To celebrate the Greek Bicentennial of its 1821 Revolution, Liam Jensen, the “Lego Classicist,” created “Lego portraits” of three major figures from the revolution — Theodoros Kolokotronis, Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Lord Byron.
Now, Greek children — and children of all ages and nationalities all around the world — will have LEGO Theodoros Kolokotronis, General of the Greek War of Independence, LEGO Alexandros Mavrokordatos, one of the founders and first political leaders of independent Greece, and LEGO Lord Byron, who is so admired by the Greek people for giving his life in the Revolution.
The Lego Classicists Family is an educational project that combines history and pop-art to engage with the art and culture of the ancient world and the people who study it.
Liam D. Jensen is a Pop Artist and Historical Archivist who is most well-known for his portraits of notable classicists and historians around the world using the medium of LEGO mini figures.
He was asked by Prof. John Bennet at the British School at Athens to make the three figures as a special way to commemorate the Greek Bicentennial this year.
Jensen says “Theodoros Kolokotronis was probably the most challenging figure I have made to date, as often he is depicted in his dress uniform with a very specific-looking helmet that simply does not exist in any of LEGO Group’s existing parts (as I never use third party parts or 3D printed parts).
“So I talked to my friend Constantinos Vasiliadis, from the Acropolis Museum, who informed me that Kolokotronis was only depicted in that helmet after the War of Independence, and before that he was more often depicted with a sariki or small hat.
“And so,” he explains, “with Constantinos’ advice, I designed the portrait with that in mind.”
Prof. John Bennet is a British archaeologist, classicist, and academic who specialises in the Aegean civilisations. He has been Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Sheffield since 2004, and Director of the British School at Athens since 2015.
Greek bicentennial commemorated forever in LEGO figures
Theodoros Kolokotronis is of course the foremost of all the warriors of Greece’s War of Independence, declared on March 25, 1821.
This modern-day Greek hero organized revolutionary bands, especially in the Peloponnese, into trained and co-ordinated fighting troops. Because he was 50 when he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, he was known as “The Elder of Morea (the Peloponnese)”.
Kolokotronis commanded many successful battles and sieges. His helmet, armour and weapons are in the Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο – National Historical Museum of Greece in Athens and there is a statue of him in the forecourt of the Old Parliament Building near Syntagma Square.
Another statue is in the Town Square of Nafplion where he is said to have ridden his horse straight up to the high Palamidi castle above the town, to celebrate taking the town back for the Greeks.
Alexandros Mavrokordatos was a Greek statesman, politician and intellectual who as the leader of the First National Assembly of the free Greeks wrote the first Greek constitution. He had an international perspective and connections and wore Western European dress.
He was educated at the University of Padua and was fluent in seven languages. When the Greek War of Independence broke out he was living in Italy with the British writers Percy and Mary Shelley and he returned immediately to Greece, buying arms on the way back.
After the war, he had a diplomatic and political career including being Premier of Greece and envoy to Munich, Berlin, Constantinople and London.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, was a renowned British poet and peer, a leading figure in the literary Romantic Movement, who fought for Greek Independence and died in Greece. He provided considerable financial support to Greek freedom-fighters and helped many individuals there.
His personal and literary fame, his known philosophical commitment to just causes and his poignant death in Greece at Missolonghi, drew attention to the Greek cause and galavanised international sympathy and support.
After his death, Lord Byron was hailed as a hero in Britain and Greece and he is still internationally renowned for giving his life for the cause that he loved.
As LEGO Classicist Jensen says, “May Greece proudly live forever and continue to bring us inspiration and spirit. Ζήτω η Ελλάς! Χρόνια Πολλά!”