Just wanted to remind because a lot of people that I follow (and follow me) are from the US that in a lot of places in Europe the term “poc” is simply not used and it doesn’t apply as a term. I say that because I had some anons that asked me if I was poc and I feel like they most definitely are either from the US or generally Anglophone countries. So no in terms of what the US classifies as poc I am not. But It also goes much deeper than that because 1) both my parents and the majority of my people come from immigrants from the east 2) the country was enslaved for 400 years by Turkey and 3) balkanian countries are not really part of the Western white culture.
In conclusion the term does not make sense in a lot of European cultures because of their history.
Hope I cleared it up for some anons I am really bad at explaining all this.
Normally, I do not talk about individual people on this blog. Let alone people who have not played an active role in Greece’s politics. But I found out today that Amalia Megapanou, former first lady of Greece, passed away at 91. As someone interested in women, history, and politics (together and apart), I believe I should share with you a thing or two about this remarkable woman.
Amalia Megapanou was born Amalia Kanellopoulou in 1929 in Athens. Her family is what in Greece is considered upper class - her uncle was philosopher and Prime Minister Panagiotis Kanellopoulos. Her parents were also among the wealthiest and most widely respected families of Patras (Peloponnese).
In 1951, she married Constantine Karamanlis, a burgeoning charismatic politician who was then serving as Minister for Defence [NOTE: Karamanlis eventually went down in history as the man that abolished the Greek monarchy. He was also the initiator and first President of the 3rd Hellenic Republic].
Although he was her senior by 22 years - and despite her own family’s initial disapproval - he insisted on pursuing her. He notably ‘flirted’ with her by standing outside her window at her parents’ house, wearing a white suit.
As Karamanlis’s star kept shining in the political area, the couple became all the more prominent. To this day, they remain one of Greece’s most glamorous pairs. Amalia herself became the epitome of Greek beauty and her fashion sense led to her earning the moniker “The Jackie Kennedy of Greece”. In fact, when the couple went to the White House on a state visit in 1961, the press of the day wrote that Amalia had overshadowed Jackie so much that Jackie herself looked like a nouveau-riche from rural America. In the pictures below, you will see the Karamanlis pair greeting the Kennedys upon their arrival at the White House:
Amalia was by Karamanlis’s side throughout his political ascendance from minister to Prime Minister. When she was asked about her husband’s politics, she replied, “I do not meddle into my husband’s business because he does it so excellently”. A private person at heart, Amalia resented the spotlight and tried to stay away from the press attention as much as possible. In fact, the most famous incident involving Karamanlis and his wife was during an election campaign. Standing on a balcony and about to make a speech, Karamanlis turned to Amalia (who had been chatting with someone in the back) and told her “Shut up, Amalia!”. Unfortunately for him, the microphone was open. Eventually, and as fate would have it, this quote went down in history.
Despite Amalia always seen near her husband, she was not by his side when he arrived back to Greece following the fall of the Junta in 1974. They were divorced in Paris in 1972, where they had lived in self-exile since Karamanlis had quit politics in 1963. Arguably, it was Amalia herself who had decided to end their 21-year marriage. His feisty temperament had played a major part in it (although some other people also claim the lack of children). Karamanlis famously threw ashtrays at people when he was angry, and his wife was not an exception. Some many also argue that Amalia had also desired a life away from politics - which, according to her husband, she had hardly enjoyed in the first place (”Amalia is more interested in culture than politics”). Karamanlis himself had also blamed their divorce in their similar temperaments. Despite her serene exterior, Amalia could also be as demanding as her husband.
Following their divorce, Amalia stayed away from the public eye. A year after the divorce, she got remarried to Epameinondas Megapanos (hence the last name). This marriage, too, ended in divorce.
During the last decades of her life, Amalia dedicated herself to writing. She wrote, among others, historical monographies on Greek embroidery as well as novels. The most famous one, titled “Διάλογος με την Άννα” (”Conversations with Anna”, translation mine), is about Athens’ female sex-workers. In order to write this book, she kept having conversations with actual sex-workers for months. The book also criticises the hypocrisy of the Greek upper classes. However, despite her successful career as an author, Amalia never wrote a book about her life with Karamanlis - nor did she ever talk about it in the few interviews she had given.
She was widely interested in foreign languages, philosophy, the arts, and embroidery. She even made about 90 embroideries, all of which had been donated by her to the Benaki Museum, where they are displayed. Fun fact: she gave up learning Spanish because her language teacher had been summoned to teach Princess Sofia of Greece - later the Queen of Spain - prior to the latter’s wedding to Juan Carlos.
Amalia’s most famous recent public appearance was in 1998, when she attended Karamanlis’s funeral. She had come to pay her respects discreetly - so discreetly in fact, that she had been hardly noticed by the hoards of media in attendance.
To sum up, Amalia Megapanou is one of the most remarkable Greek women. It is a pity that, up until today, she was not widely known by the Greeks. On the occasion of her death, a multitude of articles about her rose on the internet, yet few delve deeper into her life. Unsurprisingly, most of these articles focus on her life (and marriage) with Karamanlis. Yet Amalia Megapanou was one of the few grandes dames of Athenian society who did not become part of the “typical” upper class world. When asked about her life, she simply said: “Look, Amalia Megapanou is the child of my mother and my father that ended up at this point in her life. It is a path. It takes you through forests, rocky mountains, dangerous places, luxuries etc.”
Do you know some great movies which deals with Greek history ?
I have an underwhelming answer to this: no, especially if we emphasize on them being great.
When it comes to Ancient Greek history, it’s the Hollywood ones you might know of and even these are inaccurate in many ways. Yet these are also the most entertaining simply because Hollywood knows how to make movies. I mean, 300 was more like the graphic novel it was based on than the historical event, but it was an enjoyable movie, no?
The absolute disregard towards Byzantine History is the most mind-boggling fact for me. Byzantine history has everything a director, screenwriter or general money grabber dreams of - emperors, scandals, wars wars wars, schemes, crusaders, Oscar worthy costumes, religious mysticality… Plus it has one of the most notorious events in world history: the Fall of Constantinople. Can you imagine the war movie they could make with this??? I don’t understand why on earth this (huge) part of Greek history remains so obscure. On the other hand Greek cinema doesn’t make a Byzantine movie simply because it lacks the budget.
There are several Greek movies about Modern Greek history but honestly I don’t feel like recommending any of those I have watched. Whether it’s the production or the acting or something else, I will always cringe for some reason. I’m not saying there are not good Greek movies, or great Greek actors or famous Greek directors or solid production. But somehow we weren’t able to make it in historical cinema. I could only recommend God Loves Caviar and Politiki Kouzina (A Touch of Spice) and Nyfes (Brides) but history is more like the background rather than the focus of these movies. Psychi Vathia is a historical movie about a very dark moment in Greek history, the civil war, I ‘ve heard it’s good yet controversial. I don’t know because I haven’t seen it.
Other than that, I can’t help. This ended up more like a rant. If anyone knows a good movie about Greek history, feel free to add.
I just watched the Cliffs of Freedom, that new Greek American movie about the Greek War of Independence. You won’t miss anything if you don’t watch it. What I was glad to realise after watching this is that the Greek Revolution needs a good script, a big budget, talented actors and a SKILLED director to be accurately portrayed in a movie. A big production. Also the casting for Theodoros Kolokotronis was laughable.
But then again, even casting the Greek Gods is easier than casting Kolokotronis and I say this unironically. Those of you who know him, think about it, who would you choose for that part? I can’t think of anybody who’d convince me.
It has been said that one should be interested in the past only as a guide to the future. I do not fully concur with this. One usually emerges from an intimate understanding of the past with its lessons and its wisdom, with convictions which put fire in the soul. I doubt seriously whether a man can think with full wisdom and with deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian War and the Fall of Athens.
So I just learned that in Ancient Greece and the Near East, a specific species of fennel was used as an oral contraceptive. Fennel is a plant used to make absinthe, so now I’m imagining that instead of taking a pill every morning, you take a shot of absinthe and I find the idea of millions of women starting their day off with a shot of absinthe hilarious. I can just see myself taking the rest of my meds with a shot abinthe. (Also please no one drink absinthe or eat fennel and expect it to be effective, this is an incredibly ancient contraception method and we all know how those turned out.)
There is not a definitive answer to this. The usage of the name Hellas is more of a mystery compared to the usage of “Hellene”. My answer is a combination of a source from the book Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age, some wikipedia and my own understanding based on the history, old texts and books I’ve read as a Greek. So if anyone wants to add to this or correct parts of this, they are welcome to do so.
As I said in the “Names of the Greeks” post, Hellenes took their name from those very first priests of Zeus or Apollo in Epirus or from a city named Hellas in southwestern Thessaly or both if these events are connected due to an emigration. (Epirus and Thessaly lie next to each other.) The city Hellas was apparently founded very back in time because we’re talking about the early era of the Hellenic religion.
According to the aforementioned book, Homer does refer to Hellas and by that name he mostly means strictly the region of the first Hellenes while some other times he gives it a broader meaning and it seems “Hellas” includes all the middle part of Greece (Epirus, Thessaly and Central Greece that lies just south of them) and some of the northern part (the south of Macedonia). In a similar fashion, Homer uses the name “Argos” (which was the eastern powerful urban center of the Achaeans in the Peloponnese) to refer to the entirety of the Peloponnese, so all South Greece. In short, he would occasionally very roughly divide Greece to Hellas and Argos.
Now, the Homeric epics date to the late 9th - early 8th century BCE but as you may know, they are a product of oral lore. This means that many rhapsodes have contributed to them and it is unclear whether Homer was the one who contributed the most or first or last. This is also part of the evidence that shows that the events of the Iliad and Odyssey must have been based on real events that then the folk kept adding to as decades and centuries passed until they became legends, and then something close to myths (*LOTR Galadriel voice intensifies).
The reason I am stressing this is because it means that whatever we can observe in the homeric poems is not the product of a single person’s imagination. The fact that there is a tendency of applying the name Hellas to a much larger scale than that of the original city might show that there was a similar tendency amongst all Greeks of the time. Furthermore, since the epics are oral lore, then that tendency may date earlier than the late 9th century BC. However, I doubt the broader meaning of the name was “officially” established throughout the whole population and I don’t think it was anything other than exactly that - a slight tendency.
Conclusively, Hellas might have been occassionally used to describe at least half of Greece around the late 9th century. When did this become all of Ancient Greece, you ask. Well this question is not exactly right due to the fact that there wasn’t an Ancient Greece in the way that we imagine based on the way countries and states work today. Greeks did not distinguish the world between Greece and several other countries / empires. Greeks thought of the world as the Greek world and the world of the others (barbarians). There was never such a thing as a sovereign ancient Greek state with defined borders and laws, at least not before Alexander’s empire which, again, had loose or ever changing borders. The Greek world was divided to dozens of city-states and each of them had its own rulers, political systems, laws and economies. The smaller ones depended financially and militarily on the most powerful ones but, still, they were largely autonomous. And those city states had varying relations with each other.
This means that if an Athenian had to travel to Sparta, he wouldn’t say “I’m going to south Hellas”, he’d say: “(Dammit) I (have to) go to Sparta or the lands of the (stupid) Spartans. The Spartans would say something similar.
But when the Persians or any external force would threaten the Athenians, the Spartans would say: “We might hate the Athenians’ guts but the Athenians are Hellenes and we won’t allow barbarians to spill hellenic blood or step on hellenic lands.”
That was the general perception at the time, you know? (I mean there are even rare cases of total “go fuck yourselves we don’t care” between rivalling city-states but thankfully these were not the majority).
Wherever there was considerable presence of the Greek language and the Greek religion, the Greeks would consider it part of their own world and it was the world of the Hellenes, with their seperate rulers, and laws and such.
The name would probably be used to define the geographic core of the hellenic world, and it’s been used by Thucydides (5th Century BCE) and Aristotle (4th Century BCE) and more, so the name does have a sporadic yet ongoing usage. This usage must have been reinforced during or after the Hellenistic Age (after the 3rd century BCE). While its usage is so vague and sporadic, it apparently survived probably because of the stronger ongoing existence of the related name Hellene. The meaning has always been that of the center of the Greek presence. Those sporadic records of its use remained stable throughout all the centuries of Roman occupation, then Byzantine Empire, then Ottoman occupation (plus all minor occupations i.e Crusaders, Venetians and so on). After the 17th century the usage becomes more frequent and even amongst non-educated people. At the times of the Greek Revolution, so before the Independence itself, it was a common statement amongst educated and non-educated, noble and commonfolk, that they were fighting for the liberty of motherland “Hellas” . The name was not thus determined after the Independence and there has never been any recorded debate regarding the name that the independent state of the Greeks should have. Somehow there has never been a known question or objection or differentiation to the notion that the country of the Greeks should be called Hellas.
It’s weird because it’s like this region being called Hellas is an as old as time unquestionable truth amongst Greeks that simply took too long to be established and applied by law.
So it would be acceptable any time after the 8th century BC in the sense that they would more or less understand what you meant. Otherwise, the term would be unofficial or even not of much use until the outcome of the Independence War (1821-1826). Nowadays, you can use it relatively freely as it will automatically take the meaning of the “Hellenic World”, all those lands with prevalent use of the Greek language and practice of the Greek religion and presence of other Greek cultural and architectural trademarks.
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