Useful Info

The Greek Flag

The colors of the Flag are Blue and White. They symbolize the blue of the Hellenic Sea and the White of the waves. According to myth, the Goddess of Beauty and Love, Aphrodite (Venus) emerged from these waves. In addition, it reflects the blue of the Hellenic Sky and the White of the clouds. The stripes represent the number of syllabes in the phrase: Eleftheria i Thanatos (Liberty or Death). Liberty or Death was the motto during the years of the Hellenic Revolution against the Ottoman Empire in the 19nth century. The interchange of blue and white colors makes the Greek Flag on a windy day seem like the Aegean Pelagos (sea). The Hellenic Square Cross that on the upper left-side of the flag occupying a fourth of the total flag shows faith to the Greek Orthodox Church and signifies the important role of Christianity in the formation of the modern Hellenic Nation. During the dark years of the Ottoman rule, the Greek Orthodox Church helped the enslaved Greeks to retain their cultural characteristics: the Hellenic language, the Byzantine religion and generally the Hellenic ethnic identity, by the institution of the Crypha Scholia (secret schools). The Crypha Scholia were a web of schools that operated secretly throughout Greece and were committed in transmitting to Greeks the wonders of their ancestors and the rest of their cultural heritage. Today, Christianity is still the dominant religion among Greeks. Therefore, the significance of the Cross is justified.

Old Greek Flag

The simple white-cross-on-blue flag dates from 1822, and was used as an alternative national flag, but only in land, not at sea. Only the striped flag was used at sea.
From June 1975 until December 1978 the plain cross flag was used as the only national flag. The situation is now reversed, and the striped flag is now the only official national flag, although the cross flag can still be seen in unofficial use.
The Hellenic Army’s war flags are of the «simple cross» variety with the depiction of St. George slaying the dragon in the center of the cross. Although the official Hellenic flag (striped version) flies over all government installations – including those of the Hellenic Armed Forces – Hellenic Army units always parade with the previously referenced version of the simple cross flag. The same old flag is also used as part of the markings on Hellenic & Greek-Cypriot Armed Forces vehicles.

Greek Cypriot flag

The Greek Cypriots trace their origins to the descendants of the Achaean Greeks and later the Mycenaean Greeks who settled on the island during the second half of the second millennium BC. The island gradually became part of the Hellenic world as the settlers prospered over the next centuries. Alexander the Great liberated the island from the Persians in 333 BC. After the division of the Roman Empire in 285 AD, Cypriots enjoyed home rule almost nine centuries under the jurisdiction of the Byzantine Empire, something not seen again until 1960. Perhaps the most important event of the early Byzantine period was that the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus became an independent autocephalous church in 431.

The Byzantine era profoundly molded Greek Cypriot culture. The Greek Orthodox Christian legacy bestowed on Greek Cypriots in this period would live on during the succeeding centuries of foreign domination. Because Cyprus was never the final goal of any external ambition, but simply fell under the domination of whichever power was dominant in the eastern Mediterranean, destroying its civilization was never a military objective or necessity.

The concept of enosis – unification with the Greek «motherland» – became important to literate Greek Cypriots after Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. A movement for the realization of enosis gradually formed, in which the Orthodox Church of Cyprus had a dominant role.

The importance of religion within the Greek Cypriot community was reinforced when the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, Makarios III, was elected the first president of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. For the next decade and a half, enosis was a key issue for Greek Cypriots, and a key cause of events leading up to 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern part of the island. The island remains divided today, with the two communities almost completely separated. Many Greek Cypriots, most of which lost their homes, lands and possessions during the Turkish invasion emigrated mainly to the UK, Australia and Europe. There are today over 200,000 Greek Cypriots emigrants living in Great Britain.

By the early 1990s, Greek Cypriot society enjoyed a high standard of living. Economic modernization created a more flexible and open society and caused Greek Cypriots to share the concerns and hopes of other secularized West European societies.

The Greek Cypriot dialect is an idiom distinct from the formal Modern Greek language (note that different idioms exist on many of the Greek islands) as it is spoken in mainland Greece. It is considered by linguists to be the second most important non-standard variety of modern Greek, after the Pontic Greek dialect spoken by Greek populations on the Black Sea Coast of Anatolia. Although all Cypriots understand mainland Greeks (as the vast majority of Greek language media is produced in mainland Greek) and all Cypriots are taught standard Greek in the Cypriot educational system, the Cypriot variety is not always mutually intelligible with the standard variant (mainly because of local pronunciation and idiomatic structures). This is particularly true of many of the localized Cypriot idioms spoken in western Cyprus, around Pafos and in the Troodos mountains.
The Greek Cypriot dialect is a source of pride for the Greek Cypriot population – many Greek Cypriots consider the dialect to be closer to the Classical Greek language than standard Greek, thus providing a direct linkage between Greek Cypriots and noted ancient Greeks such as Homer and Plato.

Battle of Thermopylae

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians for days in one of history’s most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I could pass. After three days of battle Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines. Dismissing the rest of the army, King Leonidas stayed behind with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian volunteers. The Persians succeeded in taking the pass but sustained heavy losses, extremely disproportionate to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle that would come to determine the outcome of the war. The subsequent Greek victory at the Battle of Salamis left much of the Persian Empire’s navy destroyed and Xerxes I was forced to retreat back to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius, who was to meet the Greeks in battle one last time. The Spartans assembled at full strength and led a pan-Greek army that defeated the Persians decisively at the Battle of Plataea, ending the Greco-Persian War and with it the expansion of the Persian Empire into Europe.

The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain to maximize an army’s potential and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. Even more, both ancient and modern writers used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the superior power of a well trained army defending native soil.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (Greek: Μέγας Aλέξανδρος, Megas Alexandros; July 20, 356 BC–June 10, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336–323 BC), was one of the most successful Ancient Greek military commanders in history. Before his death, he conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks.
Following the unification of the multiple city-states of ancient Greece under the rule of his father, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander conquered the Persian Empire and extended the boundaries of his own empire as far as the Punjab. Before his death, Alexander had already made plans to also turn west and conquer Europe. He also wanted to continue his march eastwards in order to find the end of the world, since his boyhood tutor Aristotle told him tales about where the land ends and the Great Outer Sea begins. After twelve years of constant military campaigning, Alexander died.
His conquests ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and cultural influence over distant areas, a period known as the Hellenistic Age. Alexander himself lived on in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. After his death (and even during his life) his exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appears as a legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.

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