Tag Archives: Greeks

Photo: Bosporus, winter 1954

16 Jan

Exact location and provenance unknown.

Neveska: protected from everything except the erasure of its historic name by the Hellenic Ministry of Hellenism

16 Jan

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Trapezounda Opera House, 1912 — 1958

15 Jan

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Frequency of Italian family names Greco and Spagnuolo by region — And Greeks and Albanians in Italy

13 Jan

“Greco” in all the obvious places, maybe some distant Magna Graecia leftovers, but followed by the much, much more recent and numerous waves of refugees fleeing Ottoman conquest in the 15th and 16th centuries from the western Balkans and Greece and the religious persecution that followed in those same areas (Because, apparently, there actually is compulsion in religion?). The prevalence of the name around Milan and Turin and scattered throughout Liga Norte regions in the north probably is just proof of the huge post-wave migration of poor Italians from the south to the industrial areas of the north.

Whereas here there’s reasons to believe that western Lombardy and Milan and Turin had the name Spagnuolo because those corners of the north were Aragonese and Imperial/Hapsburg for significant amounts of time.

Given the heavily mixed populations of the regions on the Balkan coasts of the Ionian and Adriatic seas, and that many of them probably were of mixed Albanian-Greek stock, it’s hard to calculate the separate number of each group “ethnically”.

But today, while in the handful of still Greek-speaking villages of Pugliese Salento, the language is fast dying out: there are classes that are trying to teach children both the regional “Griko” dialect and making them proficient in Modern Greek, a thankless job; in the Albanian-speaking towns of Calabria and especially Sicily, the culture and language are flourishing, is taught in primary schools and there are very strong personal and institutional bonds with Albania, educational exchanges at levels of both younger school children and higher academic programs and tourist activities. Cool!

One just has to assume that after a few Sicilian Albanians take a group trip to Albania, they must mumble to themselves: “welll…shshshsh…but good thing our ancestors left”

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I have a black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt and I’m pissed

12 Jan

I bought it a thousand years ago in Toulouse — you have to believe me. It survived the drips and crumbs of countless French dinners, successfully cammoed wine stains for years, held up to Russian washing machines, the Attic sun and the hard water of Athens. And I really like it. And now I can’t wear it because of the fucking Proud Boys fachos.

I also loved it because black and yellow are, by complete coincidence, the colors of my favorite Greek soccer team AEK. That doesn’t mean I know anything about Greek soccer or care. But when asked or when I get thumbs-upped on the street when I wear it, it’s for AEK, because the acronym stands for the Athletic Union of Constantinople, which was founded in Athens in 1924 by Greeks from Istanbul, and is the institutional descendant of the Tatavla (a.k.a. Kurtuluş) Sports Club:

Kurtuluş S.K. was founded in 1896 under the name Hercules (Greek: Ηρακλής, Turkish: İraklis Jimnastik Kulübü) by local Greeks in 1896. It was the first club in Istanbul exclusively dedicated to sports activities. Later in 1934 it was forced to change its name to Turkish, Kurtuluş.

It was one of the major Greek sports clubs in Istanbul, while from 1910 to 1922 it was one of the clubs that undertook the organization of the Pan-Constantinopolitan games (Games organized among the Greek clubs of the city).

In 1906 two athletes of the club, the brothers Georgios and Nikolaos Alimbrandis won gold medals in the Intercalated Olympic Games in Athens, in horizontal bar and rope climbing respectively.

During the 1930s, the club intensified the efforts in the field of sports with the foundation of basketball, volleyball, cycling, athletics and other sports departments. Competent athletes from these departments were distinguished in local and international sports events. The club played in the Turkish Basketball League between 1966 and 1968.

The Tatavla Sports Club was the first athletic club in Turkey and was obviously created by non-Muslims because baring your knees is haram, I guess, and the Ottoman ulema had a particular problem with the soccer British troops in the City were making popular in Allied-occupied İstanbul because it was too evocative of the victors playing with Huseyn‘s head after his death at Karbala.

And it’s not like I can keep wearing it as long as I’m still in Greece, because even if Greeks didn’t know about the Proud Boys and their sartorial choices before, after last week they do. And they’re very unforgiving when they know they have one on you — malicious Romeic glee is boundless and an undying spring — and haydi explain yourself. I don’t know what the universe is trying to prove to me, but I’m vexed!

Thank God Carhartt is cool in Greece and has no American far-right nut-job associations yet, ’cause otherwise my dungarees would have to go next…

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A genuinely happy 2021 to everybody: Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης «Κεριά» — Cavafy’s “Candles” — Greek, English, Russian, Spanish, Italian — and sung by Eirene Pappa

1 Jan

Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης «Κεριά»

Του μέλλοντος η μέρες στέκοντ’ εμπροστά μας
σα μια σειρά κεράκια αναμένα —
χρυσά, ζεστά, και ζωηρά κεράκια.

Η περασμένες μέρες πίσω μένουν,
μια θλιβερή γραμμή κεριών σβυσμένων•
τα πιο κοντά βγάζουν καπνόν ακόμη,
κρύα κεριά, λυωμένα, και κυρτά.


Δεν θέλω να τα βλέπω• με λυπεί η μορφή των,
και με λυπεί το πρώτο φως των να θυμούμαι.
Εμπρός κυττάζω τ’ αναμένα μου κεριά.


Δεν θέλω να γυρίσω να μη διω και φρίξω
τι γρήγορα που η σκοτεινή γραμμή μακραίνει,
τι γρήγορα που τα σβυστά κεριά πληθαίνουν.

Constantine Cavafy — Candles

Days to come stand in front of us like a row of lighted candles—
golden, warm, and vivid candles.

Days gone by fall behind us, a gloomy line of snuffed-out candles; the nearest are smoking still, cold, melted, and bent.

I don’t want to look at them: their shape saddens me, and it saddens me to remember their original light. I look ahead at my lighted candles.

I don’t want to turn for fear of seeing, terrified, how quickly that dark line gets longer, how quickly the snuffed-out candles proliferate.

(translation Edmund Keeley)





Velas — Constantino Cavafis

Los días del futuro están delante de nosotros
como una hilera de velas encendidas
-velas doradas, cálidas, y vivas.

Quedan atrás los días ya pasados,
una triste línea de veles apagadas;
las más cercanas aún despiden humo,
velas frías, derretidas, y dobladas.

No quiero verlas; sus formas me apenan,
y me apena recordar su luz primera.
Miro adelante mis velas encendidas.

No quiero volverme, para no verlas y temblar,
cuán rápido la línea oscura crece,
cuán rápido aumentan las velas apagadas.

Kostantino Kavafis – Candele

Poesie scelte: KONSTANTINOS KAVAFIS, Poesie (Milano, Mondadori 1961).

Stanno i giorni futuri innanzi a noi
come una fila di candele accese
dorate, calde, e vivide.

Restano indietro i giorni del passato,
penosa riga di candele spente:
le più vicine dànno fumo ancora,
fredde, disfatte, e storte.

Non le voglio vedere: m’accora il loro aspetto,
la memoria m’accora del loro antico lume.
E guardo avanti le candele accese.

Non mi voglio voltare, ch’io non scorga, in un brivido,
come s’allunga presto la tenebrosa riga,
come crescono presto le mie candele spente.

Traduzione di Filippo Maria Pontani

And in song by the wonderful-looking Irene Pappas, (more photos below) and music of Mimes Plessas.

Irene Pappas 1956
Irene Pappas date unknown
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, Irene Papas, 1961
Irene Pappas 1971

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Luke Ranieri: “Christmas Eve with ScorpioMartianus 🎄 Latin & Greek Lesson · Christmas story from the Bible” — a live chat video everyone should watch

31 Dec

Luke Ranieri is more than a classicist; he’s what Greek aunties used to call “a beast of learning”. He makes professional — challenging but accessible — videos on a whole range of linguistic issues, but mostly Latin and secondarily, Greek.

Here he runs through chapter 2 of Luke, the most quoted of the gospels where Christmas narratives are concerned while surfing a live chat of questions for 2:30 hours…completely in Latin! easy, fluent, what sounds like conversational Latin. It’s kinna freaky and very cool to listen to.

(Luke is also generally considered the best writer of the four evangelists, though my grasp of Koinē is hardly good enough to judge; he tells a good story though, probably because he was the only Greek of the four.)

I’ll be back with more of Ranieri’s videos soon.

In the meantime, for those less academically inclined, here is perhaps our civilization’s most famous and influential reading of LukeLinus:

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City chauvinism and Zonaras’ lament

30 Dec

The reason that Byzantine Ambassador’s tweeting of Joannes Zonaras’ whine about being stuck on the Princes’ Islands — (“Adalar” or what Jews called, with wonderful syncretism, “Las Adas”) — “the end of the earth” — is funny…

— is that this (below)…

…is how far the Princes’ Islands are from Constantinople. In fact, it was generally considered that exile on the Islands was particularly painful because one could still see the City from there.

But, as the Bard said: “There is no world outside Verona walls…”

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My Best of Byzantine Ambassador’s tweets for 2020

30 Dec

Check out ByzAmb (a.k.a. Henry Hopwood-Phillips) at @byzantinepower or at his website: THE BYZANTINE AMBASSADOR. He’s a tipaccio in the great tradition of truly erudite, eccentric Brits, and is always up to smart, scarily learned, quirky takes on Byzantium, Orthodoxy, what we used to call Christendom, MENA and western Eurasia more generally, and lots else.

These are my favs for this year:

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Wonderful Jewish grandmother who speaks a ton of languages

30 Dec

Check out this cute video from sehr-cute Jewish boy, Nathaniel Drew (kind of goyische-sounding last name? Yeah, I thought so too) who talks to his polyglot grandma about the languages she speaks and how she acquired them.

Money moment at 3:25:

Nate: “We could say you’re a sponge for languages?

Grandma: “Yes” (chuckles)

Nate: “Do you know why you have this ability?”

Grandma: “I love languages. I love learning. I love to know.”

Translation: “I come from a very ancient tradition of Mediterranean and MENA urbanism and cosmopolitanism which was destroyed by the modern ethnic nation-state and its ridiculous ideas about cultural uniformity”

Or…

Translation: “I’m Jewish.”

Readers who want to remember the pre-Nasser Alexandria this woman was born in might want to revisit “The Other Homeland” documentary by Yorgos Augeropoulos for Al Jazeera.

Egypte, Alexandrie, le front de mer

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