Dramatic Footage of Greek Ship on Fire Off Vancouver Island, Canada

Greek ship
Smoke rises from the container ship Zim Kingston, burning from a fire on board, off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada October 23, 2021. Credit: Canadian Coast Guard

Canada’s coast guard announced on Wednesday that Greek-owned ship Zim Kingston has lost over 100 containers off the coast of Vancouver Island after listing in bad weather.

Gillian Oliver, the coast guard’s advanced-planning unit leader, announced that waters were combed earlier this week by air in order to spot any of the fallen containers. Crews have reached the ship and found that over 100 containers fell off the Greek bulk carrier.

The ship involved is the Zim Kingston, operated by Greek shipping company Danaos Shipping. The bulk carrier fell into tumult on Sunday after listing during a storm off the coast of British Columbia on Friday. The storm caused a fire to start on the ship on Monday morning. The fire, storm, and ship have since stabilized, but the havoc caused at least 106 containers to fall overboard, some of which contained hazardous materials.

Oliver said that she and her team are working to trace the locations of all of the missing containers with Danaos, which they believe have moved north. “Based on the information we last have on the co-ordinates of those containers and on the Environment Canada trajectory modeling, we believe that the containers are somewhere around the Cape Scott area in north Vancouver Island.”


Authorities are not yet sure what caused fire to start on Zim Kingston

The containers that fell off the ship were holding toys, clothing automotive parts, industrial parts, and furniture. Two containers that are currently unaccounted for contained hazardous materials. The coast guard has reported that a few containers have sunk and the environmental unit is currently addressing the effects this may have on the coast.

Four containers and the fragments of other containers and their contents have been found on the shore at Cape Scott on the northern part of Vancouver Island. Those containers did not have hazardous material amongst their contents, the coast guard said.

“The location is remote and rugged, and planning for recovery operations is underway,” the coast guard posted on their official Twitter.

Authorities are not currently sure what exactly caused the fire that started on Monday. The fire took place inside containers that were on the ZIM Kingston.

The ship is currently anchored at the Constance Bank Anchorage south of Victoria, B.C.

Dave Pridham, the deputy provincial incident commander, said that the air quality in the area is being watched in order to trace the effects of the fire and their potential impact on public health.Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island, a local environmental group, said that “materials from this fire are considered hazardous and  should not be collected by the general public.”

Greek Court Bans Kosher and Halal Slaughter

kosher halal slaughter
Greek court bans kosher and halal slaughter. Credit: AMNA

The Hellenic Council of State banned kosher and halal slaughter on Tuesday. Kosher and halal preparations of animals are central to Jewish and Muslim religious practices.

Both practices require animals to be killed without being anesthetized. The Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation requested that the court annul an exemption in a law that allowed religious slaughtering practices to take place without anesthetic.

The courts ruled that the religious preparation of animal products did not outweigh those animals’ welfare, and decided that the exemption was a violation of the law’s requirement to slaughter animals with anesthesia. The court has left it up to the government to regulate the relationship between animal rights and religious freedom, and they will preside over the country’s slaughterhouse practices.

Many Jewish people are speaking out against the court’s decision, calling it an infringement on their religious freedom. European Jewish Association (EJA) chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said that “Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities.”

Jewish groups outraged over Greek court’s decision

The EJA believes that the court’s decision is following a precedent set last December by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which gave EU nations the ability to ban kosher slaughter in support of animal welfare while also allowing for religious freedom for affected religious groups.

The decision allows members of the EU to make their own decisions about how to follow animal welfare guidelines while allowing people to practice their religions. But the EJA believes that “it is now clear” that member states are leaning heavily in favor of animal welfare and neglecting religious groups.

“As early as last December we warned about the dangerous consequences of the European Court of Justice ruling, and now we are seeing the result,” Margolin said. “It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and it is now Greece’s turn. These direct attacks come from many of those governments and institutions that have vowed to defend their Jewish communities.”

“What we are witnessing is first-rate hypocrisy,” he said. “When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our beliefs and customs are attacked right and left by laws, they are nowhere to be seen.”

Margolin said that the EJA plans to air their grievances at the highest level of the Greek government, hoping to get engagement and dialogue about how they can practice their religion comfortably in Greece. The EJA leader considers the issue of high importance, as food preparation and slaughter practices are central parts of both Jewish and Muslim religions.

“How can Jews live in Europe if you continue to legislate against us?” said Margolin.

The Greek National Anthem and its Meaning

greek national anthem dionysios solomos
The Greek National Anthem is one of the most recognizable anywhere in the world and it is the longest of any such song, written by the country’s “National Poet,” Dionysios Solomos. Credit: Public Domain

The Greek National Anthem is one of the most recognizable anywhere in the world and it is the longest of any such song, written by the country’s “National Poet,” Dionysios Solomos.

Its title is Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν” (Hymn to Liberty). It was written as a 158-stanza poem in 1823 on the Greek island of Zakynthos and printed one year later in Missolonghi. 

The Solomos poem was inspired by the brave men who fought in the Greek War of Independence and Greece’s incredibly long, rich history.

In 1865, the King of Greece, George I, visited Corfu and heard the island’s philharmonic band performing the first three stanzas, which had been set to music by the operatic composer Nikolaos Mantzaros.

The King was so impressed that he ordered the band’s music to be played during official events; thus the Hymn to Liberty instantly became the National Anthem of Greece.

Beginning in 1966, it became the National Anthem of Cyprus as well, after a decision by its Council of Minsters.

The Hymn to Liberty
Cover of Dionysios Solomos’ Hymn to Liberty (Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν), published in Missolonghi in 1825. First Greek edition from the press of Dimitrios Mestheneus («Ἐκ τῆς Τυπογραφίας Δ[ημητρίου] Μεσθενέως»). The poem was quickly adopted as the Greek National Anthem. Credit: Public domain

Greece’s National Anthem describes scenes from the War of Independence

The “Hymn to Liberty” deals with several themes from the War of Independence others from the long and illustrious span of Greek history.

The poet presents the goddess of liberty and recalls the past martyrdoms that occurred during the history of the country and the revolt of its “slaves” under foreign rule — as well as the joys of being a Hellene.

Solomos also speaks of the the disdain European rulers had for Greece and the contemptuous indifference of the Greeks for their pro-Ottoman stance.

In stanzas 35-74 of the Greek National Anthem, the poet describes the battle and the fall of Tripolitsa, the Turkish capital and stronghold of the Peloponnese.

Stanzas 75-87 speak of the Battle of Corinth and the destruction of the mighty army of Drama Ali in Dervenakia.

The first siege of Missolonghi in 1822 and the drowning of the Ottomans in the river Acheloos are described in stanzas 88-122 of the song.

The courageous naval engagements of the War, mainly the burning of the Turkish flagship near Tenedos, are described in stanzas 123-138, as well as the Turks’ barbaric hanging of Gregory, the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In the Epilogue (139-158) of the Greek National Anthem, the poet advises the former fighters to rid themselves of their harmful discord and petty differences and urges the powerful of Europe to allow Greece to be fully liberated.

The Greek National Anthem in English rhyme

1. I do know thee by the direful
cutting edge of thy keen sword
I do know thine eye stare ireful
counting fast the lands restored

2. Thou camest forth off the departed
Greeks who died and lived for thee
and like erstwhile stouthearted
Hail oh hail thee Liberty

3. There inside thou wert staying
reticent, embittered too
for a summon thou wert praying
telling thee come back anew

4.That good day was always tarrying
every thing was mute around
for oppression was scaring
and by slav’ry they were bound

5. Woe is thee! Thine only solace
sitting lone telling with sigh
glories past when thou wert aweless
and recounting them to cry

6. And awaiting the inviting
liberal strong voice to dare
thine one hand the other smiting
out of sorrow and despair

7. … saying will, ah! will I never
raise my head from these lorn wilds?
From above replies as ever
wails, chains, fetters of all kinds

8. Then thine eyes thou’dst lift up weeping,
hazy, full of tears and red,
on thy dress unendly dripping
gobs of Greek blood vainly shed

9. With thy clothes blood-soaked and reeking
I would thou kepst on sneaking out
to the foreign countries seeking
further hands both strong and stout

10. All alone thou hadst departed
and thou camest back all alone
for the gates will not get parted
when ’tis need who’s knocking on

11. Others on thy bosom crying
but they offered no respite,
others help with words supplying
but were fooling thee on spite

12. Others, woe! by thine misfortune
were delighted and would bray,
“go away to join thine orphans,
go” the obdurate would say

13. Now thy feet homewards toil
and they overswiftly roll
on the rock or on the soil
which thy glory do recall

14. Overlowly it is bowing
triple-wretched thy sad head,
beggar. door to door who’s going
and their life a weight too dead

15. Aye, but now they’re counterfiring
all thy seed with urge and mirth,
and they’re seeking firm, untiring
either victory or death

16. Thou camest forth off the departed
Greeks who died and lived for thee
and like erstwhile stouthearted
Hail oh hail thee Liberty

17. When the sky beheld thy gumption,
who, for the oppressing brute,
in thy motherland with kindness
nourished flowers both and fruit,

18. … was relieved, and it started
an infernal blare to pour,
and to thee response had darted
Riga’s battle crying roar

19. Each one of thy lands have called thee
warmly greeting thee with wish
and the mouths are shouting boldly
what the heart wilt not dismiss

20. Yells that reached the stars in heaven
from Ionian islands too,
loads of raised hands keep on waving
showing how their cheer was true

21 …although chained and separated
each one with a slick decree
and their forehead decorated
with “Deceitful Liberty”

22. Heartily pleased and affected
was the Washington’s free land
and the chains had recollected
that detained her on remand

23. From his castle he is roaring
just like greeting what is done
and his mane he shakes storming
the Lion the Spaniard one

24. He was startled in his quarters
England’s furious beast who hath
sent to the far Russian corners
loud the growling of his wrath;

25. … with a posture clearly showing
how much muscle hide his arms,
in Aegean waves he’s throwing
an inflamed stare that alarms

26. Through the clouds above he spots thee
too the Eagle’s eye while his
wings and claws are growing doughty
on Italian carcasses

27. … and against thee he turns hostile,
since forever hating thee,
squawks and squawks the bloody foe while
trying to impede thy spree.

28. Yet thou thinkest about nothing
else than where thou shouldst go first,
thou repliest not, nor dost something
for all those who have thee cursed,

29. … like tall mountain which is letting
the brash filthy water flow
to his feet and just there setting
the foul scum that soon will go,

30. … which is letting the strong whirlwind
hailstorm too and heavy rain
to strike on with their harsh whipping
its eternal peak in vain

31. Woe to him! Oh woe to him who
fatelorn will be found abreast
thy keen sword and hath a whim to
stay and put it to the test

32. The foul monster is now thinking
that he’s missing his stray cub
erst he’s cringing then he’s springing
and he’s craving human blood,

33. … now he’s running through all forests
mountains, fields, ravines and earth,
where he stood or passed the harvests
horror, desolation, death.

34. Horror, death and desolation
everywhere thou hast passed too
for it brings thee indignation
en’my sword unsheathed to view

35. Behold, the walls that stand tall yonder,
Tripoli the loathsome pit,
judgement’s both and terror’s thunder
now thou wish’st to cast on it

36. Victories against the felons
filled the eyes with grit and grin,
blind to their inundant weapons
and to their war cheering din

37. Shaking fists at thee and grinding
teeth they try to show their scads.
Hearken thou not to the fright’ning
myriads, men and callow lads?

38. A few mouths and fewer eyes
will remain you open, shame,
to bewail for the demise
of all lifes the woe shall claim!

39. They come forth and started clashing
sparking battle’s lightning glut
muskets loading, firing, flashing
sword blades glisten, thrash and cut

40. Why’s the fight already ending?
Why’s there also scanty blood?
I behold the foes ascending
to the castle swift they scud.

41. Count! They’re numberless the craven
who are running for their life,
they prefer their backs shot graven
lest they stay and taste the knife

42. Stay locked in, we’ll soon advance there!
Wait until you sure attrite!
Wait, the end is coming, answer,
in the darkness of the night!

43. They responded and the battle
starts and sets the place afire
ridge to ridge the buzz and rattle
sounding turbulent and dire

44. I can hear the muskets plopping
and the swords that clang beneath
I can hear the axes chopping
and the grinding of the teeth

45. Ah, what a night this was, it
fills the intellect with dread!
There was nother sleep nor pausing
save the bitter of the dead.

46. The time and the place of action,
the ado, the screaming folk,
the extreme cruelhearted passion
marking war, the rising smoke,

47. …the loud blasts, the dark and hazy
setting pierced by fiery bursts,
closely representing Hades
eager to receive the curs,

48. …waiting for them. Countless shadows
showing, naked on their feet,
daughters, elders, laddies, widows,
babies hooked still to the teat.

49. All pitch-black ’tis now swarming
black the sepulchred sad crowd
like an acrid pall of mourning
on the deathbed, a dark cloud

50. Lashings, lashings massed unaltered
sprouting from the soil’s backstage,
all of them injustly slaughtered
by the rampant turkish rage

51. Many as the ears cradled
upon harvesting the fields,
almost all these parts were tangled
covered with these tragic yields

52. Here and there throughout the bustle
hazy starlight stirred the flock
as they headed to the castle
in a deathlike silent walk

53. Likewise at the plains below in
densely vegetated woods,
each time the half moon is throwing
little pale light that dilutes

54. in the winds, that softly rustle
through packed branches stripped of leaves,
the dim spots quake and jostle
where the offshoots touch their peers.

55. With their eyes they keep on glancing
’round to find the pools of blood,
in the blood they’re wildly dancing,
their hoarse growlings turn to flood

56. … and cavorting they are bunching
’round the Greek ferocious bands
and the valiant breasts are touching
with their lifeless wintry hands

57, This benumbing touch is going
deep inside the inner parts
letting out the grief they’re stowing
leaving merciless the hearts

58. Thus ’tis horrifyingly growing
this pernicious fighting dance,
like a squall unruly blowing
in the lonely sea’s expanse

59. High and low they’re striking madly,
each and every hit they land
’tis a hit severe and deadly,
without need for second hand

60. Every body sweating, churning
as if from within its soul,
sick of hatred fiercely burning,
strives by any means to soar

61. The beats of the heart are thwacking
in their breasts slow and miffed
and their arms whenever smacking
are two or more times as swift

62. For all them there is no heaven,
nor high sea, nor even ground,
for the upper world and nether
concentrate in their surround

63. The excitement and the fury
are so stark, as both sides strive
resolute, that makest thee worry
no man will be left alive

64. Behold the mis’ry cumulated
in these hands that rip life threads!
On the earth fall mutilated
numerous legs, arms and heads,

65. …scabbards, swords and baldrics,
sculls severed or slit in two,
brains lay strewn all over wat’ry.
steaming guts the bodies spew.

66. No one would pay even notice
to the slaughter just a bit,
they all forge ahead atrocious.
Stop! Enough! When will you quit?

67. No man deigns to leave as option
save for when he shall lay done.
They don’t feel at all exhaustion
as if they have just begun

68. Now the curs are getting fewer
“Allah” they are yelling loud
but the Christian lips are truer
“fire” “fire” is their shout

69. Lionhearted they are battering
foes hard, screaming always “fire”
the flagitious thugs are scattering
screeching “Allah” they retire

70. Fright and dust clouds in all quarters
painful sighs, the helpless cry,
all around faint moans and horrors
and all over people die

71. Oh how many! Yet the lead shot
doesn’t echo in their ears.
all now laying where the dead rot
when the fourth dawn sheds its tears

72. River the blood of the slaughtered
turning the ravine to slue,
and the innocent grass watered
with men’s blood instead of dew

73. New dawn’s breeze, how effervescent,
thou no longer blow’st across
to the foul-believers’ crescent
blow thou, blow thou to the Cross!

74. Thou camest forth off the departed
Greeks who died and lived for thee
and like erstwhile stouthearted
Hail oh hail thee Liberty

75. There behold the fields of Corinth,
but sun’s light does not get through
on the planetrees tisn’t pouring
or on vineyards, waters too

76. In the easeful aether, startling,
not a carefree sound would fleet,
not a fife’s jovial warbling,
not a lamb would only bleat.

77. Thousands of soldiers rushing
like the waves unto the shore,
but thy stalwart braves are dashing,
they keep count not anymore

78. Oh three hundred Spartans raise ye
on this land return anew
and your children proudly gaze ye
how much they resemble you!

79. O’er your braves the lot are shaken,
by their blinded stride apace
barred in Corinth they were taken
to hide out and shun the chase

80. Sends the angel of destruction
famine and disease who take
shape as skeletons and action,
walking side by side they rake,

81. …lying on the grass and heaving
they were dying everywhere
the forsaken wretched leavings
of disaster, flight, despair

82. Thou divine and unfading,
capable of any deed,
Liberty, now gory, aching,
in the valley is thy tread.

83. In the shadow strung together
I see them too a row of pearls,
dance the virgin throng forever,
hand in hand the Grecian girls,

84. … choral their step, their voice bracing,
eyes erotic full of flair,
in the breeze divinely waving
curls of black and auburn hair.

85. My soul rejoices with the savoury,
in the breasts of every one,
milk of freedom and of bravery,
that will feed their unborn sun

86. On the greensward, amid blossoms
I forgot my cup aside,
liberal songs and awesome
after Pindar I recite.

87. Thou camest forth off the departed
Greeks who died and lived for thee
and like erstwhile stouthearted
Hail oh hail thee Liberty

88. Thou appeared in Missolonghi
the blest birth of Christ to laud,
wilderness takes heart and longing
blossoms for the Son of God

89. Holding cross, a blazing figure,
the Religion, came ally
to thy cause, and shaking finger
pointing way clear of the sky

90. …”on this”, she declared, “here dry land,
Liberty, stand mountain tall!”,
kisses thee on mouth and silent
enters lone the church’s hall

91. O’er the altar solemn she lows
in a fragrant fumy cloud
from the thurible it billows,
reaching for the missing crowd,

92. …and she’s heeding to the service
that she taught without constraints,
staring to the lights unselfish,
bowing humble ‘fore the Saints

93. Who are they approaching banging
and so loudly trampling with
weapons and more weapons clanging?
Tall thou straighten up forthwith!

94. Ah, the bright light that bedecks thee
like the crown around sun’s girth
grandly sheens afar perplexing,
no, it isn’t from this earth

95. All of thee a blazing splendour
everything lip, forehead, eye
sheens thy leg, thy forearm and more
all around thee is in light

96. Firm thou raisest thy sword against them
with three leaps ahead thou spike’st
tall like tower thou aggresst them
on the fourth one down thou strike’st

97. With a strong voice and compelling
to the infidels thou hurled:
“Fools today He’s born expelling
pain, the Saviour of the world”

98. He says, hearken “I’m your Father
Alpha and Omega both
speak out, where shall ye take cover
if ye instigate my wrath?

99. I may rain a restless fire
that if ye compare it to
hell’s unyielding timeless pyre,
know, the latter feels like dew

100. It may gobble down like splinter
lands immensely high, but then
countries, mountains it may sinter
forests and wild beasts and men

101. It shall be scorching and bereaving
e’en a breath shall not be spared
save the wind that shall be breathing
with leftover ashes paired”.

102. Someone wondering might query:
Art thou sister to His ire?
Who is worthy ‘nough to quell thee
or confront thee, I inquire?

103. Shocked the land perceives the savage
valor in thine arms and brawn,
that it wants to fully ravage
all the christian-hating spawn

104. ‘Tis perceived too by the waters,
I can hear them keen to feast
snarling loudly at the squatters,
roar as if they were a beast

105. Woe! Ill-fated men, why rush ye
towards Achelous flow
and attempt to cross it gusty,
deftly shunning chasers so?

106. Waters wildly rushing spume-sown
and the flooding is quite deep.
There ye early found your tombstone
‘fore your ultimate defeat

107. Cussing, crying, hacking, gnarling
every larynx of the foes,
and the raging current gargling
every curse the anger throws

108. Umpteen horses crudely reeling
prancing on their hinder legs
startled neighing, stumbling, kneeling
stepping on strewn bodies, heads

109. Others for their comrades reaching
out to get some help and cough
others biting flesh and screeching
till they’re dead or ’tis clawed off

110. Myriad heads give in despondent
eyes are almost popping out,
staring stars cold, not respondent,
for the one last time no doubt

111. Now the tumult’s slowly ebbing
-adding to the river’s load-
horses’ neighs, men’s moaning, begging,
carried to their last abode

112. I would love to hear him booming,
the deep Ocean just like this,
hagarene spawn start consuming
with large waves in his abyss

113. … to where Hagia Sophia is lying
in between the seven hills,
every lifeless body drying
naked, crushed by rocky mills

114. … let the wrath of God reject them
piled in mountains and the mock
brother of the Moon collect them
from this godforsaken stock

115. Let each stone become a tombstone
so that both Religion and
Liberty may tread this doom zone
slowly, counting hand in hand

116. There, a carcass now emerging
supine on the surface, stiff
and another one submerging
disappearing in a jiff

117. … and the river’s still more raging
and the flooding waters loom
always, always fiercely waging
angry waves and frosty spume

118. Oh why couldn’t I take after
Moses’s orotund voice?
When the loathed were drowning, laughter
echoed and the hearts rejoiced,

119. … then he grateful started praising
God, before sea’s rage, aloud,
and his words resound while gazing
numberless beholden crowd.

120. Then they joined in dancing, stomping
Aaron’s sister and the girls,
Miriam the prophet whomping
on a timbrel ’round she twirls,

121. …the girls too around her hopping
with their arms stretched open wide,
flower-wreathed, sing with no stopping
with their timbrels, side by side

122. I do know thee by the direful
cutting edge of thy keen sword
I do know thine eye stare ireful
counting fast the lands restored

123. Aye, on these, ’tis celebrated,
no one beats thee, thou excel,
but thou art not unrelated
with the open seas as well

124. Element that spreads abounding
waves around the globe’s vast space
and is every land surrounding,
image of thine august grace

125. And when stirring, loudly roaring
terrorising every ear,
every wood feels peril soaring
and desires a sheltered pier

126. When with peacefulness ’tis sprucing
and the sun is shining high,
all the colours ’tis producing
of a bluer than blue sky

127. On the land, ’tis celebrated
no one beats thee, thou excel,
but thou art not unrelated
with the open sea as well

128. Countless the riggings massing,
crowded as the bushland’s heart
straining masts at full speed passing
full blown sails extend athwart

129. Thou art forwarding thy forces,
even if they’re few thou steer
skillfully inflicting losses,
raiding, burning, striking fear

130. I can see thee greedy staring
in the offing two big ones
and a deadly thund’rous flaring
strike thou wreakest with thy guns

131. It ignites, expands and’s burning,
blasts help flame-tongues with their binge,
all the sea around is turning
crimson with a gory tinge

132. Now the warlords are all drowning
not a single body spared.
Patriarch rejoice by counting
from the depths thou liest bared!

133. During Easter friends were meeting
with their enemies amiss
and their lips were trembling greeting
them and offering a kiss

134. On those laurels ye have scattered,
no, his foot he cannot press
and the hand ye kissed lies shattered,
no more, it can no more bless

135. Mourn ye all because the leader
of our church and our belief,
mourn ye, mourn, is hanging thither
like he were some murd’rous thief!

136. His mouth gaping open broadly
just hours after it received
the Lord’s Blood and the Lord’s Body;
’tis as if he wants to give

137. …again the curse that he was shouting
just ‘fore he was done unright,
to whomever isn’t fighting
and ιs capable to fight

138. I can hear her rumbling, fighting
in the open sea, on land
and while roaring she’s igniting
an eternal flame that’s grand

139. The heart piecemeal shred and tested.
Wait! My hand aback she grips,
to stay silent I’m requested
by the finger on her lips

140. She turns ’round and hesitating
peers at Europe for three times
then her eyes turn concentrating
back on Greece, she says these lines:

141. Hear, my lads, ’tis like fete making
any war for you, no sweat,
and your knees are never shaking
in the face of any threat

142. All the forces are restraining
clear from you with sword in sheath,
one invincible’s remaining,
plucking off your laurel wreath

143. One, that when content, dog tired
you are coming back red hot,
slaked by victories and fired
ah, it stirs your mind and thought

144. ‘Tis Discord who holds beguiling
royal mace, the cunning shrew,
and to everyone she’s smiling,
saying “take it, thou shouldst too”

145. This slick mace she’s slyly showing
truly hath a splendid guise
touch it not, because ’tis stowing
bitter tears ere now and cries

146. From a voice that hates you madly,
nay lads, let it not be heard
that your clout is turning gladly
unto your own brother’s head

147. Let the foreign nations nother
think nor truly say with phlegm:
“If they’re hating one another
liberty is not for them”

148. Care for maces not a smidgen;
all the blood that shall be shed
for the homeland and religion
worth the same outside who bled

149. For this blood ye aren’t prising
for your faith and homeland too
start, I pray you, compromising
kiss, embrace like brothers do

150. How much left, be not shortsighted,
how much more to win these wars!
Victory, if ye’re united
shall each single time be yours.

151. Oh ye heroes brave and cited
raise a Cross and loudly cry
with one voice, one heart, united:
“Noble Kings turn here thine eye!”

152. The one symbol ye all worship
is this one, for this ye all
see us gory and by curs hit,
struggling, back against the wall

153. They are always execrating
it, the curs, and dump on it
and its children decimating,
at its faith they scorn and spit

154. ‘Tis for this we’re shedding sleepless
christian blood unjustly too
that is screaming from the deepness
of the night: Revenge is due

155. Hark ye not, ye chosen vessels
of our God, this awful yell?
Now for centuries it deafens
not a moment did it quell

156. Hark ye not the clamour, rather
echoing like Abel’s blare?
No, the wind does not so wuther
nor ’tis howling o’er your hair!

157. Now what will ye? Will ye let us
to develop a free land
or perchance will ye beset us
just as politics command?

158. If this is what ye are deeming
here behold the Cross, review!
Noble Kings then come ye teeming!
Come ye swift and strike it too!

Dionysios Solomos

Born on April 8, 1798 on the island of Zakynthos, Solomos was the central figure of the Heptanese School of poetry. He studied in Italy for ten years before returning to Greece to write.

He is considered the national poet of Greece not only for his Hymn to Liberty, which quickly  became the Greek National Anthem, but also for his contribution to Greek poetry overall.

Solomos not only wrote brilliant poetry but also contributed to the preservation of Greece’s earlier poetic tradition and highlighted its usefulness to modern literature.

Two of his notable poems are  Ὁ Κρητικός (The Cretan), Ἐλεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι (The Free Besieged).

Tragically, no poem of his other than the Hymn to Liberty was completed, and almost nothing else that he wrote was published during his lifetime.

The National Poet of Greece died on February 9, 1857. Since his poems were unfinished, they were later edited and published by his friend and fellow poet Iakovos Polylas.

The Greek OXI Was a Message of Freedom to the World

oxi day
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Athens. Credit: Public Domain

Throughout the history of Greece, the word “OXI” (“No”) was spoken to the enemy several times in several different ways, most famously on “Oxi Day.” It was on the lips of Leonidas when he faced the mighty Persian army in Thermopylae many centuries ago. It was also the proud response of Themistocles when he sank the entire Persian Navy at Salamis.

For the most part these were times when the enemy was the mighty Goliath and Greece was David. That was certainly the case on October 28, 1940, when the armies of Adolf Hitler were fighting on maultiple fronts and he allowed his Italian ally Benito Mussolini to take over Greece.

The Italian leader saw Greece as the neutral Lilliputian neighbor that would surrender in cowering fear of his mighty army.

Oxi Day commemorates refusal to allow Italian troops into the country

But little did he know. Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas had been well prepared for the inevitable. He had fortified Greece’s borders in the North and knew that the Italians would have a hard time fighting in the natural border of the high mountains of Epirus.

Metaxas also knew that the Greek people were already enraged against their fascist neighbors after an Italian submarine had sunk the Greek Navy cruiser “Elli” in the port of Tinos island on one of the most sacred days for Greek Orthodoxy, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, on August 15, 1940.

While life in neutral Greece was quite normal during the first year of World War II, the clouds of war were looming over the country, with war updates prominent in the newspaper headlines and radio reports. The sinking of the “Elli” was a stark reminder to Greeks that the war was approaching.

Greek people — who had fought for freedom and independence in the past, just 120 years previously — were mentally prepared to fight. They knew it was just a matter of time. More importantly, they were eager to go to battle for freedom and independence once again.

So when Italian ambassador Emanuele Grazzi knocked on Metaxas’ door at three o’clock in the morning — after a party at the Embassy — to deliver the ultimatum from Mussolini, the Greek Prime Minister was prepared.

The ultimatum demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian Army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece, unopposed. The Greek Prime Minister delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day: “Alors, c’est la guerre.”  (“Then, it is war”), which was quickly transmuted into the laconic “OXI” by the citizens of Athens the next morning.

It should be noted that the confidence of the Italians that Greece would surrender immediately was so great that Grazzi had the unmitigated gall to visit the Greek Prime Minister at three in the morning after the party in the embassy.

Metaxas addressed the Greek people over the radio in the morning of October 28. His words are timeless:

“The moment has come that we will fight for the independence of Greece, its integrity and its honor.

Even though we kept the strictest neutrality and equal distance to all, Italy does not recognize that we should live as free Greeks, and asked us today at three in the morning to surrender part of our national territory of their choice; otherwise they would start military moves against us at six in the morning. I replied to the Italian ambassador that I consider the request and the manner in which the request was made as Italy’s declaration of war against Greece.

Greeks, now it is time for us to prove if indeed we are worthy of our ancestors and the freedom that our forefathers secured for us. Our nation as a whole will rise united as one body. Fight for our Homeland, our women, our children and our sacred traditions. Now we fight for everything.”

The Greco-Italian War

Greek soldiers at the Albanian front. Credit: Public Domain

The Italian offensive began at 5:30 in the morning of October 28 in the mountains of Epirus, Pindos and Kalpaki, which form the natural border between Greece and Albania.

The bravery and dedication of the outnumbered Greek Army was such that within three weeks, Greece had pushed back the invading forces, much to the surprise of Mussolini and the Italian generals. Then the Greek Army began a counterattack, driving the Italians deep into Italian-held Albania.

Mussolini was humiliated and enraged. Hitler was also furious at the failure of the Italian troops, blaming Mussolini not only for his incapability to take over Greece, but also for his promise that he would deliver the country to him.

The popular Greek singer of the time Sofia Vembo ridiculed Mussolini with the song “Βάζει ο Ντούτσε τη στολή του῾᾽ (“Duce puts his uniform on”). In the lyrics, the Italian dictator appears as a buffoon who puts his ridiculous uniform on with the feathers on the cap and makes the grave mistake to try to take over Greece.

It was a song that, along with Vembo’s “Παιδιά της Ελλαδος῾᾽ (Βoys of Greece), boosted the morale of both the Greek troops and civilians alike. Vembo became known as “the singer of victory.”

After Italy’s humiliating defeat, the Nazis were forced to allocate substantial forces to take over Greece in April of 1941 and then remain there as an occupying force. These were the same troops and machinery that would have been valuable in his effort to invade Russia.

Many historians argue that the Greek victory on the Albanian front radically changed  Hitler’s plans for Russia. His offensive during the harsh winter in Russia — instead of the previous Spring —  led to his eventual defeat on the Eastern Front.

In more ways than one, the OXI of October 28, 1940 meant a great deal to the Greeks of the time and future generations. The Greek OXI — which was followed by stiff resistance to the occupying Nazi forces — was equally important to Europe and the United States in the fight against Hitler, proving that his armies were not invincible.

There have been critics of Greece’s celebrating the entry of a country to war and not the end of hostilities, as other nations usually do. After all, the end of a war is certainly a cause for celebration.

Yet the Greeks celebrate because they fought an uneven war in which they were eager to take part because they knew in their hearts that it was the right thing to do, despite the insurmountable odds that were against them.

Nikopolis: An Extraordinary Time Capsule of Roman-Era Greece

Greek Culture Minister Lena Mendoni will apply to UNESCO to have the city of Nikopolis in Preveza included on its list of World Heritage sites. Credit: Bgabel at wikivoyage/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni visited the ancient city of Nikopolis on Wednesday, pledging to apply to UNESCO to have the city included on its list of World Heritage sites marking places of enormous historical importance to the world.

In her remarks made there after touring its exquisite ruins, she promised that the process of compiling the file and the management plan for the inclusion of Nikopolis in the UNESCO list will be restarted.

She stated to the press “I think that at the moment, it is the right time to restart the process of compiling the file and the management plan for the inclusion of Nikopolis in the UNESCO monuments.

Nikopolis extraordinary time capsule of Roman-era Greece

She noted that a bypass has now been planned around the ancient site, fulfilling the UNESCO requirement that the site be completely unified, just as it was in ancient times.

Mendoni added “We will set up a Committee in the Ministry of Culture  we will see what other local bodies could be involved in order to reach the management plan for the next years. It is a laborious and time-consuming process, but during the period when the work of unification will take place with the removal of the road.”

The city of Nikopolis, which once was home to as many as 150,000 people, is extraordinary in several ways. As it was founded in its classical form by the Romans at the end of their Republic, and flourished during the first years of the Roman Empire, it marks the beginning of the Empire itself.

Octavian’s crushing naval victory at Actium in 31 BC, put an end not only to Mark Antony’s ambitions but to the whole Hellenistic era of the successors of Alexander. Less than a year later, on August 29, 30 BC, Octavian officially declared the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty, thus putting an end to the entire Hellenistic era.

Nikopolis (Nike-polis, “city of victory”) was created ex nihilo, by the first Roman Emperor Octavian, who was given the title of “Augustus,” in order to celebrate his victory and symbolize his autocracy. As the first city of this new era, sealing the establishment of the Empire under his reign, it was remarkable in scale and included a series of monuments created to glorify the Emperor.

Unlike many other ancient cities across Europe, however, it was inhabited continually from  antiquity, with many monuments from throughout the ages still extant. With most of its inhabitants moving away and the nearby city of Preveza growing up in its place, Nikopolis stood untouched from the medieval until modern times, forming a time capsule of the glories of the Roman Empire.

Original inhabitants of Nikopolis were the Cassopeans

Just outside the modern city of Preveza, in the south-southwestern part of Epirus, what was to become the city of Nikopolis was originally inhabited by the Greek tribe of Cassopeans, part of a larger tribe, the Thesprotians. Their capital city was Cassope (today located near the village of Kamarina).

King Pyrrhus founded the town of Berenikea, or Berenike, named after his mother-in-law Berenice I of Egypt, At the southernmost part of Epirus, in 290 BC. Today, it is believed that Berenikea lies on the hills near Preveza following the excavations by Sotirios Dakaris in 1965.

Built at the crossroads of land and sea merchant routes, it was the center of Greek culture and a meeting point between the eastern and western worlds for many centuries.

The province of Nikopolis extended southwards from the mountains of Cassopeia to the province of Roman Patras, and northwards from the river Acheloos to Leucas (present-day Lefkada).

The beginning of the Roman Empire

The foundation of Nikopolis as a result of Octavian’s victory in the naval battle of Actium against the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra marks the city’s rebirth in Roman times. An event of tremendous historic significance, it altered the entire political and cultural worlds of the time, since it marked the last of the civil wars of the Roman Republic, signaling the beginning of the Roman Empire.

The most powerful man in the Roman world, who was named “Augustus” by the Senate, Octavian became the first Roman Emperor; he transformed the oligarchic/democratic Republic into the autocratic Roman Empire. The establishment of the city of Nikopolis also by definition marks the beginning of the Pax Romana, a time of relative peace and stability in the lands under its rule.

Situated on one of the most important routes connecting the western world with the Greek province, Nikopolis proved to be a city of great military and political importance, ensuring Roman control of the East Mediterranean. After Octavian’s victory at Actium, people from the adjacent cities of Epirus, Leucas and Acarnania were forced to live in the Nikopolis area along with Roman settlers. The large number of buildings of monumental importance allow us today visualize key aspects of a city from late antiquity.

Nikopolis, because it was designed from almost a blank slate, was one of the best-planned Roman cities to be found throughout the Mediterranean world. Structures built during the “saeculum augustum” (the Augustan era) established and shaped the character of Roman cities well into late antiquity.

Nikopolis was granted the status of a free city, or “civitas libera,” which meant that it enjoyed special political and financial privileges and became a major cultural and political center.

Monuments from all eras of history in Nikopolis

Inhabited continuously from the first century BC to Middle Byzantine times, during the ninth century AD, with its inhabitants eventually resettling in the nearby city of Preveza, boasts spectacular monuments from all these periods. It also is “one of the best examples of the creation, evolution and transformation of a Roman city into an Early Christian/Early Byzantine city, with a set of monuments for every historical period of its life,” according to a report from UNESCO justifying its inclusion onto the coveted list.

The Augustan era created a culture remarkable for its creativity, which is represented in the monumental structures and buildings (including the Monument of Augustus, Odeion, Theatre, Nymphaeum,and  Mausoleums), in its civic planning and in the advanced engineering and construction techniques used.

Augustus Caesar granted the city substantial political and economic privileges and adorned it with magnificent monuments, while also reviving the Actium Games. Nikopolis served as the capital of Epirus and Acarnania during the first three centuries of the Roman Empire.

The city, with its fortified walls and cemeteries, occupies a fertile strip of land between the Ionian Sea to the west and the Ambracian Gulf to the east, where two of the three city harbors were located. The third harbor ran along both sides of the inlet known as Ormos Vathy at the north edge of the modern city of Preveza.

Nikopolis was planned within walls with four main gates at the compass points. The southern quarters included the Odeion, while the northern section saw the construction of the Monument of Augustus, the Theatre, the Gymnasium and the Stadium.

This area, known to ancient writers as the “Suburb”, is located outside the Roman fortification walls, on the hills surrounding the city, with a magnificent view of the Ionian sea and the Preveza peninsula. The city had an impressive water-supply system as well, with a 50-km (31-mile) long aqueduct, consisting of a series of arches (arcade) and tunnels, which carried water from the Louros springs to the Nymphaeum, from where it was distributed within the city.

Related: The Apostle Paul traveled through Nikopolis on his journey to spread the word of Christ

St. Paul founded first Christian church of the city

In the winter of 63 AD, Saint Paul, according to written sources, founded its Church; a few years later, in 89 AD, Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher from Hierapolis in Phrygia, left Rome for Nikopolis in order to avoid the Emperor Domitian’s persecution, and founded a philosophical school there.

In its thriving Christian era, from the mid-5th century AD onward, Nikopolis became the administrative, artistic, spiritual and religious center of its region. The Church of Nikopolis was founded by the Apostle Paul. During the early Christian period the city experienced a major economic and spiritual boom, with fortifications begun by Emperor Justinian and the building of a plethora of monuments to further adorn the city.

The administrative reorganization of the Byzantine Empire in the ninth century and the transfer of the capital of the Theme of Nikopolis from Nikopolis to Nafpaktos led to the city’s decline and abandonment, however, a process which was completed during the 13th century. The nearby city of Preveza then grew in prominence — amounting to the leaving of Nikopolis as an invaluable time capsule of the past.

In Early Christian times additional fortification walls, known as the Christian or Byzantine Walls, were built there. Two great basilicas and a Bishop’s Palace constructed around this time are evidence that the city flourished greatly during this period.

UNESCO singles out Odeon, Thermae baths, Basilicas as particularly important

As noted by UNESCO’s report on Nikopolis, several buildings stand out for their great historical importance, including the Odeion, which consists of the auditorium, the orchestra and the stage building. It was built in the first century AD and remained in use until the second half of the third century AD. The cultural authority also singled out the Nymphaeum for special note; situated on the west side of the Roman fortification walls, it consists of two U-shaped brick structures, parts of which still stand today.

The North Thermae is another Roman public building, situated on the west side of the Roman fortification walls, parts of which survive to this day. There were also no less than seven notable Christian Basilicas in the city, four of which lie within the perimeter of the Byzantine Walls.

One of them was founded by Bishop Doumetios, who lived from 525-575 AD; this is decorated with elaborate mosaics. Similar mosaics are also found in another basiica, built at the time of Bishop Alkison, who lived during the reign of Emperor Anastasios, from 491-518 AD.

Just a century later, from 575-600 AD, another basilica, which UNESCO refers to as “Basilica C,” was built in the northern part of the Byzantine fortification, while in the south a fourth Basilica, called “Basilica ST” was just discovered in 1981. Two other basilicas — the Asyrmatos Basilica and the Basilica of the Holy Apostles — are situated outside the perimeter of the Byzantine walls, UNESCO notes in its report.

The existence of the nearby city of Preveza was first attested to in Medieval times in the Chronicle of the Morea in 1292. After 1204, it came under the Despotate of Epirus. It then came under Venetian rule until it was captured by the Ottomans in 1463.

The Ottomans re-founded Preveza probably in 1477, with a subsequent strengthening of the fortifications in 1495. The naval Battle of Preveza was fought off the shores of Preveza on 29 September 1538, where the Ottoman fleet of Hayreddin Barbarossa defeated a united Christian fleet under the Genoese captain Andrea Doria.

Prize of the city of Preveza contested by Venetians, Ottomans

The city was hotly contested over in several Ottoman-Venetian wars. In September 1684, in the early part of the Morean War, the Venetians, aided by Greek irregulars, crossed from the island of Lefkada (Santa Maura) and captured Preveza as well as Vonitsa, which gave them control of Acarnania – an important morale booster towards the main campaign in the Morea.

However, at the end of the war in 1699 Preveza was handed back to Ottoman rule. Venice captured Preveza again in 1717, during its next war with the Ottomans and was this time able to hold on to the town and fort it – a meager achievement in a war which otherwise went very badly for the Republic.

Venetian rule would persist until the very end of the Venetian Republic itself in 1797. During this period, in 1779, the Orthodox missionary Kosmas visited Preveza, where it is said he founded a Greek school — which would be the only school of the city during the 18th century.

Modern-day archaeological excavations of Nikopolis began as early as the 1910s and have continued ever since. In 2009 the archaeological site of Nikopolis won a Europa Nostra award in the category of conservation.

An exquisite sculpture of a head made of Pentelic marble was discovered in the sea off Preveza, in Epirus, western Greece in October of 2021.

The Greek Ministry of the Interior announced on Tuesday that the Roman-era head of a sculpture had been pulled from the sea off ​​Preveza after they had received a tip on its location.

With an intricate headdress that now is adorned with barnacles, the sculpture is thought to have been from the time of the Emperors Antoninus or Severus, from the second to the third century AD.

Found at a depth of about 10 meters, or thirty feet, the head is almost completely intact, with the exception of parts of the headdress, the nose, right ear and part of the chin.

Desalinization and restoration work on the bust commenced immediately, thanks to experts at the Archaeological Museum of Nikopolis.

Heroes Fight Like Greeks: When the World Bowed to the Hellenic Spirit

greek soldiers
Greek soldiers fighting the Italian invaders in 1940. Credit: public domain

Greek soldiers gained fame around the world in modern times for their incredible courage and fierce resistance against the Italian and German invasions in 1940 and 1941 and also during the brutal years under Axis occupation.

Historical figures have long praised the Greeks for their strength and commitment to justice and freedom.

The iconic British statesman Winston Churchill, who led the United Kingdom during World War II, famously praised the Greek people in a BBC speech during the first days of the Greco-Italian War, stating “Until now we used to say that the Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say: Heroes fight like Greeks.”

Historical figures praise bravery of Greek soldiers

In another statement at the House of Commons on April 24 1941 he said: “The word heroism I am afraid does not render the least of those acts of self-sacrifice of the Greeks, which were the defining factor in the victorious outcome of the common struggle of the nations, during WWII, for the human freedom and dignity. If it were not for the bravery of the Greeks and their courage, the outcome of WWII would be undetermined.”

Leaders from around the world acknowledged Greece’s “underdog” quality, admiring the country’s resolve and indomitable courage.

American President Franklin Roosevelt honored the Greeks only a few months after the Axis invasion, noting that their courage inspired all of America:

“The heroic struggle of the Greek people to defend their liberties and their homes against the aggression of Germany after they had so signally defeated the Italian attempt at invasion has stirred the hearts and aroused the sympathy of the whole American people.”

French President Charles de Gaulle noted during a speech in the Assembly after the end of WWII: “I am unable to give the proper breadth of gratitude I feel for the heroic resistance of the People and the leaders of Greece.”

Joseph Stalin, the Russian leader, praised the Greek people for their courage in a broadcast by the Moscow radio station on January 31, 1943 after the victory against the Germans at Stalingrad. He acknowledged that Greece’s resistance was a turning point in WWII, saying “I am sorry because I am getting old and I shall not live long to thank the Greek People, whose resistance decided WWII.”

Even Greece’s brutal invaders were eventually forced to recognize the bravery of the country’s people, as Adolph Hitler famously announced afterward that he had never faced a more courageous adversary.

The Greco-Italian War began on October 28, 1940, when Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum to allow its troops to transit Greece.

Metaxas’ famous rejection is now celebrated in Greece, Cyprus, and around the Diaspora in the annual celebration of OXI Day.

Upon Metaxas’ refusal, Mussolini’s forces invaded Greece, which is widely considered a huge military miscalculation disaster, as the Greek soldiers kept the Italians back with unbending tenacity.

After the fiasco, Mussolini even commented that “the war with Greece proved that nothing is firm in the military and that surprises always await us.”

Young Student to Parade by Himself on Greek Island

Mathraki student oxi day parade
Tasos Giannopoulos, 9, will be the sole student to parade for OXI day on the tiny Ionian island of Mathraki. Credit: AMNA

A 9-year-old Greek student who lives on a small Ionian island will have the privilege of parading all alone on OXI day. It sounds like an oddity, but it is a fairly usual situation in remote island student parades every year in Greece on the celebration of the great national day.

The boy, named Tasos, is the only student at Mathraki’s primary school. He moved to the Ionian island with his mother last summer, after they both saw some images of it online.

Mathraki is a tiny island and a former community of the Ionian Islands. It is a 45-minute boat ride off the coast of Corfu. It has three restaurants that double as general stores, villas and “rooms to let.”

Its resident inhabitants number approximately 30; they are mostly elderly people. Mathraki is a quiet Ionian island that manages to stay clear of tourists except for the occasional hikers that brave the rocky coastline.

Most of Mathraki’s natives have sadly abandoned the picturesque Ionian island for more prosperous and spacious places in Greece. Moving there on a whim, young Tasos and his mother represent a breath of fresh air on the 3.532 square kilometer (1.36 square mile) island.

More than 20 years since the last parade

It’s been 21 years since children last paraded on OXI day in Mathraki. So naturally, the Ionian island’s residents are more than excited about Tasos parading alone, proudly carrying the Greek flag on Thursday.

Mathraki Tasos parade
Nine-year-old Tasos in between his mother and his teacher — who teaches him alone at his elementary school. Credit: AMNA

The decision to move to the Ionian island was taken in a matter of seconds, after looking at some pictures online, says Tasos’ mother, Evgenia Giannopoulou. “It may be the most beautiful island in Greece,” she adds.

The two of them visited Mathraki last summer and decided almost immediately to make their life on the Ionian island. They knew it might be hard, without the comforts of the big city they were accustomed to, but that didn’t deter them.

When they arrived, Mathraki didn’t have a functional school, since no children were living on the Ionian island. The municipality and the Education ministry’s school services acted fast, however, and in mid-September the school was ready.

The reopening process was sped up by the assistance of some non-profit organizations, so that Tasos could get to class on time. The school building was soon equipped with offices, computers, stationery and other materials donated by island residents.

Ionian island parade and celebrations

Tasos’ classroom is situated at a municipal hall, practically on the island’s small port. It was decorated for the OXI day parade occasion with Greek flags and a small celebration was held on Tuesday, with all the Ionian island’s residents present.

Tasos’ teacher is 28-year-old Eleftheria Viza, a substitute teacher posted on the island to serve the one-student class. She says their relationship extends beyond teaching. They spend their breaks together, and play games together — and they will be together at Thursday’s parade.

Tasos is a gifted student, who already speaks three languages. His family, which comes from Thessaloniki, has spent time in Germany and the US. Tasos is proud to parade on his own, carrying the Greek flag on behalf of the whole island.

His only wish for the future is that more children his age with their families decide to move to Mathraki. Next year on OXI day, he would like to see more students parading with him on the island.

Tsitsipas Reluctantly Agrees to Become Vaccinated for Australian Open

Tsitsipas Roland Garros
Without being a Covid-19 denier, Stefanos Tsitsipas has shown his reluctance to become vaccinated. Credit: Stefanos Tsitsipas / Twitter

Greek tennis champion Stefanos Tsitsipas finally agreed to get his vaccination against Covid-19 on Wednesday. He has virtually committed to January’s Australian Open Covid-19 rules, which include vaccinations for all players.

Tsitsipas described any potential limitations imposed on unvaccinated tennis stars, including quarantine, as fair. One week after declining to reveal his COVID-19 vaccination status, the Greek star was asked about the looming vaccine mandate for athletes heading Down Under.

The Victorian government’s sweeping vaccine requirement for authorized workers will not affect international cricket and tennis players. But reports say it is probable a separate vaccine mandate will be required for tennis stars.

When quizzed about the expected strong stance from Australian officialdom and its impact on any vaccine-hesitant players, Tsitsipas said: “I will play under the conditions that have been set now. I think it’s fair.”

Tsitsipas vaccination social media row

A huge public and social media row took place last August, when Tsitsipas revealed in an interview that he was not yet vaccinated. “No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated. At some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it. But so far it hasn’t been mandatory to compete, so I haven’t done it, no,” he said.

His statement drew wide criticism on social media, facing even “cancel culture” type threats from fans. The government condemned the world No.3 tennis player‘s position by government spokesman Giannis Economou in a press briefing.

“He has neither the knowledge, nor the studies, nor the research work, that would allow him to form an opinion about it,” Economu said. The fierce criticism was complemented by accusations of hypocrisy, as Tsitsipas was one of the faces of the government’s TV campaign for the pandemic lockdown.

Tsitsipas’ statement came only a week after he had declined to reveal his vaccination status. Asked directly about it, the French Open runner-up had opted against detailing any private medical information.

Tsitsipas reluctant to say if vaccinated

“I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide my medical … any of my medical records, or any of my medical status. Thank you,”  he said. But on Wednesday, Tsitsipas briefly elaborated on his situation.

A reporter asked “The local government in Australia has suggested (to) players to get vaccinated. So, will you play under such conditions in Australia?” After a pause, Tsitsipas described the requirements as “fair.”

Tsitsipas is not the only tennis player reluctant to get the Covid-19 vaccine. World No.1 Novak Djokovic has always stated his belief in the self-healing power of the human body. Even if the he didn’t want to reveal if he got his shots, it is widely believed that Djokovic is not keen on vaccination.

Given that vaccinations will probably be mandatory for Australian Open competitors, the Serbian ace will have to either get the vaccine, or bow out of the tournament.

Coronavirus Deaths Spike in Greece

covid-19 coronavirus greece
The combination of the seasonal flu and Covid-19 could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths. Credit: Greek Reporter

Tragically, 63 people suffering from the coronavirus passed away in Greece over the past 24-hour period, a massive spike from the 25 people who had lost their lives with the virus in the country on Tuesday.

Greece recorded 3,651 total cases of the coronavirus across the country on Wednesday, just days after health officials warned of a coming fourth wave in the nation. A total of 4,165 cases had been recorded on Tuesday.

The average age of those who tested positive for the virus in Greece is 39, and the average age of those who have died with the virus is 78.

A total of just 15 of Wednesday’s cases were identified during routine Covid-19 testing of tourists at the country’s borders.

Currently, there are 387 patients with the coronavirus on ventilators in Greece, which is seven more than the 380 people who were receiving the invasive treatment on Tuesday.

Flu and Covid-19 a deadly combination

According to research out of the UK, the combination of the flu and Covid-19 is 20% more deadly than having each illness by itself.

Maria Theodoridou, President of the National Vaccination Council of Greece, stressed that the danger posed by the combination of the flu and Covid-19 is worrisome in a speech she gave on Tuesday.

She also noted that “the amount of vaccinations, our behavior, and the weather will all define the morbidity rate in the coming period.”

Theodoridou stressed that Greeks should go out and get the flu shot if they have not already. Over one million doses of the shot have been distributed in Greece as of Tuesday.

The US Center for Disease Control advised people to get the flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster shot during the same visit.

The CDC had previously recommended that people wait 14 days between receiving different vaccines, but it has since revised their guidelines.

There is no negative interference when getting a Covid-19 booster shot at the same time as a flu shot, according to the CDC experts.

721 coronavirus cases in Attica, 602 in Thessaloniki

Of the 3,651 new coronavirus cases recorded in Greece in the past 24 hours, 721 were located in Attica, home to the Greek capital city of Athens.

In the city of Athens, a total of 214 cases of Covid-19 were identified Wednesday.

In Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, 602 cases of the virus were identified on Wednesday.

Over 700,000 cases of Coronavirus recorded in Greece

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 728,210 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the country, including all those who have recovered from the virus.

Of the 387 patients intubated currently, 79.6% are over the age of 70 or suffer from preexisting conditions. Their average age is 66.

The majority of those who are on ventilators in Greece, or 86.05%, are unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

Additionally, a total of 3,299 patients have been discharged from ICUs around the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 63 new deaths recorded on Wednesday bring the total number of fatalities in the country to 15,770.

“Medicane” Cyclone to Hit Greece Over the Weekend

Medicane Mediterranean cyclone
A “Medicane” is a Mediterranean cyclone, that frequently hits Italy. Another such storm now threatens Greece over this weekend. Credit: NASA / Public Domain

Meteorologists in Greece and Italy are predicting a Mediterranean cyclone to hit both countries this weekend. Some have already called it a “Medicane,” a word that comes by combining the words Mediterranean and hurricane.

According to Greek meteorologist Klearchos Marousakis, heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are expected in Greece over this weekend. He attributes the phenomena to the newest Medicane cyclone, born off the coast of southern Italy.

After the OXI day celebrations on October 28, the weather is expected to turn cold and wet, with rain is expected in the southernmost parts of the country and the Aegean. On Saturday, rain and thunderstorms will hit Greece hard as part of the Medicane.

Over the weekend, the Medicane is expected to cause torrential rains all over the country, — just not in the form of a cyclone, which typically has very high winds. Meteorologists say that when the Medicane leaves Italy, it will create a barometric low which is still capable of causing dangerous levels of rainfall.

The areas that will receive the highest amounts of rainfall are the southern Ionian islands, followed by the coast of the Peloponnese, the eastern Sterea region and the southeastern Aegean, namely the Cyclades, Crete and the Dodecanese islands.

Medicane cyclone’s course too difficult to predict

Meteorologists point out, however, that the exact course of a Medicane cyclone is very difficult to predict. Its formation mechanics in a relatively small area, disproportionate to the area’s predictive models, make the Medicane quite unpredictable.

Additionally, the weather patterns in the Mediterranean sea can change very quickly, both in time and in space. Three potential scenarios are being formed concerning the Medicane’s behavior.

The first one is that the cyclone forms in the east of Sicily and moves northwesterly, breaking up the atmosphere circulation patterns in the northern hemisphere. In this case, Greece will not be affected by the Medicane, but Italy will receive a major blow by the extreme weather.

According to the second scenario, the Medicane will shift to the east, affecting parts of the Ionian Sea. It will then be transformed into an organized barometric low, and move to the southern maritime parts of our country. If this happens, Greece will be significantly affected, particularly in its western, central and southern parts.

The third — and most pleasant — scenario has the Medicane organized in the eastern maritime parts of Sicily, swirl around there for several hours and then move to the North African coast. This way, it will affect the southern maritime parts of Greece, with Crete and the Dodecanese temporarily affected.

The Medicane has already begun demonstrating its might in Italy. In Sicily and Calabria as of midday on Wednesday the roads have been transformed into riverbeds due to the torrential rains. Muddy waters quickly overwhelmed trees, cars and people, invading houses, garages and shops, and flooding connecting roads and the countryside.