Kosmas of Aetolia Greek monk and historian 1714-1779

These are disposable tablecloths that cover many of the tables in restaurants around here. It’s nice that you can learn about the culture of the place your staying through such a simple gesture.

This one tells a brief history of Apolokarnanina which is the area that houses Preveza airport that you fly into to visit Lefkás.Kosmas of Aetolia-Acarnania. He founded a school in Preveza which upset the Venetians who were ruling at the time leading to his death. For a Greek perspective Cosmas of Aetolia

There are also poems by Angelos Sikelianos “The first rain” which describes the beauty rain can inspire in you when you let it touch your soul and you dance in it. ”

It says above that the poet was born in Lefkás in 1884.

It says below he was born in Lefkás in 1850 and he was the national poet of Japan. His house is still there in Kithera.Lefkada Hearn There is also an Aristotle Valaoritis poem, biographical information and another poem. e

He is the second part of my Famous Greeks series.

Pavlos Santorinis

Theodore Stephanides

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any simple gestures like to help inform visitors to your country?

Best wishes

Angela

Wilhelm Dorpfeld German archeologist and historian 1852- 1940

He is the founder of the scientific approach to archeology for he came up with the theory of stratigraphy which is the recording of strata to enable you to use the objects found in the correct manner. He is however most famous here for his Bronze Age excavations that took place

from 1900-1910 Tombs near Nidri

and he was the originator of the thought that Lefkás was Homer’s Ithaka. Displayed below is the Odyssey boat but here it’s in the harbour on Meganisi.

I have even watched a BBC4 program where they went in search of the physical evidence based on passages from the Odyssey itself ending in Lefkás with a trip on the boat in the picture which I have been on and it’s very informative. Dörpfeld did many evacuations in the area including Meganisi

Meganisi
Meganisi

but anything more than hearsay cannot really be proven which is unfortunate. I think the modern conclusion to the theory is that it is Ithaka that Homer lived on, not Lefkás despite Dörpfeld’s exhaustive efforts.

He is however commemorated on the island by having the bus stops in Nidri dedicated to his memory. This is because he believed that the bay of Nidri (this picture is also on display in the Gramophone museum Lefkás town) Nidri

Nidri

was Homer’s base for the setting of the start and end of the Odyssey. He also thought the bay of pigs was Sivota bay.Sivota

Sivota

You can also get hold of a book Wilhelm Dorpfeld in Lefkás that tells you all about himself and the work that he did on the island. I have read it and it’s quite informative. It’s the best source of information around and the black and white pictures in this post come from that book.

The picture of his grave is at Geni which is across the water from Nidri and very close to Agia Kiriaki church. He also has the honour of a street named after him in Lefkás town.

There is an Archeological museum In Lefkás Town with a room full of his finds in Lefkás town but more were destroyed by a fire that happened not long after they were discovered in the place that they were being stored nearby the excavation site.

It is quite difficult to get hold of information about him in English but the above mentioned book and museum I linked to earlier is your best bet here. You can find out more about him in the museums in Athens.

However, the majority of it is in German. I have previously come across a PHD document written by a Greek that is in English online. However, as with all things you find when your not really looking for them; there really difficult to locate when you actually need them. Wilhelm Dörpfeld founded a school of archeology in Athens so you do occasionally come across gems like that document but just like gems they are very hard to discover again after you have initially found them.

As a consolation prize here is the Wikipedia article on him

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Dörpfeld

Do you know of any little known people from your country who deserve to be more famous?

Best wishes

Angela

Ioannis (Nanos) Valaoritis Greek poet 1921-

He is a poet who has lived in various places in his life like Greece, the UK, France and the United States. This has given him the ability to absorb the qualities of that country’s poetry and to popularise them in all of the other countries he has lived in. He currently lives in Athens. It’s unusual for me to be writing about a poet that is still alive but as you can tell he is quite elderly.

He is said to be one of the best poets of the Hellenic diaspora (community of Greeks outside of Greece) since Constantine Cavafy. He is also linked to George Seferis because of the well known book of their correspondence. Not only that, he assisted with translating the poem King Asini which I mention in my earlier post into English for publication abroad.

Additionally, he met with Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell. He is certainly one of the most well connected poets of that era.

Once again we come across a Valaoritis and he was the great grandson of Aristotle Valaoritis who I have written about in great detail. This Valaoritis was a poet and once again we come across a man who studied law but this time in Athens. This is a common theme for men of this era to study law but they don’t always complete their degrees like this one did.

Just like Angelos Sikelianos he met his American wife in Paris in the 1920’s. That really must have been quite a heady place at that time with the surrealists, Andre Breton and Pablo Picasso also being present at the same time.

He also met TS (Thomas Stearns) Eliot along with George Seferis. It really was quite an involved connected group of poets and artists at this time.

He was also awarded by the Greek government the state poetry prize in 1983 and the Academy of Athens poetry prize in 2004. Plus having a street named after him in Lefkás town.

His personal life is here Ioannis Valaoritis

This is the seventh post in the series of Greek but mainly Lefkádian writers and poets which includes a bonus post from Sententiae Antiquae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

George Seferis

C G Karyotakis

Best wishes

Angela

Saints associated with Lefkás, their churches and shrines

Lefkáda – Panagia Fanoroemeni Monastery (the Virgin Mary) is revealed on August 15th. There are many churches with the same name with the most famous in Cyprus thanks again Google. There is a monastery for her on Lefkás about 3km from Lefkás town. It includes a religious history museum, maritime museum and a zoo. The Venetians had some input to the architectural structure too. This is why it’s the best looking, most well maintained and well known monastery on the island. I am yet to visit this place but you can see many pictures online and on the Wikipedia article there is some info Lefkás but best check elsewhere as it’s rather lacking.

Lefkás town – Santa Maura 3rd May. There is a fort dedicated to her at the top most point of the island. I haven’t visited her either as it was closed the day I wanted to go.

Nidri When they have weddings here it is traditional to honk your horn all the way through the village until they get home which can be quite some distance. It is a very noisy affair as the horn is sounded whenever they feel like it so about every couple of minutes. This is every vehicle in the procession so it can be a cacophony of noise. Just like the Easter celebrations except more vibrant as this is early evening instead of midnight.

White church – This is the church on the top of the island that everyone sees and sometimes they have weddings up here. The panoramic views across the entire area are phenomenal.

Sappho’s leap – St Nicholas the patron saint of Fishermen. St Nicolas 19th December.

Geni – Kiriaki 7th July Agia Kyriaki

This is the shrine below dedicated to her and the church that is nearby. I’ve been inside too for a lovely christening but I didn’t take any pictures as there were 2 professional photographers but I don’t know if I’ll ever see the photos of that event.

As you can see I have visited some areas and not others due to there location.

Do you have any special saints that you worship where you are?

Best wishes

Angela

Eglouvi and the lentil festival

This happens every August around the 7th. Eglouvi means encased which makes total sense when you visit the village as it’s down in a valley surrounded by hill on all sides. The lentils are well known for there unique creamy texture.

The Greeks love their food as you all know so an excuse to celebrate it is always a good idea. There exported all over the world.

I unfortunately haven’t attended this festival because neither me nor my husband drive and it’s been years since we visited in August. It’s a bit too crowded with what seems like the entirety of Italy and Greece’s admin service visiting on their month off.

This village doesn’t appear to have a Wikipedia article as it’s so small but there are other tourist websites out there that will tell you about previous ones.

Do you have any special foods and ceremonies in your country that we should know about?

I like making series and connecting my posts together so that they make sense to you the viewer and reader. This is part of my rural Lefkás village series.

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Karia

Best wishes

Angela

Karia and it’s heritage museum

This is a small village well known for its embroidery. It has a style unique to Lefkás invented by a lady called Maria Standraka who was unable to stitch in the normal way due to an acquired disability. She came to be known as a Koutsochero because of that disability. Not to be defeated by this obstacle she came up with the Karsaniko style. There are samples of her work displayed inside for you to admire. Ladies here to this day practice it but it is a dying art I believe due to the age of the practitioners. However it’s being kept alive in the internet age by there being a video on YouTube and images on Pinterest. So all is not lost here just yet.

This is similar to the article that I wrote on Eva Palmer Sikelianos who practised weaving and the art of making all of your own clothes by loom.

I haven’t managed to view this yet but I’ve passed by it many times even eating in the village itself. It is well known for its rugs. The Wikipedia article isn’t very helpful here as it makes no mention of anything I have said in this post. Karia.

Do you have any unique artisanal workmen and women in your cultural history?

I like making series and connecting my posts together so that they make sense to you the viewer and reader. This is the first part of my rural Lefkás village series.

Eglouvi

Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

She was born in New York, emigrated to Paris and here she met her future husband Angelos Sikelianos . She then became his wife and moved to Lefkás to live there and learnt weaving of which there are examples of in the museum.

She in fact had learnt this much earlier but she learnt the traditional styles endemic to Lefkás while she lived there.

While reading this post you will have to remember that like all good poets and artists; they like their life to be presented in a certain way which is not necessarily the truth. They have employed artistic license or spin as we might call it now to how there life is displayed for prosperity. As politicians say never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

There is also an element of historical correction/heavy censorship involved to make there lives fit in with what we now deem appropriate for that era. In short they miss out a lot of their social lives because they wish to be remembered purely for their artistic endeavors.

She (Eva), famously said after visiting her ailing mother “I decided that I would never ever wear another thing made by a machine again!” She then proceeds to throw a trunk full of couture clothing from Paris out of the train window.

In truth, she had abandoned wearing western dress long before this moment and it was only her mother that caused her to occasionally wear it so that she would not upset her anymore.

She was also friends with Nikos Kazantzis and George Serefis. Angelos and Eva lived together in a house in the south of Lefkás as well as the one in Lefkás town that houses the museum you see above.

She was responsible along with her husband for the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals but these were to prove the undoing of the couple as the economic cost was too great.

She also helped to revive and prevent the loss of some of the weaving techniques for her clothing. She taught them to Angelos’s second wife Anna Karameni when she was finally able to return to Lefkás just before her death in 1952. Anna lived to be over a 100 dying in 2006.

This museum is more a testament to the Sikelianos family and Anna rather than an accurate portrayal of the lives of Eva and Angelos as it’s so heavily edited. They didn’t live virtuous lives either of them. It’s probably why there is no museum to Byron that I can think yet he is memorialized everywhere. The Greek memory is highly selective and hypocritical given what we know about the sex lives of classical Greeks.

For some more personal details which are extremely lacking in the museum visit here – Eva Palmer Sikelianos. Or if you want an uncensored version from her point of view as opposed to the Greek masculine dominant view that is presented here read or listen to Eva Palmer-Sikelianos-A Life in Ruins.

After listening to the above book I really felt the need to edit this article as previously it only provided one side of the story. So I felt the heavy bias needed to be corrected. This is despite the fact the museum takes up the entirety of the 3 story house it’s contained in.

She is part of my foreigners who helped Greece series:-

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any notable power couples from the past in your country?

Best wishes

Angela

Lefkada Hearn – Lefkadian poet

Lefkadia Hearn Lefkádian National Gallery
Lefkadia Hearn Lefkádian National Gallery

(Patrick) Lefkáda Hearn or Paddy Hearn as he is also called is another famous Lefkás poet that also made a life for himself that is well documented in an exhibition dedicated to him in the Cultural Centre. It’s free to enter and it’s open 8am-3pm every day.

He lived in many places during his life including Britain, Cincinnati and New York in the United States, the Caribbean and finally settling in Japan. He loved Japan to the extent he also has a Japanese name Iakumi Koizumi.

These pictures are upstairs in a room dedicated to Takis P Efstathiou at the Cultural centre. It’s a part of the floor dedicated to the yearly folklore festival not in his exhibition downstairs. This next image is why.

Lefkáda Hearn taught English and literature while he was living in Japan and wrote many books about Japanese fairytales. He was quite a prolific author and there are copies of all of his work on display when you visit. I have now managed to get hold of his Japanese ghost stories from penguin but his life story is a bit different to the version told here or on Wikipedia.

He converted to Buddhism while he was over there and married a Japanese wife Setsuo. The couple had 4 children together, 3 boys and 1 girl. He died relatively early in life at 53 having been complaining of heart and chest trouble.

This is a poem dedicated to him inside the Takis P Efstathiou room mentioned earlier.

This is a statue by his Japanese great granddaughter to commemorate his life.

He is another poet that has a statue in the waterfront garden in Lefkás town known as Poets square.

He has a picture of himself in the Lefkádian National Library Here are directions to the Lefkás town museums including the Lefkadia Hearn exhibition.Lefkadia Hearn Lefkás National Gallery

Lefkadia Hearn Lefkás National Gallery

Finally he has a street named after him in Lefkás town completing the trinity of statue, museum and road.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter which is woefully inadequate once you have absorbed all of the material on offer at the Cultural centre which is what I have now done. Lefkadia Hearn.

This is the third of my posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets as I have also covered :-

Aristotle Valaoritis,

C F Cavafy,

Angelos Sikelianos,

The bonus post is one on Sappho by Sententiae Ancientae.

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Angelos Sikelianos – Lefkadian poet

I recently went to Lefkás town and while I was there I went to one of its book shops. Inside was a copy of Angelos Sikelianos poems. It’s bilingual so that will be a very useful learning exercise.

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery
Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery

There is also an Angelos Sikelianos museum dedicated to him.

The museum is signposted on the main street and it’s on tourist maps along with Google maps but considering how close it is; I was completely unaware of its location for many years because the sign on the front is flat to the wall so you can’t see it unless your looking at it. In addition to this, the side that has his signatures on it is in the opposite direction but they might have a new sign outside advertising its location if your lucky but you gotta look up. This covert style of advertising is like how you discover most of the treasures in Lefkás. You have to know they are there to find them. If your just idly looking for something to do then your probably not going to find it as they wish to keep everything for themselves and you can’t blame them as Lefkás is a relatively undiscovered jewel.

To show the Angelos Sikelianos effect here, he has his picture in the Lefkádian National Library, Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

there is a street in both Lefkás Town and Nidri, which is a nearby village, named after him. In addition there is a square on the entrance to the island called Poets square where there is also a statue of him. Plus he has his own square next door.

With his first wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos together they organised the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals in Lefkás in 1927 and 1930. It was so costly despite her American background and connections that they couldn’t afford to do it again. She went back to New York where she was from for a long time to promote awareness and gather funds. She stayed until his death as the US authorities prevented her from leaving. They also didn’t allow the awarding of the Nobel prize in literature to himself on several occasions in the 1950’s.

He was great friends with Nikos Kazantzakis and there are quotes attributed to him inside the museum. The three of them shared a house on the south of the island together. Another compatriot was George Seferis who is also quoted.

For the view of a Greek who isn’t Lefkádian look here Angelos Sikelianos.

This is the third of my posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets.

Aristotle Valaoritis,

C F Cavafy

Lefkadia Hearn

The bonus post is by Sententiae Ancientae on Sappho.

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Does your country have any similarly respected poets?

Best wishes

Angela