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King of Insta Hushpuppi Among the Worlds’ Biggest Fraudsters

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Hushpuppi
Hushpuppi wearing a Gucci outfit while vacationing in Santorini, Greece. Credit: Hushpuppi/Instagram

Ramon Abbas, a Nigerian social media influencer known to his followers as “Hushpuppi,” has been paying for his luxury lifestyle with organized crime. Abbas–who has nearly 3 million Instagram followers– is currently up against a 20 year prison sentence.

Abbas is considered by the FBI to be one of the world’s most high-profile fraudsters and faces a prison sentence in the US after pleading guilty to money laundering.

He was known as a “Yahoo Boy” in the Oworonshoki region of Nigeria northeast of Lagos. Yahoo Boy’s utilized the early days of Yahoo email addresses in Nigeria to create accounts in other people’s names, using them to start online relationships with people and soliciting money from them.

“They came up with the idea of stealing identities. And then with that identity theft, they went into dating [scams],” said Dr. Adedeji Oyenuga, a cybercrime expert at Lagos State University.

After the initial success of their scheme, many Yahoo Boys–including Abbas– moved on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Abbas moved to the Asian country in 2014 and then later decamped to Dubai in 2017.

Hushpuppi gained his following while planning crimes abroad

But it wasn’t until 2019 that Abbas’ Instagram personality–and crimes– shifted into high gear when Abbas attempted to launder 13 million euros stolen by North Korean hackers from the Maltese Bank of Valetta in February of 2019.

“We received calls from our members telling us they were sending money using Bank of Valletta’s platform to their foreign suppliers,” said Abigail Mamo, the chief executive of the Maltese chamber of small and medium enterprises.

“Their foreign suppliers did not receive the money… We’re talking about thousands of euros.”

The bank said it was able to save 10 million euros.

“Damn,” Abbas said in a text to one of his associates in messages acquired by the FBI.

The reply indicates that the next crime was already ahead: “Next one is in few weeks; will let you know when it’s ready. Too bad they caught on, or it would have been a nice pay out.”

Abbas’ next scheme took the form of a Business Email Compromise (BEC) involving a Premier League Football Club. Abbas attempted to set up a bank account in Mexico that would be used to intercept a payment from a private firm to the unnamed football club, utilizing a fake email address that appears to be the same as the supplier’s, with only a single number or letter being changed to confuse the victim.

Criminals typically use the fake email to try to convince their victims that they’ve switched banks and need the funds redirected to a new account. In Abbas’ case, him and his associates were attempting to get the funds sent to the Mexican account.

But their plan was thwarted as the account’s location set off alarm bells.

“Brother I can’t send from UK to Mexico,” Abbas’s close accomplice told him. “They keep finding out.”

Abbas kept his illegal activities in the shadows while displaying another side of his lifestyle on instagram to much fanfare. Abbas, using the Hushpuppi instagram handle, called himself the “Billionaire Gucci Master” and frequently posted himself wearing the Italian luxury brand’s clothing alongside sports cars and beautiful vacation destinations like Santorini.

Iris, the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris Greek goddess rainbow
“Iris” by John Atkinson Grimshaw. The Greek goddess of the rainbow is often depicted with wings. Credit: Public Domain

Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, also served as a messenger of the gods. Although now a little known member of the pantheon, Iris was a prominent figure in many ancient myths and is now even a character in Jack Riordan’s “Lightning Thief” book series.

The Greek goddess was the daughter of Thaumas, whose name means “miracle” or “wonder” in Greek, an old and powerful sea god who was linked to the wonders of the sea, and Elektra, a sea-dwelling nymph.

Her sisters were the terrifying Harpies Ocypete and Aello — fearsome creatures that were half-women, half-birds, who represented the storm winds.

During the Titanomachy, when the Olympian gods fought against the Titans, the old gods, Iris became the messenger for the Olympians and her sister, Arke, delivered messages for the Titans. Arke betrayed the Olympian gods, and became the rival to her sister.

From this point on, Iris served as messenger to the gods, making her the female counterpart of Hermes, who is more widely known for the role.

Iris, Greek goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the gods

While Iris is found throughout Homer’s Iliad, an epic poem that details the story of the Trojan War, and serves as a divine messenger, she is not mentioned in the Odyssey, his later poem which tells the story of Odysseus’ return home from the war.

Hermes is the messenger of the gods in the Odyssey.

In addition to her role as messenger, Iris is known to serve the gods their nectar from a large chalice she is often depicted holding.

Much like a rainbow, Iris was linked to the sea and sky, and serves as a link between the gods and humanity.

vase
Iris shown on pottery from the 5th century BC. Credit: Public Domain

In myth, she frequently travels to the ends of the world using the speed of the wind on her wings, and even ventures to the depths of the sea and through the underworld, often taking the trips to deliver important messages.

In antiquity, when one saw a rainbow, it was also believed that they were witnessing Iris traveling across the world or through the sea to deliver a divine message to a mortal.

The goddess of the rainbow was described and depicted either as a rainbow or as a stunningly beautiful winged woman, often carrying a staff with wings as well.

Along with her winged staff, Iris was said to carry water from the River Styx, or the river that led to the underworld, at the command of Zeus. She was to use this water to put anyone who lies to her to sleep. This was used when gods made solemn oaths to each other.

iris greek goddess rainbow
One of the few sculptural depictions of Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, on the west pediment of the Parthenon. Credit: Public domain

In some myths, Iris is considered one of the most beautiful of all of the Greek goddesses.

She conceived a child with Zephyrus, one of the Anemoi, or the Greek gods of the winds. The child was Pothos, the god of sexual desire and longing.

Despite her prominent role as divine messenger, there were no known temples built to Iris and experts suspect there was little cult activity to the goddess, apart from records of Delians offering cakes made of wheat, honey, and figs to Iris.

Although described as extremely beautiful, there were also very few statues created depicting Iris. She was frequently shown in vase paintings, however. One of the few ancient Greek sculptures of Iris is found on the west pediment of the Parthenon.

Roman Port, Stunning Amphorae Discovered Under Sea Off Crete

Roman port Crete
Amphorae litter the sea floor from a shipwreck off the Roman port at what is now Sitia, Crete. The wreck was just discovered although it was already known that the area had a major port from Roman times. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Treasures from the Roman era of Greek history were discovered recently at the bottom of the sea on the Gulf of Paleokastro near the town of Sitia on the Greek island of Crete.

The underwater research, undertaken by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the Gulf of Paleokastro was completed in August.

For the first time, the remains of a shipwreck were found in the form of a number of stunningly lovely amphorae from the second century AD, resting on the seabed as they had been loaded onto a ship that researchers believe most likely originated from the Iberian Peninsula.

Its cargo, which has been preserved in what the archaeologists say is fairly good condition, appears to be important evidence of the patterns of ancient maritime trade routes that crossed the Mediterranean during that period.

Roman port
The ruins of a Roman-era port, including jetties, lie on the seabed off the port of Sitia, Crete. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Carried out in collaboration with the University of Toronto, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lassithi and the British School of Athens, the new discovery shows a field of mostly intact amphorae lying on the sea floor, the only remains of a shipwreck from the second century AD.

The researchers are investigating the shoreline and the wider area of ​​the bay to determine the extent of its use throughout its various phases, from antiquity onward.

Submerged ancient building remains from at least two historical periods were found by the team.

Roman-era
The underwater remains of a Roman-era port at Sitia, Crete were documented as part of ongoing archaeological research this past year. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

In the center and southern part of the Gulf of Kouremenos, a number of building structures and large shards from pithos (large vases used for storage purposes) were found embedded in the rocks of the seabed, which are attributed to the Minoan civilization.

The first advanced Bronze Age civilization of Europe was established by the Minoans about 5,000 years before the present time, according to the most recent research.

The island of Santorini was once home to a glorious Minoan civilization along the slopes of a volcano, with palatial homes, statuary, mosaics and paintings; it was destroyed by a volcanic event that took place in the year 1650 BC, possibly giving rise to the legend of Atlantis.

Crete
The undersea remains of the Roman port at Sitia, Crete. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

The apex of Minoan civilization was in evidence at Knossos, the monumental palace complex outside Heraklion on Crete. There, at the centre of Minoan civilization, a magnificent throne room that was built during the 15th century BC is considered the oldest such room in Europe.

Knossos flourished for approximately two thousand years. It boasted large palace buildings, extensive workshop installations and luxurious rock-cut cave and tholos tombs. As a major center of trade and the economy, the Minoans of Knossos maintained ties with the majority of cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

To the north of the bay, a sunken jetty from Roman times — which was first discovered in the 1980s — was documented again as a port shelter was constructed by the team. In that same immediate vicinity an area containing walls and building remains also from the Roman era was also found.

To the north of the Gulf of Hiona similar remains of walls, floors and foundations show that a Roman settlement also thrived there as well.

The Roman era of Greek history began with the Corinthian defeat in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. However, before the Achaean War, the Roman Republic had been steadily gaining control of mainland Greece by defeating the Kingdom of Macedon in a series of conflicts known as the Macedonian Wars.

The Fourth Macedonian War ended at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC, with the defeat of the Macedonian royal pretender Andriscus.

The definitive Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, in which Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII, the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, and the Roman general Mark Antony. He later conquered Alexandria in 30 BC, the last great city of Hellenistic-era Greece.

The documentation shared by the team of underwater archaeologists included photographic and video documentation — as well as 3D images — of the structures and the wreck, including aerial shots along the shoreline to create accurate photomaps of this important area.

Life for the Disabled in Greece a Constant Struggle

wheelchairs on the acropolis
The Athens Acropolis is finally more wheelchair-friendly for the disabled. Credit: Wittkowsky Creative Commons Attribution 3

When your only method of movement is in a wheelchair, how challenged are you if you are disabled in Greece? Is Greece truly accessible for those who are mobility-impaired?

Mobility impairment or being disabled refers to the inability of a person to use one or more of his or her extremities, or a lack of strength to walk, grasp, or lift objects. The use of a wheelchair, crutches, or a walker may be utilized to aid in mobility.

The mobility challenged are not just those who move around in wheelchairs. The mobility challenged can also be men and women who are navigating buildings, streets and sidewalks who are pushing a baby’s carriage, are on crutches temporarily or use a seeing-eye-dog because of vision impairment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes barriers for the disabled as being more than just physical obstacles. The WHO defines barriers as “Factors in a person’s environment that, through their absence or presence, limit functioning and create disability. These include aspects such as: a physical environment that is not accessible, lack of relevant assistive technology, negative attitudes of people towards disability, services, systems and policies that are either nonexistent or that hinder the involvement of all people with a health condition in all areas of life.”

Greek Architecture Beautiful — But a Challenge for Disabled

The architecture of Greek cities and villages is picturesque with its immaculate flagstone and marble pavements and stone stairways but that also makes it a challenge if you are using a wheelchair or have other mobility issues. Sidewalks are so narrow that they do not accommodate wheelchairs or even baby strollers, especially in large towns.

Cars parked half on the sidewalk or very close to each other leave no space for a wheelchair to pass.

Greece has made great strides for disabled persons’ ease of movement and access since the 2004 Athens Olympics. The implementation of a brand new Metro system, a new international airport and buildings and facilities purposely built with great consideration for the mobility impaired for the Olympic Games made getting around much easier for those in wheelchairs.
But there is still much work to be done for the disabled, even though the government had set a deadline of 2020 for all public buildings to be accessible for the disabled, including ramps, railings, elevators and public bathrooms.
This past year, a broken elevator was replaced and a smooth concrete surface was created around the buildings of the Acropolis to enable easy movement for the disabled who want to visit the iconic venue.
With a greater sensitivity to individuals who can only get around by wheelchair, many private venues in Greece such as hotels and restaurants have upgraded their spaces for the disabled with elevators, ramps, and lifts in pools. This has sometimes even included making  beach access for wheelchairs so that the disabled can also be near the sea.
seatrac system for beach access
SEATRAC allows the disabled to fully access the sea independently. Image courtesy of SEATRAC.GR

Many municipalities have installed the innovative SEATRAC System to allow just such access. This is a mechanism consisting of rails, on which a specially designed seat moves, transporting the user from the beach directly into the water to a safe depth. Thus, people who are disabled can now enjoy the sea without a great deal of help.

There are also several websites that direct the disabled to specific locales and venues in Greece that accommodate the mobility impaired. Accessible Dream is dedicated to leading clients to more than 50 venues for accessible tourism. Disabled Holidays also directs clients to venues across Greece that can accommodate their needs.

no wheelchair access
Some parts of Greece are not accessible to the disabled. Credit:  fotologic Creative Commons Attribution 2

Greek Reporter spoke with three individuals who are disabled who live in Greece about the daily challenges they face in getting around in their wheelchairs.

Athens-Based Architect Frangiskos Leventis

The expression has become ubiquitous: “confined to a wheelchair.” Frangiskos Leventis, however, is anything but “confined.” The owner and creator of the firm Sustain.GR, he creates built spaces. The Athens based architect, has  been in a wheelchair since he was 29. An infection affected his spine and he was no longer able to walk from that time onward.

Levantis told Greek Reporter that although inroads in Greece for those who are disabled  have been made, the country lags far behind places like New York and Berlin.

“My home and my work environment are easy for me as they have been designed to not challenge my mobility impairment,” Leventis said.

“If I have to meet with a client outside of my office in a public or private space, even a simple journey out of Psychico to Halandri requires a google maps search to predict disabled parking availability, ramps for entry into the venue, etc.,” he added.

The issues that need to be considered are ramps, low door handles, specially-designed public bathrooms with handrails and space for a wheelchair to enter a private stall and elevators. AMEA is the acronym used in Greece for disability designation.

In three decades of getting about in a wheelchair in Greece, Leventis said that 2004 was the landmark year for the disabled gaining accessibility. With public buildings and transportation designed for the disabled because of the Olympics and Paralympics, the challenges disappeared.

According to Leventis, “The Athens Metro is actually better than London’s underground–because there are stops on certain lines in London that do not accommodate wheelchair movement.”

Leventis said, “I am not rich, but I am comfortable and that has helped because I don’t think it is easy if you are disabled here in Greece and rely on public transportation such as buses to get from place to place. Having my own car, designed for my needs, gives me much greater freedom of movement.”

Leventis volunteers at the Chatzipateras Institute. The foundation ensures the right of children with handicaps to acquire equal access to rehabilitation programs, to offer specialized services for physical, mental and social rehabilitation to children with cerebral palsy and similar conditions.

Leventis told Greek Reporter that age makes a difference once you have no alternative but to use a wheelchair to get around.

He said that from older people he usually encounters simple pity and sympathy — they feel badly for him, particularly if they have to step in, in a public place, where he needs assistance negotiating his movement.

A somewhat different attitude is shown by younger people who come to his rescue, however — for example, when there isn’t a ramp at the end of a curb or such similar design malfunction. Young men and women blaspheme against the system and the state for its lack of sensitivity and design failure in accommodating all citizens.

Maria, Cyclades Native and Taverna Cashier

Maria, 28, has spent her entire life on a small island in the Cyclades — except for the two years her parents travelled with her, searching desperately in Athens, then Kassel and finally London for the solution to her problem. Maria’s problem was that she could no longer walk. On the playground in grammar school, in grade three, she collapsed while playing with her friends. She never stood up again after that.

She had a slight cold when she went to school that day, but after hundreds of tests and evaluations doctors have never been able to determine why her spine stopped functioning from the waist down that day and she became disabled.

Twenty years have passed since then. She spoke with Greek Reporter about the challenges of getting around a Greek island that is definitely not designed for the mobility impaired.

“I was lucky in many ways because I stopped walking at a very young age and I was still under the protective embrace of my parents and family,” Maria said. “I was a tiny thing and my Mom and Dad and brothers just picked me up and carried me when the wheelchair couldn’t get me through a doorway, up some stairs or into a bathroom.”

Having exhausted all potential medical possibilities to reinstate her independent movement, she returned to school 18 months after she collapsed on the playground. That was when she really became aware of the challenges of being disabled. Until then she had been in and out of facilities that were specifically designed for people on wheels.

“I arrived at school and fortunately the car went right to the entrance of the school grounds. There were plenty of stares. I wheeled across the playground with Mom at my side. When the morning prayer finished and each class was dismissed to their classroom, my mom and I waited for the students to go in as we realized there were three steps to go up to enter my ground-floor classroom. Mom pulled me up those stairs backwards but it was too much. A couple of boys came along and they helped out by lifting the chair from each side.”

Maria said “I was already wearing a diaper, something I had gotten accustomed to avoid accidents or difficulty in using a bathroom when I was away from home and in public places. So when the bell rang, for the first break in the school day, I stayed in the classroom, eating my snack and watching my friends through the window as they ran around on the playground.”

Maria said that using the school bathroom was never considered as it was elevated on three steps and back then, the stalls had only “Turkish toilets,” or ceramic holes in the floor. There were no railings, ramps or accessibility for the mobility challenged. And even if you could walk in and walk out, most students were disgusted by the archaic facilities and didn’t use the school bathrooms, most waiting until they got home.

To temporarily solve the challenge of entering the school building, her dad took some planks to school the next day, setting them along the wall of the entryway on top of the stairs. Maria was finally able to roll into and  roll out of the building.

That weekend, her father organized with some friends in construction to create a concrete ramp and and install a hand railing at the entry, with the permission of the school principal. One of the perks of small town life in Greece and an empathetic educator was being able to sidestep the normal bureaucracy something like that might have required.

In the years ahead Maria’s father visited the Gymnasium and Lyceum on the island and once again went to work with volunteers to make her classroom accessible. The town –Chora — was an entirely different story, however.

Streets of flagstone, offering anything but smooth terrain to negotiate her wheelchair, made for a real challenge when she would be out with her friends. Eventually she got a motorized wheelchair for outdoors so she would not have to exert quite so much effort on the paved stone streets. Most of the little cafes had tables and chairs set right on the street and town squares so she could easily sit and have a Coke or a grilled cheese with her friends if they were in town strolling about.

Indoor spaces were another gauntlet, however, as most ground floor buildings still had a step or two to cross the threshold. And the spaces were quite tiny anyway so Maria abandoned the notion of shopping or going out with friends to go “in” somewhere. And of course, being disabled was a challenge anytime she needed to use a bathroom. “There was always steps up or down, ad definitely no room for my wheelchair,” she notes.

Going anywhere — both then and today — requires planning, planning and more planning for the disabled in Greece.

But Maria said she has adjusted well overall. Her space at home has been constructed for her needs so that she can function independently. She works in the family business, a seaside taverna, where she is in charge of the till and handles reservations. And unlike most catering venues in Greece, the family taverna has completely accessible facilities starting from the bathroom for the mobility impaired to the ramp leading down to the sunbeds and umbrellas.

A few years back the government began installing solar-operated chairs with a metal ramp that allow the mobility impaired to roll directly into the sea for a refreshing dip. Maria said she has thoroughly taken advantage of that “perk” offered by the government.

She always loved to swim. In the summer her mother would take her down to the beach in the mornings and carry her into and out of the water. Today she drives her car to the beach where accessibility is set up. From the parking area to the ramp, she wheels herself to the chair and gets in and out of the sea independently.

But going into town is still a challenge because of the stone pavement and the uneven terrain. And most places still have bathrooms on a second floor or in a basement without an elevator, let alone enough space for the person and their wheelchair to fit inside.

Maria relates “People react differently to someone in a wheelchair. They think if you can’t walk, you can’t think. When I am out with a friend or a family member people do not talk to me. They direct their question — for me — at my companion!! People also stare. I always smile at them. They either smile back or look away.”

Maria said “I have a large circle of friends that has grown since grammar school and high school. I have been able to expand my friendships using social media like Facebook and Instagram.  And I have been able to find support groups through Facebook. There are some great groups in Greece and outside that help me get through the bad days.” She said she highly recommends the “Wheelchair and Mobility Aid Users Group,” found here.

Maria said that her love life has been challenging. She has had two boyfriends. The long- term commitment of being with someone who would always need some sort of special assistance was too much, she says, especially on a small island.

“Living with paralysis comes with challenges, but most of the limits our community faces have been manufactured and perpetuated by stigmas and stereotypes. Individuals living with paralysis can do anything and be anyone if we offer them the correct support, representation, and inclusion,” Maria said.

George, from Trikala, is a Farmer

George always liked motorcycles. The faster the better. In his sleepy village on Greece’s mainland near Trikala he had a reputation for popping wheelies. At 21, one too many wheelies resulted in a bad fall and his bike landing on top of him, severing his spine. He has been in a wheelchair for the last 13 years. Married for the last four years, he has daughter who is just one year old. He runs his family cotton farm.

“My life was all about physical activity and labor before the accident. I didn’t stop for a minute. I was always doing something. And then for six months I just laid there, wishing I had died as my parents thanked God that I had lived,” George told Greek Reporter.

“At the time I didn’t see the point — I thought ‘legless, lifeless.’ I thought nothing had value any longer,” George says. “Themis, my physical therapist, brought me around to help regain my sense of self worth. He showed me how to use my upper body and harness my natural strength to make it easy for me to move in the wheelchair. That and my first erection after the accident! When I realized sex was still on the table, I knew I could live even if I couldn’t run or walk.”

George acknowledged, however, that going out of his home and off the farm is a challenge. “If I have to go to a public building I have to plan it out even though we are in the boondocks and there isn’t the traffic and parking issues of major cities,” he says. “I still have to be sure that there are ramps and elevators. Bathrooms I have given up on. I have favorite tavernas and cafes that I frequent because I have ease of access there.”

George said his tractors and other riding equipment have been outfitted so that he can pull himself up on to the seat and they can be switched to hand-operated controls. He added that while he can create the means to serve his needs in his own private environment, the government is still not “seeing” individuals who move around by wheelchair.

He adds that he would like to see every member of Parliament in a wheelchair for one week, because, as he says, the laws would change instantaneously.

 

Iklaina: The First City-State of Ancient Greece and Europe

Iklaina first city state greece
Credit: Iklaina Archaeological Project

The little-known site Iklaina on the Peloponnesian peninsula was a major center of Mycenaean culture; findings now indicate that it was the very first city-state in ancient Greece.

Iklaina marks the transition from a world without organized states to a world where the state is the dominant political institution. In the city-state located in todays’ Messenia prefecture, archaeologists have discovered the oldest written text in Europe on a tablet made of clay.

Situated at a strategic location overlooking the Ionian Sea, Iklaina appears to have been an important capital city of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600-1100 BC) that became famous for such mythical sagas as the Trojan War.

Iklaina may be first city state in ancient Greece

An open-air pagan sanctuary, an early Mycenaean palace, giant terrace walls, murals, an advanced drainage system, and a clay tablet from between 1450 and 1350 BC featuring an early example of Linear B writing have reinforced the view that this ancient Greek town was one of the earliest complex states in ancient Greece by hundreds of years, if not the first.

The massive buildings that have been unearthed apparently served as administrative centers and the clay tablet is the earliest-known governmental record in Europe.

Iklaina apparently had a centralized political administration, a complex organized society and an advanced economic organization.

Until now, the earliest complex state in ancient Greece had been thought to have arisen around 3,100 years ago; however, the evidence from Iklaina indicates that the complex states were taking form as long as 3,400 years ago.

Archaeologists and historians believe that Iklaina was ultimately vanquished by its great rival, the famed Mycenae.

It was destroyed by enemy attack at the same time that the Palace of Nestor expanded, most likely indicating that it was the ruler of the Palace of Nestor who took over Iklaina.

 

Mycenaean civilization

The ancient Mycenaeans ruled mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea from 1,600 BC to 1,200 BC.

Mycenae, the kingdom of the mythical king Agamemnon, is the most important and richest palatial center of the Late Bronze Age in Greece.

Myths related to its history have inspired poets and writers over many centuries, from the Homeric epics and the great tragedies of the Classical period.

For a few centuries, mainland Greeks appeared to imitate the Minoans. Pylos, an early Mycenaean power center, had buildings that resembled the large houses with ashlar masonry found at Knossos, Crete.

The mansions had painted walls, a type of artistry pioneered by the Minoans.

For a time period, the Mycenaeans imported Minoan luxury goods and incorporated Minoan symbols, such as the bull, into their own art.

Rich Mycenaeans were buried with Minoan luxury goods, while some other graves included locally produced Mycenaean objects, such as painted pottery, that were copies of Minoan originals.

The Mycenaeans also adapted the Minoan script, called Linear A, for their own use. This adapted script is now called Linear B.

Euripides’ Medea and Her Terrible Revenge Against the Patriarchy

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Anselm Feuerbach’s depiction of Medea, Euripides
Anselm Feuerbach’s depiction of Medea, circa 1870: the play is particularly cogent today in the context of the #MeToo movement’s assault on patriarchal power. Credit: Wikimedia/Public domain.

Euripides’ dismissal by some as a misogynist sits uncomfortably alongside his complex and sympathetic female characters.

By Paul Salmond

The Athenian poet Euripides was the last of the three great Greek tragedians, after Aeschylus and Sophocles — and also the least successful.

Greek tragedies were performed competitively at religious festivals in Athens in honor of the god Dionysus. While eighteen of his ninety plays have survived, Euripides claimed only four festival victories. One prize was awarded posthumously, indicating that at the Dionysia, as with the Oscars, death could be a handy avenue to success.

It’s not difficult to see how Euripides estranged the festival judges. Unlike the intricate plotting of Sophocles, exemplified by the intriguing whodunit devices employed in “Oedipus The King,” Euripides’ interest lay in the psychological motivations of his characters. Some scholars accordingly describe his plays as more modern than his contemporaries.

Euripides challenged conventions by depicting strong, passionate female characters and cynical, often weak male mythological heroes. He was considered more of a social critic than his contemporaries, who disparaged his emphasis on clever women.

In Aristophanes’ comedy “The Thesmophoriazusae,” the women of Athens use an annual fertility festival to plot secret revenge on Euripides for his depiction of them as crazed, sex-addicted killers. The central joke is not that Euripides is defaming women in his plays, but rather that he is onto them and must be stopped before he reveals more.

The Story of Medea a challenging work by Euripides

Euripides’ dismissal by some as a misogynist sits uncomfortably alongside his complex and sympathetic female characters. Medea is a case in point: a sorceress and former princess of the “barbarian” kingdom of Colchis, she mourns the loss of her husband, the hero Jason. To further his political ambitions, Jason abandons Medea in order to marry a Corinthian princess.

Medea confides her grief to her nurse and the Chorus of Corinthian women who sympathize, but fear her response; and these fears are well-founded. Medea takes horrible vengeance on Jason by murdering his new wife then slaughtering their own children.

The play ends like a brutal thunderclap as Medea escapes to Athens in a dragon-drawn chariot, flanked by the corpses of her sons, mocking Jason’s agony and reveling in her victory.

Jason predicts justice will pursue Medea (“The curse of children’s blood be on you! Avenging justice blast your being!”) but so complete is his defeat that this threat seems empty. Medea has inflicted savage sacrifices to wreak her revenge and now, revealed in all her supernatural splendor, no one can touch her.

The Athenians don’t seem to have responded particularly well to Medea insofar as the festival judges placed it third. This might in part be attributable to poor timing, however.

Medea was performed first in the spring of 431 BC, a few weeks before the Spartan king Archidamus invaded Attica – initiating the 27-year Peloponnesian War that proved catastrophic for Athens. War had been brewing for a decade and in their state of profound anxiety perhaps Athenians were simply in no mood for the horrors Euripides was offering.

But there are other reasons for Medea’s failure as a play. As a barbarian from the wild realm of Colchis (in modern Georgia) Medea would be inherently untrustworthy to an Athenian audience. They might sympathize with her feelings of isolation and homesickness (“Of all pains and hardships none is worse than to be deprived of your native land”) but she remained associated with the Eastern “other” that marched into Greece under the Persian king Xerxes and sacked Athens 50 years previously.

Traditionalists might also have objected to Medea’s sexual politics. In Medea more than his other plays (“The Trojan Women” excepted) Euripides depicts a world where the steadfastness and bravery of women count for nothing amid the machinations of men (“we women are the most wretched…I’d rather stand three times in the front line than bear one child”).

Artemisia Gentileschi, Medea
Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Medea,” circa 1620. Credit: Wikipedia/CC-BY-SA-4.0

Medea’s lament may seem admirably subversive to a modern audience but it appears that the festival judges had little appetite for the gender conflict that so fascinated Euripides. It’s worth noting that Euripides’ plays grew in popularity after his death, so it’s likely their “salacious” content enjoyed a better reception outside the formal competition environment.

Despite Euripides’ popularity with modern audiences, Medea remains a challenging play. Although scenarios of fathers “avenging” themselves on their wives through killing their children are depressingly familiar to us, the resolve of a mother to destroy her enemies through sacrificing her children is fundamentally distancing.

Medea may be a prisoner to her passion (“Oh, what an evil power love has in people’s lives!”) but she plans her vengeance with cold brutality. Only her female confidants sense with dread what she is up to — and who can they tell?

Adaption of the classic

That said, Medea’s remorseless depiction of a woman forced to strike against an oppressive patriarchy did see it embraced by the 1960s counterculture. Pasolini adapted the play in his polarizing style in 1969, but Medea’s themes were not borrowed to the extent of other Greek works during the American cinematic Renaissance of the 1970s (Roman Polanski, for instance, used Sophocles’ Oedipus as his canvas for 1974’s Chinatown).

A sympathetic depiction of a grieving mother killing her children to ruin her husband seemed too great a hurdle for filmmakers. Decades later, however, Ridley Scott channeled Medea’s denouement in having Thelma and Louise take violent revenge against the patriarchy and refuse to be taken – “escaping” in their airborne chariot, their male pursuers looking on impotently.

Medea is particularly cogent today in the context of the #MeToo movement’s assault on patriarchal power. Euripides’ fascination with women outscheming their “masters” and striking back lethally springs from an anxiety at the heart of Athenian society.

Medea, Hippolytus and Aristophanes’ comedies seemingly demonstrate that the cloistering of Athenian women did not result from a male assumption they were unintelligent or weak. On the contrary, it reflects a belief in a vicious cycle where the subjugation of women made them intent on revenge, making it a social necessity to oppress them further.

As a modern articulation of Medea’s themes, the play’s central message was distilled to its essence in Clint Eastwood’s 1992 revisionist Western “Unforgiven.” A “chorus” of prostitutes commission bloody revenge on men who mutilated one of their sisterhood.

When townsmen gather angrily outside the brothel after one of the murders, the group matriarch screams from above “He had it coming! They all have it coming!” To Medea, truer words were never spoken.

Paul Salmond is a Honorary Associate in Classics and Ancient History at La Trobe University. This article was published in The Conversation and is republished under a Creative Commons License.

Kostas Karyotakis, the Brilliantly Evocative Modern Greek Poet

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Kostas Karyotakis modern greek poet
The modern Greek poet Kostas Karyotakis and his elder sister Nitsa with his nephew and younger brother, in Preveza, 1927. Credit: Public Domain

Kostas Y. Karyotakis, who was born in Tripolis in 1896 and died in Preveza in 1928, is one of the finest modern Greek poets of the 1920s. His poetry has been translated into over thirty languages and he is revered by Greeks for the potent imagery and musicality of his works. To the Greek ear, his short, often sorrowful poems sound indeed like songs. This year we mark 125 years from the poet’s birth.

By Eugenia Russell

Karyotakis is one of the most important poets of Greece and the most representative exponent of modern lyricism. He is said by critics to represent the pain of his generation and to portray the Greek soul with the same power as only two other poets: Kavafis (Cavafy) and Varnalis.

His poetic expression, using a mixture of demotic and katharevousa Greek, created a highly
personal idiom free from the affectation and narcissism of much other neo-Romantic poetry.

Karyotakis, born in Tripoli and known as ‘Takis’ to his family, was the second child
of George Karyotakis, an engineer from Karya Korinthias, and Aikaterini Skagianni, who was from an illustrious local family.

Today, the elegant two-story neoclassical mansion that was his mother’s home is part of The University of the Peloponnese in Tripoli. His father’s job meant the family moved frequently to different cities in Greece but the poet always maintained a fondness for his home town and came back to visit often.

Karyotakis inherited a love of learning from his maternal grandfather who was a head teacher and he studied law at The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, graduating in 1917.

Karyotakis worked initially for the Health Department, writing an important white paper, which was unfortunately ignored by the administration of the Pangalos dictatorship of
1925.

For most of his life he worked as a civil servant, but the volatility of Greek politics
meant that both he and his father faced problems at work.

Kostas Karyotakis wrote about need for social change

They were opponents to the Venizelos government; unfortunately, this led to his father losing his job in 1917 and Karyotakis being pursued for his Trade Unionist activities.

The experiences of the realities of Greek provincial life as a civil servant inspired Karyotakis to write passionately about the need for social change.

His poetry, at times sensitive and at others sarcastic, is reflective of the hardship, frustration and corruption of urban life in Greece at that time. He became director and editor of the satirical magazine I Gampa, which turned out to be a short-lived appointment as societal tensions and the hypocrisy of Greek society led to its suppression and closure by the police.

Similarly, the provocative content of a musical he wrote with his cousin, the composer Theodore Karyotakis, a student of Dimitris Mitropoulos, meant it would never be staged.

Literary critics with government-leaning sympathies, such as Miltiadis Malakassis and Vassilis Rotas, published harsh reviews of his work and his relegation to Preveza — where he ended his life in despair with a single bullet — is believed to have been politically motivated.

His doomed personal relationship with the lyrical poet Maria Polydouri is one of the most famous in Greek letters. She received news of his death while in the hospital where she was to die of tuberculosis just two years later.

Karyotakis was influenced by the French Symbolists and the German Romantics; as well as writing many original poems in French, his translations from those languages (including the French National Anthem) are some of the finest in the Greek language.

Among the authors he translated were the Symbolist Greek poet Jean Moréas (Ioannis A.
Papadiamantopoulos) who mostly wrote in French, Paul-Marie Verlaine, Charles Pierre
Baudelaire and the philosopher Voltaire; and from the German, Ernst Theodor Amadeus
Hoffmann and Heinrich Heine.

Modern Greek poet influential to world of Greek letters

In turn Karyotakis influenced the later generation of Greek poets, including Varnalis, Seferis and Ritsos, who were inspired by his mournful and erotic writing; the influence on his writing of Baudelaire had a strong impact on Nikos Kavvadias and Kostas Ouranis.

Karyotakis was a personal friend of the lyrical poet Romos Philyras who died in the Dromokaiteion psychiatric clinic, and he dedicated a number of poems to him.

His legacy inspired and led the troubled generation that came after him, often referred to by Greek scholars as “the Generation of the Thirties.”

His turbulent life and tragic death made a deep impression on the national psyche. The great composer Mikis Theodorakis saw in Karyotakis’ life an embodiment of the Greek soul and he wrote the opera Die Metamorphosen des Dionysos (The Metamorphosis of Dionysus), in which Karyotakis’ life is told as a parable for the life of the Greek nation, in his honor.

Other musicians inspired to set his poetry to music include Lena Platonos, Nikos Xydakis and Giannis Spanos. In 2008, the TV series “Kostas Karyotakis,” created by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) directed by Tassos Psarras and starring Dimosthenis Papadopoulos as Karyotakis and Maria Kitsou as Maria Polydouri achieved great critical acclaim.

Illegal Trade in Antiquities is the Scourge of Millennia

Elgin Marbles Antiquities
The Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. Credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The looting of artifacts has always been a sign of military might or economic power. To combat this illicit traffic in antiquities it is necessary to have a comprehensive international strategy, which allows once and for all to stop this cultural crime.

By Evangelos Kyriakidis

Over millennia, conquering generals all over the world would take away with them trophies to adorn their cities. In more recent centuries, the wealthy upper classes would make “grand tours” of classical sites and acquire – through whatever means – anything from vases to statues to entire temple friezes to show off at home.

Owning a piece of antiquity was seen as demonstrating wealth, a love of ancient culture and, ultimately, one’s own distinction: having things that nobody else could have.

At least this is what the looters thought. We should now all know the most apt way to describe this dubious form of collection – and it’s a word that has historical resonance: vandalism.

So many antiquities were stolen that they fill massive imperial museums in many of the world’s capital cities: the British Museum, the Louvre, the Metropolitan, the Istanbul Museum. These and many, many other institutions continue to hold on to national treasures of other countries, claiming that they are international museums keeping the heritage of the world and making it available to everyone.

So it is with the Parthenon Marbles – one of the most controversial acts of vandalism of them all – which are still held at the British Museum in London after being dubiously “acquired” by Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin in 1801, less than three decades before the independence of Athens from Ottoman rule.

The UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, recently stated that a Labour government would return the Parthenon marbles to Greece. In a statement on June 3 of this year he said:

“As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession – including artefacts looted from other countries in the past – we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures.”

The traditional position for the British government on the Parthenon marbles is that it is up to the trustees of the British Museum to decide on the return of any artifacts in its collection.

But since the British government is a key funder of the museum, it can surely wield a powerful influence on trustees’ decisions.

So the Parthenon marbles have remained in London. And the antiquities trade is still going strong – not only depriving countries of their heritage, but — which is worse — depriving the world of the information that could be extracted with appropriate systematic excavation and reducing the artifacts into mere art pieces that can only be enjoyed in a stale museum context and not as both rich symptoms and teachers of the history of mankind.

Meanwhile, there is evidence that revenue from the sale of stolen antiquities looted in Syria and Iraq has been used to fund the Islamic State and other terrorist groups – so one illegal activity has been connected to many others.

Fighting the illegal trade in antiquities

How are we to stop this trade, which is a scourge of historical knowledge, local pride and international sovereignty? The illicit trade in antiquities – and almost all trade of antiquities is illegal in some sense, as it almost always breaks the law of the source countries – is considered to be a common crime. In many countries there are police departments that specialize in this type of crime. For example, the UK has the Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit and in the US the FBI has a 16-person Art Crime Team.

In the UK, “Operation Bullrush,” on the part of the art and antiques unit successfully prosecuted dealer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry in 1997 for smuggling priceless antiquities out of Egypt (he was also sentenced in absentia in Egypt). Meanwhile in 2002 a US court convicted Frederick Schultz, the former president of the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, under the 1934 National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) of conspiracy to receive antiquities stolen from Egypt.

Meanwhile various countries are signing memoranda of understanding (MOU) to control the importation of antiquities and to coordinate efforts to prevent smuggling. In 2017 the US concluded an MOU with Egypt. These arrangements are backed up by the 1970 UNESCO Paris convention which prohibits the sale and purchase of ancient art that had not been in circulation before the ratification of that treaty by each country.

But most of these measures and stakeholders focus on the final destination of the illicit antiquities, the collectors or museums – and this isn’t enough. There need to be measures to account for all stages of the illicit trade of antiquities: from excavation to the first and second intermediary (the dealers), to those transporting it from one country to another, to the final purchaser, the collector.

Working together

The Heritage Management Organisation (HERITΛGE), a project associated with the University of Kent, has been working to create a comprehensive strategy for the illicit antiquities trade, which aims to combine the knowledge and efforts of multiple stakeholders: scientists, local communities, police, collectors, legislators and the public.

To prevent illicit excavations, police forces need to deploy the latest technological advances such as satellite surveillance, pattern recognition and forensic science. But they need the assistance of local communities in areas of archaeological significance who need to become more positive as stakeholders in the protection of their heritage as well.

Collectors should not all be seen as the enemy – but as potentially powerful stakeholders that need to be engaged and trained in the fight against the illegal antiquities trade.

Many collectors are careful in how they buy – but others are simply ignorant of how to buy more responsibly. Collectors have insights and valuable information on clandestine networks, art dealers and their potentially rigorous verification (or not) of the legal standing of each piece in their own collections. With the cooperation of the Greek Ministry of Culture, HERITΛGE organized the first-ever meeting between collectors, the Ministry and the police in Greece. Much more needs to be done in this area.

It’s all very well having international treaties to control the antiquities trade, but first they must be understood by all the relevant stakeholders. HERITΛGE has published one of the few commentaries on restitution in both European and international law.

It is imperative that volunteers are also trained how to check the provenance of items for sale and how to use existing databases to “catch” clandestine or stolen pieces. One example is the academic Christos Tsirogiannis who had major successes in tracking down looted antiquities and ensuring they are returned to their country of origin.

But for this strategy to bear fruit, all the relevant stakeholders need to collaborate with an open mind — and then maybe there is a chance that we’ll be able to bring an end to millennia of the despoiling of so many countries’ national heritage.

Evangelos Kyriakidis is a titular Professor of Prehistory of the Aegean at the University of Kent. This article was published in The Conversation and is republished under a Creative Commons License.

Pfizer, Moderna Release Data Supporting Booster Shot

Booster shot
Both Pfizer and Moderna backed up their previous research on Wednesday as they reiterated the need for a booster shot. Credit: Marco Verch CC By SA 2.0

Late on Wednesday, the pharmaceutical firm Moderna released new data regarding breakthrough cases of the coronavirus that it says supports the need for a third booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine.

Earlier the Pfizer Corporation had announced that evidence from Israel shows a third coronavirus vaccine shot restores protection back up to the original effectiveness rate of 95% as it made the case to the US Food and Drug Administration for boosters.

Pfizer stated that the need for the authorization of a booster shot is in response to what it called an “urgent emerging public health issue” as the much more contagious Delta variant of the virus races across the globe.

Adding further assurance to those who may shun the third shot for fear of additional side effects, Pfizer officials stated that such occurrences are similar to those observed after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.

For its part, Moderna officials offered up a new analysis that showed breakthrough Coronavirus cases were experienced less often in those who were more recently vaccinated, indicating that the effectiveness of the shot does indeed wane over time.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts firm noted that analysis gleaned from its phase three study showed the incidence of breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people, occurred less often in a group of trial volunteers who had been inoculated recently, suggesting that immunity for those who received the coronavirus vaccines has begun to wane.

In all, Moderna cited a total of 88 known breakthrough cases out of 11,431 individuals who had been vaccinated between December of 2020 and March of 2021, compared with 162 such cases out of a total of 14,746 trial subjects who had received their inoculations in July through October of 2020.

The pharmaceuticals firm also announced in the statement that fewer severe cases of the coronavirus occurred in those who had received the vaccine more recently, according to a manuscript of the results distributed by Moderna.

Vaccine booster shot decision as Delta variant rages

There were only three coronavirus-related hospitalizations that occurred in those who had received their inoculations early on, and these resulted in two deaths, according to Moderna officials.

There were no hospitalizations or deaths at all for those who had received a more recent shot, although the firm said that this finding regarding severe cases was not considered statistically significant.

CNBC reported Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in an interview “There’s a large debate, we all know, about whether or not vaccine boosters are going to be necessary into the fall.

“That debate, what makes it really hard is it’s not really about whether the vaccine worked last month. It’s really about whether it’s going to work this winter.”

Vital FDA outside panel meeting set for Friday

Meanwhile, FDA officials declined earlier on Wednesday to endorse any position regarding Pfizer’s third shots, saying that there is a lack of verified data at this point.

As of now, there has been no peer review of the Moderna analysis.

The new flurry of vaccine claims appeared on the scene just two days before an important FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting; this initial panel of outside experts is tasked with debating whether or not there is enough evidence to support the wide distribution of booster shots across the country.

This advisory group, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, was also the first body to consider the first coronavirus vaccine to come on the market in November of last year. Now it will debate the administration of a third dose of  the Pfizer/BioNTech product.

Federal health regulators have stated that they need more time to review the equivalent information regarding the Moderna booster shot.

Moderna president Hoge stated the data indicated that “we do see a significant increase in the risk of Covid-19 for those who are vaccinated a year ago versus six months ago.

“If you take that number, which in the paper is roughly 28 cases per 1,000 persons, and you extrapolate that across the 60 million Americans who’ve received that vaccine, the incremental number of cases of Covid-19 that would happen between here and the hospitals is about 600,000, more than half a million cases of Covid-19,” he explained.

Biden administration behind booster program early on

Observers noted that the FDA may be looking askance at some of the information provided by Pfizer, including the numbers on vaccine efficacy from Israel, where researchers there have shown that indeed the Pfizer shot’s protection does indeed wane over months’ time.

The urgency of the Winter setting in as the Delta variant continues to march across American society makes for a fraught meeting for the panel on Friday.

Biden administration officials have already said it would like to begin to offer booster shots to all those who are eligible as early as next week, as long as the FDA signs of on a third inoculation. The President has been dogged by lingering economic and social issues as the variant makes hospitals fill up across the nation just as children return to school this Fall.

The administration already shared the results of three studies, which were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicating that the vaccines’ protection did indeed decrease over the course of several months.

The White House’s plan, frequently bruited about by many in the ongoing debate on booster shots, calls for the general public to receive a third inoculation eight months after completion of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series.

Immunocompromised individuals already have third shot

Some immunocompromised individuals in the US — as well as many Israeli citizens — have already received their third shot, exactly eight months after their second dose.

However, some scientists have criticized this practice, saying that the data used by the federal health officials wasn’t convincing enough, even going so far as to state that the Biden administration’s emphasis on starting a booster program was premature.

Earlier this week, the British medical journal The Lancet published a scientific paper written by a leading group of scientists positing that booster shots are not needed now for the general public. Their position was that even though the protection afforded by inoculations does indeed decrease over time, their effectiveness against severe disease seems to persist.

The scientists — including two senior FDA officials and a number of scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) called the distribution of booster shots to the general public “not appropriate” at this time.

Earlier this year, as the vaccination campaigns across the developed world reached a saturation point, with nearly all who were willing to receive a vaccine being fully inoculated, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned wealthier nations that there should be no question of administering booster shots while people in developing nations still had not received a first shot.

Bourla announces children’s shot info before FDA imminently

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also stated on Tuesday that coronavirus vaccine data for children under the age of five may become available as early as late October.

The Thessaloniki-born Pharma CEO said that he expects to release the official clinical trial data on its vaccine for children between the ages of six months to five years by the end of October.

Meanwhile, the data concerning children between five and eleven years of age will become available much sooner — possibly allowing Pfizer to submit it to the FDA by the end of September.

“Then, it is up to the FDA to take their time, and then make a decision,” Bourla stated in an interview at Research!America’s 2021 National Health Research Forum.

Bourla’s encouraging news comes at a time when children across the country are returning to school, with some of them testing positive despite the strict coronavirus measures, including masking and social distancing, taken across the board nationwide.

Many parents are anxious to have their children vaccinated, especially as the much more infectious Delta variant is continuing to pose a problem across the country. This mutation of the virus has been responsible for a spike in hospitalizations across the U.S., even for young children.

Although they do not suffer from the most severe form of the virus as a rule, compared to adults, the lack of a vaccine for younger children has occasioned ongoing worry for parents, educators and school officials.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Mother, Brother Become Greek Citizens

alex giannis antetokounmpo
Alex Antetokounmpo, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Veronika Antetokounmpo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the Prime Minister’s mansion on Thursday. Credit: Office of the Prime Minister

“Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo attended a ceremony at the Greek Prime Minister’s mansion in Athens on Thursday in which his mother Veronika and his brother Alexandros officially became Greek citizens.

Like his brother Giannis Antetokounmpo, who plays in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks, Alex was born in Athens, Greece to immigrant parents from Nigeria.

Although born in Greece, the 20-year-old Antetokounmpo does not yet have Greek citizenship, due to the country’s notoriously restrictive requirements for becoming a citizen.

The parents of the basketball stars immigrated to Greece illegally and had no legal status at all for some time.

After wishing them congratulations, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the ceremony, stressed that the Antetokounmpo family, who are “now all Greek citizens,” “reflects the Greece that we want.”

“The Greece that tries, fights, and overcomes difficulties, and keeps her family together. It is the Greece that makes us all proud,” Mitsotakis continued.

He thanked and congratulated Veronika specifically, for “raising amazing children with dignity and ethos.”

The youngest Antetokounmpo had to apply to become an official Greek citizen at a government office in the Athenian neighborhood of Zografou in March of 2021.

Alex Antetokounmpo, a basketball star in his own right, is the youngest son in a family that left Nigeria for Greece in order to make a better life for their children.

All of Alex’s siblings are also star athletes — along with Giannis, known as the “Greek Freak,” Alex has two brothers, Thanasis and Kostas, who also play for the NBA.

Antetokounmpo family struggled to gain Greek citizenship

The family lived in a very tenuous situation, as they were in the country illegally.

Their parents, as illegal immigrants, could not easily find work, so Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis, helped out by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets.

Although Giannis and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, their parents had come to the country illegally.

They also did not automatically receive full Greek citizenship as Greek nationality law follows the concept of jus sanguinis, or by ethnicity.

“We always felt like Greeks”

After his mother and brother became Greek citizens, making the entire family Greeks, Giannis stressed that “we always felt like Greeks, but now that we have Greek citizenship, we’re very happy.”

Although they felt like it, the road to becoming Greeks officially was a difficult one for the family.

For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo was effectively stateless, having no papers from either Nigeria or Greece.

Both Giannis and Thanasis, his younger brother, became Greek citizens in 2013, just a few months before the NBA draft that year.

Three years later, Kostas Antetokounmpo became a citizen of the Hellenic Republic.

Their mother Veronica, however, and her youngest son Alex, did not become Greeks at the time.

Giannis, Antetokounmpo family will attend citizenship ceremony

It is only now that they will be fully recognized as citizens of Greece at a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Mansion, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in attendance.

Alex currently plays basketball professionally for the Spanish team UCAM Murcia. Much like his brothers, Antetokounmpo is an amazing talent at the sport, and signed a three-year contract with the team when he was just 17 years of age.

Although he’s now a pro in European basketball, the young athlete spent many years in Wisconsin, where he moved with his family to attend high school in 2013.

Upon moving to the US, Alex did not speak any English at all, but he has since mastered the language.

Despite spending his formative years in the US, the youngest Antetokoumpo brother has always felt a deep connection to his native land and culture, always considering himself a Greek.