, freedom was about leaving behind religion all together. As a result, historians and scholars often disagree regarding the role of certain ideas and figures in the rebirth of Greece. What was the stance of the Greek Orthodox Church towards the rebels? What were the motives of the Great Powers when they intervened? Which were the influences of the Philiki Etaireia? Were they connected to other secret societies?


The official commemoration of the Greek Revolution is on the 25th of March. 200 years have passed since then, which has prompted the incentive “Greece2021”. If you liked this video don’t forget to like and subscribe. You can also visit helinika.com and see more articles related to the subject.

Documentaries and Films on the Greek War of Independence

In the spring of 1821, the Greek populations who lived under Ottoman rule, revolted against their opressors. The Greek War of Independence lasted for eight years and it resulted in the creation of an independent Greek state. There are several books, articles, documentaries, and films that narrate the events of the Greek revolution. Here are some recommendations of films and documentaries you can watch this week, during the 200-year anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. Some of the videos are suitable for English-speakers but the majority are in Greek.

Keep in mind that the portayal of certail events and figures might differ from film to film and from documentary to documetary. These include the legend of rising the flag in the Agia Lavra monastery and the overall stance of the Greek Orthodox Church towards the rebels, along with the importance of the intervention of the three “Great Powers” (France, Britain, Russia) in the final outcome.

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Documetaries and Films on the Greek Fight for Freedom

“Greek history – Figures and Events of the Greek Revolution” | Video on 1821 [ENG]

This brief video by Benaki Museum focuses on the figures and events of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

“The Great Powers and the Greek Revolution” | Episode on the Greek War of Independence

This episode of the Greek-speaking historical tv-series “Μηχανή του Χρόνου” (Time Machine) focuses on the intervention of the “Great Powers” during the Greek War of Independence. The episode was aired in the Greek public tv-channel “NET”.

“1821” | Documentary Series on the Events of the Greek War of Independence

The documentary was filmed in Greek and broadcasted by the tv-channel “Σκάι”. “1821” received backlash by a percentage of the Greek population, because it presented some incidents as myths rather than as historical events (e.g. the Agia Lavra incident). It also talked about the frictions between the leaders of the Revolution that weakened the Greek forces and finally required the intervention of the “Great Powers”.

“’21: The Rebirth of The Greeks” | Documentary Series on the Events of 1821

Another, more recent historical Greek-speaking documentary, is the one presented by “MEGA” channel. One of the main differences between this and the previous documentary is that, in this case, the Greek Orthodox Church is presented as a supporter of the revolution.

“Greek history – The Lives of the Greeks during the Turkish occupation” | Video on Ottoman Greece [ENG]

This English-speaking video by Benaki Museum focuses on the everyday lives of Greeks during the Turkish occupation. The video received some negative comments for presenting the Ottoman rule in a positive light.

“Bouboulina” (1959) | Film on Greek National Heroine Laskarina Bouboulina

This 1959 film follows the life of the Greek national heroine and naval commander Laskarina Bouboulina from the island of Hydra.

“The Betrayed People: Manto Mavrogenous” (1983) | Biographical Film on Mantou Mavrogenous

This ’80s film is dedicated on the life of the Greek national heroine and Honorary Lieutenant General Manto Mavrogenous who spent her fortune on the Greek War of Independence.

“Souliotes” (1972) | Film on the Attack on Souli

One of the most well-known events related to the life of Greeks under Ottoman rule is the Zalongo incident that is depicted in this 1972 film.

5 Facts about Pythagoras | #Philosophy

Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας) of Samos is one of the most well-known ancient Greek philosophers. He has been associated with numbers and mathematics but some of his teachings dealt with the paranormal. He has therefore always been considered a controversial thinker. He was criticized by both ancient Greeks and contemporary humans. At the same time, his impact on mathematics is undeniable.

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  1. Pythagoras Had a Quirky Lifestyle
  2. Pythagoras Devoted His Life to Numbers
  3. Pythagoras Believed in Metempsychosis (Reincarnation)
  4. Pythagoras Influenced the Teachings of Plato
  5. Pythagoras Inspired a Cultlike Philosophical Movement

Pythagoras Had a Quirky Lifestyle (and Diet)

Pythagoras is known for his eccentric lifestyle that made him look odd in the eyes of the Greeks. He followed strict rules and a restrictive diet by choice. Some ancient writers, such as Eudoxus of Cnidus, presented him as a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Many contemporary vegans and vegetarians say that Pythagoras suggested that people shouldn’t eat anything that has died. But we cannot say this with certainty. Aristotle, Aristoxenus, and other writers, present him as a meat eater who restrained from eating very specific animals, such as oxen and rams. Not only that, but he was also an advocate for religious animal sacrifices and consumed the offerings with great pleasure. It is possible perhaps that Pythagoras changed his dietary choices many times throughout his life.

Pythagoras also promoted a communal lifestyle, where there are no private possessions. With the exception of Spartans, ancient Greeks found such ideas quite obscene. It comes as no surprise that he was the protagonist in many jokes at that time. But how did the philosopher end up with his controversial lifestyle choices?

Pythagoras was born in 570 BC in the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. We know from Herodotus and Isocrates that his father was Mnesarchus, a wealthy gem-engraver. From a young age, Pythagoras allegedly travelled in many nearby regions and got influenced by foreign cultures. These include Ancient Egypt, where he reportedly spent some time studying. He was also reportedly influenced by the teachings of the Persian Magi, the priests of Zoroastrianism. Later in life, he emigrated to South Italy. Moreover, some of his ideas have parallels with the teachings of a less popular Greek religious and philosophical movement that we will discuss later.

Modern scholars fail to agree on the cultural influences of Pythagoras. We are not aware of any books he might have written, and we know about him through other people’s accounts. What we do know is that he followed an eccentric lifestyle that seemed to have been inspired by foreign cultures.  

Pythagoras Devoted His Life to Numbers

Pythagoras was a philosopher and a mathematician. He is credited with the “Pythagorean theorem”, which states that “in a right-angled triangle the square of the hypotenuse is equal [to the sum of] the squares of the two other sides”, and with numerous other scientific contributions. He reportedly was the first who identified the “five regular solids” and the one who discovered the “theory of proportions”. But Pythagoras love for numbers turned to something that resembled a religion.

Today, many new age practitioners are interested in numerology and the spiritual meaning behind each number. This movement is inspired by the teachings of Pythagoras, who is the father of western numerology. Someone could say that he was the predecessor of new agers. He showed interested in eastern cultures and religions, he tried combining science with the paranormal, and he probably even tried becoming a vegan at some point.

Numerology derives from the Latin term “numerus” (number) and the Greek term «λόγος» (reason/ logic/ speech). Numerologists give a divine and mystical meaning behind each number. They also try to find a connection between certain numbers with coincidences and events. Today numerology is considered pseudoscientific.

Pythagoras believed that everything had numerical relationships. He started by connecting numbers to musical notes. He also came up with a method that reportedly reveals someone’s personality using his/her name and date of birth. The philosopher also had a favorite number. That was number 10, which, according to him, it was the most perfect and complete number.

Pythagoras Believed in Metempsychosis (Reincarnation)

Ancient Greeks believed in souls. Most of them believed that, when someone died, his or her soul would go to Hades, a place under the surface of the Earth that was both heaven and hell. Pythagoras, on the other hand, believed in metempsychosis – the Greek version of reincarnation.

Many foreign scholars believe that the Pythagorian concept of metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) was inspired by the eastern concept of reincarnation, since the philosopher showed a great interest in foreign cultures. But the truth is that the concept of the soul being transferred to another body after death, did exist in some parts of Greece. Hellenism, the religion that worshipped the 12 gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, consisted of various religious movements. One of them was Orphism.

Orphism was both a philosophical and a religious movement that followed the teachings of a mythical poet named Orpheus. The latter had allegedly descended to Hades to find his lover, Euridice. Orpheus was like the prophets of modern religions. His followers believed that, if they underwent certain rituals and followed specific rules, they would spend eternity with Orpheus and other mythical characters after death. Those who didn’t follow the teachings of Orpheus, would be reincarnated indefinitely.

The parallels between Orphism and the teachings of Pythagoras are obvious. In the past, some scholars believed that it was Pythagoras who started Orphism. But this is not widely accepted anymore.  

Pythagoras Influenced the Teachings of Plato

Plato and Aristotle might be the two most well-known ancient Greek philosophers. Their ideas could be described as “mainstream” when compared to the ones of Pythagoras. However, the controversial philosopher and mathematician did influence Plato and, as a result, his student, Aristotle.

A great example of that is the dialogue “Timaeus”, where Plato, through the words of Timaeus, talks about the elements of the soul that each one of them has a geometric shape. The dialogue is full of symbolisms and it connects geometry with the universe and the divine.

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Pythagoras Inspired a Cultlike Philosophical Movement

If you know Pythagoras, then you might have heard of Pythagoreanism. It was a philosophical movement based on the teachings of Pythagoras. It emerged in Italy in the 6th Century BC. The Pythagoreans were separated in two distinct philosophical traditions: the “mathematikoi” and the “akousmatikoi”.

The first were the “intellectual” Pythagoreans. They focused on mathematics, geometry, and astronomy. They even understood that the Earth is not the center of the universe but rather a celestial body that orbits around a central fire. The mathematikoi were philosophers and scientists who wanted to understand the world.

The “akousmatikoi” focused on ethics, harmony, and justice. Some of them avoided meat, and most of them dressed simply and followed an ascetic lifestyle to be rewarded in the afterlife. These Pythagoreans are often considered to be members of a religious cult, rather than a philosophical movement. That is because they followed the ideas of Pythagoras as if they were a dogma. A set of rules that should not be judged nor criticized. Many scholars argue that they worshipped Pythagoras as a semigod or a prophet. The same way cult members do with their cult leaders. That is the opposite of what philosophy is. Philosophy is the constant search of wisdom, rather than the belief that you possess the absolute truth. Its purpose is to free the mind, spark curiosity, rather than numb it with rules and doctrines.

It is worth mentioning that the teachings of Pythagoreanism emerge and submerge throughout history. For example, there was a revival of Pythagoreanism in the first century AD in the Roman empire. Early Christian theologians, such as Clement of Alexandria, also adopted the ascetic lifestyle of Pythagoreans. Neopythagoreanism also reemerged in the late 20th century with the rise of the new age movement. Many new agers exhibit interest in foreign cultures and religions, in numerology, and the afterlife, while following a strict lifestyle regarding what they eat or buy. They also refer to the universe as a conscious, divine being, just like the Pythagoreans often did.

What are your thoughts on Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans? You can leave a comment in the comment section and don’t forget to read the article at helinika.com, where all the sources are linked. If you enjoyed watching this video, feel free to like and share with a friend who is interested in philosophy. Till next time!

medea (play)

Greek Drama Ep.7: Medea by Euripides (Theatrical Play)

Medea (Μήδεια) is one of the most controversial female heroines to have ever existed. In modern Greek, her name is given to women who end the lives of their children. We know Medea from ancient Greek mythology and specifically the Argonautica. But the character is widely known thanks to the theatrical play with the same name, presented by Euripides in 431 BC.

Can a Greek-speaker Understand These Scientific Terms? Greek-Originating English Words

greek scientific terms

Hyperopia, progeria, archidendron, alektrorophobia, anthocyanin. What do these words have in common? Well, not only are they scientific terms used in medicine, psychology, botany, and chemistry, but they also derive from Greek words.

Rumor has it that Greek-speakers (native and proficient) have an advantage in science. This is because they don’t have to try memorizing complex terminology that means nothing to them. “Alektorophobia”, for example, derives from the Greek word “alektor” (rooster) and “phobia” (fear). Greek-speakers immediately know what this irrational fear is all about.

Can a native Greek speaker pass the test?

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00:00 Can a Greek-speaker Understand These Scientific Terms? 0

0:46 Dysentery

01:13 Hyperopia

01:52 Diptheria

02:16 Progeria

02:37 Sycophant

03:28 Antidote

03:52 Alektorophobia

04:09 Cryophobia

04:21 Nephophobia

04:53 Onomatophobia

05:23 Aerophobia

05:39 Hemophobia

06:00 Ophidiophobia

06:13 Campanula

06:38 Paranthropus

06:51 Archidendron (Grandiflorum)

07:25 Anthocyanin

07:39 Bacteriophage

07:56 Bromine

08:12 Cephalopod

08:31 Pterodactyl

08:48 Gametophyte

09:05 So, Do Greeks Have an Advantage in Science?

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