The Hellenic Society Prometheas

Τη γλώσσα μου έδωσαν Ελληνική

Το σπίτι φτωχικό στις αμμουδιές του Ομήρου.

Μονάχη έγνοια η γλώσσα μου στις αμμουδιές του Ομήρου.

www.Prometheas.org                                                 Οδυσσέας Ελύτης

Newsletter

April 2009

Prometheas Events

·        Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm.St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Bethesda.  Book presentation and poetry reading by Pedro Lastra and Rigas Kappatos, who will present their book “Gabriela Mistral/Her best poems”.  The Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945. [Announcement is attached]

O ΕΟΡΤΑΣΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ 25ης ΜΑΡΤΙΟΥ ΣΤΗΝ ΟΥΑΣΙΓΚΤΩΝ

                Εφέτος, όπως κάθε χρόνο, οι ομογενείς της περιοχής Ουάσιγκτων γιόρτασαν μέσω της οργάνωσης του πολιτιστικού συλλόγου ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑΣ και τη σύμπραξη των άλλων συλλόγων της περιοχής, την εξέγερση των Ελλήνων για την απόκτηση της εθνικής Ανεξαρτησίας τους.

                Οι ομογενείς προσήλθαν μαζικώς (κοντά τετρακόσια άτομα) στην μεγάλη αίθουσα του ναού της Αγίας Αικατερίνης, την Κυριακή, 22 Μαρτίου στις 6 μ.μ., για να γιορτάσουν την μοναδική αυτή επέτειο όπου μια δράκα άνθρωποι οπλισμένοι με θάρρος ξεσηκώθηκαν ενάντια σε μια κραταιή αυτοκρατορία, με την απόφαση ή να νικήσουν ή να πεθάνουν. Και το κατόρθωσαν το απίστευτο: νίκησαν την Οθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία! Και τη νίκησαν ενάντια στη θέληση και των Μεγάλων δυνάμεων της Ευρώπης, που την ήθελαν στη θέση της, γιατί έτσι τους συνέφερε.   

                Τη γιορτή άνοιξαν με ομιλίες τους ο πρόεδρος του ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑ, κύριος Λευτέρης Καρμίρης, και ο πρεσβευτής μας στην Ουάσιγκτων κύριος Αλέξανδρος Μαλλιάς.

                Όπως είναι γνωστό, η θητεία του κυρίου Μαλλιά στην Ουάσιγκτων λήγει. Με την αναφορά σε αυτό το γεγονός στη διάρκεια της ομιλίας του, ο Πρεσβευτής μας καταχειροκροτήθηκε από τους παρευρισκόμενους για τα πεπραγμένα της Ελληνικής αντιπροσωπείας στη διάρκεια της θητείας του στην αμερικανική Πρωτεύουσα. Ένα από αυτά είναι ότι μετέτρεψε την Πρεσβεία μας σε κέντρο πολιτιστικών εκδηλώσεων, αλλά και ανταλλαγής και επαφής με τις αντιπροσωπείες άλλων χωρών. Μέσω αυτών των εκδηλώσεων, η επαφή του κ. Μαλλιά με τους Έλληνες της περιοχής ήταν συνεχής. Επίσης αυτό προς τιμή του συλλόγου ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑΣ, ευχήθηκε να δημιουργηθούν και άλλοι σύλλογοι όπως ο ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑΣ και σε άλλες πόλεις και πολιτείες της Αμερικής.

                Κύριος ομιλητής της ημέρας ήταν ο καθηγητής του Πανεπιστημίου Μακεδονίας κύριος Ευάγγελος Αθανασόπουλος, ο οποίος ήρθε από την Ελλάδα, προσκεκλημένος από τον ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑ, ειδικά γι’ αυτόν το σκοπό.

                Η παρουσίαση της Ελληνικής Επανάστασης από τον κ. Αθανασόπουλο, έγινε με βαθιά γνώση των γεγονότων και κριτική σκέψη. Δηλαδή, δεν είπε μόνο ωραία λόγια, αλλά με αναλυτική διορατικότητα και κατά καιρούς με χιούμορ, αναφέρθηκε σε αυτήν με τρόπο διεξοδικά πειστικό και διδακτικό. π.χ., πόσοι γνωρίζουν ότι η λέξη καριοφίλι προέρχεται από την ιταλική μάρκα κατασκευής των περίφημων εμπροσθιογεμή όπλων Caro e figli (Καρο ε φίλλοι), δηλαδή το όνομα των βιομηχάνων, που είναι, σε μετάφραση: Αγαπητός και υιοί!  

Στην παρουσίασή του, στην οποία μίλησε από μνήμης, ο κ. Αθανασόπουλος χρησιμοποίησε με πολλή επιτυχία οπτικοακουστικά μέσα, τα οποία είχαν μεγάλη απήχηση στο ακροατήριο.  Την ομίλια ακολούθησε πρόγραμμα με πατριωτικά τραγούδια από τη χορωδία της εκκλησίας των Αγίων Κωνσταντίνου και Ελένης, με χορούς από το χορευτικό συγκρότημα Επιστροφή στις Ρίζες, και δεξίωση.

Ευχόμαστε στον ΠΡΟΜΗΘΕΑ και στους ομογενείς της περιοχής Ουάσιγκτων και του χρόνου! Και στον κύριο Μαλλιά επιτυχία και στην επόμενη θέση του.

                                                                                        Ρήγας Καππάτος

With the opportunity of the celebration of the Independence Day of Greece, the Ambassador Mr. A. Malias send the following message. [See attached files in Greek and English]

Other Events

·        Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 PM Movie: Qadir, an Afghan Odyssey
Ripley Center  Lecture Hall, Smithsonian Associates, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW  
Director: Anneta Papathanassiou
Running Time: 79  minutes

After nine years in Greece, Qadir, an Afghan immigrant,  manages to get his green card. He decides to temporarily return to his homeland to search for his parents, and discover whether they are dead or alive after the Taliban regime. Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2008 Roma Fiction Fest.
Tickets: www.residentassociates.org
<http://residentassociates.org/ticketing/tickets/reserve.aspx?performanceNumber=217228>

·        March 10 – April 12, 2009: Ion by Euripides, A Greek Tragedy at the Shakespeare Theatre, Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20004-2207

·        Also at the Shakespeare Theatre (March 10 – April 12, 2009): An exhibit/ Light from Darkness: An Encounter with Ion by Greek Artist Apostolos Koustas

·        April 9 – 26: “Lysistrata of Aristophanes at Rosslyn Spectrum (1611 N. Kent Str., Alrington VA); for tickets call 800 494-8497

·        May 15, 6:30 pm: “Basile Comedy Night” at St George Greek Orthodox Church; music by Zephyros; tickets: Pete Spiropoulos (301-520-8895) or James Dialektakos (240-508-4847)

 

Other Announcements

Christine Sarbanes, wife of former U.S. senator, dies at 73

She taught Greek, Latin at Gilman School for more than 20 years

11:10 AM EDT, March 23, 2009

Christine Sarbanes, a retired educator and wife of former U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, died Sunday of cancer at her Guilford home. She was 73.

Mrs. Sarbanes, who taught Latin and Greek at
Gilman School for more than 20 years, retired in 2000. Earlier, she had been on the faculty at Goucher College.

A native of
London, she attended public schools in Brighton, England, winning scholarships to Brighton and Hove High Schools for Girls.

She later earned a bachelor's degree in Literae Humaniores from St. Hugh's College,
Oxford, in 1959.


  • Christine Sarbanes

After graduation, she began teaching Latin at Dana Hall School for Girls in Wellesley, Mass.

Since 1960, she had been married to Mr. Sarbanes.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete today.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Sarbanes is survived by two sons, Michael A. Sarbanes of
Baltimore and John P. Sarbanes of Riderwood; a daughter, Janet M. Sarbanes of Los Angeles; and six grandchildren.

 

Website of the month

·        http://www.thenationalherald.com/frangos/videos.cfm?id=3

·        http://www.dcgreeks.com/

·        http://ny.greekreporter.gr/?p=94

·        http://www.greekwebradio.gr/ (Radio Olympus): Presented by St. Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church.  Federal News Radio 1500 AM • 820 AM Streaming online at http://www.federalnewsradio.com/New Editions Saturdays at 10 AM; Replays Sundays at 6 PM

·        www.afnam.org: The American Friends of the New Acropolis Museum (AFNAM) has launched its official website

 

Books of the month

·         Hellenisms: Culture, identity and ethnicity from antiquity to modernity” by Katerina Zacharia, Ashgate Publishing (2008)

·         “The tomb of Agamemnon” by Cathy Gere (2006)

Misc Articles

 

From

February 18, 2009

What made the Greeks laugh?

Mary Beard on the familiar stand-bys of ancient humour and the schoolboy antics of murderous dictators

In the third century BC, when Roman ambassadors were negotiating with the Greek city of Tarentum, an ill-judged laugh put paid to any hope of peace. Ancient writers disagree about the exact cause of the mirth, but they agree that Greek laughter was the final straw in driving the Romans to war.

One account points the finger at the bad Greek of the leading Roman ambassador, Postumius. It was so ungrammatical and strangely accented that the Tarentines could not conceal their amusement. The historian Dio Cassius, by contrast, laid the blame on the Romans’ national dress. “So far from receiving them decently”, he wrote, “the Tarentines laughed at the Roman toga among other things. It was the city garb, which we use in the Forum. And the envoys had put this on, whether to make a suitably dignified impression or out of fear – thinking that it would make the Tarentines respect them. But in fact groups of revellers jeered at them.” One of these revellers, he goes on, even went so far as “to bend down and shit” all over the offending garment. If true, this may also have contributed to the Roman outrage. Yet it is the laughter that Postumius emphasized in his menacing, and prophetic, reply. “Laugh, laugh while you can. For you’ll be weeping a long time when you wash this garment clean with your blood.”

Despite the menace, this story has an immediate appeal. It offers a rare glimpse of how the pompous, toga-clad Romans could appear to their fellow inhabitants of the ancient Mediterranean; and a rare confirmation that the billowing, cumbersome wrap-around toga could look as comic to the Greeks of South Italy as it does to us. But at the same time the story combines some of the key ingredients of ancient laughter: power, ethnicity and the nagging sense that those who mocked their enemies would soon find themselves laughed at. It was, in fact, a firm rule of ancient “gelastics” – to borrow a term (from the Greek gelan, to laugh) from Stephen Halliwell’s weighty new study of Greek laughter – that the joker was never far from being the butt of his own jokes. The Latin adjective ridiculus, for example, referred both to something that was laughable (“ridiculous” in our sense) and to something or someone who actively made people laugh.

Laughter was always a favourite device of ancient monarchs and tyrants, as well as being a weapon used against them. The good king, of course, knew how to take a joke. The tolerance of the Emperor Augustus in the face of quips and banter of all sorts was still being celebrated four centuries after his death. One of the most famous one-liners of the ancient world, with an afterlife that stretches into the twentieth century (it gets retold, with a different cast of characters but the same punchline, both in Freud and in Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea), was a joking insinuation about Augustus’ paternity. Spotting, so the story goes, a man from the provinces who looked much like himself, the Emperor asked if the man’s mother had ever worked in the palace. “No”, came the reply, “but my father did.” Augustus wisely did no more than grin and bear it.

Tyrants, by contrast, did not take kindly to jokes at their own expense, even if they enjoyed laughing at their subjects. Sulla, the murderous dictator of the first century BC, was a well-known philogelos (“laughter-lover”), while schoolboy practical jokes were among the techniques of humiliation employed by the despot Elagabalus. He is said to have had fun, for example, seating his dinner guests on inflatable cushions, and then seeing them disappear under the table as the air was gradually let out. But the defining mark of ancient autocrats (and a sign of power gone – hilariously – mad) was their attempt to control laughter. Some tried to ban it (as Caligula did, as part of the public mourning on the death of his sister). Others imposed it on their unfortunate subordinates at the most inappropriate moments. Caligula, again, had a knack for turning this into exquisite torture: he is said to have forced an old man to watch the execution of his son one morning and, that evening, to have invited the man to dinner and insisted that he laugh and joke. Why, asks the philosopher Seneca, did the victim go along with all this? Answer: he had another son.

Ethnicity, too, was good for a laugh, as the story of the Tarentines and the toga shows. Plenty more examples can be found in the only joke book to have survived from the ancient world. Known as the Philogelos, this is a composite collection of 260 or so gags in Greek probably put together in the fourth century ad but including – as such collections often do – some that go back many years earlier. It is a moot point whether the Philogelos offers a window onto the world of ancient popular laughter (the kind of book you took to the barber’s shop, as one antiquarian Byzantine commentary has been taken to imply), or whether it is, more likely, an encyclopedic compilation by some late imperial academic. Either way, here we find jokes about doctors, men with bad breath, eunuchs, barbers, men with hernias, bald men, shady fortune-tellers, and more of the colourful (mostly male) characters of ancient life.

Pride of place in the Philogelos goes to the “egg-heads”, who are the subject of almost half the jokes for their literal-minded scholasticism (“An egg-head doctor was seeing a patient. ‘Doctor’, he said, ‘when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for 20 minutes.’ ‘Get up 20 minutes later, then’”). After the “egg-heads”, various ethnic jokes come a close second. In a series of gags reminiscent of modern Irish or Polish jokes, the residents of three Greek towns – Abdera, Kyme and Sidon – are ridiculed for their “how many Abderites does it take to change a light bulb?” style of stupidity. Why these three places in particular, we have no idea. But their inhabitants are portrayed as being as literal-minded as the egg-heads, and even more obtuse. “An Abderite saw a eunuch talking to a woman and asked if she was his wife. When he replied that eunuchs can’t have wives, the Abderite asked, ‘So is she your daughter then?’” And there are many others on predictably similar lines.

The most puzzling aspect of the jokes in the Philogelos is the fact that so many of them still seem vaguely funny. Across two millennia, their hit-rate for raising a smile is better than that of most modern joke books. And unlike the impenetrably obscure cartoons in nineteenth-century editions of Punch, these seem to speak our own comic language. In fact, the stand-up comedian Jim Bowen has recently managed to get a good laugh out of twenty-first-century audiences with a show entirely based on jokes from the Philogelos (including one he claims – a little generously – to be a direct ancestor of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch).

Why do they seem so modern? In the case of Jim Bowen’s performance, careful translation and selection has something to do with it (I doubt that contemporary audiences would split their sides at the one about the crucified athlete who looked as if he was flying instead of running). There is also very little background knowledge required to see the point of these stories, in contrast to the precisely topical references that underlie so many Punch cartoons. Not to mention the fact that some of Bowen's audience are no doubt laughing at the sheer incongruity of listening to a modern comic telling 2,000-year-old gags, good or bad.

But there is more to it than that. It is not, I suspect, much to do with supposedly “universal” topics of humour (though death and mistaken identity bulked large then as now). It is more a question of a direct legacy from the ancient world to our own, modern, traditions of laughter. Anyone who has been a parent, or has watched parents with their children, will know that human beings learn how to laugh, and what to laugh at (clowns OK, the disabled not). On a grander scale, it is – in large part at least – from the Renaissance tradition of joking that modern Western culture itself has learned how to laugh at “jokes”; and that tradition looked straight back to antiquity. One of the favourite gags in Renaissance joke books was the “No-but-my-father-did” quip about paternity, while the legendary Cambridge classicist Richard Porson is supposed to have claimed that most of the jokes in the famous eighteenth-century joke book Joe Miller’s Jests could be traced back to the Philogelos. We can still laugh at these ancient jokes, in other words, because it is from them that we have learned what “laughing at jokes” is.

This is not to say, of course, that all the coordinates of ancient laughter map directly onto our own. Far from it. Even in the Philogelos a few of the jokes remain totally baffling (though perhaps they are just bad jokes). But, more generally, Greeks and Romans could laugh at different things (the blind, for example – though rarely, unlike us, the deaf); and they could laugh, and provoke laughter, on different occasions to gain different ends. Ridicule was a standard weapon in the ancient courtroom, as it is only rarely in our own. Cicero, antiquity’s greatest orator, was also by repute its greatest joker; far too funny for his own good, some sober citizens thought.

There are some particular puzzles, too, ancient comedy foremost among them. There may be little doubt that the Athenian audience laughed heartily at the plays of Aristophanes, as we can still. But very few modern readers have been able to find much to laugh at in the hugely successful comedies of the fourth-century dramatist Menander, formulaic and moralizing as they were. Are we missing the joke? Or were they simply not funny in that laugh-out-loud sense? Discussing the plays in Greek Laughter, Halliwell offers a possible solution. Conceding that “Menandrian humour, in the broadest sense of the term, is resistant to confident diagnosis” (that is, we don’t know if, or how, it is funny), he neatly turns the problem on its head. They are not intended to raise laughs; rather “they are actually in part about laughter”. Their complicated “comic” plots, and the contrasts set up within them between characters we might want to laugh at and those we want to laugh with, must prompt the audience or reader to reflect on the very conditions that make laughter possible or impossible, socially acceptable or unacceptable. For Halliwell, in other words, Menander’s “comedy” functions as a dramatic essay on the fundamental principles of Greek gelastics.

On other occasions, it is not always immediately clear how or why the ancients ranked things as they did, on the scale between faintly amusing and very funny indeed. Halliwell mentions in passing a series of anecdotes that tell of famous characters from antiquity who laughed so much that they died. Zeuxis, the famous fourth-century Greek painter, is one. He collapsed, it is said, after looking at his own painting of an elderly woman. The philosopher Chrysippus and the dramatist Polemon, a contemporary of Menander, are others. Both of these were finished off, as a similar story in each case relates, after they had seen an ass eating some figs that had been prepared for their own meal. They told their servants to give the animal some wine as well – and died laughing at the sight.

The conceit of death by laughter is a curious one and not restricted to the ancient world. Anthony Trollope, for example, is reputed to have “corpsed” during a reading of F. Anstey’s comic novel Vice Versa. But what was it about these particular sights (or Vice Versa, for that matter) that proved so devastatingly funny? In the case of Zeuxis, it is not hard to detect a well-known strain of ancient misogyny. In the other cases, it is presumably the confusion of categories between animal and human that produces the laughter – as we can see in other such stories from antiquity.

For a similar confusion underlies the story of one determined Roman agelast (“non-laugher”), the elder Marcus Crassus, who is reputed to have cracked up just once in his lifetime. It was after he had seen a donkey eating thistles. “Thistles are like lettuce to the lips of a donkey”, he mused (quoting a well-known ancient proverb) – and laughed. There is something reminiscent here of the laughter provoked by the old-fashioned chimpanzees’ tea parties, once hosted by traditional zoos (and enjoyed for generations, until they fell victim to modern squeamishness about animal performance and display). Ancient laughter, too, it seems, operated on the boundaries between human and other species. Highlighting the attempts at boundary crossing, it both challenged and reaffirmed the division between man and animal.

Halliwell insists that one distinguishing feature of ancient gelastic culture is the central role of laughter in a wide range of ancient philosophical, cultural and literary theory. In the ancient academy, unlike the modern, philosophers and theorists were expected to have a view about laughter, its function and meaning. This is Halliwell’s primary interest.

His book offers a wide survey of Greek laughter from Homer to the early Christians (an increasingly gloomy crowd, capable of seeing laughter as the work of the Devil), and the introduction is quite the best brief overview of the role of laughter in any historical period that I have ever read. But Greek Laughter is not really intended for those who want to discover what the Greeks found funny or laughed at. There is, significantly, no discussion of the Philogelos and no entry for “jokes” in the index. The main focus is on laughter as it appears within, and is explored by, Greek literary and philosophical texts.

In those terms, some of his discussions are brilliant. He gives a clear and cautious account of the views of Aristotle – a useful antidote to some of the wilder attempts to fill the gap caused by the notorious loss of Aristotle’s treatise on comedy. But the highlight is his discussion of Democritus, the fifth-century philosopher and atomist, also renowned as antiquity’s most inveterate laugher. An eighteenth-century painting of this “laughing philosopher” decorates the front cover of Greek Laughter. Here Democritus adopts a wide grin, while pointing his bony finger at the viewer. It is a slightly unnerving combination of jollity and threat.

The most revealing ancient discussion of Democritus’ laughing habit is found in an epistolary novel of Roman date, included among the so-called Letters of Hippocrates – a collection ascribed to the legendary founding father of Greek medicine, but in fact written centuries after his death. The fictional exchanges in this novel tell the story of Hippocrates’ encounter with Democritus. In the philosopher’s home city, his compatriots had become concerned at the way he laughed at everything he came across (from funerals to political success) and concluded that he must be mad. So they summoned the most famous doctor in the world to cure him. When Hippocrates arrived, however, he soon discovered that Democritus was saner than his fellow citizens. For he alone had recognized the absurdity of human existence, and was therefore entirely justified in laughing at it.

Under Halliwell’s detailed scrutiny, this epistolary novel turns out to be much more than a stereotypical tale of misapprehension righted, or of a madman revealed to be sane. How far, he asks, should we see the story of Democritus as a Greek equivalent of the kind of “existential absurdity” now more familiar from Samuel Beckett or Albert Camus? Again, as with his analysis of Menander, he argues that the text raises fundamental questions about laughter. The debates staged between Hippocrates and Democritus amount to a series of reflections on just how far a completely absurdist position is possible to sustain. Democritus’ fellow citizens take him to be laughing at literally everything; and, more philosophically, Hippocrates wonders at one point whether his patient has glimpsed (as Halliwell puts it) “a cosmic absurdity at the heart of infinity”. Yet, in the end, that is not the position that Democritus adopts. For he regards as “exempt from mockery” the position of the sage, who is able to perceive the general absurdity of the world. Democritus does not, in other words, laugh at himself, or at his own theorizing.

What Halliwell does not stress, however, is that Democritus’ home city is none other than Abdera – the town in Thrace whose people were the butt of so many jokes in the Philogelos. Indeed, in a footnote, he briefly dismisses the idea “that Democritean laughter itself spawned the proverbial stupidity of the Abderites”. But those interested in the practice as much as the theory of ancient laughter will surely not dismiss the connection so quickly. For it was not just a question of a “laughing philosopher” or of dumb citizens who didn’t know what a eunuch was. Cicero, too, could use the name of the town as shorthand for a topsy-turvy mess: “It’s all Abdera here”, he writes of Rome. Whatever the original reason, by the first century BC, “Abdera” (like modern Tunbridge Wells, perhaps, though with rather different associations) had become one of those names that could be guaranteed to get the ancients laughing.

Stephen Halliwell
GREEK LAUGHTER
A study of cultural psychology from Homer to early Christianity
632pp. Cambridge University Press. £70 (paperback, £32.50). US $140 (paperback, $65).
978 0 521 88900 1


 

Για πάντα φίλοι, Ελληνες και Βρετανοί βετεράνοι

Tου Νικου Kωνστανταρα

Ο ένας οργάνωσε και εκτέλεσε μια από τις πιο τολμηρές επιχειρήσεις κομάντο του Β΄ Παγκόσμιου Πολέμου. Ο άλλος ήταν ο πρώτος Ελληνας αλεξιπτωτιστής και πήρε μέρος στην ανατίναξη της γέφυρας του Γοργοπόταμου. Αλλος μετέφερε κομάντος και εφόδια με καΐκι στην Ανατολική Μεσόγειο, κάτω από τη μύτη των Γερμανών. Αλλος πετούσε μαχητικό Χαρικέιν στους ουρανούς της Βορείου Αφρικής, της Ιταλίας και της Γιουγκοσλαβίας. Ζούσαν στο όριο της ζωής με τον θάνατο. Είδαν τους συντρόφους τους να πέφτουν νεκροί, πρώτα στη μάχη και κατόπιν στη μάχη του χρόνου και των ασθενειών.

Στις 9 Μαρτίου, 65 χρόνια μετά το τέλος του πολέμου, Ελληνες που είχαν πολεμήσει στο πλευρό των βρετανικών δυνάμεων συναντήθηκαν πάλι με τους παλιούς συμμάχους, αντάλλαξαν αναμνήσεις και ήπιαν ένα ποτήρι κρασί. Η συνάντηση έγινε στην κατοικία του Βρετανού πρέσβη με πρωτοβουλία του στρατιωτικού ακόλουθου, συνταγματάρχη Πολ Λοτζ.

Ειδικές Επιχειρήσεις

«Ζούμε σε έναν καλύτερο κόσμο, χάρη στις δικές σας θυσίες», είπε ο πρεσβευτής Ντέιβιντ Λάντσμαν, καλωσορίζοντας αυτή τη «διακεκριμένη και μοναδική ομάδα ανθρώπων». Οι περίπου τριάντα βετεράνοι -εθελοντές όλοι- ήταν μέλη του Σώματος Ειδικών Επιχειρήσεων (το SOE, το οποίο εξελίχθηκε στις μυστικές υπηρεσίες της Βρετανίας), της Ειδικής Μοίρας Ναυτικού (Special Boat Squadron), της Βασιλικής Αεροπορίας και του Ιερού Λόχου.

Ο Θέμης Μαρίνος, πρωτεργάτης στην ανατίναξη του Γοργοπόταμου και ο πρώτος Ελληνας αλεξιπτωτιστής κομάντο, μίλησε με χιούμορ και μετριοφροσύνη για το πώς στρατολογήθηκε στο SOE πολύ πριν το μάθει ο ίδιος. Εκπαιδεύτηκε στη σχολή ανορθόδοξου πολέμου έξω από τη Χάιφα της Παλαιστίνης και μόνο όταν βρέθηκε στον Γοργοπόταμο τον Νοέμβριο του 1942 πληροφορήθηκε ότι ήταν μέλος των ειδικών δυνάμεων της Βρετανίας. Για τους συμπολεμιστές του, ο τελευταίος επιζών της επιχείρησης που ένωσε για λίγο τους αντάρτες του Αρη Βελουχιώτη και του Ναπολέοντα Ζέρβα, κατέληξε απλά: «Φίλοι για πάντα».

Ο Ιάσων Μαυρίκης, παλαίμαχος του Ιερού Λόχου και της μοίρας «Μ» της Ειδικής Μοίρας Ναυτικού, συμμετείχε στη διοργάνωση της εκδήλωσης. Ως μέλος της μοίρας συμμετείχε σε επιχειρήσεις εναντίον των Ναζί στα Δωδεκάνησα, τη Λήμνο, την Κρήτη και τη Θεσσαλονίκη. «Πιστεύαμε στην τελική νίκη και μέσα στις πιο σκοτεινές μέρες του πολέμου. Ακόμη και όταν ο Ρόμελ έβλεπε την Αλεξάνδρεια μέσα από τα κιάλια του», είπε.

Ψαράδες και πειρατές

Ο Ρήγας Ρηγόπουλος ήταν κυβερνήτης ενός επιταγμένου καϊκιού σφουγγαράδων, οι οποίοι αποτελούσαν και το πλήρωμά του. Ως μέρος του Αγγλοελληνικού Στολίσκου (Anglo-Hellenic Flotilla) μετέφερε πολεμιστές και εφόδια στο Αιγαίο και την Ανατολική Μεσόγειο, με ταχύτητα 8 μίλια την ώρα. «Μας είπαν ότι ο πόλεμος ο δικός μας θα ήταν ανορθόδοξος, ότι θα είμαστε πειρατές. Σηκώναμε την τούρκικη σημαία στα τούρκικα ύδατα και σε αυτά που ήταν υπό γερμανική κατοχή παριστάναμε τους ψαράδες», διηγήθηκε ο Ρηγόπουλος. «Μια μέρα ένας άλλος καπετάνιος κατέλαβε ένα πολύ μεγαλύτερο γερμανικό πλοίο, σαν πειρατής, με ρεσάλτο. Μας το έφερε εκεί που γιορτάζαμε το Πάσχα, σε τουρκικά ύδατα, υπό την προστασία του Αλλάχ».

Ο αντιπτέραρχος Κωνσταντίνος Α. Χατζηλάκος, πρόεδρος του Συνδέσμου Βετεράνων Αεροπόρων 1940-1945 (RAFA Αθηνών), ο οποίος πολέμησε κάτω από τον επιχειρησιακό έλεγχο της Βρετανικής Αεροπορίας μετά την κατάληψη της Ελλάδας από τους Ναζί, σημειώνει ότι ο σύνδεσμος ξεκίνησε το 1975 με 250 μέλη. «Σήμερα μόνο έξι πιλότοι εκπροσωπούν την ομάδα μας... Κάθε χρόνο λιγοστεύουμε».

Μια ζωηρή, κωμική και ατρόμητη οικογένεια

Το πνεύμα της εποχής κατέγραψε ο σερ Πάτρικ Λι Φέρμορ, ο θρυλικός κομάντο των κρητικών βουνών και ο πιο διακεκριμένος Βρετανός συγγραφέας ταξιδιωτικών περιπλανήσεων της εποχής μας, όπως τον αποκαλεί ο βρετανικός Τύπος. «Οταν άρχισε ο Β΄ Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος εγώ περιπλανιόμουν στη Ρουμανία... Κάποιος τραγουδούσε ένα τραγούδι, νομίζω λεγόταν “Τρέχα κουνελάκι, τρέχα”. Δεν τραγουδούσε πολύ καλά», ξεκίνησε ο 94χρονος Λι Φέρμορ, διαβάζοντας ένα κείμενο που είχε γράψει για τη συνάντηση. «Εχω ένα πρόβλημα με τα μάτια μου και πιθανώς να τα κάνω μούσκεμα», είπε με χαμόγελο. Περιέγραψε με βροντερή φωνή πώς στρατολογήθηκε ως ανθυπολοχαγός πληροφοριών στην Κρήτη και πώς εκπαιδεύτηκε στη σχολή ανορθόδοξου πολέμου έξω από τη Χάιφα. «Οι εκπαιδευόμενοι ήταν όλοι Κρητικοί. Γνώριζαν τα όπλα πολύ καλύτερα απ’ ό,τι εγώ», σχολίασε με ιρλανδικό χιούμορ.

Δεν αναφέρθηκε στον αρχηγικό ρόλο που έπαιξε στην απαγωγή του Γερμανού διοικητή της Κρήτης, στρατηγού Χάινριχ Κράιπε, το 1944, μια αποστολή η οποία έγινε παγκοσμίως γνωστή ως μια από τις πιο τολμηρές επιχειρήσεις του πολέμου. Για τους Κρητικούς συμπολεμιστές του –για τους οποίους ήταν γνωστός ως «Μιχάλης» ή «Φιλεντέμ»– θυμάται: «Στο τέλος είμαστε όλοι μέλη μιας μεγάλης οικογένειας. Μιας ζωηρής, κωμικής και ατρόμητης οικογένειας. Φίλοι για πάντα».

Ο Λι Φέρμορ αναφέρθηκε στη συμμετοχή του Ελληνικού Ιερού Λόχου στην κατάληψη του Ρίμινι. «Αυτό που είχε τραγουδήσει η Σοφία Βέμπο, έγινε πραγματικότητα, εκατό χιλιόμετρα από τη Ρώμη». Αρχισε να τραγουδάει με σφιγμένη γροθιά: «Δεν έχει διόλου μπέσα / κι όταν θα μπούμε μέσα / ακόμη και στη Ρώμη γαλανόλευκη / θα υψώσουμε σημαία ελληνική». Τελειώνοντας, αναφώνησε: «Αυτές ήταν αξέχαστες εποχές, όπως η σημερινή μέρα. Είθε το πνεύμα τους να ζει για πάντα!» Και προέτρεψε την παρέα να τραγουδήσουν πάλι.

 

 

Hμερομηνία :  25/3/09   

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