Alexander Payne Reunites With Paul Giamatti for “The Holdovers”

Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne at the Thessaloniki Film Festival/Credit: Paul Katzenberger (Wikimedia Commons –CC BY-SA 4.0)

Greek-American director Alexander Payne recently cast Paul Giamatti in his new movie “The Holdovers.” Payne and Giamatti had previously collaborated on the director’s 2004 movie “Sideways.”

The Plot of “The Holdovers”

“The Holdovers” takes place in a prestigious private boarding school called Deerfield Academy. Giamatti plays Paul Hunham, a rigid, pretentious, and universally disliked professor.

Over winter break, the professor volunteers to stay back at the school to supervise any students who can’t go home. This leaves him with a 15-year-old troublemaker named Angus and the school’s head cook, Mary. This trio of characters with nothing in common are mostly trapped inside the academy over the holiday season and try to make the most of it.

As with most of Payne’s movies, “The Holdovers” will likely be an interesting character study with plenty of comedic and touching moments throughout the film.

Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti

Payne’s previous collaboration with Giamatti in “Sideways” won Payne an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with his co-writer Jim Taylor.

The director is very excited to be teaming up with Giamatti once again. He told “Deadline” that, “ever since (he) worked with Paul in Sideways, (he) wanted to work with him again, and this role is tailor-made for him.”

As for how he came up with the concept for the movie, Payne says he watched a classic French film that gave him the idea for putting this specific cast of characters in such a situation. But he didn’t know much about the world of private schools.

Then one day he “came across a writing sample for a pilot set in a prep school by David Hemingson.” Payne immediately called Hemingson and told him his idea for a plot set in a prep school environment. Hemingson was thrilled with the suggestion, and quickly wrote the script for “The Holdovers.”

Paul Giamatti in Hollywood

Giamatti has been keeping busy since his critically-acclaimed performance in “Sideways.” He is currently starring in Showtime’s very successful show “Billions,” alongside Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff.

In “Billions,” Giamatti plays US Attorney Chuck Rhoades. Rhoades goes up against a smart and ambitious hedge fund king named Bobby Axelrod (played by Lewis) to bring him down when criminal evidence comes up against him.

However, Axelrod’s wealth and influence make the process tricky, and the show gives viewers a window into a high-stakes world of wealth, power, and corruption. “Billions” has been on the air for five seasons so far.

Career-wise, Giamatti seems to only be going higher all the time. In 2021 alone, Giamatti has five different movies either in post-production or announced, including “The Holdovers.” Others include “Jungle Cruise,” “Gunpowder Milkshake,””San Andreas 2,” and “A Mouthful of Air,”

No release date has been set yet for “The Holdovers.”

Roxy, the Collateral Victim of Vicious Caroline Crouch Murder

Roxy dog Crouch murder
Little Roxy was also a victim of Anagnostopoulos’ murderous spree. Credit: Facebook/Animal shelter of Marathon

Confessed Greek wife-killer Babis Anagnostopoulos killed the family’s pet dog called Roxy after the murder of his wife Caroline Crouch to make his story about violent intruders more credible.

The disgraced pilot Anagnostopoulos confessed that he strangled his wife, then placed the 11-month baby next to her body and then killed their pet dog by suffocation. He then hanged the pet’s lifeless body from the steps to the first floor of their apartment.

The body of Roxy was the first thing police officers saw when they stormed the house, after Anagnostopoulos alerted them to the supposed burglary.

Roxy was the collateral victim of Crouch’s killer, in order to mislead the authorities into thinking that Crouch had been killed by men who had invaded the home.

According to the animal shelter “I Koiti,” Roxy was less than one year old. In a message on Facebook, the shelter says that Crouch called them in December 2020 and expressed interest in adopting a dog.

She asked to be given a puppy, so that the dog could grow up with their newborn baby, who is called Lydia.

A few days later, the whole family, including Anagnostopoulos, went to a veterinary clinic in Nea Makri, east of Athens, where they met with volunteers from the animal shelter. It was there that they first met Roxy.

They reportedly liked her immediately and asked for the adoption process to begin.

“Caroline’s family was one of those who we volunteers consider role models. We were in no doubt that our little one would now live a life full of love and care,” the animal shelter said in a Facebook post.

“Caroline you were an earthly angel, in every sense of the word. A beacon of kindness, generosity and true love for all stray animals. You do not deserve death and oblivion. You deserve eternal memory and gratitude from all of us. Good heavens for you and our little Roxy. Together from up there you will protect little Lydia,” the moving statement reads.

Killer charged with both Crouch’s and Roxy’s killings

Anagnostopoulos, 33, was on Friday charged with the murder of Crouch “committed in a calm frame of mind” after appearing before a public prosecutor in Athens.

He will also face a criminal charge of animal abuse for the killing of the family’s dog, Roxy, and lesser charges for giving false testimony to the police and casting suspicion on others for his actions.

The 33-year-old on Thursday confessed to killing his 20-year-old wife in their house in Glyka Nera after police confronted him with evidence from the dead woman’s smart phone and his own mobile device that contradicted his own testimony regarding the alleged time of her death.

He had originally told police that his wife was murdered by a gun-wielding gang of thieves that had broken into the couple’s home.

Greek authorities had already issued a warrant for his arrest as he was considered a flight risk due both to his profession and comfortable financial circumstances.

He is also seen as a risk for committing further crimes due to the depraved way in which the victim was killed and the suspect’s attempt to misdirect police with fake evidence.

The Role of Slavery in Ancient Greece

Slavery in Ancient Greece
Slaves portrayed working in the Laurion mines. 7th century BC. Credit: Public Domain

Slavery in Ancient Greece was acceptable and common, as in most organized societies of the time, yet there were several differences between city states.

The recorded history of slavery in Ancient Greece begins during the Mycenaean civilization (1600-1100 BC), as indicated in numerous tablets unearthed at Pylos.

Slaves played an important role in ancient societies since they were used in building temples and other construction works; principally, however, they were engaged in the crucial area of agriculture.

Female slaves served as maids, nurses and cooks, and there were craftsmen, artists, musicians and others who were enslaved but could live a decent life and earn income as well.

Craftsmen who worked with their masters lived in their own quarters and earned their income at free will.

Even the greatest thinkers at the time — and there were a great many — could not imagine a world free of slavery since it was such an established phenomenon.

Aristotle described slavery in Ancient Greece as natural and necessary. For him a slave was a κτήμα έμψυχον (“living property”). That indeed was the collective mindset at the time.

However, slaves were treated differently and the conditions under which they lived and worked could vary — greatly depending on the time and location in which they lived.

In Athens, the city-state with a democratic government, people would grow up with their family’s slaves and it was not unusual to become friends with them.

In oligarchical Sparta, on the other hand, slaves were treated harshly, and their living conditions were inhuman and humiliating.

Who were slaves in Ancient Greece?

There were many sources to supply slaves to the economy. Some of the slaves had been born free, but owing to poverty, were sold by their parents into the slave market.

Other slaves, both men and women, were sold by their own tribes in exchange for goods. A large number of slaves were taken as prisoners of war, captured by the winning army.

There are writings that mention the sale of at at least 20,000 slaves by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. After conquering Scythia, he procured children and women and sold them in the slave markets.

Greek slaves came from the different cities of Greece, while others came from Egypt and Persia.

Slavery in Ancient Greece
Woman being taken as slave in war in ancient Greece; c. 440-430 BC. Credit: Public Domain

Slavery in ancient Athens

it is estimated Athens had as many as 80,000 slaves in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, with an average household having three or four slaves; the only exception to that rule would be impoverished families.

Slaves in ancient Athens were the property of their masters under Athenian law. They could be bought, sold, and beaten — but only by their master.

There were also people who were considered public slaves, who were the property of the polis, or city-state, thus being a sort of “elite” slave.

If a male slave was freed, he became a “metic” (resident alien) and after that designation he could be granted citizenship.

Many slaves worked and lived in their masters’ house, doing all the housework, and in many cases tending to the family’s children.

Male slaves did the shopping for the household. If they lived and worked independently, they made periodic payments for their masters.

There are written documents recording that slaves were involved in the building of the Erechtheion and worked in the silver mines of Laurion.

Female slaves are known to have as occupations woolworking, and the retail trade; they were also used as wet nurses for infants. They were also known to work in craft shops around the agora.

Female slaves also worked as prostitutes in brothels and as concubines. However, a concubine had no rights whatsoever.

Sometimes, the concubine would stay with the man in his house — along with his wife. At other times, she would be given a separate house to live, in which her children would also live.

During Classical times, slave labor was the main workforce in the craft production industry. Most of the craft factories belonged to wealthy politicians.

There are records of Demosthenes owning two factories which were largely supported by slaves. One of these factories produced swords and had about 30 slaves, while the other used 20 slaves and produced couches.

Lysias, the famous writer, owned the largest production center on record: A shield factory where 120 slaves worked producing the intricate weapons.

Slaves in Sparta

Critias described the situation of slaves in Sparta with these words: “The free were more free, and the slaves more fully slaves, than elsewhere.”

In the Sparta city-state, all slaves were owned by the state. They were viewed as enemies and were forced to wear humiliating clothes to distinguish them from Spartans.

The Spartans called them helots (είλωτες), a word still used in Greece today to describe someone who works hard with low pay and in bad conditions.

Helots incredibly outnumbered the citizenry by about twenty to one. Helots formed the entire basis of the Spartan economy and were essential to food production.

However, Spartans treated helots like animals and would not allow them to leave the place they served.

Helots were publicly beaten ceremoniously to remind them of their servile position. Even killing a helot was not a punishable act.

According to Plutarch, Spartans even forced their slaves to get drunk to show the young Spartans the problem with drinking to excess.

Worse, young Spartan men were told to run throughout the country armed with daggers and kill helots at will in order to terrorize them and keep them servile.

At war, slaves were servants to the warriors — cleaning their armor and cooking – even serving as light infantrymen occasionally.

To keep their numbers up, Spartans encouraged helots to breed among themselves and they were allowed to have some form of a family unit.

Just like the Spartan citizens in that unbelievably harsh state, helots were subjects of “selective breeding”: The strong would live and the weak would be thrown out, even be put to death on the spot.

Spartans would also procreate with helot women to bulk up the numbers of the state’s servants. Those resulting children would be called nothoi (νόθοι), ranking somewhere between a slave and a free man.

Nothoi usually served in the citizen army or worked in some low level public service. Girls, however, who were born from a Spartan and helot would be simply discarded.

Slave revolts in Ancient Greece

Slave revolts were uncommon in Ancient Greece, although slave escapes were not. Slaves who escaped did so just to be free.

Slave miners worked under extraordinarily harsh conditions in the dark, although many were needed to perform skilled and unskilled tasks outside the pits as well.

Many slaves were constantly overworked, and surely worked to death at times. Also, many were stigmatized, or branded, by their owners and kept in chains by their contractor bosses.

The Athens ruler Xenophon thought that it would be to the city’s benefit to invest its funds in such slaves.

However, during the Peloponnesian War, many of the more than 20,000 slaves who managed to escape Athens were miners.

This was the only recorded successful revolt of slaves in the history of slavery in Ancient Greece.

Bank of Greece: Financial System Remained Resilient Through Pandemic

Greek financial system greece
Plaka and the Acropolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

The Greek financial system remained strong throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bank of Greece stated in its report called the Financial Stability Review, which was released on Thursday.

Greece’s financial realm managed to weather the economic turmoil brought about by the pandemic and the two lockdowns that were imposed in the country, despite concerns over its strength, it noted.

While Greece’s economy has proven resilient, it did suffer a major recession in 2020 due to the pandemic, much like almost all other countries around the world.

The measures taken by the Greek government and the European Central Bank were examined in the Bank of Greece’s recent Review, and were found to have helped reduce any negative impacts of the pandemic on the Greek economy.

NPLs still pose major risk to Greek financial system

While stressing that the country’s financial system is indeed strong, the Bank of Greece also noted that the country’s biggest financial worry is the high number of non-performing loans (NPL) — loans that will either be paid back very late or never at all — in the country.

While the rate of NPLs was already high in Greece before the pandemic, the economic turmoil caused by Covid-19 has increased the number of them in the country significantly.

Despite initiatives by Greek banks to tackle the issue, such as the Hellenic Asset Protection Scheme, the rate of NPLs in Greece is much higher than in other European countries.

Capital adequacy ratios, or the ratio of a bank’s capital to its risk, are at a satisfactory level in Greece, however. This assessment accounts for temporary relief measures for banks in the wake of the pandemic.

Despite this, the Bank of Greece’s Review found that the quality of prudential own funds could pose risk to Greek banks, as deferred tax credits are expected to increase and banks implement plans to reduce NPL ratios.

The Bank of Greece argues in its review that the so-called “low-for-long” interest rates, which refers to low interest rates over a long period of time, have had a positive impact on the liquidity of the banking sector. However, core profitability in Greece remained low.

The Bank of Greece argued in its review that the banking sector will have to fulfill an intermediary role as the Government’s economic recovery efforts take hold in the coming months. Additionally, it contends that support measures should be phased out as the pandemic slowly comes to an end.

Greece receives record bids at bond sale

Greece received its strongest-ever demand for a bond sale and cemented its place as one of Europe’s most sought-after borrowers, according to Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Greece drummed up 30 billion euros of offers for its 2.5 billion-euro ($3.1 billion) sale of bonds due in 2031.

The Minister for Finance, Christos Staikouras, said that the bond sale “confirms that the country is gaining the confidence of the international investors community and is, gradually, returning to normalcy.

“Sacrifices made by the society, the effectiveness of the Government’s policy, the consistent and systematic work of the Public Debt Management Agency and the Ministry of Finance as a whole, result in positive outcomes for the economy, the society and country,” he added.

Caroline Crouch Murder: Killer Husband Was a “Gentleman”

Crouch murder
Babis Anagnostopoulos, a helicopter pilot, has at last confessed to his wife Caroline Crouch’s murder. Credit: flying.babis/instagram

A friend of Babis Anagnostopoulos, the pilot who confessed on Thursday to murdering his wife Caroline Crouch on May 11 in Athens, expressed shock at the crime describing the pilot-turned-killer as “a nice guy we were often going out with” talking exclusively to Greek Reporter.

The murder of the young mother Crouch, aged just 20, in the quiet suburb of Glyka Nera shocked the country, where such brutal killings are rare.

Before his confession, the victim’s husband claimed that the murderers entered the home after killing the family’s dog, and eventually killed his wife.

He said they suffocated Crouch after stealing some money the couple had at home, wiped the memory cards from their security cameras, and fled the scene.

Hours after he committed the crime he appeared in front of TV crews outside his home at Glyka Nera, saying that he was still in shock. He added that he has confidence in the police and he expressed hope that the perpetrators will soon be arrested.

His tribute to his wife, posted on Instagram a few days after the murder, now reads like a psychopathic horror story, when it once seemed like a moving message to his deceased partner in life.

He posted a picture of the couple on their wedding day on Instagram with the caption: “Together forever. Have a nice trip, my love,” in Greek. He also attended Crouch’s funeral holding their little baby in his arms.

On Thursday, just before his arrest he attended a memorial service for Crouch on the island of Alonnisos. He was pictured by Alpha TV, all dressed in black, comforting Crouch’s mother.

Crouch murder
Anagnostopoulos hugs his murdered wife’s mother. Credit: Alpha

On Thursday night, he confessed that he himself was the murderer after nearly eight hours of police questioning.

Murder of Crouch “total shock”

Speaking to Greek Reporter on condition of anonymity a friend of Anagnostopoulos who has known him for more than eight years sounded shocked.

He said that he first met him in 2013, when Anagnostopoulos was 25 and before he met Crouch through common friends. They became friends and together they were regularly were going out.

“Knowing him, you were seeing a great individual, you would have never imagine any of this. It is a total shock,” says Anagnostopoulos’ old friend.

Anagnostopoulos had a girlfriend at the time. “I had never heard her complaining about his behavior or anything that had to do with Babis. Quite the opposite. I was seeing and hearing that he was a kind gentleman, not only from his girlfriend but also from everybody around him.”

He added that he was also been hearing praise from Anagnostopoulos’ colleagues of how good he was at his job as a pilot and what a nice person he was to work with.

The friend reveals that Anagnostopoulos was always working towards his dream of getting his pilot license, “something that would offer him a great financial future, and he achieved it. Why would he destroy all of this?

“To me it doesn’t make sense why would he kill his wife and place the baby on the dead body of his mother. Who does that?” he wonders.

The friend says that they lost contact recently, but “during the years we were close I would never have thought that Anagnostopoulos could do harm to anybody, let alone his wife.”

The long time friend of the confessed killer could not hide his shock at the developments. “You can never be sure what each one of us hides inside himself,” he tells Greek Reporter.

Police have described Anagnostopoulos as a “first class actor” after staging the elaborate crime scene and keeping up with the sick charade as a grieving widower for over a month.

The disgraced helicopter pilot even drowned the family dog and hung its body from a stair banister to blame it on the burglars and strengthen his story, investigators said.

Joe Biden Cancels $3 Billion Worth of Student Debt

Joe Biden Education
Joe Biden Speaking at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association Legislative Conference. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Joe Biden has cancelled almost $3 billion worth of student loans since his inauguration in January of 2021. Biden has moved forward with his campaign promise to cancel student loans in increments, and has already canceled a total of $2.8 billion in debt — with more plans forthcoming.

Biden started his rollout of cancellations shortly after taking office, nixing 72,000 loans that amounted to $1 billion altogether just this March.

Before Biden took action on student loans, there was already a law in place that canceled the student debt of those whose institutions had closed or committed fraud.

This method resulted in a partial cancellation of debt for students, but the President’s move in March sought to completely cancel the debt of those affected by this incomplete debt forgiveness.

This form of cancellation was initially introduced in 2015 under the Obama Administration as a provision in the Higher Education Act.

Known as the “borrower defense to repayment,” the provision was meant to “allow borrowers to seek loan forgiveness if a college or university misled them, or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws,” according to the United State’s Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid division.

The debate over taxpayer money and student loans

The provision was rewritten under the Trump Administration by former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in order to shift the financial burden of loan repayment away from taxpayers, as the loan forgiveness was federally funded and thus sourced from taxpayer money.

The question as to whether or not taxpayer money should be used to repay student loans is central to the debate on federal loan cancellation.

DeVos made loan forgiveness through this route more complex for the students who sought it, introducing an application where students had to prove harm by the institution more diligently.

It was DeVos’ position that the transference of financial responsibility onto taxpayers was unfair, while others argue that the American higher education system is predatory and traps people into huge amounts of debt at a young age, and that life without an advanced degree is increasingly not an option.

While student loans are a major issue in America, they are also a source of anxiety for Greek students who have studied overseas in England. English universities recently blocked students from the EU from taking out student loans.

Biden’s path for student debt cancellation since March

Biden started his path to loan forgiveness with those partially affected by the amended borrower defense repayment, or those who had received degrees from schools that closed or committed fraud.

Just a few weeks later he cancelled $1.3 billion in loans for 41,000 borrowers with total and permanent disability, amounting to $2.3 billion in loans overall.

This Thursday, he cancelled $500 million more in student loans, again under the borrower defense to student loan repayment rule, with the current total of loans cancelled amounting to $2.8 billion.

Biden has clearly shown follow through on his promise for loan cancellation, but the exact ways in which cancellation will progress is still unclear.

Loan forgiveness may not be entirely universal, meaning it may not apply to any and all student loans taken out by individuals.

The Best Islands for Your Family Vacation in Greece this Summer

Family vacation greece
Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/ CC-BY-2.0

When planning your family vacation to Greece this summer, it is important to select the appropriate destination to ensure you have an unforgettable experience.

Whether you are traveling with young children or your grandparents, Greece is home to the most perfect island for your family vacation.

Let’s look at the most family friendly Greek islands to help you plan your vacation.

Crete is the perfect spot for a family vacation in Greece

Crete is Greece’s second largest island and has many resorts and family-orientated hotels with water parks.

It is also an island steeped in ancient culture for those wishing to visit pristine ancient ruins, such as Knossos, which is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site and Europe’s oldest city.

You don’t have to look far to find something for the whole family to be entertained with on this island.

Here are some places to consider as your home base while visiting on the island:

Kokkini Hani, Crete

Kokkini Hani is located 14 km east of Heraklion and is a popular vacation destination for families with younger children.

The area remained quite untouched until the 1960s when full electricity and telephone services reached this part of Crete, and several hotels were built.

The beaches are beautiful and the hotels that are in this area cater to families with activity schedules, pools, social events and beachfront access.

Agios Nikolaos, Crete

Another fabulous vacation destination for you and your family this summer is Agios Nikolaos, which is also on Crete.

Agios Nikolaos is quaint and quieter than many other places on the island, and there are unique and stunning beaches such as Tsifliki beach that you can visit.

There are also many beaches nearby that have chairs and umbrellas with family friendly, shallow waters.

Also, depending on where you stay, you can have fun-filled days with activities organized by your hotel, do water sports or go out exploring on your own.

The Ionian Islands: Where history and beauty combine

All of the seven well-known Ionian islands are treasures of history and myth. These stunning islands are perfect for any vacation, but especially for families.

Corfu: a unique family vacation in Greece

Corfu Ionian Islands
Corfu Town. Credit: Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Corfu is home to a historic Old Town, which features shops, museums, restaurants, and even Venetian fortresses. All members of the family will find something of interest in town, which is known for its stunning architecture.

There are both sand and pebble beaches in Corfu, so depending on what you are looking for, there are many options.

Sidari Beach, which is on the north coast of the island, has very shallow and warm water.

There are also water parks on the island that are perfect for younger children.

With UNESCO sites to explore by day and open-air cinemas showing English movies at night, your days and nights will be full with family fun.

You can find many reasonably priced hotels to stay at on the island.

Zakynthos is great for teens

family vacation greece
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos. Credit: Alex Ignatiou/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA 3.0

Zakynthos is full of stunning locations that have recently gone viral on social media, such as the famous Navagio Beach, where the dramatic cliffs and white sand beaches will transport you and your family to a paradise unlike any other.

Families on vacation may rent a villa and connect with other tourists and Greeks alike, who are very warmhearted and welcoming.

There are a lot of activities for teens organized by hotels and beaches such as social events and activities.

There are also many cafes, restaurants, pools, tennis courts and water sports activities that are perfect for all members of the family.

Lefkada is the place to be for athletic families

lefkada
Kalamitsi Beach on Lefkada. Credit: Ggia/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

This island is one of Greece’s top-ranking destinations for water sports.

If you are taking a vacation with your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or maybe even your sporty and active parents, check out the large marina at Lefkada Town for yachting and Vasiliki Bay in the south which is exposed to local thermal winds, and boasts many water sports activities.

From surfing to kayaking, there is something there for every sports lover.

A family vacation on Greece’s Cycladic Islands

The Cycladic island group, including Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros, are some of the most popular tourists destinations in the world.

They are also home to some of Greece’s most important archaeological ruins and have some great places to vacation with your family.

The unique landscape of Milos

Milos Island Beaches for Family Swimmers
Credit: dronepicrCC BY 2.0

Since Milos was created by underwater volcanic activity, the coast has unique rock formations and rich sea life, making it perfect for scuba diving and exploring.

There are great beaches created by natural inlets and surrounded by rock formations such as Sarakiniko or Kleftiko.

The island’s central tourist beach is Paliohori where you will find tavernas with traditional Greek fare and countless sun beds and umbrellas to rent.

Paliohori Beach is composed of three adjoining beaches, with red, pink, yellow and white pebbles, and backed by red cliffs, with warm underwater springs.

The Sporades Islands

Alonissos is home to abundant wildlife

Alonissos in Greece
Crédit: Giuliagi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The most remote islands of the Sporades, Alonissos has a refuge for rare seabirds as well as the protected Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus.

The Alonissos National Marine Park encompasses the land and sea surrounding Alonissos, plus six smaller neighboring islets that are all accessible by taking a boat tour.

Alonissos
The northwestern side of Alonissos from the beautiful village of Chora atop the island. Credit: Patricia Claus/Greek Reporter

Underneath the Marine Park is another gem — the site of the Peristera Shipwreck, which has been called the “Parthenon of Shipwrecks.” Scuba divers can dive just atop the wreck and gaze at the wine amphorae that litter the seafloor in the pattern of the boat hold that they were once in.

For those who aren’t up to learning scuba diving, an onshore museum showing the treasures of the Peristera shipwreck is now open nearby, in the town of Patitiri on Alonissos.

There are several organized beaches on the island, including Agia Konstantinos, as well as smaller pocket beaches scattered around the idyllic isle. The island is a paradise for all nature lovers. Just be sure to pack your binoculars to look out for seals, eagles, falcons, shags, cormorants, and various gulls.

All in all, Alonissos is a great destination for a unique family vacation.

Neaera, the Athenian Child Slave Raised to be a Courtesan

Neaera Athenian Child Slave
Credit: The Slave Market, painting by Gustave Boulanger. Public Domain

Neaera was a child slave from fourth century BCE Athens whose life is significant and sorrowful. She was put on trial, where she was caught amid petty politics, sex scandals, and personal vendettas.

By Marguerite Johnson

The ancient worlds of Greece and Rome have perhaps never been as popular as they presently are. There are numerous television series and one-off documentaries covering both “big picture” perspectives and stories of ordinary people.

Neaera was a woman from fourth century BCE Athens whose life is significant and sorrowful – worthy to be remembered – but may never feature in a glossy biopic.

Possibly born in Corinth, a place where she lived from at least a young age, Neaera was raised by a brothel-keeper by the name of Nicarete.

Her predicament was the result of her being enslaved to Nicarete. While we don’t know the reason for this, we do know that foundlings were common in antiquity. The parents of baby Neaera, for whatever reason, left her to fate – to die by exposure or be collected by a stranger.

From a young age, Neaera was trained by Nicarete for the life of a hetaira (a Classical Greek term for “courtesan”). It was Nicarete who also named her, giving her a typical courtesan title: “Neaera” meaning “Fresh One”.

Ancient sources reveal Naeara’s life in the brothel. In a legal speech by the Athenian politician and forensic orator, Apollodorus, the following description is provided:

There were seven young girls who were purchased when they were small children by Nicarete … She had the talent to recognise the potential beauty of little girls and knew how to raise them and educate them with expertise – for it was from this that she had made a profession and from this came her livelihood.

She called them ‘daughters’ so that, by displaying them as freeborn, she could obtain the highest prices from the men wishing to have intercourse with them. After that, when she had enjoyed the profit from their youth, she sold every single one of them …

The occasion for the passage from Apollodorus is a court case that was brought against Neaera in approximately 343 BCE. Neaera was around 50-years-old by the time of her prosecution, which took place in Athens.

Trafficking and abuse of the child slave

The circumstances of her trial are complicated, involving the buying, selling, trafficking and abuse of Neaera from a very young age.

Piecing together the evidence from Apollodorus’ prosecution speech, which has come down to us with the title, “Against Neaera”, it transpires that two of her clients, who shared joint ownership of her, allowed her to buy her freedom around 376 BCE.

Afterwards, she moved to Athens with one Phrynion, but his brutal treatment of her saw Neaera leave for Megara, where circumstances caused her to return to sex work.

Further intrigues involving men and sex work saw Neaera eventually face trial on the charge of falsely representing herself as a free Athenian woman by pretending to be married to a citizen.

The charge of fraud was based on the law that a foreigner could not live as a common law “spouse” to a freeborn Athenian. The fact that Neaera also had three children, a daughter by the name of Phano, and two sons, further complicated the trial and its range of legal entanglements.

While we never discover the outcome of the trial, nor what happened to Neaera, the speech of the prosecutor remains, and reveals much about her life. Unfortunately, the speech of the defence is lost.

We do know, however, that the man with whom Neaera cohabitated, Stephanus, delivered the defence. Of course, he was not only defending Neaera – he was defending himself! Should Neaera have been found guilty, Stephanus would have forfeited his citizenship and the rights that attended it.

Stephanus had a history of legal disputes with the prosecutor, Apollodorus. He also had a history of being in trouble with the law. For example, he had illegally married off Phano – not once, but twice – to Athenian citizens. Shady “get rich quick” schemes motivated such activities, and it seems that Stephanus was adept at using both his “wife” and his “daughter’ for bartering and personal profit.

Another accusation revealed during the trial alleged that Stephanus arranged for Neaera to lure men to his house, engage them in sex, and then bribe them. And while Apollodorus provides no evidence for such a scam ever having taken place, judging by Stephanus’ track-record, it does not seem implausible.

Remembering Neaera

Reading through the long, complex and damnatory speech of Apollodorus, we risk losing sight of the woman at the centre of it. Caught amid petty politics, sex scandals, and personal vendettas is a woman who becomes peripheral to the machismo being played out in court.

Yet, somewhat ironically, this is the only ancient source we have that records not only Neaera and the life she was forced to lead – but the life of a hetaira from infancy, girlhood, middle-age and, ultimately, past her “use by” date.

Had she not been taken to court as part of the factional fighting of ancient Athens, had she not had her reputation annihilated so publicly, we would have never known about Neaera.

Were it not for Apollodorus and his ancient version of “slut-shaming”, Neaera’s story would have been lost.

But it hasn’t been lost. Somewhere, amid the male rhetoric, her story endures. Unfortunately, her voice is not preserved. All we can read in the speech, “Against Neaera” are the voices of men; her prosecutor and the witnesses he calls to the stand.

Ironically, these testimonies and accusations – so casually introduced in ancient Athens, but received so differently today – emphasise the inhumanity of the sex trade in an antiquity too often and too unthinkingly valorised.

The document known as “Against Neaera” is the only record we have of this (almost) hidden woman. It prompts us to remember. And it’s important to remember Neaera.

Marguerite Johnson is a Professor of Classics, University of Newcastle. The article was published in The Conversation and is republished under a Creative Commons License.

How Police Unraveled the Murder of Caroline Crouch by Her Husband

Caroline Crouch husband murder Greece
Babis Anagnostopoulos confessed to killing his wife Caroline Crouch on Thursday. Credit: Babis Anagnostopoulos/Instagram

The murder of young wife and mother Caroline Crouch, aged just 20, in the quiet Athenian suburb of Glyka Nera on May 11 shocked the country, where such brutal killings are rare.

What was even more frightening was the fact that, according to her husband, apart from her 11-month-old baby, he was the only living witness to the crime, and the murderers were a group of thieves who had entered the house at random.

This had many Greeks worrying for their own safety in their homes.

However, as of late Thursday evening, the world now knows that there is no band of murderous thieves on the loose, as Caroline Crouch’s 32-year-old husband, Babis Anagnostopoulos, confessed to the crime.

In a chilling statement the day after the murder of his wife, Anagnostopoulos stressed that the police would find the “killers,” saying:

“I hope this never happens to anyone ever again. The police know their job and they will catch the people who did this. I hope that no one else ever experience what I went through, and what my family and my wife’s family have gone through.”

The evidence that helped solve the murder of Caroline Crouch

After he was rushed to the Attica Police Headquarters in Athens by helicopter from the island of Alonnissos, where he was staying with Crouch’s family, on Wednesday evening, Anagnostopoulos was presented with evidence that unraveled his story of the events of the night his wife was murdered.

When asked why he had to leave the island so quickly, before his confession, Anagnostopoulos told reporters that police had informed him that they found the ringleader of the murder and needed him to come identify him in person.

He said this while hugging Caroline Crouch’s mother, who had just held a memorial service for her daughter.

The evidence, however, was clear, and Anagnostopoulos later confessed to the crime.

Specifically, during the period when he claimed to have been completely immobilized and tied up by the burglars, unable to assist his wife as she was being suffocated, police found that he was actively using his phone.

They were even able to determine from an app that tracks user’s steps that Anagnostopoulos was up and walking around during the time he stated he was tied down by the intruders.

His phone, along with that of his wife, shows that the couple had been fighting that night. According to records, the last text Crouch sent her husband that night was the word “stupid” in English.

Additionally, Caroline Crouch’s smart watch, which tracked data regarding her health, including her heart rate, showed the exact moment of her death.

In the minutes before she died, her heart rate suddenly began to be elevated, attesting to the fear she felt in the final moments of her life.

Anagnostopoulos claimed that the group of robbers removed the memory card from the family’s security camera shortly before they left the house after killing his wife.

After studying both the camera and the memory card, police determined that it was actually removed four or five hours before the specific time that Anagnostopoulos told the police the thieves left the home.

The circumstances surrounding the murder

Before his confession, the victim’s husband claimed that the murderers entered the home after killing the family’s dog.

They then suffocated his wife after stealing some money the couple had at home, wiped the memory cards from their security cameras, and fled the scene.

On Thursday night, he confessed that he was the murderer after nearly eight hours of police questioning.

Police records have shown that the couple had a fight the night of the murder, and at least one person close to the victim has allegedly expressed to police that the couple had been going through a very rough period in their marriage.

The reason for the tragic murder is one that is all too common in such cases. According to Anagnostopoulos, his wife told him that she was planning to leave him and take her baby with her before he “blurred” and killed her.

“That night, we had been fighting since early in the day. At one point, she threw the baby into its bassinet and told me to get up and leave the house. She pushed me and punched me. I blurred and suffocated her, and then I staged the crime scene,” the 32-year-old helicopter pilot stated in his confession.

Crouch was suffocated for around five minutes.

Many people, including many in the police force, were suspicious of the victim’s husband from the beginning.

Speaking to Greek news agency MEGA on Friday, Thanasis Katerinopoulos, honorary president of the police force, stated that the arrest was “a matter of time.”

Katerinopoulos highlighted the nature of technological evidence, which is ubiquitous in our current age.

“Let’s not forget that we live in the era of technology, and the answers it gives are like irrefutable witnesses and they do not get overturned in any courtroom. I’m so sorry for the poor woman and her mother who lives with this pain,” Katerinopoulos stated.

Brutal murder of Caroline Crouch provokes dialogue

The brutality of the murder has shocked the Greek public and brought conversations regarding intimate partner violence and domestic violence to the forefront of public discourse.

The horror of such a young, vibrant life being snuffed out by the person that she trusted the most has shocked and disturbed the public, many of whom are now going back and reflecting on Anagnostopoulos’ behavior after the crime.

CAROLINE CROUCH and husband
Caroline Crouch, who was murdered, and Anagnostopoulos on their wedding day in 2018. Credit: Babis Anagnostopoulos/Instagram

His tribute to his wife, posted on Instagram a few days after the murder, now reads like a psychopathic horror story, when it once seemed like a moving message to his deceased partner.

He posted a picture of the couple on their wedding day on Instagram with the caption: “Together forever. Have a nice trip, my love,” in Greek.

He then stated that he is “sad that our daughter will grow up without remembering her beautiful mother, who was the joy of my life.”

Yet he said that he found hope that his wife will remain with him and their child forever, saying: “But through her daughter, Caroline will always be with me and with all of us … You should always look after your loved ones and enjoy your time together.”

The fact the Anagnostopoulos, who later confessed to the crime, blamed foreigners, specifically Albanians, for the murder, also highlighted what many believe is rampant prejudice against the group in the country.

Juneteenth, Marking End of Slavery in the USA, Is Now A Federal Holiday

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Juneteenth
Joe Biden at the Oval Office. Credit: Adam Schultz/White House

President Biden on Thursday signed a bill to recognize Juneteenth — the celebration to commemorate when enslaved people in Texas discovered that they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — as a federal holiday.

Federal employees will observe the holiday for the first time on Friday.

“I’ve only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have had as president,” Biden said at the signing event.

He emphasized the need for the US to reckon with its history, even when that history is shameful.

“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,” Biden said, before he established what will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day. “Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”

Biden stressed that there is still work to be done to deliver equality for Black Americans. “The truth is, it’s not — simply not enough just to commemorate Juneteenth. After all, the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality; it only marked the beginning.

“To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet,” Biden said.

Kamala Harris, also in attendance, reflected on the historic nature of the day and the presence of Black lawmakers who worked diligently to advance the bill.

Harris, who is the first Black woman to serve as vice-president, told those at the White House for the bill signing: “We are gathered here in a house built by enslaved people. We are footsteps away from where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“And we are here to witness President Joe Biden establish Juneteenth as a national holiday. We have come far, and we have far to go, but today is a day of celebration.”

History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth marks the day that US Army General Gordon Grainger finally reached enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, telling that the American Civil War was over and they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, enacted two-and-a-half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.

For the more than 250,000 enslaved people in Texas, General Granger’s order didn’t instantly release them from their chains; many slavers suppressed the news to the people they enslaved.

The day now more widely represents the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans across the US following the Civil War and its violent aftermath, and is the oldest nationally-recognized commemoration of slavery’s end.

Parades, festivals, concerts, family gatherings, church services and other community events are hosted across the US, but Juneteenth has remained an unofficial national holiday.

Until now it has not been celebrated on the federal level, whereas the Fourth of July – which marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – is recognized nationwide just a few weeks later.

Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it was eclipsed by the struggle for postwar civil rights, but grew in popularity again in the 1970s with a focus on African American culture.

As of 2020, Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states that do not recognize Juneteenth, according to the Congressional Research Service.