Our Vessel Names


Most of the vessels managed by Capital Ship Management Corp. have been named after celebrated heroes from the glorious past of ancient Greek history and mythology. Browsing through the vessel names it is easy to understand that the majority have been named after outstanding personalities, whose renown reaches far beyond the borders of Greece and who are global symbols of daring, wisdom, justice, bravery, beauty, friendship and love. Alexander the Great was a great military genius, Achilleas was a great warrior; Miltiadis was a great strategist. Similar characteristics were shared by: Socrates, Aristotelis, Agamemnon, Agisilaos, Aristidis, Aristofanis, Apollonas, Aris and others. These personalities also demonstrated great virtues, deep feelings and admirable character traits that have inspired the naming of some other vessels in the Capital managed fleet. Such are the qualities defined by: Atrotos, Anikitos, Athlos, Amor, Amore Mio, Amorito, Alter Ego, Amoureux and others. Moreover, as such virtues are also found in the cultures of other nations, there is a third category of names reflecting the global appeal of the main characteristics of Greek culture. Such are the names of: Amadeus Mozart, Ayrton Senna and others. We decided to compile this glossary in order to give our extended family of friends and associates around the world the opportunity to discover the history behind the names of the ships we manage. We strongly believe that an initiative of this kind is both useful and educative as a lesson about the past. Each of these heroes had a profound vision which they tirelessly strove to achieve and faith in themselves. They set an example for us as we try to walk in their footsteps, surpass ourselves and contribute in our own unique way to the common good. Our philosophy and our vision are influenced by our renowned ancestors, their unique achievements and their heroic deeds. Let us all be inspired by our great past, work hard and constructively, with honesty and integrity in order to enjoy a great future!


ACHILLEAS Sing, Goddess, of the rage, of Peleus’ son Achilleas (Achilles) the accursed rage, which brought such pain to the Acheans.” These are the first verses of Homer’s Iliad. Indeed, Achilleas is the central character of the poem and an important figure in ancient Greek mythology and culture. He is a handsome young man and a brave warrior, loyal friendand most terrible enemy, clever and cruel, noble and yet explosive, great hero and yet so profoundly human. Achilleas was the son of the nymph Thetis and Peleus, the king of the Myrmidons. Later myths narrate that his mother tried to make him immortal but left vulnerable one part of his body: his heel. Achilleas was raised on Mt Pelion, by the Centaur Chiron and became an educated prince and a strong warrior. During the Trojan War, Achilleas accomplished numerous exploits. But in the tenth year, angry with Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek army, Achilleas withdraws from the battle and refuses to fight. The Greeks are on the verge of losing the war. His closest friend, Patroclus, urges the hero to lend him his armor in order to lead the Myrmidons; Achilleas consents and Patroclus is killed by Hector, the brave prince of Troy. Enraged by the death of Patroclus, Achilleas enters the battle and seeks Hector for revenge. After killing the Trojan prince, Achilleas ties Hector’s body to his chariot, dragging it around the battlefield for nine days. Then, Hector’s father, Priam, asks for his son’s body in order to offer him the proper funeral rites. Homer’s Iliad does not mention the end of Achilleas, but other myths complete the story: Achilleas is soon killed by Paris, brother of Hector, with an arrow to the heel. As his mother had warned him, he would die either old and unknown, or young and famous; Achilleas did not hesitate to make the choice.
ACTIVE These ship names have been inspired from the archetypes of the courageous and vehement warrior, who is active, fights with bravery and audacity, struggles with all his strength in order to achieve his goals and is most enterprising during the period of peace. In Greek history, this archetype was incarnated by the ancient Spartans, a panhellenic example of brave fighters, with unbelievable discipline and training, making them the most fierce war machine of the ancient world. In ancient Sparta, there was the belief that the soldiers should return from the battle either victorious or dead. Before the battle, Spartan mothers handed the shield to their sons telling them “either with it, or on it”, meaning “to return victorious with their shield, or to die in battle and get carried on top of their shield”. In ancient Greek history, the Battle of Thermopylae and the sacrifice of Leonidas and his 300 soldiers is another illustrious example of heroism and altruism. The devotion of these soldiers to their country, their bravery and self-sacrifice set an example of militancy, inspiring numerous nations and people, far beyond Greece.
ADONIS Adonis is a mythological figure of eternal youth and stunning beauty, who became lover of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Many versions on his birth and origins exist. According to the most commonly accepted, his mother, Myrrha, was turned into a tree, from which Adonis was born. As soon as he came into light, he was so handsome, that Aphrodite placed him in a chest, which she trusted to Persephone. But the goddess of the Underworld was also charmed by him and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus. He decided that Adonis would spend four months with Persephone, four with Aphrodite and the rest where he most desired; and the young man chose the fair and rosy Aphrodite. Such an unearthly beauty was doomed to last short. Different variations narrate how Aris envied Adonis and sent a wild boar to kill him. As Aphrodite sprinkled nectar on his body, each drop of Adonis’ blood turned into the short-lived, red anemone, a flower that takes its name from the wind (anemos, άνεμος) which so easily makes it fall. The cult of Adonis has eastern origins, as indicates his name, deriving from the Semitic word “adon”, lord. When the cult was incorporated into Greek culture is uncertain; it is however clear that Adonis was conceived as a vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity, tied with the annual circles of nature. His worship was practiced mainly by women. In Athens, the festival of “Adonia” was celebrated at midsummer by sowing grains that sprang up soon but also withered quickly. Women gathered and mourned for the premature loss of the vegetation god, whose beauty and youth, love and fertility would eventually prevail upon darkness and death.
AGAMEMNON Agamemnon, son of Atreus, in Homer’s Iliad and in tragic poetry is the king of Mycenae, the most powerful among the Greek leaders and the commander of the army that besieged Troy. His name means “very resolute” and he is portrayed as an imposing figure and a brave warrior, but also stubborn, arrogant, often unscrupulous. Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, were hounded by a curse, which made their lives a terrible series of misfortune, murder and treachery. A lack of wind prevented the Greek army to sail from Aulis to Troy, due to the wrath of the goddess Artemis against Agamemnon, which could only be appeased with the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the king’s elder daughter. Although reluctant at the beginning, Agamemnon finally invites his wife Clytemnestra and daughter Iphigenia at Aulis, with the pretext that the girl was to be married to Achilles. In some versions Iphigenia was indeed sacrificed, whereas according to others she was not killed, as Artemis substituted her with a deer and made her a priestess During the war of Troy, Agamemnon performed many heroic deeds. His arrogance, however, led him to quarrel with Achilles, who, offended, withdrew from the battle, provoking serious disasters to the Greek army. When Troy was captured, Agamemnon got as a trophy the prophetess Cassandra, daughter of Priam. After a voyage full of adventures, Agamemnon arrived at Mycenae. The triumphal honors he received by his wife were nothing but a trap. Clytemnestra had never forgiven her husband for slaying Iphigenia and during his absence she found a lover, Aegisthus. Together they murdered both the king and his beautiful slave, and they ruled Mycenae, until they, in their turn, were murdered by the youngest child and only son of Agamemnon, Orestes.
AGISILAOS Agisilaos (Agesilaus) or Agisilaos II was the king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. He was born in 444 BC and he unexpectedly succeeded to the throne after his brother’s death in 400 BC. He was of small stature and lame from birth, a rather impeding feature in a city renowned mainly for its indomitable warriors. Indeed these facts were used as arguments against his ascension to the Spartan throne; nevertheless, Agisilaos proved to be a courageous military leader and a popular king. Plutarch, one of the most important biographers of Greek and Roman antiquity, was an ardent admirer of Agisilaos. In his famous work, the Parallel Lives, he documents the political career or Agisilaos in detail and vividly sketches his personality. Agisilaos’ reign coincided in Greek history with a period of Spartan hegemony, after the Peloponnesian War and the defeat of the city-state of Athens. He took part in numerous Spartan expeditions in Greece, in Asia Minor, even in Egypt, mainly with victorious results. However Agisilaos failed to recognize the ascent of the powerful Greek city of Thebes. At the battle of Leuktra in 371 BC, Thebes under the command of its general Epaminondas, defeated the Spartan army. Although Agisilaos himself did not participate in this battle, his policy was generally hostile to Thebes and he considerably contributed to the collision of the two cities, and thus to Sparta’s decline. In order to raise funds to continue the war against his enemies, Agisilaos went to Egypt as the head of a mercenary force, at the age of 80. The intervention was successful but Agisilaos died in 361 BC in Cyrenaica on his way home; his body was carried to Sparta, where he was buried. It is said that when asked whether he wanted a memorial erected in his honor he gave the following answer: “If I have done any noble action, that is a sufficient memorial; if I have done nothing noble, all the statues in the world will not preserve my memory”.
AIAS Aias (Ajax), son of Telamon, king of the Greek island of Salamis, is one of the principal warriors who fought in the Trojan war, described in the Iliad, an ancient Greek epic poem written by Homer. The etymology of his name is possibly associated to the Greek word for eagle (aetos, αἰετός, αετός). He is described as an imposing man of great stature, strong and brave, untiring and self-controlled, rough warrior, second only to Achilleas, who lacks however the noble refinement. After the death of Achilleas in Troy, Aias together with Odysseas, king of Ithaka, managed to get Achilleas’ body from the battlefield to bury it with the appropriate funeral rites. After the burial, however, the two men quarreled on who should take Achilleas’ armor. Thetis, the hero’s mother, had promised the armor as a trophy to the bravest among the Greeks. Aias argued that he was the one who deserved the precious armor, forged by the god Hephaestus himself, claiming that he was the strongest warrior who saved the Greek army on several occasions. But the cunning and eloquent Odysseas convinced the jury to favor himself and he won the dispute. Aias felt so humiliated that he preferred to die, falling upon his own sword. In the Greek tragedy of Sophocles bearing his name, Aias, blinded by his fury, attacks a flock of sheep, believing that he is fighting against the Greek leaders Odysseas and Agamemnon. As soon as he recovers his senses, he realizes what he has done and kills himself, preferring death to dishonor. Despite his sad end, Aias was venerated in Salamis as a descendant of Zeus and Aiacos, one of the judges of the Underworld. There was a temple dedicated to him and a festival was celebrated in his honor. His worship was also adopted in Athens, where one of the ten tribes was named Aiantis after the great Homeric hero.
AIOLOS In Greek mythology Aiolos (Aeolus) was the ruler of winds. In Homer’s Odyssey, rapsody 10, Aiolos lives on the floating island of Aeolia. Odysseas and his crew arrived at Aeolia during one of their adventurous travels and Aiolos generously gave them hospitality for a month. When time came for his guests to leave, Aiolos offered the hero a bag containing all the winds, apart from Zephyr, the gentle west wind, to carry them home. The ships of Odysseus traveled for nine days; they could now see on the horizon the mountains of their beloved Ithaca. But as Odysseus gets some rest, his companions open up the bag, suspicious that it contained secret treasures. The winds are released and a terrible tempest follows. The boats are blown back to Aeolia, but Aiolos refuses to provide any further help. Other mythological figures bearing the same name also exist. The most important was Aiolos, son of Hellenes, and founder of the Aeolic branch of the Greek nation. Later authors tend to confuse the different mythical personalities. Aiolos is usually conceived as son of Poseidon, immortal god who commands the winds and embodies their powers.
AKADIMOS Akadimos (Akademos or Academus) was an ancient hero of Attica. The mythological hero is also mentioned as “Ekademus” and the suburb bearing his name as “Hekademeia”. According to the Greek mythology, Akadimos helped the mythological brothers Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, to find their sister. Dioscuri had come to Attica looking for their sister Helen, kidnapped by the hero Theseus. Akadimos showed them the place (Afidnae) where their sister had been hidden, betraying the trust of Theseus. Due to the help he offered them, Dioscuri always honored Akadimos during his lifetime. And when the Lacedaemonians invaded, destroying and ravaging the whole of Attica, they were always showing respect to the area of Hekademeia. Some historians, identify Akadimos to Apollonas, god of light and music, while others consider his name as a mere adjective qualifying the god. Lastly, many historians argue that in ca. 387 BC the great philosopher Plato founded his renowned School, the Platonic Academy, in the olive grove, park and gymnasium sacred to Akadimos.
AKERAIOS The word akeraios (ἀκέραιος) in Greek means indivisible, undiminished, complete. It denotes the one that cannot be apportioned, but is considered as a whole, maintaining its form and its every component, its content and all its properties. The term akeraios also means unperishable, unimpaired, incorruptible. Many ancient Greek philosophers, and especially Socrates, contemplated on the meaning of the word akeraios which was linked to moral integrity and virtue.
AKTORAS The name Aktor (Ἄκτωρ) derives from the verb “ἄγω”, denoting to lead or to carry; it therefore means “the leader”. Several mythological figures share the same name, yet they hardly assume an important role, and stories around them are numerous but hazy. In ancient Greek history, one hero named Aktor (Actor) was king of the Myrmidons. He was a relative of Peleus, Achilleas’ father, to whom he conceded the throne. Another Aktor married Aegina, a beautiful maiden that was also loved by the god Zeus. She gave her name to an island previously called Oinone. Aktor and Aegina had a son, Menoetius, who became the father of Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend. We also find an Aktor as a warrior at Thebes and as a king in Peloponnesus. The latter had two terrible twin sons, the Molionides, killed by Hercules. Another Aktor was among the companions of the exiled Aeneas in the quest of a new home after the fall of Troy.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT Alexander III, most commonly known as Alexander the Great, was born in Pella in 356 BC. He was the son of the king of Macedonia Philip II, who had managed to bring most of mainland Greece under his hegemony. He received an excellent education under the tutelage of the philosopher Aristotle. From an early age he manifested his ambitious character, his strong will and his exceptional military abilities. At ten years old he tamed a wild horse, which he named Bucephalus and kept it as his faithful companion in his campaigns. He became regent of the kingdom of Macedonia when he was sixteen and participated in battles next to his father. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander succeeded him to the throne. After establishing his authority in Greece, he envisaged the expansion of his kingdom to the East. In ten years time, he conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Bactria and even invaded India. He planned to reach the end of the then known world, but he died in 323 BC, at the age of 33, due to a short, mysterious illness. Alexander the Great is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times, an invincible leader, a most successful commander, who acquired a legendary fame not only within Greece, but also in many cultures worldwide. The huge empire he created was inevitably short-lived, soon divided among his companions and members of the Macedonian aristocracy. A new era emerged: the independent city-states were replaced by extended kingdoms, governed by hereditary rulers, soon to be annexed in the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, the most important aspect of Alexander’s conquest was its cultural impact: Greek civilization was spread to an extent wider than ever; it assimilated influences from other traditions, was enriched and established as an almost “universal” culture. This process formed the particular identity of the Hellenistic period in antiquity and its echoes remained discernable for centuries.
ALKIVIADIS Alkiviadis (Alcibiades), son of Cleinias, is one of the most controversial personalities of ancient Greek history. He was a man with rare gifts and equally significant weaknesses. The ancient Greek historian Plutarch asserts that “wherever he went, he charmed both men and women”. Alkiviadis was indeed a charismatic politician, great general and persuasive orator, who, however, used his qualities for promoting his personal career and achieving his own ambitions, rather than considering those of his city; and Athens more than once suffered from his opportunistic alliances with its enemies. Alkiviadis was born in Athens in 450 BC. He came from an illustrious, aristocratic family. After his father’s death, his tutor was the statesman Pericles, who was responsible for the institution of democracy in Athens in its most refined form and the erection of great monuments, like the Parthenon. Alkiviadis received a brilliant education, as he was a student of Socrates together with Plato, one of the most renowned philosophers of all times. Alkiviadis is portrayed in the works of Plato as showing great reverence and respect to Socrates. Nevertheless, the young man’s ideas had little in common with the moderate policy of his tutor or the frugal life of his teacher. From an early age he longed for public attention, power, luxury, pleasure and danger. As a statesman, Alkiviadis played an important role in the second half of the 5th century BC, during the tumultuous years of the Peloponnesian War. His life and political career were full of adventures, as he changed his allegiances on several occasions. He first defected to Sparta and then to Persia, where he acted as a strategic advisor against Athens’ interests, ensuring valuable profits for whichever state he served. But in both cases he also quickly managed to make powerful enemies and fall into disgrace. He returned to Athens, where he was received with great honors, but his enemies eventually succeeded in exiling him for a second time. He fled to Phrygia, where he was mysteriously assassinated in 404 BC, the very year his native city succumbed in the divisive Peloponnesian War.
ALTEREGO The Greek word ‘filos’ derives from the verb ‘filo’ that denotes, to love, according to the ancient meaning of the word. Friendship or ‘filia’ in Greek, is the bond of mutual love, devotion and understanding (without erotic lust) uniting two or more non-related persons. It is a need springing from the innate tendency of man to communicate and may even reach self-sacrifice. Friendship held a leading role in numerous Greek myths and in Greek history, where friends demonstrated mutual faith and devotion, and did not hesitate to die for one another, considering of their friend as their “alterego”, their other self. Famed was the mythical friendship between Achilleas and Patroclus in the epic poem of the Iliad. When Patroclus was killed by Hector during the Trojan War, Achilleas collected his body after a fierce fight and prepared it for the burial lamenting incessantly. The next day, he rushed to the battle, killing countless Trojans, and finally, Hector himself, the leading warrior of Troy, in order to avenge the death of his close friend. Furthermore, the mythical friendship between Iolaus and Hercules was renowned as well. Iolaus, the loyal companion of Hercules, participated in most of the demigod’s labours, even following him to his ascension on Oete Mountain, for the final sacrifice and the apotheosis. Among historical figures, the most well-known friendship is that of Damon and Phintias, Phythagorean philosophers of the 4th century BC. When Phintias was sentenced to death by Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, he summoned Damon as guarantor, for he had to go home for the last time to bid his family farewell and settle some family affairs. Damon willingly accepted that he should be killed in case his friend did not show up. The tyrant, deeply moved, set both men free. Finally, Alexander the Great had a most beloved companion, Hephestion, who undertook important missions during the great general’s campaign. When he died, during the Dionyssia festival, Alexander, broken-hearted, did not eat any food for three days and then sent a herald to the Ammon- Zeus oracle, asking to know whether he could sacrifice to his dead friend as fit for a hero.
AMADEUS This name has been associated with one of the greatest musical geniuses and one of the greatest opera composers of all times, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The great Austrian composer was born in Salzburg in 1756 and died in Vienna in 1791. Mozart, son of the musician and composer Leopold Mozart, had started playing the piano since his early childhood, and begun composing music when he was only five years old! He appeared before the public together with his also talented sister, Maria Anna, as a child prodigy. During his short lifetime, Mozart composed numerous musical pieces. He studied all kinds of music, composing operas, symphonies, sonatas, piano concertos, chamber music compositions and religious music. Among his most popular compositions are the operas: The abduction from the Seraglio, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così Fan Tutte and The Magic Flute, the Symphonies No. 40 in G minor and No. 41 (The Jupiter Symphony), as well as his Requiem. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, along with Josef Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, are the most importantrepresentatives of the so-called “Viennese classicism” in music.
Amphitryon, in Greek mythology, was the son of Alcaeus, king of Tiryns. He was considered a hero of Thebes, where he found shelter when, unwittingly, one of his relatives was killed because of him. He got engaged to Alcmene and, in order to marry her, he was obliged to go on an expedition to the Ionian Islands and take revenge from the Televoae, who had killed her brothers in Argolis. He defeated them and he returned to Thebes to married Alcmene.
Due to poor luck, however, Alcmene, before him, had already slept with Zeus, who met her having been transformed into Amfitrion. Alcmene and Amfitrion gave birth to Iphicles, while she also gave birth to Zeus’ child Hercules.
When the prophet Teiresias revealed that Alcmene had been unintentionally infidel, Amfitrion decided to punish her. Zeus, however, persuaded him to change his mind. Amfitrion reconciliated with his wife and took great care of Hercules during his upbringing. He also taught him how to drive a chariot. There is a fable saying that, in the beginning, Amfitrion was not able to tell which child was his. In order to find out, he released two big snakes in the room where the two ten-month-old children were sleeping. Iphicles got scared, while Hercules, showing no fear at all, strangled the snake with his bare hands. This is how the divine descent of Hercules and the humane descent of Iphicles was revealed.
The supernatural power of Hercules was also manifested later on, when the demigod killed his music teacher, Linos. It was this incident that sparked Amfitrion’s fear, who thought he could end up dying the same way in case he disagreed with Hercules. So, he sent Hercules to the country side, as a cattle shepherd. It is said that it was then that, in the mountains of Cithaeron, Hercules killed the lion which was plundering Amfitrion’s herds.Later on, Amfitrion would stand by Hercules, when they fought against the Mineaes of the neighbouring village Orhomenos, in order to end their occupation of Thebes. In one of these battles, he lost his life.
Amfitrion, and mostly Zeus who took the form of Amfitrion to sleep with Alcmene, inspired many comedies, from antiquity to modern times. Works of Moliere (1668), John Dryden (1690), Jean Giraudoux (1929) and Peter Hacks (1968) are included to those inspired by this theme in contemporary era.
AMOR – AMORE MIO - AMOUREUX Amor, which means love, is the Latin counterpart of the ancient Greek word Έρως (Eros). In Greek mythology, Eros was the primordial god of falling in love. He was said to be the son of the deities Aphrodite (godess of Beauty) and Ares (god of War). In Greek antiquity, Eros was a very significant deity to the Spartans, who offered him sacrifices before the battle and adorned his image in their gymnasiums. While in Athens, he shared a very popular cult with Aphrodite, and the fourth day of every month was devoted to him. Ancient Greek sculptors, pottery painters and other artists depicted him in some of their most important masterpieces. He is pictured as a small naked boy, full of beauty and health, with golden wings on his shoulders, holding a bow. With this bow, he throws magical arrows in the hearts of men and gods, leading to the union of couples in love. We also find him depicted flying or sleeping, riding a dolphin or -as Aphrodite’s companion- along with the deities Himerus (Longing), Pothus (Desire) and Peitho (Persuasion), assisting with her toilette. According to the myth, Eros was responsible for many of the passions of mortals and those of immortal gods. He could not escape his own arrows and fell madly in love with a beautiful mortal, Psyche (Soul). Her beauty was such that people from all around the world came to see her, honoring her even more than Aphrodite. The goddess of beauty was outraged, and she sent Eros to put an end to this. Nevertheless, he fell in love with Psyche, turning mistakenly the arrow against him. After many hardships and trials, and with Zeus’s help, who rendered Psyche immortal, Eros managed to unite forever with her. The legend of Eros and Psyche has inspired many artists in antiquity, including poets and philosophers. Plato, in his Symposium, explains how wisdom is attained through the love (eros) of the soul (psyche) for the beauty of eternal ideas, such as justice and goodness. In the Renaissance and more recent years, some of the greatest works of art were inspired by Eros. Among them, the works of Antonio Canova (Louvre, Paris), Auguste Rodin (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) and Bertel Thorvaldsen (Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen) stand out.
ANEMOS Anemos means wind in Greek. Mythology and early poetry recognize four Anemoi, usually represented as winged men or, less often, as horse-like divinities: Boreas, the north wind, Zephyros, the west wind, Notos, the south wind and Euros, the east wind. According to the poet Hesiod, the Anemoi were sons of Astraios (the starry) and Eos (the dawn). In Homer’s Odyssey, Aiolos was the ruler of the winds, living on the floating island of Aeolia. Later, scientists and philosophers endeavored to define the winds more accurately. The most remarkable monument depicting the Anemoi is the octagonal Horologion (clock) of Andronicus Cyrrhestes, also known as the Tower of Winds, in Athens. On each side of the tower a flying Anemos is represented, accompanied by his attributes that indicate his properties and allow his identification. Boreas is shown as a severe bearded man, with a billowing coat and a sea-shell in his hands, referring to the sound of the storms he provokes. Kaikias, the north-east wind, is also bearded and carries a shield full of hail-stones. A handsome young man stands for Apeliotes, the east wind, holding a cloak full of fruit and grain, his precious gifts to humanity. Euros, the south-east wind, is depicted as an aged man, whereas the young Notos pours water from a vase, an allusion to the rainy weather that comes with the south wind. Lips, the south-west wind, is also beardless, and holds the stern of a ship; obviously he was considered a favorable wind for travel. The gracious figure scattering flowers from his mantle is the gentle Zephyros, the west wind, and the austere man holding a cauldron is Skiron, the cold north-west wind. On the top of the tower’s roof, the movable figure of a Triton, a creature of the sea, pointed to the Anemos that was blowing.
APOLLONAS Apollonas (Apollo), son of Zeus, was one of the most important Olympian gods. The etymology of his name and the origins of his cult are obscure. It seems likely that different traditions merged to create his figure, as well as the rich and multifaceted narratives connected with him. The jealous goddess Hera wouldn’t allow his mother Leto to go into labor. After long wanderings, Leto saw a floating island where she was finally able to give birth to her twin children, Artemis and Apollonas. Zeus secured the island to the bottom of the sea and named it Delos, meaning the bright, the brilliant. Delos was considered a sacred place, dedicated to Apollonas. The fourth day after his birth, the young god Apollonas killed the dragon Python and established himself as a patron god of Delphi, the most celebrated oracular center of antiquity. The panhellenic athletic games of Pythia were held to commemorate Apollona’s first heroic act. Apollonas was the god of light and sun, truth and prophecy, harmony and order, reason and moderation. As the leader of the Muses, he protected the arts, especially music and poetry. He was the fearful sender of plague, but also the healing patron of medicine. He often appears in art, handsome and beardless, the young god par excellence. The arrow and bow count among his common ornaments, together with the lyre and the prophetic tripod. The laurel (daphne in Greek) and the palm tree were his sacred plants, whereas wolves, deer, dolphins, hawks and ravens were his preferred animals. The myths attribute many love affairs to Apollonas. It was said however that he once laughed at Eros while he was training in archery; for this reason, the small winged god rendered Apollona’s passions unrequited. Daphne, Cassandra, Marpessa, Coronis, Castalia and numerous other beautiful maidens either fled away from him or preferred another lover.
APOSTOLOS The word apostolos in ancient Greek literature referred to every delegate that accomplished a specific mission or was a messenger. From this word is also derived the phrase apostolo ploio (messenger ship), referring to the fast-moving and light-weighted vessels used in antiquity for the detection of enemy moves, as well as for the transmission of orders or the transportation of mail. The most characteristic figures of messengers in Greek mythology are Hermes and Iris. Hermes is the great messenger of the gods and additionally a guide to the Underworld. He protects and takes care of all travelers, who pray to him or cross his path. He is athletic and is always looking out for runners, or any athletes with injuries who need his help. Hermes delivered messages from Olympus to the mortal world. He wears winged shoes with wings on them and uses them to fly freely between the mortal and immortal worlds. During the Trojan war, Hermes communicates Zeus’s orders to Atreus in Mycenae. In a Greek tragedy by Aeschylus, Hermes travels to the Caucasus where Prometheus is bound to a rock. In the Odyssey he delivers messages to the mythical island of Calypso. In other Greek tales, he visits Deucalion, after the Deluge. Therefore, Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris. Iris is considered a messenger of the gods mostly for women. She is the personification of the rainbow. As the sun unites Earth and heaven, Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other and into the depths of the sea and the underworld. Moreover, from the second century AD, the word apostolos was used in Christianity, refering to the narrow circle of the 12 disciples of Jesus, who were chosen by him to spread his teachings to the world.
ARCHIMIDIS Archimidis (Archimedes) was born in ca. 287 BC in the prosperous Corinthian colony of Syracuse, in the island of Sicily in Italy. Despite his fame, little is known about his life. He traveled to Alexandria and Greece, but lived mainly in his city. He is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the ancient world, an extremely versatile genius, producing important works in the fields of mathematics, geometry, physics, astronomy and engineering. Archimidis also became famous for his wondrous inventions and innovative machines, both for peace and war. Among them, most remarkable were a screw pump bearing his name and still used today, machines that lifted heavy weights, a hydraulic clock, a planetarium and an odometer that calculated distances. Well-known is the anecdote about the formulation of the Law of Buoyancy or Principle of Archimidis. The Syracusian king Hiero II asked him to find out whether his golden crown was made of solid gold or whether silver was added. Archimidis thought about the solution to this problem as he was bathing. He noticed that the level of the water in the tub rose when he got in and his submerged body displaced an amount of water equal to its volume. By dividing the weight of the crown by the volume of the water displaced, the density of the golden crown could be obtained. Excited by his discovery, he went out in the streets naked, shouting “Εὔρηκα!” (“Eureka, I found it!”). When Syracuse was besieged by the Romans in 212 BC, a whole range of terrible machines invented by Archimidis were deployed to cause panic and serious disasters to the enemy. Nevertheless, Archimidis did not manage to save his city, and he died as Syracuse was captured. A soldier asked his name, but he was so absorbed in his geometrical studies that he only replied “Μή μου τούς κύκλους τάραττε” (“Do not disturb my circles”). Enraged by his answer the soldier drew his sword and killed him.
ARCHON The word archon in ancient Greek meant the governor, the commander, in other words the person who held a public office in a city and administered a part of its public affairs. The institution of Archons existed in many ancient Greek cities. However, the office was best represented in Athens, and Aristotle explicitly presents it in his Athenian Constitution. According to tradition, after the death of the last king of Athens, Codrus, the kingship was abolished and three magistrates, governing for life, wielded the authority. Later on, they governed for terms of ten years and finally, their authority was of annual duration. The number of archons increased from three to nine in the middle of the 7th century BC, with the institution of the six Thesmothetae. Although the Archons’ authorities were not always distinct, they were defined as follows: The Archon was the supreme authority of the state, the King Archon was the supreme religious authority, the Polemarch Archon was the head of the army and the six Thesmothetae recorded the laws and determined the issues between litigants.
ARIONAS Arionas (Arion) was a poet and a musician. He lived in the end of 7th century BC. None of his works are extant, but he had obviously acquired such fame that the story of his life was decorated with the colors of myth. He was born on the island of Lesbos, but lived mainly in the court of Periander, tyrant of Corinth. As Herodotus says: “Arionas was second to none of the lyre-players in his time and was also the first man we know to compose and name the dithyramb and teach it in Corinth”. Dithyramb is an hymn dedicated to the god Dionysus, performed by a chorus of 50 men. Even if Arionas is not really its inventor, he must be the one who contributed to its development and gave it a more artistic form. Despite his considerable musical reputation, Arionas is mostly famous for a miraculous legend, also included in Herodotus stories: Once the musician attended a musical competition held in Sicily and won precious prizes. On his return to Corinth the sailors plotted to steal him and throw him in the sea. Arionas asked to play his lyre and sing for a last time. Dolphins gathered around the boat to listen to his splendid music and when Arionas was thrown into the sea, one of the dolphins rescued him and carried him back to Greece. Periander knew what happenedand punished the avaricious sailors, whereas Apollonas -the god of poetry- made the stars constellation of Dolphinus, for saving the lifeof the great artist.
ARIS Aris (Ares) is the son of Zeus and Hera. God of warfare and blood, he is the most fearful but also the least popular among the twelve Olympians. His name is connected with the Greek word ἀρή (are) meaning curse, bane, ruin. Whereas his half-sister Athena is the goddess of war and strategic battle, Aris represents sheer violence. Although important in mythology, literature and poetry, he was a god not worshiped in temples, with one significant exception, the city of Sparta. His symbols were the armor and the spear and his sacred animals the dog, the vulture and the rowdy cock. In art he is usually depicted as a restless young warrior. In Homer’s Iliad, Aris is an unstable ally, fighting occasionally both against the Trojans and the Greeks. Fierce and quarrelsome, his braveness is nevertheless questionable: he is defeated by Athena, scolded by Zeus, even injured by a mortal, the Greek hero Diomedes. Aris had many children, all related with war, violence and battle. Yet myths give him the most charming companion, Aphrodite. Their union represents the union of the opposites: fight and love, violence and grace, force and beauty, virility and femininity, and it comes as no surprise that one of their daughters is called Armonia, (harmony). In the Odyssey, Aphrodite is married to Hephaestus, who hears about the adultery of his wife from Helios, the god sun. To take revenge, Hephaestus fashions a finely-knitted, invisible net with which he catches the illicit lovers. He then invites all the other gods to view their embrace. The gods mock the unfortunate pair, while Hermes admits he would eagerly trade places with Aris provided he was tied with Aphrodite even tighter!
ARISTIDIS Aristidis (Aristeides) (530–ca. 469 BC), son of Lysimachus, was born in Athens. He was a distinguished general and politician of the conservative, aristocratic party. Renowned for his moderate policy, his mild character, his honesty and devotion to his city, he was nicknamed “the Just”. Aristidis was first distinguished as a general (strategos) in the Battle of Marathon, against the invasion of Persia, in 490 BC. He then assumed several high-level political positions. His main opponent in the political arena was Themistocles, also a prominent general and chief of the democratic party. Themistocles had conceived a plan to strengthen the naval force of Athens, a decision which met the opposition of the aristocratic forces. The conflict between the two politicians ended with the exile of Aristidis for 10 years. This was voted upon by the citizens of Athens, in a democratic vote called ostracism. A well-known anecdote relates the honesty of Aristidis; during the vote, an illiterate citizen who did not recognize him, asked Aristidis to write his own name on the ballot shell he was holding. Aristidis did not hesite to do so, but he asked the man, why he wanted this politician, Aristidis, to be exiled; the answer was: “Because it irritates me to hear everyone call him the Just”. When in 480 BC the Persian army invaded Greece for the second time, all exiles were revoked. Aristidis returned in Athens and was re-elected general (strategos). Despite his earlier conflict with Themistocles, he bore no grudge against him. On the contrary, recognizing Themistocles’ rare perspicacity and strategic skills, he fully supported his policy and heroically fought in the battles of Salamis and Plataea, where the Persians were defeated. After the Persian Wars, Aristidis continued to play an important role in the political life of his city, always fulfilling his duties in the most responsible way.
Aristofanis (Aristophanes) (ca. 446-ca. 386 BC) is the greatest comic poet of Greek antiquity. He was born in Athens, but little is known of his life. He was a prolific and popular artist; eleven of his comedies are extant, from a total of about forty plays.
In his youth Aristofanis witnessed the peak of prosperity of Athens, when the city was powerful and thriving, a flourishing political and intellectual center. But with the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC, the situation changed radically. Infighting erupted and weakened the Greek cities.
Aristofanis started composing and staging his plays in the tumultuous times of war. A staunch supporter of peace, he blames politicians who pursue war for their own ambitions and individuals who make profit from war and he shows how severely the situation affects the city and the people of Athens.
Some of his well known plays are: Birds, where the birds build a city in the clouds and compel the Gods to accept humiliating terms; Clouds, where the philosopher Socrates is satyrized as being cloud headed and corrupt; Lysistrata, where women stage a sex-stike in order to convince men to abstain from war; Ploutos, where the blind god of wealth regains his eyesight, with remarkable social repercussions.
Aristofanis is a comic poet, but above all he is an active member of the Athenian society. His aim is not merely to entertain but to satirize, to be critical and reflect on the political decisions and the everyday problems of his time. His plays are a substantial by-product of the democratic regime, not only because he enjoys the liberty of expression, but also because he reveals a conscious commitment to public affairs.
Aristofanis’ comedies are nowadays translated in many languages and staged worldwide. They are valuable not only as a reflection on the past but also as a thoughtful consideration of issues that trouble people of all times and races. His plays are also appreciated for their artistic merits, their poetic qualities and vivid imagination.
ARISTOTELIS Aristotelis (Aristotle), son of the physician Nicomachus, was born in 384 BC in Stageira, a small city in Chalcidice, in Northern Greece. His father held a high rank within the court of the Macedonian kings, and Aristotle was educated as a member of the aristocracy. At the age of eighteen he went to Athens, to continue his studies next to Plato, and stayed there for nearly twenty years, until his teacher’s death. In 343 BC king Philip II entrusted him with the instruction of his son Alexander, prince of Macedonia. In 335 BC, Aristotelis returned to Athens and established his own school, named Lyceum. Besides teaching his numerous students, it is believed that he then composed the majority of his works. He fled from Athens in 323 BC for political reasons and died the following year in Euboea. Together with Plato and his teacher Socrates, Aristotelis counts among the most prominent figures in philosophy. Compared to the idealistic orientation of his predecessors, he held a more pragmatic approach. He believed that knowledge could be attained through empirical observation and experience. His interests extended to many fields, virtually all facets of intellectual inquiry: from art to science, physics and metaphysics, politics and ethics, logic and rhetoric, biology, botany and zoology. His excellent writings mark an attempt to produce a comprehensive study of the knowledge of his time, but also to propose a critical review and offer landmark contributions on various subjects. It is estimated that only one third of his original work has survived, consisting more of notes for his lectures than writings intended for publication. Aristotelis’ work exercised an enormous influence in western culture, forming a cornerstone that even those who questioned his opinions had to take into account. As it has been said: “Almost every serious intellectual advance has had to begin with an attack on some Aristotelian doctrine”. In fact, all aspects of his philosophy, continue to be relevant and interesting in academic study today, both in Greece and abroad, as his works have been translated in many languages worldwide.
ASSOS Assos, an important city of Asia Minor, constitutes nowadays one of the most popular archaeological sites as well as one of the most studied ancient Greek cities of the Troadic Peninsula. The Greek colonization of the city began probably in the 7th century BC, when it was inhabited by Aeolians from the Greek island of Lesvos. Assos, as well as the rest of the cities of the region, were under the yoke of the Lydians and the Persians up to 478 BC, when the city became a founder member of the Delian League, an association of autonomous Greek cities. The city reached its heyday during the 4th century BC, under the rule of Eubulus. He was succeeded by the tyrant Hermeias, who was a philosopher and a disciple of Plato. Hermeias established an important philosophical school in Assos. In his court he invited Xenocrates, the head of the Platonic Academy in Athens. After the death of Hermeias, Assos was once again under the Persian rule, but was shortly after freed by Alexander the Great (334 BC). The renowed philosopher Aristotelis, who was a student of Plato and the tutor of Alexander the Great, taught in this school when Assos was part of the Persian empire (348-45 BC). Assos was later found under the dominance of Lysimachus of Thrace and later on, under the influence of the kings of Pergamon, when it was renamed Apollonia. In 133 BC the city became part of the Roman province of Asia. Ancient Assos, perched upon a hill overlooking the sea, was an impregnable site. It comprised of the Acropolis with the temple of Athena, the main city on the south side of the slope, with the walls, the market place, the necropolis, the theatre and all other buildings, and, finally, the port of the city. The temple of Athena was built on top of the Acropolis. The imposing temple was the only one of Doric order built in Asia Minor during the archaic era (530 BC), while its epistyle was decorated by a continuous ionic frieze. During the Byzantine period, Assos had a fortress castle and the city was still inhabited, until it was seized by the Ottomans. Today, the small and picturesque Turkish village of Behramkale is situated in this area.
ATHLOS The term athlos (άθλος=labor) in ancient Greek signified a great and tough struggle, a labour in order to achieve a goal. In its long-standing use during the centuries, athlos was synonymous of strive for victory and the effort to get a prize (athlon) in athletic or other contests. The most famous athloi in Greek antiquity were accomplished by the legendary hero, Hercules. The twelve labours of Hercules, are the twelve tasks that the mythical hero had to accomplish in order to absolve himself for the murder of his wife, Megara, and their children. Hercules, committed this dreadful crime after the goddess Hera struck him with a fit of madness. He went to the Delphi oracle, where he was told that he should serve for twelve years Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns, and accomplish all the labours that the king would assign him. As a result, Hercules 1) slain the Nemean Lion that had deserted the city of Nemea 2) killed the Lernaean Hydra that lived in Lerni Lake and spread terror in the inhabitants of the region 3) captured alive the Erymanthian Boar, that ravaged Arcadia 4) captured the Ceryneian Hind with the copper legs and golden horns 5) defeated the Stymphalian Birds, the man-eating raptors 6) captured the Cretan Bull sent by Poseidon against Minos, the king of Crete 7) slain Diomedes, the king of Thrace, who fed his horses with human flesh 8) obtained the girdle of Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons 9) cleaned the Augean Stables in a single day 10) killed monster Geryon, and obtained his cattle 11) stole the Golden Apples of the Hesperides 12) and finally tamed Cerberus, the monster that guarded the Gates of Hades. Theseus, king and hero of Athens, also accomplished important labours. When he was sixteen years old, he accomplished his first labours, killing various evildoers that attacked the travelers. In Athens, Theseus, after successfully combating the pretenders to the throne and capturing the Marathonian Bull, he was summoned to achieve the greatest of his labours. He unchained Athens from the death toll to Cretan king Minos, by killing the Minotaur, a mythical creature who dwelt in the center of a Cretan labyrinth, with the help of Ariadne, daughter of Minos.
ATLANTAS Atlantas (Atlas) was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Clymene; he was also the brother of Prometheus. When the Olympian God Zeus took over power, the Titans rebelled and declared war to the Olympians. The terrible battles ended with the victory of gods. Atlantas was condemned to stand at the western confines of Gaia (the earth) and hold up Uranus (the sky) on his shoulders. He was considered to be endowed with wisdom and to possess the secrets of the celestial dome. According to a myth, his wife was Selene (the moon) and he had numerous children, mostly daughters, usually related to the stars, such as the Pleiades or the Hesperides. In his last labour, Hercules arrived to the western edge of the earth, to fetch the golden apples which grew in a garden, tended by the Hesperides. Hercules went to Atlantas and offered to hold up the heavens while Atlantas got the apples from his daughters. On his return Atlantas offered to deliver the apples himself. Hercules suspecting that Atlantas was trying to trick him, pretended to agree, asking only that Atlantas take the sky again for a while, so that he could find a more comfortable position; he then took the apples and ran away. In other versions, Hercules liberated the Titan from his burden, building the two great Pillars of Hercules to hold the sky. Atlantas became a symbol of strength and endurance. His image was popular in ancient Greek art, and was later eagerly adopted in western culture. He is often shown kneeling in order to support an enormous globe on his shoulders. The globe originally represented the celestial sphere, rather than the earth. The use of the term atlas as a name for collections of terrestrial maps and the modern understanding of the earth as a sphere have inspired numerous depictions of Atlantas’ burden as the earth.
ATROTOS - ANIKITOS Invulnerable (atrotos, ἂτρωτος) is the one that has never been hurt or is immune to attack. The first meaning appears in Aeschylus and Sophocles and the second in Euripides. Achilleas, the greatest hero among the Achaeans during the Trojan War and one of the main characters in Homer’s Iliad, was invulnerable. The legend has it that his immortal mother, Thetis, tried to make her son immortal too because, among other things, she learned that on the day he was born, Fate had decided that he was to die young under the walls of Troy. That is why Thetis dipped Achilles in the river Styx, the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. She managed to make his whole body invulnerable but his heel, the part she held him by. That is where he got hit by Paris’ arrow and was killed. This myth is the origin of the expression “Achilleas heel” and the term “Achilleas tendon”.
AVAX In archaeology, and particularly in architecture, the Greek word avax has three different meanings. Firstly, in temples, it is the rectangular parallelepiped thick enough slab, forming the upper part of the chapiter (of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian order), that supports the epistyle. Roman architect Vitruvius used the word avax in order to describe the avax of the Ionic and Corinthian order, while calling plinth the avax of the Doric column. Secondly, the word avax also signified the square marble slab used for ashlar wall surfaces (orthomarmarosis) or its imitation made of plaster. Thirdly, an avax was also a special theatrical construction, made of rectangular slabs forming a sort of barrier in the arena of the theatres and amphitheatres of the Roman era, used during the games (gladiatorial combats, beast-fights, etc). A barrier of this kind still exists in the the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens. Furthermore, in ancient times, the word held various other meanings, such as: a) the slab or plank upon which people played games (dice, checks, etc.); b) a students’ slate, upon which they spread earth or sand, drawing digits or sketches; c) the round disk placed upon the head, as well as a kind of cooking vessel, similar to the baking tin used nowadays; d) an abacus: a rectangular frame bearing stretched metal strings, through which were inserted small wooden balls, representing units, tens, hundreds etc; e) a piece of furniture where people placed offerings in temples or in dinner at home.
AXIOS The term “axios” in Greek denotes the worthy, the competent, the adequate man of value. Moreover, “axios” is he who has all the necessary qualifications, is capable and suitable. When appearing in a compound word, axios denotes what should be done, according to the meaning of the word. For example, axiotimos is the one who should be honoured; axiologos is the one who is worth mentioning. In ancient Sparta, the attribute of the goddess Athena of Just Requital (Axiopoinou) was related to the goddess’ attribute to impose a sentence worthy to everyone. The ancient Greeks believed that Hercules had established a sanctuary in honour of Athena Axiopoinou, in the part of town where he had punished Hippoccoon and his sons, in order to take revenge. Today, in Greece’s everyday life, the word axios is used on numerous occasions. For example, in mariages and christenings, the usual wish to the best man or the god parent is “Panta axios” meaning “Always worthy!”. Furthermore, in the consecration of priests, “axios, axios” is the acclamatory exclamation of the flock.
MILTIADIS Miltiadis (Miltiades) was born in Athens, in ca. 550 BC, originating from a wealthy and influential noble family. He assumed several public positions in the city; around 516 BC he seized the power of the Athenian colony in the Thracian Peninsula (nowadays Straights of Callipolis), which was previously ruled by his step-uncle who bore the same name. In 499 BC, Miltiadis participated in the revolt of the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor, then called Ionia. The Persian emperor Darius used the Ionian Revolt as a pretext for his attack against Greece. The Persian army landed at the Bay of Marathon in 490 BC and prepared to march against Athens. Miltiadis was elected as one of the ten ‘strategoi’ (generals) and because he was familiar with the Persian military tactics, he was practically trusted with the general command. Following his advice, the Athenians and their allies, the Plateans, blocked the road to the city, obliging the Persians to stay in the bay. On the dawn of the sixth day, Miltiadis saw a favorable moment for attack, probably because the fearful Persian cavalry was absent. He left the centre of the Athenian army weak, whereas he strengthened the wings. He then ordered his soldiers to run towards their enemies to avoid their numerous archers. The center retreated, while on the wings the Athenians routed the invaders and attacked the Persian center in its rear. The Battle of Marathon was a triumph both of a city and of a man. The Athenian soldiers (hoplites) were better armed and better trained; but most importantly, they were citizens of the new-born democracy, equal, conscious and responsible defenders of their homeland. As far as Miltiadis is concerned, he clearly showed how a brilliant strategy can win over much greater forces.
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