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Hippocrates on Obesity and the Sedentary Life

obesity ancient greece hippocrates
Hippocrates advised healthy eating and exercise to fight obesity. Ancient Greek statue of Hermes by Praxiteles. Credit: Paolo Villa/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 4.0

Hippocrate of Kos (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) was a physician of ancient Greece’s Classical era who is considered to be the “Father of Medicine.” Hippocrates suggested surprisingly contemporary remedies for obesity — diet and exercise.

In addition to recognizing that disease is not caused by supernatural forces, Hippocrates invented clinical medicine and what we know today as the doctor-patient relationship.

He was the first who believed that diseases are caused naturally and not by the gods.

Perhaps most amazingly of all, he was the first known physician to recognize that thoughts and emotions arise in the brain rather than the heart.

The ancient physician also believed that a good diet could have medicinal qualities, placing great importance to what a patient eats or what foods should avoid.

He often used lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise to treat diseases such as diabetes, what is today called lifestyle medicine.

Hippocrates on obesity in ancient Greece

Hippocrates had put emphasis on the issue of obesity, as in ancient Greece, a person’s weight was considered to be the result of a lazy lifestyle.

Hippocrates was aware that several sudden deaths were associated with obesity. “Dieting which causes excessive loss of weight, as well as the feeding-up of an emaciated person, is beset with difficulties,” he wrote.

The Greek physician also advised his patients for a more active life and exercise. He is quoted as saying that “Walking is man’s best medicine.”

“Their bodies grow relaxed and squat…through their sedentary lives. For the boys, until they can ride, sit the greatest part of the time in the wagon, and because of the migrations and wanderings rarely walk on foot; while the girls are wonderfully flabby and torpid in physique,” Hippocrates wrote.

The physician also observed that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have a negative impact on women’s reproductive health.

To that end, there is an anecdote about Hippocrates and a gluttonous, fat man who had approached him and asked him how he could get rid of all the excessive weight.

“My advice is simple,” the physician replied. “Live on a piece of celery a day. And earn with much effort and sweat the money you need to buy it.”

The Father of Medicine was first to name cancer

There are about 70 books attributed Hippocrates, considered to be the oldest known books about medicine. Known as the Hippocratic Corpus, his body of work was written for physicians and pharmacists while others were written for the layman.

In some of the great physician’s books, each of the subjects was written with a particular reader or student in mind.

In his writings and advice to patients, the ancient Greek doctor recommended diet and physical exercise as a cure for some ailments. For those who who could not follow the particular advice, however, he recommended medicine.

Hippocrates was the first physician to name cancer (karkinos, Greek for crab). The word came from the appearance of the cut surface of a solid malignant tumor, with the veins stretched on all sides as crab’s feet.

Hippocrates’ conception of cancer was the humoral theory, as he believed that the body contained four humors (body fluids) — namely blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.

Any imbalance of these fluids would result in disease and excess of black bile in a particular organ site was thought to cause cancer.

What Alexander the Great Really Looked Like

alexander the great
The true face of Alexander the Great? Credit: Bas Uterwijk/Instagram

Dutch photographer and digital artist Bas Uterwijk has been shining a light on what iconic figures from history might have looked like in real life. His latest creation is Alexander the Great, the king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon, who famously conquered most of the known world in his time.

By using various digital manipulation tools, Uterwijk is able to create photorealistic portraits of famous artists, leaders, mummies, philosophical thinkers, and even the models for paintings. Below is his reconstruction of the face of Jesus.

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I don't think I have posted this version on Instagram so for everyone interested here is a little info on the process of constructing it: I have been a professional photographer for the last 14 years but I have a background in Computer Generated images and Special Effects. A little over a year ago I stumbled upon the #artificialintelligence #Artbreeder software (formerly Ganbreeder) which utilizes a neural network trained on photographs and paintings of thousands human faces. This application makes it possible to combine multiple sources of faces and merge them in a synthesized version, guided by the artistic decisions of the user. I use it to create historical and fictional characters. When I was playing around with several cultural depictions of Jesus of Nazareth of Byzantine and Renaissance origin including Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", and the Turin Shroud. Tweaking the ethnicity to a more convincing Middle-Eastern face. I was happy with the result as a representation of a collective cultural depiction but at the same time I felt it lacked any historical accuracy. So I changed the hair and beard to a more credible length and style for the time and region and I brought in elements found in some #Fayum mummy portraits, pushing the renaissance art to the background. The result is a artistic impression of how this man could have looked, more than it is a scientific search for an exact likeness.

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Based in Amsterdam, Uterwijk has a background in computer graphics, 3D animation, and special effects. He uses a well-known image of each subject to transform them into a photographic portrait.

Alexander the Great’s life

Alexander III, the “Basileus of Macedon”, the “Hegemon of the Hellenic League”, the “Shahanshah” of Persia, the “Pharaoh” of Egypt and the “Lord of Asia” — better known as Alexander the Great — was one of the most significant figures in human history.

Born in Pella, in modern-day Central Macedonia, northern Greece, in 356 B.C., he was the son of Philip II, the King of Macedon and his wife, Olympias. But Alexander was no royal place-holder. He became renowned at a very early age for both for his military and political capabilities.

Alexander, whose name in Greek (Alexandros) means “defender of men”, knew as the son of a king that his destiny was already written, putting him at the forefront of history.

This was why, while he was still a teenager, he began to be tutored by one of Greece’s most respected men, the giant of philosophy and science, Aristotle.

Since his education included philosophy, politics, ethics and science, Alexander was clearly not brought up to become just a warrior but a thoughtful leader of men and society.

Fate dictated that, following his father’s assassination when Alexander was only twenty, he would take into his hands not only the Kingdom of Macedon but also the generalship of the Hellenic League of Greece.

Several years prior to that, his father Philip II of Macedon had managed to unite most of Greece’s city-states, urging them to address the Persian threat as a united and solid front. Alexander fearlessly took on this enormous responsibility after the death of his father, and began the great march of the Hellenes to the East.

By his own admission, Alexander endeavored to conquer all the way to the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea.” He and his legions invaded India in the year 326 BC, winning an important victory over the Pauravas at the Battle of the Hydaspes.

However, after years of never-ending war across the Near East, the mighty general finally turned back toward home at the demand of his homesick troops.

Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city which he planned to establish as his capital, before he could execute a series of planned campaigns which would have begun with an invasion of Arabia.

The Greek History of Truffles: It All Started With a Thunderbolt from Zeus

truffles truffles greek zeuss
Truffles have long been used in a variety of cuisines around the world. Ancient Greeks debated the origin of the fungus, and some even attributed it to the god Zeus. Credit: Oldsoft/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The history of truffle is one of folklore and intrigue, and very few people know of its links to the ancient Greek god Zeus. The pricey fungi has played a prominent role in Greece for its nutritional value, aphrodisiac properties, and delicious taste.

Dating as far back as the 1st century AD, truffles have been the topic of great discussion amongst ancient thinkers.

Many ancient Greek philosophers were absolutely puzzled by the fungus, which is found underground. Philosophers from across the ancient world actually fiercely debated the origins of the delicious truffle.

Did truffles come from Zeus?

Ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch believed that truffles came about through a complicated combination of natural and spiritual processes.

According to Plutarch, “hydnon,” or truffles, came into existence after Zeus launched one of his powerful thunderbolts to earth. The heat of the thunderbolt, combined with the natural moisture found in the ground, created the subterranean fungus near an oak tree.

While it seems a bit farfetched to the contemporary reader, Plutarch’s theory has some basis in truth. Truffles, and other fungi of its kind, form a symbiotic relationship with plant life, meaning that the prized delicacy is usually found growing near the roots of trees.

Similarly, ancient Roman thinker Juvenal claimed that truffles were made up of thunder and rain. Cicero, Roman statesman and writer, believed the fungi were born of the earth itself.

If that’s not exciting enough, truffles have been considered to have aphrodisiac properties since ancient times. The ancient Greek physician Galen praised the fungus, writing that not only was it a delicious delight, but that “the truffle is very nourishing and can direct voluptuousness.”

The fungus is a favorite ingredient in many dishes

It seems that, although popular in antiquity, truffles fell out of favor in Medieval Europe, as truffles are rarely mentioned in writing from the period.

However, during the Renaissance, Caterina de’ Medici and Lucrezia Borgia make mention of the fungi at prestigious banquets all over Europe in exquisite dishes.

King Francis I of France was particularly fond of the ingredient, and truffles were frequently used to flavor the dishes at his royal banquets.

While the fungus was widely consumed amongst peasants in the areas where they were found in abundance, the uptick in popularity during the Renaissance made the price of the ingredient skyrocket, and limited its availability to the royals and members of the upper classes.

The legend continues on from there as the underground fungi found its way into modern history as a pricey ingredient in sumptuous dishes.

Nowadays, Greeks use truffles, often in the form of truffle oil, in a number of dishes such as meat, pasta, rice, chick peas and soups.

Snakes, Apes and Ferrets: The Ancient Greek Love of Pets

ancient greek pets
Ancient Greeks loved their pets. An Archaic Greek statue of a dog, thought to be an Alopekis, and her puppy. Credit: /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Animals were an important part of life in antiquity, and Ancient Greeks loved their pets. Ancient sources tell us that they kept a wide variety of animals at home, ranging from dogs to snakes.

Paintings, writings, and sculptures from ancient Greece reveal that dogs were, by far, the most common domesticated pet and prized for their hunting abilities.

Breeds like the Laconian were well-regarded for speed and hunting skill while the Molossia was a huge breed used for big game.

The Cretan was a cross-breed to the two above and likely used to find food.
Greeks were also fond of a breed called the Celtic Vertragus, which seemed to be a forerunner of the greyhound.

Their speed and agility were highly valued by the ancient Greeks and legend has it that one saved the life of Alexander the Great from a charging elephant.

Ancient Greeks loved their dogs

According to Xenophon, the dog names preferred by the ancient Greeks were short, consisting of one, or at most two, syllables. They also paid special attention to the meaning of the name of the dog and no name was ever bestowed at random or on a whim.

After their loyal friend and companion departed from this world, ancient Greeks were not afraid to express their grief for their loss, openly crying and mourning.

Greeks would bury their pets along the roadside in marked graves, and the entire ceremony for this was undertaken in a very solemn manner.

Archaeologists have uncovered countless epitaphs on tombstones that the Greeks dedicated to their furry friends.

“This is the tomb of the dog, Stephanos, who perished, Whom Rhodope shed tears for and buried like a human. I am the dog Stephanos, and Rhodope set up a tomb for me” read one gravestone.

Snakes, ferrets, cats, apes, and birds were kept as pets

More unusually, snakes were also kept as pets in the belief that they kept mice and rat numbers down. Ferrets were also kept for pest control.

Although cats were worshiped and prized in ancient Egypt, There are few records of cats in ancient Greek writings.

Yet, the existence of the Aegean cat, a native Greek feline breed, may be evidence that the ancient Greeks kept cats as pets.

Believed to be descendants of the ancient cats that inhabited the Greek islands throughout antiquity, Aegean cats have bred naturally, without human intervention, for thousands of years.

It is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated breeds in the world.

There is archaeological evidence of cats living alongside humans in Cyprus in antiquity, however.

Excavations at a Neolithic site called Shillourokampos in Cyprus showed that ancient people there truly cared for their feline companions, and even dug out a grave with care for their pet cat.

Amazingly though, there is written evidence that Greeks kept primates like apes and monkeys as pets, with some writers spinning stories of such animals learning how to play musical instruments as entertainment.

Large birds were also a common ancient Greek pet, with herons and peacocks often taking up residence at home. Engravings also show ducks and geese being kept as pets — perhaps a noisy alternative to a guard dog!

Meet the Anemoi, the Greek Gods of Weather

anemoi greek gods wind
A detail from Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” featuring Zephyrus and Chloris. Credit: Public Domain

Ancient Greeks believed that the weather — like nearly everything else on earth– was the result of divine activity. Wind, specifically, was associated with the Anemoi, or the Greek gods of the wind.

The Anemoi are the four gods named Boreas, Zephyrus, Notus, and Eurus, which each are ascribed a cardinal direction, according to the way the wind blows, and a season.

Boreas is the Greek god of the North wind, which is cold, and is therefore linked to winter. Thought to bring the winter, he is described as extremely strong with a violent temper.

Frequently, Boreas is depicted as a winged old man with long hair and a beard. The first of the Anemoi is often depicted holding a conch shell and wearing a long cloak.

The second of the Anemoi, Zephyrus, is the god of the west wind, which is the gentlest of all winds.

Believed to be the bringer of spring, according to Greek mythology, Zephyrus lived in a cave in Thrace, northern Greece.

The Anemoi, Greek gods of wind, linked to nymphs

Zephyrus has many wives in various myths. Most well known is his relationship with Chloris, a nymph associated with spring, flowers, and new growth. Her name refers to a light green-yellow color.

According to myth, Zephyrus and his brother Boreas both adored Chloris and competed for her affection, but the gentle Zephyrus beat his hotheaded brother.

Zephyrus gave the nymph domain over all flowers, and together they had the child Karpos, or fruit.

Notus, or Notos, was the Greek god of the south wind, which was linked to the hot, dry wind of midsummer. Also associated with the storms of late summer and early autumn, he was feared by farmers as a destroyer of crops.

There is some debate about the nature of Eurus, or Euros, as some believe he was the god of the southeast wind, while others claim the east wind.

Eurus is linked to turbulent windstorms, including those that sent ships down as they traveled across the rough seas. He is also linked to hot winds, but was not associated with any of the specific ancient Greek seasons, of which they had only three.

There were a host of other, more minor, Greek deities whose names were given to the particular winds which would blow at different times of the year.

The Romans also adopted some of these gods, giving them new names, but still ascribing to them the power to bring different types of weather.

So, the next time a Greek summer day is washed out by thunder, rain and lightning perhaps it is one of the Anemoi, come back to take their place in the pantheon.

The Anemoi were the sons of Eos, the ancient Greek goddess of the dawn.

Born, according to some Greek myths, from the gods Hyperion and Theia, her siblings were Helios, the god of the sun, and Selene, the goddess of the moon. Her name was spelled in Ionic and Homeric Greek Ἠώς, or Ēṓs, and in Attic Greek Ἕως, or Héōs.

Her children were Anemoi and Astraea, the gods and goddess of the four winds and of five Astra Planeta, or “Wandering Stars”, i.e. planets: Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury).

Kostas Georgakis, the Student Who Set Himself on Fire for Greece

Georgakis
A statue erected to the memory of Kostas Georgakis, who set himself on fire to protest the Greek junta. Credit: Facebook/Dimitris Lampropoulos

Kostas Georgakis, a Greek geology student who was attending university in Italy, set himself on fire in Genoa on September 19, 1970 as a protest against the Greek military dictatorship of the time. The 22-year-old’s last words were “Long live free Greece!

Georgakis, from Corfu, is the only known junta opponent to have committed suicide in protest against the dictatorship. He is considered to be the precursor of the later student protests against the military government, including the later Polytechnic Uprising.

Around 1:00 AM on that fateful September day, Georgakis drove his car to Matteotti Square in the center of the Italian city. According to accounts by street cleaners who witnessed the event, there was a sudden bright flash of light in the area at around 3:00 AM.

At first, of course, they did not realize that the blaze was in fact a man who had set himself on fire. Only when they approached closer did they see Georgakis, covered in flames and running, while shouting “Long Live Greece,” “Down with the tyrants,” “Down with the Fascist colonels” and “I did it for my Greece.”

According to an account by his father, who went to Italy immediately after his son’s suicide, the flesh of Georgakis’s body was completely carbonized from the waist down to a depth of at least three centimeters. The young student died nine hours after the events in the square, at around 12 noon on the same day.

The impact of Kostas Georgakis’ death on Greece

At the time, Georgakis’ grim death caused a sensation in Greece and abroad, since it was the first tangible manifestation of the depth of resistance against the junta. The government delayed the arrival of his remains to Corfu for four months, citing “security reasons,” fearing further demonstrations against their autocratic rule.

The Municipality of Corfu later commissioned a memorial by sculptor Dimitris Korres in honor of the student who had so painfully sacrificed himself for the freedom of his country. The inscription on the monument reads: “Kostas Georgakis, Student, Kerkyra 1945-1970, Genova. He self-immolated in Genoa Italy on 19 September 1970 for Freedom and Democracy in Greece.”

Beneath that inscription are Georgakis’ own words: “I cannot but think and act as a free individual.”

In Genoa’s Matteotti Square, where the young man died, there is a plaque with an inscription in Italian with the concluding phrase: “La Grecia Libera lo ricorderà per sempre (“Free Greece will remember him forever”). The complete inscription as translated in English is as follows:

“To the young Greek Konstantin Georgakis who sacrificed his 22 years for the Freedom and Democracy of his country. All Free Men shudder before his heroic gesture. Free Greece will remember him forever.”

In his final letter to his father, Georgakis wrote: “My dear father. Forgive me for this act, without crying. Your son is not a hero. He is a human, like all the others, maybe a little more fearful.

“Kiss our land for me. After three years of violence I cannot suffer any longer. I don’t want you to put yourselves in any danger because of my own actions. But I cannot do otherwise but think and act as a free individual.

“I write to you in Italian so that I can raise the interest of everyone for our problem. Long Live Democracy. Down with the tyrants. Our land which gave birth to Freedom will annihilate tyranny! If you are able to, forgive me. Your Kostas.”

The Greek Shepherd Who Became Chicago’s Greatest Marketing Genius

Marketing Genius Bernie
Bernie Sanders pictured outside the Billy Goat Tavern in another of his ubiquitous memes. Credit: Facebook/Billy Goat Tavern

A Greek-American tavern owner may have well been the marketing genius to top them all. William “Billy Goat” Sianis rose from being a penniless shepherd in the hills around Tripoli to become the owner of a legendary tavern and one of the greatest marketing geniuses of all time, transforming his “brand” into part of Chicago folklore.

Billy Goat Sianis
Billy Goat Sianis shows off his goat’s dog tags during the Second World War. Credit: Facebook/Billy Goat Tavern

It all started in 1895 in Greece, when William, later known as “Billy Goat,” Sianis was born. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1912 — where he taught himself English by reading newspapers. He became a devoted Chicago Cubs baseball fan and bought the Lincoln Tavern across the street from Chicago Stadium, where the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team team played.

According to legend, Sianis repaid the debt for the tavern after a baby goat fell from a truck just outside the building. He decided to adopt the goat as a pet, and named him “Murphy.” Sianis became Murphy’s number-one fan, and somewhat of a goat aficionado, which led him to rename his bar “The Billy Goat Inn“.

Genius marketing moves during political convention of 1944

Sianis was quick to earn a reputation for being a shrewd business owner and an expert in publicity stunts. His first hugely-successful promotion — using a bit of reverse psychology — was in 1944, during the Republican National Convention in Chicago, held at Chicago Stadium.

Sianis posted a sign outside his tavern stating “No Republicans Served Here.” Angry Republicans — naturally — stormed inside to inquire as to why, only to find themselves getting served, and being welcomed with a smile.

You might very well ask yourself “Who does things like that?” And how could this type of marketing genius pop up out of nowhere, out of the fields of Greece?

Sianis and goat
William “Billy Goat” Sianis and his goat named Murphy getting kicked out of Wrigley Field during the World Series. Credit: Facebook/Billy Goat Tavern

“The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more”

But it was the fateful moment just one year later, in 1945, when Sianis decided to bring his cherished pet to the World Series game the Cubs were playing at Wrigley Field, that brought him everlasting fame.

Clad in a jaunty Cubs jersey, who wouldn’t have let the adorable goat named Murphy take part in the momentous day at the hallowed ballpark?

Ballpark security, that’s who. Ordered to take his “smelly” goat back home, Sianis angrily declared before all who were within hearing distance “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more! The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed on Wrigley Field.”

Of course, the Cubs lost that game, which lost them the entire World Series — and they never even made it back to another Series until 71 years later, in 2016. Sianis’ words echoed all across America and what became known simply as “The Curse” has gone down in sporting history, becoming a touchstone in the nation’s cultural life.

In spite of — or maybe because of — The Curse, to this day, the Billy Goat Tavern proved to be a great success story, with the establishment boasting a high-stacked burger known — of course — as the “Cheezborger.” Made with baseball and the Cubs in mind, it has become a home run for all who feast on it.

Today, there are several Billy Goat Taverns in the greater Chicago area, at O’Hare Airport and even in Washington D.C.

The origin of William Sianis’ genius

Who does things like that, growing an empire across the US after immigrating as a 17-year-old who didn’t know any English? William Sianis, the marketing manager from the fields of Greece, that’s who.

His grand-nephew, William Sianis, spoke to Greek Reporter recently about “Billy Goat'”s particular genius and how his early life in Greece shaped him, and the journalists, actors and other public figures he came to know in his lifetime.

He related that “Billy Goat” was born in 1894 in a small village called Paleopyrgos. When he was young, he heard his dad, George, and his brother Frank talk about their experiences in the United States. “They had traveled to San Francisco in 1903 and came back to Greece in 1906 after the big earthquake,” Sianis recalls.

Just six years after that event, Billy Goat and Frank decided they would up stakes and throw their lot in with the United States once again. Sianis says that all he knows for sure about this decision is that his own father, Sam, had told them that there was a substantial Greek population in Chicago at that time and that the city was growing and looking for workers.

“After a long 40 to 50-day long boat trip across the Atlantic they ended up in New York, where they took a train to Chicago,” Sianis says.

Shining shoes and delivering newspapers

After the duo ended up in the Windy City, they put to work doing anything they could to get along, including shining shoes, delivering newspapers, selling small items like cigarettes, candy, magazines and any other such work that they could find.

In 1916, William became an American citizen and began work as a copy boy for the Chicago Tribune. “This is where he gained the love of newspapers and the reporters who write for them,” Sianis says. “He learned to speak English reading the paper and working for the paper,” he explains.

“After years of saving money and with prohibition just ending, Billy Goat had decided that he wanted to own a bar. In early 1934, he saw a place at 1855 W. Madison Street, called the Lincoln Tavern,” he recalls.

And that was the fateful moment that eventually made William Sianis into the “Billy Goat” and catapulted him into the legend that would live forever. Across the street from the Chicago Stadium, the bar was in a perfect location for attracting the crowds who flocked to hockey games, as well as the sportswriters who covered them.

Goat becomes national icon

And it was a harbinger of his native business prowess as well, because the two checks — for $205 — that he used to pay for the property ended up bouncing. Somehow — no one knows exactly how — Sianis convinced the owner that he could come up with the money in one week.

As the current owner says, “There must have been events that weekend because was able to pay him after the first weekend.”

And it wasn’t long before the famed goat that made the legend possible showed up, literally at the door of the tavern. After few months of being open, “he heard a thumping sound on the front door. He opened the door and saw a goat outside,” Sianis recalls. At that time, of course, Chicago was known for its big stockyards where animals were taken for slaughter.

A truck destined for the stockyards had gone by earlier and the goat had fallen from the truck, he explains, and he simply had ended up at the front door of the establishment. “Billy Goat took the goat in,” Sianis says, and put it out in the back of the building where there was a small yard.

“That night there was an event at the stadium and the place was busy with customers, so he decided to bring the goat in and parade him around the bar,” Sianis relates to Greek Reporter. “The people loved the goat. He saw the reaction of the people after having the goat around for few nights and decided to keep the goat and name him ‘Billy.’ He then decided to name the bar Billy Goat Inn.”

Billy Goat Tavern
Billy Goat Tavern became the place to be thanks to William Sianis’ genius marketing moves in the 1940s and 1950s. Credit: Facebook/Billy Goat Tavern

The Place to Be in Chicago

Never one to miss a trick, William himself adopted the nickname Billy Goat for himself –and he even grew a goatee.

Sianis related that Billy Goat simply had a “fun personality” which people enjoyed, telling jokes and telling tales about his adventures getting to Chicago.

The Billy Goat Inn soon became the place to be on account of Billy Goat’s personality. “He wanted to provide a show to his customers with a cast of characters like few goats, duck named Susie Q, and a one-toothed cat named Ruby,” Sianis says.

“When there were sporting events, the bar would attract reporters who Billy Goat enjoyed talking to, because of his days working as a copy boy. He would tell reporters stories and they felt comfortable there. He even set up a wall of telephone booths where they could call in their stories after the event and then stay at the bar,” he noted — yet another mark of Billy Goat’s unique marketing genius.

“To keep the practical jokes going, he had one booth set up with a phone where if he squeezed a rubber balloon attachment, he had behind the bar, it would squirt water through the phone while the person was holding it,” Sianis says. “When the circus was in town, the entertainers would come and sometimes bring an animal with them to the bar, from a donkey to even an elephant. Billy Goat had created this atmosphere,” he explains to Greek Reporter.

Billy Goat Sianis for President
Billy Goat runs for US President in another of Billy Sianis’ many marketing stunts. Credit: Facebook/Billy Goat Tavern

On the first day of the 1944 Republican Convention, held at the Chicago Stadium, the Billy Goat Inn had only managed to do $20 in sales, however. Billy Goat, angry that the extra media that was there to cover the convention had blocked the bar with trucks, knew he had to come up with some kind of way to attract conventioneers and reporters to the bar.

From the depths of his native genius, he came up with the idea of putting up a sign saying “No Republicans Served Here.” Naturally, it wasn’t any time at all before word spread about this sign — and before long, the place was packed with Republicans for the remaining days of the convention. “He was clever and promoted the place as much as he could,” Sianis adds.

The Curse of the Billy Goat

“In 1945 the Chicago Cubs had made it to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers and Billy Goat had decided to buy two box seat tickets, one for himself and one for his goat named Murphy,” he relates.

Normally, “the owners and ushers were accustomed to have Billy Goat show up with a goat for a sporting event or political event and they would let him in,” Sianis explains. But it was a different story that day — and that made all the difference.

“When he showed up at Wrigley Field with Murphy, the ushers let him in the stadium until they could get confirmation from ownership that it was ok to stay. That day it was raining, and a wet Murphy had a strong goat smell, so Cubs owner William Wrigley told the ushers to allow ‘Billy Goat’ Sianis to stay — but not Murphy the goat because he smelled and he didn’t want him amongst the fans,” Sianis says.

And that’s when history was made. “Billy Goat got mad because he had brought Murphy there with him to help provide good luck for the Cubs, as the different goats he had owned had always brought him.

“As everyone knows, the Cubs lost the game, and the Series, prompting Billy Goat to send sent a telegram to Mr. Wrigley saying, ‘Who Smells Now?’ Sianis recalls.

Curse lasts 71 long years

“The Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908 but had been a good team often winning division titles and going to the Series up until 1945. After 1945 they started to lose and a few years later the reporters asked Billy Goat if he put a curse on the Cubs. He told them that as long as they wouldn’t let the goat in the stadium, they would never win a World Series,” Sianis states.

What became known as “The Billy Goat Curse” lasted for a total of 71 years.

William “Billy Goat” Sianis, one of the greatest marketing geniuses of all time, passed away in 1970 — and as his grand-nephew adds, “was never allowed to bring the goat to the stadium” during his lifetime.

World Series
The new Billy was brought to the World Series in 2016 in a successful attempt to break the curse for all time. The Cubs won. Credit: Erik Drost, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

However, Cubs management attempted to assuage this slap against the dignity of the family in 1984 — or, most likely, attempted to reverse the curse. “My father Sam was invited by new owners of the Cubs, the Chicago Tribune, in 1984 to walk the goat around the field in Wrigley Field to remove the curse,” Sianis recalls.

“So Sam and the goat ‘Socrates’ walked around the field on opening day. That year the Cubs won the Division Title and made the playoffs for the first time since 1945, ” he states.

William Sianis’ marketing genius knew no earthly bounds

Billy Goat’s unending promotions of his tavern provided interesting stories that reporters were only too happy to write about in the papers. In March of 1970, however, he showed his prowess in yet another way when he wrote a letter to US Secretary of State William Rogers to apply for the “first food and liquor license on the moon.”

He wrote, “The Greeks charted the heavens, and it’s only fitting that a Greek open a restaurant on the moon to serve our astronauts when they arrive so they don’t have to eat the synthetic food the space agency has been serving them.”

In 1964 The Billy Goat Inn had to move out of its original location and relocated to 430 N. Michigan Ave. It was known as the Billy Goat Tavern and Grill from that point onward. Sianis says that his grand-uncle kept the land at Madison Street for parking during events at the stadium, but the city wanted to tear down the buildings around the stadium to provide for even more parking.

At the Michigan Ave location, which is still there, he decided to put a grill in, which later would become an inspiration for a famous Saturday Night Live skit and — in true Sianis form — this turned out to be another stellar way to promote the tavern nationally.

Mike Royko recounts William Sianis’ adventures, praises work ethic

This location was centrally located to four newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, American, Daily News and The Sun-Times, making the new Michigan Ave location into a hub for journalists in all media as never before, Sianis says. It was a place where they could come and discuss topics, or just unwind with a quick burger and beer.

One of the most famous journalists was Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Royko, who became a close friend to Billy Goat and had an almost brother-like bond with Sam, writing about the duo often in his articles.

Sianis relates that Royko loved the work ethic and the “American dream” story that Billy Goat had lived, to come here with nothing and develop the legacy that he had. When Billy Goat passed away, the journalist wrote an article about him in which he said: “It was typical Billy Goat that he would die during the only five hours of the day when his place wasn’t open for business. That’s how good a businessman he was.”

Like so many Greek-Americans who came to the Americas, Billy Goat never forgot where he came from, and he helped the family back in Greece by no only sending them money but also sponsoring them one by one to come to the United States and work or get an education, his grand-nephew says.

He had three brothers and two sisters who all came to the US for a few years to help at the restaurant,  later returning home with the money that they could never have earned in Greece at the time.

“He also started bringing his nephews to the US, which included my father and uncles,” Sianis relates to Greek Reporter. “My father, Sam, came to the US in 1955 and worked along side Billy Goat until he passed in 1970.

“Sam then inherited the business because Billy Goat did not have any kids. While working at the restaurant with Billy Goat my father learned what kind of work ethic it took to run the place and promote his uncle’s name, which he has passed on to us the third generation.”

After Billy Goat Sianis passed away, he adds, Sam kept his name and legacy alive. He kept the special relationships Billy Goat had created with the newspapers alive and thriving. In addition, he says, he would also continue to take the Goat to different events, “including trying to take the goat into Wrigley Field,” he remembers.

The Cheezborger — with Chips and Pepsi only!

Then in 1978, the Billy Goat Tavern was catapulted onto the national scene yet again after a Saturday Night Live skit called “Olympia Diner” aired on television. From that point ever after, the famous phrase “Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No Fries – Chips! No Coke – Pepsi!” has remained in the American lexicon.

Don Novello, the writer of the skit, had been a regular at the Billy Goat Tavern and Grill on Michigan Ave when he worked for the Leo Burnet advertising agency. “He would come in for a burger and drink after work and saw how the business operated,” Sianis says.

“He would see Billy Goat walk around with his cane and jokingly tap people with it to keep them alert. He said that a few times he hit Don on the head with a toy hammer that made a squeaky noise and told him to go get a haircut.

“Billy Goat would walk the floor to entertain people and keep an eye on the bar,” he explains. “Sam would be behind the counter with few other uncles yelling out the orders as they were taken from customers lined around the counter,” Sianis recalls.

“He would yell out ‘Cheezborger! Cheezborger!’ People would then ask for fries and get the response of ‘No Fries-Chips!’ And then order a Pepsi and get ‘No Pepsi – Coke!’ This was something Don Novello never forgot, even after going to New York to work for Saturday Night Live,” Sianis recalls, and he would regale John Belushi, Bill Murray with tales about Billy Goat as well.

This most recent contribution that the former Greek shepherd made to American society proves yet again that he will never be forgotten, for his marketing genius, his work ethic and his remarkable personality.

Food Ingredients that Could Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

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Some foods, like chocolate, could be altered to help prevent the airborne transmission of coronavirus. Credit: John Loo, CC BY 2.0

Researchers at the University of Central Florida are exploring the possibility of food ingredients helping to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Researchers Michael Kinzel and Kareem Ahmed are interested in foods that actively thicken and diminish an individual’s saliva, thus minimizing the amount of COVID pathogens they may release into the air.

The two researchers published their results this Saturday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

“This is a new concept in the context of source control,” said Kinzel, who is currently an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“There are obviously masks, but this is the first research focusing on what comes out of one’s buccal cavity or mouth.”

Ahmed, who is also works in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as an associate professor, has been working with kinzel for quite some time to determine the impact of masking in classrooms, as well as features an individual might have that could enable them to be a super spreader of the virus, and, now, these studies on the role of food ingredients in limiting airborne disease transmission.

“The group has researched droplet formation for years,” Kinzel says.

“When we heard sneezes transported aerosols over 27 feet early in the pandemic, we realized that this has to be small aerosols, similar to what you see in a misting nozzle. Our thinking has been let’s focus on altering those droplets such that they fall to the ground and not travel so far.”

The researches looked closely at the various aspects of saliva, including its thickness and quantity, and how those qualities affect how far droplets and aerosols from sneezing and coughing can travel– both factors that are key to airborne spread.

The team used high-speed cameras to capture the sneezes and analyze them frame-by-frame. They then used image processing software to determine the exact amount of droplets and aerosols.

How certain food ingredients reduce the spread of COVID-19 by changing your saliva

The saliva was modified with a variety of food ingredients, including agar agar, cornstarch, ginger, and xanthan gum.

The researchers noticed that ginger brought the amount of saliva produced from sneezing down by over 80% and worked just as well as a mask at reducing the distance travelled by droplets and aerosols.

Xanthan gum increased the thickness of saliva by 5%, while cornstarch raised it by a whooping 2000%. Both ingredients reduced the distance travelled by aerosols, but masks remained more effective at containing aerosols than both substances.

The study used a neck gaiter and a surgical mask to get their results.

The study implies that existing food products could be altered to enhance their saliva changing effects, and thus decrease airborne transmission. The researchers suggested that perhaps a bar of chocolate would work well:

“Much like vitamin gummies, this would not be a candy, but rather a form to deliver the solution,” he says. “It could perhaps be referred to as a ‘chocaceutical.’”

Greece Debuts New Migrant Camps in Samos

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Greece opened its new “closed” migrant camps on Saturday. Credit: Girogos Christides/Twitter

Greece opened a new, “closed” migrant camp on the island of Samos on Saturday. The camp is the first of five new camps to feature stricter access measures, with features like x-ray scanners, magnetic doors, and surveillance cameras.

These camps are being referred to as “closed” camps due to their increased isolation and elements of confinement. The Samos camp has a detention center that asylum seekers can only gain access to by having their fingerprints and electronic badges scanned. The gates of the camps will be closed at 8:00 PM, and those who do not return in time will be met with disciplinary measures.

Greece was given 276 million euros ($326 million) to establish new camps on each of its five Aegean islands. Leros, Lesbos, Kos Chios, and Samos all experience the greatest influx of migrants by sea from nearby Turkey.

The Greek government says that the new camps will meet European standards, with higher quality plumbing, living conditions, and designated areas where families can be with each other.

These camps will be a vast improvement over the previous facilities, which became infamous for their dilapidation. The previous facility on Samos–where some migrants are still currently living– lacked heating and functioning toilets, and was ridden with rats.

By Monday, those living at Samos’ older camp will be moved in to the new facility.

NGOs and other groups criticize Greece’s closed migrant camps

Although these camps represent a positive step in the quality of Greece’s migrant facilities, multiple NGOs and aid groups have criticized them for being “closed,” featuring ramped up security and surveillance.

The organizations, Amnesty International amongst them, accused Greece of practicing “harmful policies focused on deterring and containing asylum seekers and refugees.”

45 NGOs and civil society groups asked both the EU and the Greek government to stop their plans to control the activity of the migrants in their camps.

The groups believe that the restriction “will impede effective identification and protection of vulnerable people, limit access to services and assistance for asylum seekers, and exacerbate the harmful effects of displacement and containment on individuals’ mental health.”

Mireille Girard, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Greece, said that:

“The word ‘closed’ comes up often and this is concerning,” adding that “asylum seekers need protection, they are not criminals or a risk for the community, they are people who need help.

“For us, camps should be open. The government has assured us that they will be.”

Greece has been the primary point of entry to Europe for over one million asylum seekers since 2015. Most migrants come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The recent unrest in Afghanistan has sparked concerns over a new flood of migrants that could potentially overwhelm the system.

At the EUMED 9 summit held on Friday, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on the subject of migration, that “One thing is sure: we will not allow a repeat of the uncontrolled migration that we experienced in 2015.”

EU Leaders Sign Athens Declaration on Climate Change at EUMED 9

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The nine leaders of the European Mediterranean countries have signed the Athens Declaration to fight climate change. Credit: Prime Minister GR/Twitter

The nine EU leaders present at the EUMED 9 summit in Athens have signed the Athens Declaration to fight climate change.

The declaration reaffirmed the nine leaders commitment to upholding the Paris Accords, an international agreement signed by the EU and 190 parties to stabilize the world’s emissions in an effort to counter climate change.

The Athens Declaration states that the nine leaders will:

– Recognise the Mediterranean as being extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change and prone to extreme weather events, and that it experiences more frequent, extensive and intense heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, floods and forest fires.

– Recognise the need for decisive adaptation to these phenomena and for resilience policies in line with the new EU Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, and for prevention measures in all areas expected to be significantly affected in the Mediterranean region, including environmental and socio-economic sectors, as climate change poses serious risks to the environment, to society and to economy.

– Agree to work closely together to build synergies promoting the necessary transition from fossil fuels to Renewable Energy Sources and low-carbon energy technologies.

– Agree to promote climate change adaptation solutions based on the function of nature itself, and to ensure adequate protection, in particular of ecosystems critical to disaster prevention, such as coastal zones, watersheds, wetlands, forests and also urban areas.

– Emphasise, anew, that the climate crisis is a global threat which requires coordinated international action, and therefore they call on all countries to act collectively and without further delay, as the UN Secretary-General said on August 9.

– Call on all international partners, in particular the G20 countries, to ratify the Paris Agreement and announce ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

– Recognise the commitment to the rapid development of technologies and policies that further accelerate Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR).

– Call on all countries to participate in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26, Glasgow, October 31-November 12, 2021) at the level of Heads of State & Government, and to commit to the goal of being climate-neutral by 2050.

Historic EUMED 9 summit, where Athens Declaration was signed, took place this Friday

The EUMED 9, where the Athens declaration was signed, took place on Friday afternoon. Along with addressing climate change, the summit also tackled migration, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

The EUMED 9 enabled representatives from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, Slovenia and Croatia to speak together on these pressing matters with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Greece, the host nation of the summit, experienced devastating fires just last month, when the island of Evia, along with many sites on the mainland and the Peloponnese, went up in flames, fanned by an ongoing drought and sweltering temperatures.