kythera family kythera family
  

Working Life

Photos > Working Life

Showing 41 - 60 from 117 entries
Show: sorted by:

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Japio Ruijg on 10.05.2008

painting the street

painting the street in mitata

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Daniel Tripp on 07.02.2008

My mum - doing the washing

Picture of my mum doing the washing by hand - she'd just drawn up some water from the well located handily on the balcony. Looking over the rooftops of Katsoulanika.

We lived (as invited guests) in the mostly "abandoned" Siousis home everyone called Aunt Francina's. No electricity, no running water, and it was a 4km round trip to replace the portagas gas bottle on foot.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 03.01.2008

'' head em up ,move em out''

just another day on the island,goats looking to graze,with a old bus in the background

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cinema Review on 22.12.2007

Ο Γιάννης Σμαραγδής παρέα με τον βραβευμένο για τη φωτογραφία του στον El Greco, Αρη Σταύρου

John Smaraithis with award winning cinematographer, for the movie El Greco, Ari Stavrou.

The 48th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (48o ΦΕΣΙΒAΛ KΙΝΗΜAT ΟΓΡAΦΟΥ ΘΕΣΣAΛΟΝΙKΗΣ), was held on the 27th November, 2007. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is a member of the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM PRODUCERS ASSOCIATIONS. The Festival was staged with the support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.

The First Prize for fiction film was awarded to the film EL GRECO.

Production: Eleni Smaragdi, Alexandros Film, Greek Film Center, Le Spot, Multichoice Hellas - Nova, Graal Digital, Max Productions, ERT SA Hellenic Broadcasting Corp., Raimon Masllorens, Denes Szekeres, La Productora SL, Tivoli Film Productions

Direction: Iannis Smaragdis

Best Cinematography award and 8.805 Euros was awarded to ARIS STAVROU and NIKOS SMARAGDIS for the film EL GRECO.

***Aris Stavrou is a long-time resident of the island of Kythera. (20 years in Friligianika, with American wife, Dorothy, who tragically died in May this year.) Very few Kytherians around the world would realise that one of the greatest cinematographers in Europe, and the World, is a resident of Kythera.***

Other award categories and winners are listed below. El Greco won 8 awards in all.

Best Director award and 29.350 Euros was awarded to IANNIS SMARAGDIS for the film EL GRECO.

Best Debut-Film Director award and 14.675 Euros was awarded to CONSTANTINA VOULGARI for the film VALSE SENTIMENTALE.

Best Screenplay award and 14.675 Euros was awarded ex aequo to THANOS ANASTOPOULOS and VASSILIS RAISSIS for the film DIORTHOSI,(CORRECTION), and to COSTAS KAPAKAS for the film URANYA.

Best Leading Actor award and 11.740 Euros was awarded to YORGOS SYMEONIDIS for the film DIORTHOSI,(CORRECTION).

Best Leading Actress award and 11.740 Euros was awarded to LOUKIA MICHALOPOULOU for the film VALSE SENTIMENTALE.

Best Supporting Actor award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to MANOLIS MAVROMATAKIS for the film URANYA.

Best Supporting Actress award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to MENI CONSTANDINIDOU for the film STRAIGHT STORY.

Best Cinematography award and 8.805 Euros was awarded to ARIS STAVROU and NIKOS SMARAGDIS for the film EL GRECO.

Best Set Design award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to DAMIANOS ZAFIRIS for the film EL GRECO.

Best Music award and 5.870 Euros was awarded ex aequo to PANAYOTIS KALATZOPOULOS for the film URANYA, and to VANGELIS PAPATHANASSIOU for the film EL GRECO.

Best Sound award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to MARINOS ATHANASSOPOULOS for the film EL GRECO.

Best Editing award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to YANNIS TSITSOPOULOS for the film EL GRECO.

Best Costumes award and 5.870 Euros was awarded to EVA NATHENA for the film EL GRECO.

Best Makeup award and 2.935 Euros was awarded to ARGIRO KOUROUPOU for the film EL GRECO.

Βραβεία διά χειρός Γκρέκο

Του ΓΙΩΡΓΟΥ ΚΑΡΟΥΖΑΚΗ


Η ταινία με τη μεγαλύτερη εμπορική επιτυχία της χρονιάς -γύρω στα 650.000 εισιτήρια- ο «El Greco» του Γιάννη Σμαραγδή πήρε, όπως αναμενόταν, τα περισσότερα Κρατικά Κινηματογραφικά Βραβεία Ποιότητας (8 συνολικά) αλλά και τη σημαντικότερη διάκριση, δηλαδή το 1ο βραβείο ταινίας μυθοπλασίας (58.700 ευρώ). Ολα αυτά στη χθεσινή απονομή των Κρατικών Κινηματογραφικών Βραβείων Ποιότητας στο Μέγαρο Μουσικής Θεσσαλονίκης.

Στο ίδιο πάντα κλίμα η 50μελής Κριτική Επιτροπή έδωσε το 2ο Κρατικό Βραβείο (44.025 ευρώ) στην «Uranya» του Κώστα Καπάκα, που συγκέντρωσε συνολικά 5 βραβεία.

Πάλι καλά που κατάφεραν να «τρυπώσουν» στα κρατικά βραβεία με σημαντικές διακρίσεις και δύο ταινίες μεγαλύτερου καλλιτεχνικού ενδιαφέροντος: η «Διόρθωση» του Θάνου Αναστόπουλου πήρε το 3ο Κρατικό Βραβείο (29.350 ευρώ), ενώ συνολικά συγκέντρωσε τρία βραβεία. Οσο για το πολύ σημαντικό βραβείο Πρωτοεμφανιζόμενου Σκηνοθέτη (14.675 ευρώ) απονεμήθηκε στην Κωνσταντίνα Βούλγαρη για την ταινία «Valse Sentimentale», η οποία πήρε ακόμα ένα.

* Ανάμεσα στις διακρίσεις τού κατά Σμαραγδή «El Greco» συγκαταλέγονται και το δικό του αποκλειστικά βραβείο σκηνοθεσίας (29.350 ευρώ), αλλα και τα βραβεία φωτογραφίας (8.805 ευρώ) από κοινού στους Αρη Σταύρου και Νίκο Σμαραγδή, σκηνογραφίας στον Δαμιανό Ζαρίφη (ο οποίος έφυγε πρόσφατα από τη ζωή), μουσικής στον Βαγγέλη Παπαθανασίου (το μοιράστηκε με τον Παναγιώτη Καλαντζόπουλο τής «Uranya» του Κώστα Καπάκα), ήχου στον Μαρίνο Αθανασόπουλο, μοντάζ στον Γιάννη Τσιτσόπουλο και μακιγιάζ στην Αργυρώ Κουρουπού.

* Τα υπόλοιπα βραβεία της «Uranya» του Κώστα Καπάκα είναι το βραβείο 2ου ανδρικού ρόλου (5.870 ευρώ) στον Μανώλη Μαυροματάκη, σεναρίου στον ίδιο (ισομερώς με τους Θάνο Αναστόπουλο και Βασίλη Ραΐση της «Διόρθωσης»), μουσικής στον Παναγιώτη Καλαντζόπουλο (εξ ημισείας με τον Βαγγέλη Παπαθανασίου τού «El Greco») και ενδυματολογίας στην Εύα Νάθενα.

* Η «Διόρθωση» του Θάνου Αναστόπουλου έφυγε από τη Θεσσαλονίκη και με το βραβείο σεναρίου (έστω μισό) και μ' εκείνο του α' ανδρικού ρόλου (11.740 ευρώ) για την ερμηνεία του Γιώργου Συμεωνίδη. Ο τελευταίος πήρε 95 ψήφους, ενώ τον «απειλούσε» με 87 ψήφους ο Αντώνης Καφετζόπουλος για την ταινία «Πρώτη φορά νονός» της Ολγας Μαλέα.
* Το δεύτερο βραβείο τού «Valse Sentimentale» της Βούλγαρη οφείλεται στην ερμηνεία της πρωταγωνίστριάς της Λουκίας Μιχαλοπούλου (α' γυναικείου ρόλου και 11.740 ευρώ).

Στη διεκδίκηση του 1ου Κρατικού βραβείου ο Σμαραγδής είχε μια άνετη νίκη, αφού προπορεύτηκε με 104 ψήφους αφήνοντας πίσω του τον Κώστα Καπάκα με την «Uranya» (81 ψήφους). Αυτός, όμως, πήρε το 2ο Κρατικό Βραβείο με διαφορά μίας μόνο ψήφου από τον Θάνο Αναστόπουλο και τη «Διόρθωσή» του.

Λίγο πιο... δύσκολα πήρε το βραβείο σκηνοθεσίας ο Γιάννης Σμαραγδής. Συγκέντρωσε 90 ψήφους, πέντε μόλις παραπάνω από τον Θάνο Αναστόπουλο.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 25.11.2010

Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill. Greek Cafes in Twentieth-Century Australia.

Author: Toni Risson

When Published: 2007

Publisher: Toni Risson

ISBN: 978-0-646-47456-4

Description: Large A4 book. 240 pages.

TO ORDER:

Phone: (07) 3281 1525 or

0439 664 291

Enquiries:

Contact Toni Risson by email here

Or, send, name, address and cheque/money order to

Toni Risson
130 Woodend Road
Woodend, 4305.

$49.50 (incl. GST)

Plus $11 (Postage and handling).


Composite Front-Back Cover as a .pdf

Aphrodite coverV1.pdf



The Greek cafe is a shared chapter in the histories of Greece and Australia. Milk bars and cafes enabled generations of Greek immigrants to establsih themselves in their adopted homeland, and their shops became part of the social fabric of Australia. But that chapter is almost over.

Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill: Greek Cafés in Twentieth Century Australia celebrates­ the role Greek cafés played in Australian culture. It relates stories about emigrating and buying into Greek cafe, coming to Australia as a cafe bride, growing up in a shop, and going through hard times, fun times, wartime, and day-to-day prejudice. It explains the food on a typical menu, the fate of villages on islands like Kythera, and why cafes have now all but melted into history.

Beautifully produced in a soft cover, its 200 pages are jam-packed with colour photographs of Greek cafes, including Katoomba's Paragon Cafe, Gundagai's Niagara Cafe, and the dozen predominantly Kytherian cafes that dominated the Ipswich streetscape in the 1940's and 50's.

Toni Risson is a UQP childrens author, an Ipswich historian and a Universitv of Queensland Medallist.

This book is the culmination of four years of extensive research.

*****************************

"Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill began with a small project recording the stories of three older Greek ladies whose husbands had cafés in Ipswich in the 1950s. I became so passionate about the story of the Greek café, and had such an enthusiastic response from other Greek people associated with cafés, that Aphrodite grew into a 240 A4-page book jam-packed with sepia photographs of cafés and their proprietors.

It is a high-quality production.

The Greek café is an Aussie icon and I believe that mine is the first book dedicated solely to this wonderful story."

***************************

COVER PHOTO:

Marina Londy (left) from Londy's Cafe in Ipswich visits the nearby Regal Cafe after school in 1952. George Kentrotis stands proudly behind the Regal's confectionery counter with two of his brothers, two other male relatives, and two Anglo-Australian female staff.

Milkshake machines, a metal straw dispenser, and scales for weighing loose lollies sit on the counter, and stylish pilasters emblazoned with the cafe's name and a neon sign featuring a crown frame a mirror on the wall behind them.


Article from the (Brisbane) Courier Mail, Tuesday July 3, 2007. pages 40-41.

Aphrodite courier mail.pdf



Book Launch: UQ Ipswich author reflects on Greek cafe boom

“From the beginning of the twentieth century, Greek cafés and milk bars forged an important place at the heart of the Ipswich community and when older Ipswich residents talk about them their eyes light up.” In her latest work, Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill, Ipswich author Toni Risson looks at how popular Greek cafes became important gathering places in the social life of nearly every town in Queensland and New South Wales. When the trend was at its peak towns such as Ipswich had many Greek cafes; Ipswich had a dozen.

A formal launch of the book, hosted by UQ Library and Arts Ipswich, was held at UQ Ipswich on Tuesday, 31 July at 6.00pm in Building 8. Ms Risson discussed her investigation of the role Greek cafés played in Ipswich’s cultural history, situating them in the context of Greek immigration and the Greek café phenomenon throughout Australia.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 16.09.2007

the new market sellers.

this boy helps his ''yiayia out in the platia on sunday at the markets

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 12.09.2007

''office with a view''

just another day for these kapsali fisherman, not a bad view form his office.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 04.09.2007

'' the village butcher''

one of the oldest butcher shops on the island, serving people in the potamo area for several years.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by George Poulos on 24.08.2007

Cement Truck.

The most common sight on the island of Kythera.

Is there nothing that on the island that can resist "cementing"?

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Odyssey Magazine on 26.02.2007

Inside the Benaki Museum.

The Benaki Legacy

Odyssey Magazine.

January/February 2006. pp. 48-50


Antonis Benakis bequeathed more than his impressive art collection to Greece: he established an institution that symbolizes the idealism, romance, and generosity of the diaspora Greeks.

By
Athena Vorillas

His pockets were rich: filled with treasures like rocks, sponges, maybe a chewed piece of gum, and always that crystal triangle piece from the church chandelier that would shine brilliantly when held up to the sun, wrote the Greek novelist Penelope Delta of her brother, Antonis Benakis.

A practical joker who rarely escaped scoldings or having his ears pulled, Benakis showed early on that he was a curious per­son, full of energy and life; someone who liked to get into everything. He had chari­sma, a big heart, and an omnipresent up­-to-something stare. This gentleman and benefactor of early-twentieth-century Greece, founder of its first private museum, The Benaki Museum, and league of boy scouts; this art collector, philanthropist, yachtsman, army volunteer, son, father, husband, Greek of the diaspora who elicit­ed feelings of “hero worship” from his sib­lings, indeed had rich pockets. And he found many ways of sharing their contents.

Antonis Benakis & his sister Penelope in Alexandria in 1891

His generosity was inherited from his family and cultivated by his upbringing. Working and living in Athens, Greece, and Alexandria, Egypt, the Benaki family started a profound legacy of cultural, pout­cal, and social ethos that continues to blossom in Greece today.

Born 1873 into a wealthy and promi­nent Greek family, Benakis and his siblings carried on the tradition of giving, instilled in them, no doubt, by their parents, Em­manuel and Virginia. With roots in the southern Peloponnese region of Messinia, Emmanuel was horn on the island of Syros and studied in England. His sharp mind and entrepreneurial skills led him to the cotton trade of Alexandria in 1865 and his heart to a wealthy young bride, Virginia Chore­mi. They had six children, hut became spir­itual parents to thousands of others by way of their many charitable gifts to The Bena­ki Orphanage in Alexandria, the American College of Greece in Athens, the Greek Red Cross and numerous philanthropic or­ganizations. A distingtiished citizen of the Greek and greater Egyptian communities, Emmanuel held positions as advisor and member of the National Bank of Egypt and the National insurance Companies of Egypt; he was also president of the Greek community of Alexandria. Later, his close friendship with Eleftherios Venizelos, the pre-eminent statesman of modern Greece, led Emmanuel to relocate his family to Greece where he assumed several positions in the Venizelos cabinet and served as May­or of Athens from 1914 to 1915.

The Benaki mansion in 1911. When it was still the Benaki family residence

This was the social environment in which Trelantonis, or ‘crazy Antonis” as his sister Penelope Delta dubbed him in a best-selling children’s book inspired by his antics, grew up and developed his own philanthropic activities as well as a pas­sion for collecting art.

Being raised in an affluent and noble milieu gave Benakis an advantage as a col­lector and as a benefactor. His travels in the late-1800s and early 1900s read like the itinerary of a modern-day jet-setter: he studied in Egypt, Athens, and London; spent his summers shuttling between Alexandria, Piraeus, and the Aegean is­land of Chios; pursued business ventures in Liverpool, Africa, and the Middle East. As a young man, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Greek-Turkish conflicts of 1897 and 1912-1913. Along the way, his pockets of treasures evolved from rocks, sponges, and chewed gum to works of Islamic and Cop­tic art; Byzantine, post-Byzantine and Greek folk art and handicrafts; coarse-flaked Paleolithic stone tools from central Greece; embroidered icons from eigh­teenth-century Ankara; and weapons, uni­forms, and paintings from the Greek inde­pendence revolt of 1821.

Realizing the potential of his son’s art collection and its impact on the modern Greek art world, Emmanuel — with the con­sent of all the Benaki children — donated the family’s stately neoclassical mansion at the corner of Vassilissis Sofias and Koumbari to the Greek state to house the growing art collection. In 1927, Benakis, then in his mid-fifties and a successful businessman left Alexandria to make Athens his permanent home and the museum his primary priority. Three years later, the Benaki Musettm opened at the former Benaki home, present location of the main museum in which the core collection is exhibited.

“After four hundred years of slavery and years of bloody war, Greece, a newly-independent country in 1830, needed these types of people,” writes the muse­um’s curator Angelos Delivorrias in a bio­graphy of Antonis Benakis. “He was not just your common everyday benefactor that helped Greece get on its feet, hut the last of those few that did not keep any­thing for themselves.”

Before founding a private museum to house his massive collection, Benakis do­nated works to the National Art Gallery in Athens, the Byzantine and Christian Mu­seum, the National Archaeological Muse­um, and the Museum of Thessaloniki as well as the British Museum in London and the Museum of Arabic Art in Cairo. But es­tablishing his own museum allowed him to he more directly involved with the works he had collected. During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Athens, the then-sixty-six-year-old Benakis even pulled up his sleeves and spent several days packing the museum’s collectibles for safe hiding.

Antonis Benakis observing a case which contains ancient greek jewelry,1940-1950. Benaki Museum Historical Archives

When Benakis died in 1954, the muse­um’s holdings numbered 26,666 objects, 10,410 books and manuscripts, and 146 archival units of historical documents, ac­cording to the museum’s official guide writ­ten by Delivorrias. Benakis was an avid col­lector of Chinese and Islamic art, and as a collector of Greek art, Benakis’s primary in­terest was in the Byzantine and post-Byzan­tine era. Antiquities comprise the smallest section of the museums exhibits, however, the pottery, figurines, jewelry, and tools are representative of their respective periods, allowing the museum to present a timeline of Greek history spanning the prehistoric era to the nineteenth century, with eclectic glimpses into the twentieth.

“In my experience, the Greeks of the diaspora who have become major art col­lectors have certainly responded to their cultural heritage in the works they have sought for their collections. However, I have also found them often very open to other artistic traditions, especially ones that remind them in some way of their own past,” says Dr. Helen Evans, Curator for Byzantine Art, The Department of Me­dieval Art and The Cloisters, at The Met­ropolitan Museum of Art.

2nd century BC, gold wreath. Benaki Museum

“Emmanuel and Antonis Benakis en­couraged wider interest in all aspects of Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture through their interest in their ctoltural her­itage,” she adds. “Antonis Benakis, for ex­ample, was a member of the Greek scientif­ic committee for the first International Ex­hibition on Byzantine Art, which was held in Paris in 1931.”

The museum’s continued growth after Benakis’s death is tribute to his legacy as a collector. By 2000, when the museum re­opened after a complete renovation and re­organization, its holdings of art objects alone had grown to 45,000 items —testa­ment to Delivorrias’s steadfastness and in­spiration, as well as his abilities as a fundraiser who managed to increase the number of donations and grants to the museum. “The expansion of the Benaki Muse­um reflects the courageous vision of the museum s hoard and its director Angelos Delivorrias and the quality of staff whom Professor Delivorrias brought together to create the newly expanded museum at the Benaki home,” says Evans.

Benakis’s granddaughter Aimilia Yer­oulanou, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, agrees. “Mr. Delivorrias has be­come part of the family,” she says. “He has been the major force and inspiration be­hind the growth of the museum today.”

The “museum” today has metamor­phosed into an institution that includes a Museum of Islamic Art (one of the few in Europe), the Cultural Center and modern art museum on Odos Pireos, and several an­nexes housing photographic and historical archives. A gallery dedicated to the works of Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas is being cre­ated in the renowned Greek artist’s former archer, currently under renovation, while the plans for future expansion include es­tablishing a Museum of Toys, Games, and Childhood. “They have shown what a great impact a collection with vision and taste can have for the benefit of the general pub­lic,” says Carlos Picon, Curator in Charge, Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The apparent growth and evolution of the flagship Benaki Museum and its many contemporary satellite museums comes at a time when post-Olympics Athens is en­joying a renaissance of sorts as a major player in the modern “Meccas” of Euro­pean metropohises. And the Benaki fami­ly, in collaboration with Delivorrias, con­tinues to play an instrumental role in the city’s dynamic evolution.

“My grandfather would have been proud,” says Yeroulanou. “[But] Greek art is very, very strong to depend on just one per­son. Each person helps build by placing just one stone. Antonis Benakis did a great deed by establishing this museum. But the strength of Hellenistic art and Hehlenism is greater than any one person.”

From the Benaki Museum website:

http://www.benaki.gr/museum/history/founder/en/index.htm

Its History

Its Founder


Antonis Benakis, scion of one of the leading families of the Greek diaspora, was born in Alexandria in 1873. He was witness to the vibrant tradition of national benefaction which, from the earliest years of Greek independence, was so clearly manifest amongst the Greek communities abroad.

Benakis began his career as a collector in Alexandria, gradually reaching the decision to donate his collections to the Greek state, an idea which became reality after he settled permanently in Athens in 1926.

The world in which Antonis Benakis moved was shaped in a period when the drive to extend the boundaries of the Greek state was as much an element of contemporary society as the parallel ideologies of urban development and enlightenment through education. Benakis' proverbial generosity towards other cultural institutions and undertakings was indicative of this.

His personality was formed within a family environment which nourished such ideals, and which also fostered the exceptional literary talents of his sister, Penelope Delta (1874-1929), whose stories have been familiar to generations of Greek children.

It is certain that Antonis Benakis, the founder of the Benaki Museum, was also influenced by the example of his father Emmanuel Benakis (1843-1929). A close friend and colleague of the great statesman Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), Emmanuel Benakis placed his fortune at the disposal of numerous charitable foundations and likewise contributed to the settlement of refugees in the aftermath of the catastrophe in Asia Minor.

Within this context, the nature of Antonis Benakis' benefaction becomes self-evident. Its most salient feature remains the fact that during his own lifetime Benakis donated the museum he created to the Greek state. Of equal importance was his continuous involvement, until his death in 1954, in enriching and improving the organisation of the museum's holdings, and his role in ensuring its financial security.

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Cover page of the Odyssey Magazine article. 2006

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Sans wording from the article

The Building

The Main Building


The Benaki Museum is housed in one of the few neoclassical buildings which has withstood the aesthetic changes of post-war Athens. It is located in a particularly attractive setting in the historic centre of the city, exactly opposite the greenery of the National Gardens and the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and near related institutions such as the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum of Athens.

The Benaki Museum occupies a composite architectural grouping which has undergone many changes throughout its history:

The original building, 1910

The first extension in 1930

The El.Venizelos - D.Kyriazis expansion, 1965

The wing of El.Stathatos'donation, 1968-73

The new wing of the Benaki Museum 1867-1868

The original core of the architectural grouping is built, comprising a much simpler and differently laid out house than the present structure.

1910

The property is bought by Emmanuel Benakis upon the permanent establishment of his family in Athens.

1911
The building is extended through the addition of a ballroom and service quarters designed by the well-known architect Anastasios Metaxas, who was also responsible for the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium.

1930

Another wing is added to the building by Anastasios Metaxas in order to meet the requirements resulting from its transformation into a museum.

1965

The exhibition space of the Museum is enlarged by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the historic heirlooms of Eleftherios Venizelos on the ground floor and the Damianos Kyriazis Collection on the first floor.

1968

A new extension is made to the basement by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the Eleni Stathatou donation.

1973

The Stamatios Dekozis-Vouros Foundation funds the addition of a new wing occupied by lecture rooms, spaces for temporary exhibitions and a cafe.

1989

Work begins on a major expansion of the Museum space through the construction of a five-storey wing with three basements located on the west side of its grounds, exceeding the height of the additions of 1968 and 1973, and planned by the architect A. S. Kalligas.

1997

The work on the new wing is completed, doubling the Museum's available space to 7000 m2 on five integrated interior floor levels and two basements.

Benaki Museum expands

Inside the Benaki Museum

The Museum Today

Over the past two decades, the Benaki Museum has experienced a significant increase in the number of its objects, staff, visitors and activities. This has led to a redefinition of its role as a museum, taking into account the demands of contemporary society and the need to ensure and faciliate the Museum’s future operation.

In the light of past developments and current opinions, it was deemed necessary to divide the Museum’s collections and services into several different entities.

This will be accomplished by moving the Museum’s Islamic collection to a group of buildings in the Kerameikos district of Athens which were donated by Lambros Eftaxias and which are presently undergoing restoration, by moving the Department of Historical Archives to the house of Penelope Delta in Kifissia which was donated by Alexandra Papadopoulou, by moving the Museum’s collection of children’s Toys ang Games to the neo-Gothic mansion, left to the Museum by Vera Kouloura, and by moving the Photographic Archive to the apartment donated by Penelope Vlangali and Mary Carolou.

This reorganisation of the Museum’s structure has been influenced by contemporary trends towards decentralisation, which is realised in this case by the creation of a series of separate but interrelated annexes.

The well-known neoclassical mansion of the Benaki Museum continues to be the focal point of this new structure. It has nevertheless undergone thorough modernisation and has been extended through the addition of a new wing. This building will provide a home for the Greek collections of the Museum, offering visitors a rare opportunity to form a complete and uninterrupted picture of the historical evolution of the Greek people.

Benaki Museum. Exterior. 2007

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Odyssey Magazine on 26.02.2007

2nd century BC, gold wreath. Benaki Museum.

The Benaki Legacy

Odyssey Magazine.

January/February 2006. pp. 48-50


Antonis Benakis bequeathed more than his impressive art collection to Greece: he established an institution that symbolizes the idealism, romance, and generosity of the diaspora Greeks.

By
Athena Vorillas

His pockets were rich: filled with treasures like rocks, sponges, maybe a chewed piece of gum, and always that crystal triangle piece from the church chandelier that would shine brilliantly when held up to the sun, wrote the Greek novelist Penelope Delta of her brother, Antonis Benakis.

A practical joker who rarely escaped scoldings or having his ears pulled, Benakis showed early on that he was a curious per­son, full of energy and life; someone who liked to get into everything. He had chari­sma, a big heart, and an omnipresent up­-to-something stare. This gentleman and benefactor of early-twentieth-century Greece, founder of its first private museum, The Benaki Museum, and league of boy scouts; this art collector, philanthropist, yachtsman, army volunteer, son, father, husband, Greek of the diaspora who elicit­ed feelings of “hero worship” from his sib­lings, indeed had rich pockets. And he found many ways of sharing their contents.

Antonis Benakis & his sister Penelope in Alexandria in 1891

His generosity was inherited from his family and cultivated by his upbringing. Working and living in Athens, Greece, and Alexandria, Egypt, the Benaki family started a profound legacy of cultural, pout­cal, and social ethos that continues to blossom in Greece today.

Born 1873 into a wealthy and promi­nent Greek family, Benakis and his siblings carried on the tradition of giving, instilled in them, no doubt, by their parents, Em­manuel and Virginia. With roots in the southern Peloponnese region of Messinia, Emmanuel was horn on the island of Syros and studied in England. His sharp mind and entrepreneurial skills led him to the cotton trade of Alexandria in 1865 and his heart to a wealthy young bride, Virginia Chore­mi. They had six children, hut became spir­itual parents to thousands of others by way of their many charitable gifts to The Bena­ki Orphanage in Alexandria, the American College of Greece in Athens, the Greek Red Cross and numerous philanthropic or­ganizations. A distingtiished citizen of the Greek and greater Egyptian communities, Emmanuel held positions as advisor and member of the National Bank of Egypt and the National insurance Companies of Egypt; he was also president of the Greek community of Alexandria. Later, his close friendship with Eleftherios Venizelos, the pre-eminent statesman of modern Greece, led Emmanuel to relocate his family to Greece where he assumed several positions in the Venizelos cabinet and served as May­or of Athens from 1914 to 1915.

The Benaki mansion in 1911. When it was still the Benaki family residence

This was the social environment in which Trelantonis, or ‘crazy Antonis” as his sister Penelope Delta dubbed him in a best-selling children’s book inspired by his antics, grew up and developed his own philanthropic activities as well as a pas­sion for collecting art.

Being raised in an affluent and noble milieu gave Benakis an advantage as a col­lector and as a benefactor. His travels in the late-1800s and early 1900s read like the itinerary of a modern-day jet-setter: he studied in Egypt, Athens, and London; spent his summers shuttling between Alexandria, Piraeus, and the Aegean is­land of Chios; pursued business ventures in Liverpool, Africa, and the Middle East. As a young man, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Greek-Turkish conflicts of 1897 and 1912-1913. Along the way, his pockets of treasures evolved from rocks, sponges, and chewed gum to works of Islamic and Cop­tic art; Byzantine, post-Byzantine and Greek folk art and handicrafts; coarse-flaked Paleolithic stone tools from central Greece; embroidered icons from eigh­teenth-century Ankara; and weapons, uni­forms, and paintings from the Greek inde­pendence revolt of 1821.

Realizing the potential of his son’s art collection and its impact on the modern Greek art world, Emmanuel — with the con­sent of all the Benaki children — donated the family’s stately neoclassical mansion at the corner of Vassilissis Sofias and Koumbari to the Greek state to house the growing art collection. In 1927, Benakis, then in his mid-fifties and a successful businessman left Alexandria to make Athens his permanent home and the museum his primary priority. Three years later, the Benaki Musettm opened at the former Benaki home, present location of the main museum in which the core collection is exhibited.

“After four hundred years of slavery and years of bloody war, Greece, a newly-independent country in 1830, needed these types of people,” writes the muse­um’s curator Angelos Delivorrias in a bio­graphy of Antonis Benakis. “He was not just your common everyday benefactor that helped Greece get on its feet, hut the last of those few that did not keep any­thing for themselves.”

Before founding a private museum to house his massive collection, Benakis do­nated works to the National Art Gallery in Athens, the Byzantine and Christian Mu­seum, the National Archaeological Muse­um, and the Museum of Thessaloniki as well as the British Museum in London and the Museum of Arabic Art in Cairo. But es­tablishing his own museum allowed him to he more directly involved with the works he had collected. During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Athens, the then-sixty-six-year-old Benakis even pulled up his sleeves and spent several days packing the museum’s collectibles for safe hiding.

Antonis Benakis observing a case which contains ancient greek jewelry,1940-1950. Benaki Museum Historical Archives

When Benakis died in 1954, the muse­um’s holdings numbered 26,666 objects, 10,410 books and manuscripts, and 146 archival units of historical documents, ac­cording to the museum’s official guide writ­ten by Delivorrias. Benakis was an avid col­lector of Chinese and Islamic art, and as a collector of Greek art, Benakis’s primary in­terest was in the Byzantine and post-Byzan­tine era. Antiquities comprise the smallest section of the museums exhibits, however, the pottery, figurines, jewelry, and tools are representative of their respective periods, allowing the museum to present a timeline of Greek history spanning the prehistoric era to the nineteenth century, with eclectic glimpses into the twentieth.

“In my experience, the Greeks of the diaspora who have become major art col­lectors have certainly responded to their cultural heritage in the works they have sought for their collections. However, I have also found them often very open to other artistic traditions, especially ones that remind them in some way of their own past,” says Dr. Helen Evans, Curator for Byzantine Art, The Department of Me­dieval Art and The Cloisters, at The Met­ropolitan Museum of Art.

2nd century BC, gold wreath. Benaki Museum

“Emmanuel and Antonis Benakis en­couraged wider interest in all aspects of Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture through their interest in their ctoltural her­itage,” she adds. “Antonis Benakis, for ex­ample, was a member of the Greek scientif­ic committee for the first International Ex­hibition on Byzantine Art, which was held in Paris in 1931.”

The museum’s continued growth after Benakis’s death is tribute to his legacy as a collector. By 2000, when the museum re­opened after a complete renovation and re­organization, its holdings of art objects alone had grown to 45,000 items —testa­ment to Delivorrias’s steadfastness and in­spiration, as well as his abilities as a fundraiser who managed to increase the number of donations and grants to the museum. “The expansion of the Benaki Muse­um reflects the courageous vision of the museum s hoard and its director Angelos Delivorrias and the quality of staff whom Professor Delivorrias brought together to create the newly expanded museum at the Benaki home,” says Evans.

Benakis’s granddaughter Aimilia Yer­oulanou, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, agrees. “Mr. Delivorrias has be­come part of the family,” she says. “He has been the major force and inspiration be­hind the growth of the museum today.”

The “museum” today has metamor­phosed into an institution that includes a Museum of Islamic Art (one of the few in Europe), the Cultural Center and modern art museum on Odos Pireos, and several an­nexes housing photographic and historical archives. A gallery dedicated to the works of Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas is being cre­ated in the renowned Greek artist’s former archer, currently under renovation, while the plans for future expansion include es­tablishing a Museum of Toys, Games, and Childhood. “They have shown what a great impact a collection with vision and taste can have for the benefit of the general pub­lic,” says Carlos Picon, Curator in Charge, Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The apparent growth and evolution of the flagship Benaki Museum and its many contemporary satellite museums comes at a time when post-Olympics Athens is en­joying a renaissance of sorts as a major player in the modern “Meccas” of Euro­pean metropohises. And the Benaki fami­ly, in collaboration with Delivorrias, con­tinues to play an instrumental role in the city’s dynamic evolution.

“My grandfather would have been proud,” says Yeroulanou. “[But] Greek art is very, very strong to depend on just one per­son. Each person helps build by placing just one stone. Antonis Benakis did a great deed by establishing this museum. But the strength of Hellenistic art and Hehlenism is greater than any one person.”

From the Benaki Museum website:

http://www.benaki.gr/museum/history/founder/en/index.htm

Its History

Its Founder


Antonis Benakis, scion of one of the leading families of the Greek diaspora, was born in Alexandria in 1873. He was witness to the vibrant tradition of national benefaction which, from the earliest years of Greek independence, was so clearly manifest amongst the Greek communities abroad.

Benakis began his career as a collector in Alexandria, gradually reaching the decision to donate his collections to the Greek state, an idea which became reality after he settled permanently in Athens in 1926.

The world in which Antonis Benakis moved was shaped in a period when the drive to extend the boundaries of the Greek state was as much an element of contemporary society as the parallel ideologies of urban development and enlightenment through education. Benakis' proverbial generosity towards other cultural institutions and undertakings was indicative of this.

His personality was formed within a family environment which nourished such ideals, and which also fostered the exceptional literary talents of his sister, Penelope Delta (1874-1929), whose stories have been familiar to generations of Greek children.

It is certain that Antonis Benakis, the founder of the Benaki Museum, was also influenced by the example of his father Emmanuel Benakis (1843-1929). A close friend and colleague of the great statesman Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), Emmanuel Benakis placed his fortune at the disposal of numerous charitable foundations and likewise contributed to the settlement of refugees in the aftermath of the catastrophe in Asia Minor.

Within this context, the nature of Antonis Benakis' benefaction becomes self-evident. Its most salient feature remains the fact that during his own lifetime Benakis donated the museum he created to the Greek state. Of equal importance was his continuous involvement, until his death in 1954, in enriching and improving the organisation of the museum's holdings, and his role in ensuring its financial security.

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Cover page of the Odyssey Magazine article. 2006

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Sans wording from the article

The Building

The Main Building


The Benaki Museum is housed in one of the few neoclassical buildings which has withstood the aesthetic changes of post-war Athens. It is located in a particularly attractive setting in the historic centre of the city, exactly opposite the greenery of the National Gardens and the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and near related institutions such as the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum of Athens.

The Benaki Museum occupies a composite architectural grouping which has undergone many changes throughout its history:

The original building, 1910

The first extension in 1930

The El.Venizelos - D.Kyriazis expansion, 1965

The wing of El.Stathatos'donation, 1968-73

The new wing of the Benaki Museum 1867-1868

The original core of the architectural grouping is built, comprising a much simpler and differently laid out house than the present structure.

1910

The property is bought by Emmanuel Benakis upon the permanent establishment of his family in Athens.

1911
The building is extended through the addition of a ballroom and service quarters designed by the well-known architect Anastasios Metaxas, who was also responsible for the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium.

1930

Another wing is added to the building by Anastasios Metaxas in order to meet the requirements resulting from its transformation into a museum.

1965

The exhibition space of the Museum is enlarged by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the historic heirlooms of Eleftherios Venizelos on the ground floor and the Damianos Kyriazis Collection on the first floor.

1968

A new extension is made to the basement by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the Eleni Stathatou donation.

1973

The Stamatios Dekozis-Vouros Foundation funds the addition of a new wing occupied by lecture rooms, spaces for temporary exhibitions and a cafe.

1989

Work begins on a major expansion of the Museum space through the construction of a five-storey wing with three basements located on the west side of its grounds, exceeding the height of the additions of 1968 and 1973, and planned by the architect A. S. Kalligas.

1997

The work on the new wing is completed, doubling the Museum's available space to 7000 m2 on five integrated interior floor levels and two basements.

Benaki Museum expands

Inside the Benaki Museum

The Museum Today

Over the past two decades, the Benaki Museum has experienced a significant increase in the number of its objects, staff, visitors and activities. This has led to a redefinition of its role as a museum, taking into account the demands of contemporary society and the need to ensure and faciliate the Museum’s future operation.

In the light of past developments and current opinions, it was deemed necessary to divide the Museum’s collections and services into several different entities.

This will be accomplished by moving the Museum’s Islamic collection to a group of buildings in the Kerameikos district of Athens which were donated by Lambros Eftaxias and which are presently undergoing restoration, by moving the Department of Historical Archives to the house of Penelope Delta in Kifissia which was donated by Alexandra Papadopoulou, by moving the Museum’s collection of children’s Toys ang Games to the neo-Gothic mansion, left to the Museum by Vera Kouloura, and by moving the Photographic Archive to the apartment donated by Penelope Vlangali and Mary Carolou.

This reorganisation of the Museum’s structure has been influenced by contemporary trends towards decentralisation, which is realised in this case by the creation of a series of separate but interrelated annexes.

The well-known neoclassical mansion of the Benaki Museum continues to be the focal point of this new structure. It has nevertheless undergone thorough modernisation and has been extended through the addition of a new wing. This building will provide a home for the Greek collections of the Museum, offering visitors a rare opportunity to form a complete and uninterrupted picture of the historical evolution of the Greek people.

Benaki Museum. Exterior. 2007

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Odyssey Magazine on 26.02.2007

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid.

The Benaki Legacy

Odyssey Magazine.

January/February 2006. pp. 48-50


Antonis Benakis bequeathed more than his impressive art collection to Greece: he established an institution that symbolizes the idealism, romance, and generosity of the diaspora Greeks.

By
Athena Vorillas

His pockets were rich: filled with treasures like rocks, sponges, maybe a chewed piece of gum, and always that crystal triangle piece from the church chandelier that would shine brilliantly when held up to the sun, wrote the Greek novelist Penelope Delta of her brother, Antonis Benakis.

A practical joker who rarely escaped scoldings or having his ears pulled, Benakis showed early on that he was a curious per­son, full of energy and life; someone who liked to get into everything. He had chari­sma, a big heart, and an omnipresent up­-to-something stare. This gentleman and benefactor of early-twentieth-century Greece, founder of its first private museum, The Benaki Museum, and league of boy scouts; this art collector, philanthropist, yachtsman, army volunteer, son, father, husband, Greek of the diaspora who elicit­ed feelings of “hero worship” from his sib­lings, indeed had rich pockets. And he found many ways of sharing their contents.

Antonis Benakis & his sister Penelope in Alexandria in 1891

His generosity was inherited from his family and cultivated by his upbringing. Working and living in Athens, Greece, and Alexandria, Egypt, the Benaki family started a profound legacy of cultural, pout­cal, and social ethos that continues to blossom in Greece today.

Born 1873 into a wealthy and promi­nent Greek family, Benakis and his siblings carried on the tradition of giving, instilled in them, no doubt, by their parents, Em­manuel and Virginia. With roots in the southern Peloponnese region of Messinia, Emmanuel was horn on the island of Syros and studied in England. His sharp mind and entrepreneurial skills led him to the cotton trade of Alexandria in 1865 and his heart to a wealthy young bride, Virginia Chore­mi. They had six children, hut became spir­itual parents to thousands of others by way of their many charitable gifts to The Bena­ki Orphanage in Alexandria, the American College of Greece in Athens, the Greek Red Cross and numerous philanthropic or­ganizations. A distingtiished citizen of the Greek and greater Egyptian communities, Emmanuel held positions as advisor and member of the National Bank of Egypt and the National insurance Companies of Egypt; he was also president of the Greek community of Alexandria. Later, his close friendship with Eleftherios Venizelos, the pre-eminent statesman of modern Greece, led Emmanuel to relocate his family to Greece where he assumed several positions in the Venizelos cabinet and served as May­or of Athens from 1914 to 1915.

The Benaki mansion in 1911. When it was still the Benaki family residence

This was the social environment in which Trelantonis, or ‘crazy Antonis” as his sister Penelope Delta dubbed him in a best-selling children’s book inspired by his antics, grew up and developed his own philanthropic activities as well as a pas­sion for collecting art.

Being raised in an affluent and noble milieu gave Benakis an advantage as a col­lector and as a benefactor. His travels in the late-1800s and early 1900s read like the itinerary of a modern-day jet-setter: he studied in Egypt, Athens, and London; spent his summers shuttling between Alexandria, Piraeus, and the Aegean is­land of Chios; pursued business ventures in Liverpool, Africa, and the Middle East. As a young man, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Greek-Turkish conflicts of 1897 and 1912-1913. Along the way, his pockets of treasures evolved from rocks, sponges, and chewed gum to works of Islamic and Cop­tic art; Byzantine, post-Byzantine and Greek folk art and handicrafts; coarse-flaked Paleolithic stone tools from central Greece; embroidered icons from eigh­teenth-century Ankara; and weapons, uni­forms, and paintings from the Greek inde­pendence revolt of 1821.

Realizing the potential of his son’s art collection and its impact on the modern Greek art world, Emmanuel — with the con­sent of all the Benaki children — donated the family’s stately neoclassical mansion at the corner of Vassilissis Sofias and Koumbari to the Greek state to house the growing art collection. In 1927, Benakis, then in his mid-fifties and a successful businessman left Alexandria to make Athens his permanent home and the museum his primary priority. Three years later, the Benaki Musettm opened at the former Benaki home, present location of the main museum in which the core collection is exhibited.

“After four hundred years of slavery and years of bloody war, Greece, a newly-independent country in 1830, needed these types of people,” writes the muse­um’s curator Angelos Delivorrias in a bio­graphy of Antonis Benakis. “He was not just your common everyday benefactor that helped Greece get on its feet, hut the last of those few that did not keep any­thing for themselves.”

Before founding a private museum to house his massive collection, Benakis do­nated works to the National Art Gallery in Athens, the Byzantine and Christian Mu­seum, the National Archaeological Muse­um, and the Museum of Thessaloniki as well as the British Museum in London and the Museum of Arabic Art in Cairo. But es­tablishing his own museum allowed him to he more directly involved with the works he had collected. During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Athens, the then-sixty-six-year-old Benakis even pulled up his sleeves and spent several days packing the museum’s collectibles for safe hiding.

Antonis Benakis observing a case which contains ancient greek jewelry,1940-1950. Benaki Museum Historical Archives

When Benakis died in 1954, the muse­um’s holdings numbered 26,666 objects, 10,410 books and manuscripts, and 146 archival units of historical documents, ac­cording to the museum’s official guide writ­ten by Delivorrias. Benakis was an avid col­lector of Chinese and Islamic art, and as a collector of Greek art, Benakis’s primary in­terest was in the Byzantine and post-Byzan­tine era. Antiquities comprise the smallest section of the museums exhibits, however, the pottery, figurines, jewelry, and tools are representative of their respective periods, allowing the museum to present a timeline of Greek history spanning the prehistoric era to the nineteenth century, with eclectic glimpses into the twentieth.

“In my experience, the Greeks of the diaspora who have become major art col­lectors have certainly responded to their cultural heritage in the works they have sought for their collections. However, I have also found them often very open to other artistic traditions, especially ones that remind them in some way of their own past,” says Dr. Helen Evans, Curator for Byzantine Art, The Department of Me­dieval Art and The Cloisters, at The Met­ropolitan Museum of Art.

2nd century BC, gold wreath. Benaki Museum

“Emmanuel and Antonis Benakis en­couraged wider interest in all aspects of Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture through their interest in their ctoltural her­itage,” she adds. “Antonis Benakis, for ex­ample, was a member of the Greek scientif­ic committee for the first International Ex­hibition on Byzantine Art, which was held in Paris in 1931.”

The museum’s continued growth after Benakis’s death is tribute to his legacy as a collector. By 2000, when the museum re­opened after a complete renovation and re­organization, its holdings of art objects alone had grown to 45,000 items —testa­ment to Delivorrias’s steadfastness and in­spiration, as well as his abilities as a fundraiser who managed to increase the number of donations and grants to the museum. “The expansion of the Benaki Muse­um reflects the courageous vision of the museum s hoard and its director Angelos Delivorrias and the quality of staff whom Professor Delivorrias brought together to create the newly expanded museum at the Benaki home,” says Evans.

Benakis’s granddaughter Aimilia Yer­oulanou, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, agrees. “Mr. Delivorrias has be­come part of the family,” she says. “He has been the major force and inspiration be­hind the growth of the museum today.”

The “museum” today has metamor­phosed into an institution that includes a Museum of Islamic Art (one of the few in Europe), the Cultural Center and modern art museum on Odos Pireos, and several an­nexes housing photographic and historical archives. A gallery dedicated to the works of Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas is being cre­ated in the renowned Greek artist’s former archer, currently under renovation, while the plans for future expansion include es­tablishing a Museum of Toys, Games, and Childhood. “They have shown what a great impact a collection with vision and taste can have for the benefit of the general pub­lic,” says Carlos Picon, Curator in Charge, Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The apparent growth and evolution of the flagship Benaki Museum and its many contemporary satellite museums comes at a time when post-Olympics Athens is en­joying a renaissance of sorts as a major player in the modern “Meccas” of Euro­pean metropohises. And the Benaki fami­ly, in collaboration with Delivorrias, con­tinues to play an instrumental role in the city’s dynamic evolution.

“My grandfather would have been proud,” says Yeroulanou. “[But] Greek art is very, very strong to depend on just one per­son. Each person helps build by placing just one stone. Antonis Benakis did a great deed by establishing this museum. But the strength of Hellenistic art and Hehlenism is greater than any one person.”

From the Benaki Museum website:

http://www.benaki.gr/museum/history/founder/en/index.htm

Its History

Its Founder


Antonis Benakis, scion of one of the leading families of the Greek diaspora, was born in Alexandria in 1873. He was witness to the vibrant tradition of national benefaction which, from the earliest years of Greek independence, was so clearly manifest amongst the Greek communities abroad.

Benakis began his career as a collector in Alexandria, gradually reaching the decision to donate his collections to the Greek state, an idea which became reality after he settled permanently in Athens in 1926.

The world in which Antonis Benakis moved was shaped in a period when the drive to extend the boundaries of the Greek state was as much an element of contemporary society as the parallel ideologies of urban development and enlightenment through education. Benakis' proverbial generosity towards other cultural institutions and undertakings was indicative of this.

His personality was formed within a family environment which nourished such ideals, and which also fostered the exceptional literary talents of his sister, Penelope Delta (1874-1929), whose stories have been familiar to generations of Greek children.

It is certain that Antonis Benakis, the founder of the Benaki Museum, was also influenced by the example of his father Emmanuel Benakis (1843-1929). A close friend and colleague of the great statesman Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), Emmanuel Benakis placed his fortune at the disposal of numerous charitable foundations and likewise contributed to the settlement of refugees in the aftermath of the catastrophe in Asia Minor.

Within this context, the nature of Antonis Benakis' benefaction becomes self-evident. Its most salient feature remains the fact that during his own lifetime Benakis donated the museum he created to the Greek state. Of equal importance was his continuous involvement, until his death in 1954, in enriching and improving the organisation of the museum's holdings, and his role in ensuring its financial security.

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Cover page of the Odyssey Magazine article. 2006

Antonis Benakis in 1950, examining a gold kylix from Dendra in the Argolid. Sans wording from the article

The Building

The Main Building


The Benaki Museum is housed in one of the few neoclassical buildings which has withstood the aesthetic changes of post-war Athens. It is located in a particularly attractive setting in the historic centre of the city, exactly opposite the greenery of the National Gardens and the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and near related institutions such as the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine Museum of Athens.

The Benaki Museum occupies a composite architectural grouping which has undergone many changes throughout its history:

The original building, 1910

The first extension in 1930

The El.Venizelos - D.Kyriazis expansion, 1965

The wing of El.Stathatos'donation, 1968-73

The new wing of the Benaki Museum 1867-1868

The original core of the architectural grouping is built, comprising a much simpler and differently laid out house than the present structure.

1910

The property is bought by Emmanuel Benakis upon the permanent establishment of his family in Athens.

1911
The building is extended through the addition of a ballroom and service quarters designed by the well-known architect Anastasios Metaxas, who was also responsible for the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium.

1930

Another wing is added to the building by Anastasios Metaxas in order to meet the requirements resulting from its transformation into a museum.

1965

The exhibition space of the Museum is enlarged by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the historic heirlooms of Eleftherios Venizelos on the ground floor and the Damianos Kyriazis Collection on the first floor.

1968

A new extension is made to the basement by the architect E. Vourekas in order to house the Eleni Stathatou donation.

1973

The Stamatios Dekozis-Vouros Foundation funds the addition of a new wing occupied by lecture rooms, spaces for temporary exhibitions and a cafe.

1989

Work begins on a major expansion of the Museum space through the construction of a five-storey wing with three basements located on the west side of its grounds, exceeding the height of the additions of 1968 and 1973, and planned by the architect A. S. Kalligas.

1997

The work on the new wing is completed, doubling the Museum's available space to 7000 m2 on five integrated interior floor levels and two basements.

Benaki Museum expands

Inside the Benaki Museum

The Museum Today

Over the past two decades, the Benaki Museum has experienced a significant increase in the number of its objects, staff, visitors and activities. This has led to a redefinition of its role as a museum, taking into account the demands of contemporary society and the need to ensure and faciliate the Museum’s future operation.

In the light of past developments and current opinions, it was deemed necessary to divide the Museum’s collections and services into several different entities.

This will be accomplished by moving the Museum’s Islamic collection to a group of buildings in the Kerameikos district of Athens which were donated by Lambros Eftaxias and which are presently undergoing restoration, by moving the Department of Historical Archives to the house of Penelope Delta in Kifissia which was donated by Alexandra Papadopoulou, by moving the Museum’s collection of children’s Toys ang Games to the neo-Gothic mansion, left to the Museum by Vera Kouloura, and by moving the Photographic Archive to the apartment donated by Penelope Vlangali and Mary Carolou.

This reorganisation of the Museum’s structure has been influenced by contemporary trends towards decentralisation, which is realised in this case by the creation of a series of separate but interrelated annexes.

The well-known neoclassical mansion of the Benaki Museum continues to be the focal point of this new structure. It has nevertheless undergone thorough modernisation and has been extended through the addition of a new wing. This building will provide a home for the Greek collections of the Museum, offering visitors a rare opportunity to form a complete and uninterrupted picture of the historical evolution of the Greek people.

Benaki Museum. Exterior. 2007

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cinema Review on 15.02.2007

George Miller wins BAFTA Award.

Penguin shares spotlight with the Queen.

by, Maev Kennedy

February 13, 2007


The toe-tapping penguin film Happy Feet has picked up an award at the British version of the Oscars, but whether that has improved its chances of securing a Hollywood gold statue remains to be seen.
George Miller's film edged out Cars and Flushed Away to take the Bafta for animated feature, but the awards have only a patchy record of predicting who will pick up Academy Awards.

Helen Mirren, on the other hand, is an Oscar favourite after picking up another best actress award for her role in The Queen, which also won best film.
The movie's success continues to astonish even those involved. "We always thought it was a small film. Obviously it's a pretty parochial film in some ways," Mirren said. "But we had a clue when it was chosen by the critics in Venice that it would have a broader appeal."

On a cool, bright evening, the stars marched along one of the longest red carpets ever seen. For the first time the ceremony had an air of Hollywood gloss, having moved to the crimson plush of London's Royal Opera House.
Surrounding streets were closed, and with memories of the disastrous recent occasion when rain caused the red carpet to erupt into white foam, the last stretch was protected by a huge canopy.

The triumph for best actress and best film were the least surprising results of the night - the bookmakers stopped taking money on Mirren on Friday - but the awards were not the British clean sweep predicted by some. The James Bond movie Casino Royale failed to shake or stir, picking up just one of the nine nominations it received - winning the sound quality category. Its willowy new-style Bond-girl, Eva Green, took the hotly contested rising star award, the only one voted for by the public.

American Forest Whitaker took best actor for his mesmerising performance as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
The Spanish movie Pan's Labyrinth took best foreign language film, and the prizes for the extraordinary costumes and best make-up and hair, despite all the barnacles and octopus masks of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, nominated in the same category. Pan's Labyrinth's three prizes made it one of the night's biggest winners; The Last King of Scotland also took three.

The British director Paul Greengrass took best director for United 93, the documentary-style no-stars film about the passengers' struggle to take control of one of the hijacked planes on September 11, 2001. The film also took the editing award.

One of the most surprising losers - and there was an instant buzz of gossip about what this meant for its chances at the Oscars - was the hit Notes on a Scandal, based on Zoe Heller's bestselling novel, which was nominated in several categories, including for Judi Dench as best actress.
Another surprise was the success of a small American film about a dysfunctional family, Little Miss Sunshine, which won the best supporting actor for Alan Arkin, who plays a drug-addled grandfather, and the best original screenplay.

American Idol's Jennifer Hudson took best supporting actress for Dreamgirls, edging out Toni Collette for Little Miss Sunshine.

Guardian News & Media

BAFTA Home Page

http://www.bafta.org/site/jsp/index.jsp


BAFTA Background

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is a British organisation that hosts annual awards shows for film, television, children's film and television, and interactive media. Since 1948, selected films have been awarded with the BAFTA award for Best Film at an annual ceremony.

Until 1968, two Best Film awards were given each year: Best British Film and Best Film from any Source (for non-British films). It was possible for British films to be nominated in both categories and, occasionally, to win both awards. Beginning in 1969, these awards were replaced with the single 'Best Film' award, and British films were longer distinguished.

Until 1981, the award was given to the director.[1] From 1981 to 1985, it was given solely to the producers, and then in 1986 it was shared between the Director and Producer. In 1998, it was once again given to only the producers.

There have been two ties for the award: in 1962, Ballad of a Solider tied with The Hustler for Best Film from any Source, and in 1996, when Sense and Sensibility tied with The Usual Suspects for Best Film.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAFTA_Award_for_Best_Film


BAFTA winners

Year 2006


February 12, 2007

The Queen clinched best film and Helen Mirren best actress for her portrayal of the monarch at the BAFTA British film awards today, while The Last King of Scotland scooped three awards.

Following are the winners on the night:

Best film - The Queen

Best British film - The Last King of Scotland

Best director - Paul Greengrass (United 93)

Original screenplay - Little Miss Sunshine

Adapted Screenplay - The Last King of Scotland

Foreign language film - Pan's Labyrinth

Animated feature film - Happy Feet

Best actor - Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)

Best actress - Helen Mirren (The Queen)

Best supporting actor - Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)

Best supporting actress - Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)

Best music - Babel

Cinematography - Children of Men

Editing - United 93

Production design - Children of Men

Costume design - Pan's Labyrinth

Sound - Casino Royale

Visual effects - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Make up & hair - Pan's Labyrinth

Short animation - Guy 101

Short film - Do Not Erase

Rising star (voted for by the public) - Eva Green

British debut director/writer/producer - Andrea Arnold (Red Road)

Reuters

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Kytherian Cinema Review on 15.02.2007

George Miller and the BAFTA Award.

George Miller (R) poses with the Animated Feature Film award for 'Happy Feet' with Ricky Gervais who presented the award at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards at the Royal Opera House in London, February 11, 2007. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN)

BAFTA Home page

http://www.bafta.org/site/jsp/index.jsp

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Steve Frangos on 29.11.2006

Tofalos Stadium. Frontage.

The Grecian Gladiators

Steve Frangos, c. 2005

Little is recalled today of the various Greek immigrants who worked in American vaudeville. Chance references in archival sources and rumors within the Greek-American community about these Greek performers abound. After graduating high school I went to visit my grandmother in Tarpon Springs, Florida. There on Ring Avenue in the late evenings my grandmother and I would often visit Mr. Combis and his wife. It was over vanilla ice cream and root beer that Arthur (Athanasios) Combis would talk to me for hours regaling me with the stories and showing me the promotional pictures of the greatest tableaux vivant/strongman act in all of American vaudeville, the Grecian Gladiators.

[[picture:"Combis Brothers +.jpg" ID:11875]]

translation:
"Apostolos, Athanasios and Theodoros
The brothers Combis of Kythera...
honoring the Greek identity in America....."

Glory Days


From 1907 until World War I vaudeville audiences across North America cheered for the nationally famous vaudeville strongman tableau vivant act, the Grecian Gladiators. Athanasios and Theodore Combis formed the core of the act with the aid of internationally recognized strongman fellow Greek, Demetrios Tofalos. These men toured the vaudeville houses of North America during the Golden Age of American Vaudeville. At a time when Greek immigrants were struggling against all forms of abuse and hardship, these three Greek vaudevillians offered a heroic image of the glories of Ancient Greece to the society at large.

Given the transformations in American theater since the heyday of vaudeville, a tableaux vivant performance needs description. Someone, usually a shapely girl in tights, would slowly walk across the length of the stage carrying a sign with the title of the tableaux. Next, after a dramatic musical introduction, the house lights would go out and the stage curtains would open. Then, with a sudden burst of thematic music, all the lights would be instantly turned on.

There on the stage would be the tableaux artists in elaborate costumes assuming unmoving poses. Magnificently painted curtains served as background to the actors and their props. Sometimes, depending on the scene, the actors, after a moment or two of remaining in position, would move suddenly into a second dramatic pose and then freeze again. From the mid-1880s, tableaux vivant which means “living pictures” were also known as “living history” performances. This was the case because these costumed scenes were invariably based, however loosely, on famous historical events. All of these productions featured a costumed actor or actors representing some widely known historical figure or event as if they were a ‘living statue.’

The Grecian Gladiators were artistic innovators. Dressed in classical Greek togas and full-body armor, these three Greeks combined the Victorian style tableaux vivant with daredevil gymnastics and astonishing feats of strength. Wearing sixty-pound suits of armor, plumed helmets, spears, swords, and with a paired team of pure white stallions., the Grecian Gladiators criss-crossed the America as the very embodiment of classical Greek athletes.

The Act

The full sequence of routines that composed the standard ten-minute act are no longer remembered. Since, at any given theatre, three shows were played a day, different routines would be performed at one show and not another. If the Gladiators played an extended engagement or at a bigger venue such as the Hippodrome, then much longer, more complicated routines, were performed. Photographs and promotional materials were sent ten days to two weeks before the opening date of the contract or their act was cancelled. This included music for the orchestra. At the height of their popularity the three Greeks received $150 dollars a week.

A standard performance opened with two or more tableaux. Among the Grecian Gladiators most popular tableaux were “At the Walls of Troy,” “Heracles in Chains,” “Heracles and the Snakes,” “Samson and the Lion”and “Chariot races at the Coliseum.” The last tableaux included an actual chariot with its team of specially trained white horses.

The three Greeks had a thrilling vaudeville act where their unique balancing routines always expressed unusual strength and agility. Theodore was the understander (the man on the ground) and Athanasios the topmounter. Demetrios Toufalos also served occasionally as an understander but Athanasios always was in the air. Flips, true neck rolls, balancing on the hands, extended arms, standing on each other’s legs or shoulders, all were executed in complicated two-man and more often three-man routines. In all these gymnastic routines what separated the Gladiators from other vaudeville performers was lightening speed and undeniable athletic ability.

Strictly in terms of feats of strength, the Gladiators broke stones across each other’s chests, snapped chains, bent bars of steel, lifted massive dumb bells, and held volunteers from the audience over their heads in a special chair with a belt. Depending on their mood, and the volunteer, they would sometimes even ‘play’ catch with them. All this three times a day, seven days a week!

One show-stopper was when Theodore held Athanasios up in the air, fully extended with one hand above his head. Theodore then ran down the length of the stage and tossed him to Toufalos. Toufalos caught Athanasios in the small of the back and ran back across the full length of the stage. The two would run quickly all over the stage, throwing and then flipping Athanasios back and forth, until the crowd was shouting and on their feet. Since all three members of the Grecian Gladiators stood over six–feet tall, this was an amazing show of physical strength and outstanding gymnastic ability.

The New York Hippodrome Theatre

The young Greeks had appeared at New York City’s Hippodrome Theatre before the 1914 season. Yet, in looking back on his career, Athanasios always referred to that specific season with deep nostalgia. It would prove to be the last time the gladiators “played the big time.”

Each season the Hippodrome had a unifying theme that all the acts in some way worked into their performance. Responding to the war in Europe, the 1914 theme was aptly enough “War of the World.” In the elaborate playbill from that season, the Gladiators are credited as the “Olympic Champion Trio.” They performed in the section of the overall program called “Classic Feats of Strength” with their specific act appearing as “Episode VI: The War of Sport.”

Thunderous applause greeted the expended and perfected versions of two tableaux “At the Walls of Troy” and the “Chariot races at the Coliseum.” In both tableaux, the Gladiators had honed the freeze-move-freeze performance to razor-edge perfection. The movements were rehearsed endlessly to coincide with a timed sequence of quick switching on-then-off-then-on again of the stage lights. The momentary flash accented, as it also sometimes hid from the startled viewers, the Gladiators’ movements.

In the “Trojan War” tableau, an extended freeze-move-freeze sword fight played out the killing of Hector by Achilles. In the final blackout, Toufalos quickly brought out the team of horses and, in the final glare of light, Achilles was shown sword on high with Hector tied behind his chariot. Athanasios Combis contended the loudest cheers of all came from the balcony seats. The cheapest seats in the house, these were the local Greeks dressed in their finest, who were nearly thrown out of the Hippodrome for all the uproar they made at the end of this particular tableau.

The “Chariot Races at the Coliseum” tableau was far trickier and had failed more than once in the past. The team of stallions, while endlessly trained, still sometimes bolted with the sudden flash of light or the thunderous applause. On one occasion, when this tableau was being performed in Cleveland, Athanasios Combis had almost ended up in the orchestra pit!

This tableau was a straightforward race scene. What the bold Greeks had added was a freeze-move-freeze-twist. The horses were trained to raise their legs and turn or lift their heads at each flash of the house lights. The Gladiator in the chariot would dramatically move his arms, whip and spear to emphasize the sense of movement. Telegrams kept in family scrapbooks report that William Schubert, the Hippodrome Director, was especially sorry when the Gladiators were signed away by the Flatbush Theatre in Brooklyn. The young Greeks who spent “money like water,” in triumph over their newly enhanced fame never suspected that this would be their last season together.

Gladiators End

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Grecian Gladiators’ act ended. Theodore Combis joined the United States Army and Athanasios’ wife Dora, who had traveled with the act for five years, wanted to settle down and start a family.

I was never able to determine how long Demetrios Toufalos performed with the Grecian Gladiators. Today, it is probably the case that more Greeks recall Demetrios Toufalos than the two Combis brothers. This is because Toufalos won the 1906 heavy weigh lifting contest in Greece. Demetrios Toufalos was to have a complex career before, during and long after his association with the Grecian Gladiators. Toufalos as a weigh lifter, wrestler, trainer/promoter of wrestlers and if old newspaper accounts are to believed an opera singer! Toufalos became an American citizen in 1921, which is important to note since he is the first and I believe only Greek-American athlete to have a stadium named after him in Greece.

In his birthplace Demetrious Toufalos is remembered by the “TOFALOS Stadium [which] has 5000 seats. It lies 6 kilometers from the center of the city and just 3 km from the hotel where the teams will be accommodated. It is fully equipped, has 10 changing rooms, 6 showers in each changing room for the teams, 3 extra changing rooms for referees, medical facilities, a building control center, VIP room, parking both for VIPs and journalists and for sports fans for up to 3000 cars and of course air conditioning, and media facilities (fax, telephone, etc.)."

The bluster of television glitter seen on the World Federation of Wrestling is a far cry from the demonstrated athletic ability of these vaudevillian strongmen. The Grecian Gladiators were among the true strongmen giants so often written about in histories of American Vaudeville. From men such as George Hackenschimdt, the Russian Lion, or Jim Londos, the Golden Greek, to Demetrios Toufalos, the heavy built Grecian Gladiator who would lift full grown men over his head with one hand and then twirl his handlebar mustachios with the other, were all extremely disciplined men of hard-won physical strength and seasoned abilities.

All Hail the Gladiators!

In reading standard histories of Greeks in North America it would seem that only married men who ran their own businesses and belonged to fraternal organizations, and/or the Greek Orthodox Church ever influenced American notions of what it meant to be Greek. This is simply not true. As self-serving as this institutional “struggle and success” model may be, it is a selected presentation of history.

The claim can well be made that immigrant performers, such as Athanasios and Theodore Combis and their able partner Demetrious Toufalos offered, in a more dramatic and entertaining fashion, an image of who the Greeks were to the working classes of rural and urban America than any other group ever did. The time for recognizing the Grecian Gladiators, and all the other Greek immigrants performers, and to allow them to take their bows on the stage of history is long overdue.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Steve Frangos on 29.11.2006

Tofalos Stadium.

The Grecian Gladiators

Steve Frangos, c. 2005

Little is recalled today of the various Greek immigrants who worked in American vaudeville. Chance references in archival sources and rumors within the Greek-American community about these Greek performers abound. After graduating high school I went to visit my grandmother in Tarpon Springs, Florida. There on Ring Avenue in the late evenings my grandmother and I would often visit Mr. Combis and his wife. It was over vanilla ice cream and root beer that Arthur (Athanasios) Combis would talk to me for hours regaling me with the stories and showing me the promotional pictures of the greatest tableaux vivant/strongman act in all of American vaudeville, the Grecian Gladiators.

[[picture:"Combis Brothers +.jpg" ID:11875]]

translation:
"Apostolos, Athanasios and Theodoros
The brothers Combis of Kythera...
honoring the Greek identity in America....."

Glory Days


From 1907 until World War I vaudeville audiences across North America cheered for the nationally famous vaudeville strongman tableau vivant act, the Grecian Gladiators. Athanasios and Theodore Combis formed the core of the act with the aid of internationally recognized strongman fellow Greek, Demetrios Tofalos. These men toured the vaudeville houses of North America during the Golden Age of American Vaudeville. At a time when Greek immigrants were struggling against all forms of abuse and hardship, these three Greek vaudevillians offered a heroic image of the glories of Ancient Greece to the society at large.

Given the transformations in American theater since the heyday of vaudeville, a tableaux vivant performance needs description. Someone, usually a shapely girl in tights, would slowly walk across the length of the stage carrying a sign with the title of the tableaux. Next, after a dramatic musical introduction, the house lights would go out and the stage curtains would open. Then, with a sudden burst of thematic music, all the lights would be instantly turned on.

There on the stage would be the tableaux artists in elaborate costumes assuming unmoving poses. Magnificently painted curtains served as background to the actors and their props. Sometimes, depending on the scene, the actors, after a moment or two of remaining in position, would move suddenly into a second dramatic pose and then freeze again. From the mid-1880s, tableaux vivant which means “living pictures” were also known as “living history” performances. This was the case because these costumed scenes were invariably based, however loosely, on famous historical events. All of these productions featured a costumed actor or actors representing some widely known historical figure or event as if they were a ‘living statue.’

The Grecian Gladiators were artistic innovators. Dressed in classical Greek togas and full-body armor, these three Greeks combined the Victorian style tableaux vivant with daredevil gymnastics and astonishing feats of strength. Wearing sixty-pound suits of armor, plumed helmets, spears, swords, and with a paired team of pure white stallions., the Grecian Gladiators criss-crossed the America as the very embodiment of classical Greek athletes.

The Act

The full sequence of routines that composed the standard ten-minute act are no longer remembered. Since, at any given theatre, three shows were played a day, different routines would be performed at one show and not another. If the Gladiators played an extended engagement or at a bigger venue such as the Hippodrome, then much longer, more complicated routines, were performed. Photographs and promotional materials were sent ten days to two weeks before the opening date of the contract or their act was cancelled. This included music for the orchestra. At the height of their popularity the three Greeks received $150 dollars a week.

A standard performance opened with two or more tableaux. Among the Grecian Gladiators most popular tableaux were “At the Walls of Troy,” “Heracles in Chains,” “Heracles and the Snakes,” “Samson and the Lion”and “Chariot races at the Coliseum.” The last tableaux included an actual chariot with its team of specially trained white horses.

The three Greeks had a thrilling vaudeville act where their unique balancing routines always expressed unusual strength and agility. Theodore was the understander (the man on the ground) and Athanasios the topmounter. Demetrios Toufalos also served occasionally as an understander but Athanasios always was in the air. Flips, true neck rolls, balancing on the hands, extended arms, standing on each other’s legs or shoulders, all were executed in complicated two-man and more often three-man routines. In all these gymnastic routines what separated the Gladiators from other vaudeville performers was lightening speed and undeniable athletic ability.

Strictly in terms of feats of strength, the Gladiators broke stones across each other’s chests, snapped chains, bent bars of steel, lifted massive dumb bells, and held volunteers from the audience over their heads in a special chair with a belt. Depending on their mood, and the volunteer, they would sometimes even ‘play’ catch with them. All this three times a day, seven days a week!

One show-stopper was when Theodore held Athanasios up in the air, fully extended with one hand above his head. Theodore then ran down the length of the stage and tossed him to Toufalos. Toufalos caught Athanasios in the small of the back and ran back across the full length of the stage. The two would run quickly all over the stage, throwing and then flipping Athanasios back and forth, until the crowd was shouting and on their feet. Since all three members of the Grecian Gladiators stood over six–feet tall, this was an amazing show of physical strength and outstanding gymnastic ability.

The New York Hippodrome Theatre

The young Greeks had appeared at New York City’s Hippodrome Theatre before the 1914 season. Yet, in looking back on his career, Athanasios always referred to that specific season with deep nostalgia. It would prove to be the last time the gladiators “played the big time.”

Each season the Hippodrome had a unifying theme that all the acts in some way worked into their performance. Responding to the war in Europe, the 1914 theme was aptly enough “War of the World.” In the elaborate playbill from that season, the Gladiators are credited as the “Olympic Champion Trio.” They performed in the section of the overall program called “Classic Feats of Strength” with their specific act appearing as “Episode VI: The War of Sport.”

Thunderous applause greeted the expended and perfected versions of two tableaux “At the Walls of Troy” and the “Chariot races at the Coliseum.” In both tableaux, the Gladiators had honed the freeze-move-freeze performance to razor-edge perfection. The movements were rehearsed endlessly to coincide with a timed sequence of quick switching on-then-off-then-on again of the stage lights. The momentary flash accented, as it also sometimes hid from the startled viewers, the Gladiators’ movements.

In the “Trojan War” tableau, an extended freeze-move-freeze sword fight played out the killing of Hector by Achilles. In the final blackout, Toufalos quickly brought out the team of horses and, in the final glare of light, Achilles was shown sword on high with Hector tied behind his chariot. Athanasios Combis contended the loudest cheers of all came from the balcony seats. The cheapest seats in the house, these were the local Greeks dressed in their finest, who were nearly thrown out of the Hippodrome for all the uproar they made at the end of this particular tableau.

The “Chariot Races at the Coliseum” tableau was far trickier and had failed more than once in the past. The team of stallions, while endlessly trained, still sometimes bolted with the sudden flash of light or the thunderous applause. On one occasion, when this tableau was being performed in Cleveland, Athanasios Combis had almost ended up in the orchestra pit!

This tableau was a straightforward race scene. What the bold Greeks had added was a freeze-move-freeze-twist. The horses were trained to raise their legs and turn or lift their heads at each flash of the house lights. The Gladiator in the chariot would dramatically move his arms, whip and spear to emphasize the sense of movement. Telegrams kept in family scrapbooks report that William Schubert, the Hippodrome Director, was especially sorry when the Gladiators were signed away by the Flatbush Theatre in Brooklyn. The young Greeks who spent “money like water,” in triumph over their newly enhanced fame never suspected that this would be their last season together.

Gladiators End

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the Grecian Gladiators’ act ended. Theodore Combis joined the United States Army and Athanasios’ wife Dora, who had traveled with the act for five years, wanted to settle down and start a family.

I was never able to determine how long Demetrios Toufalos performed with the Grecian Gladiators. Today, it is probably the case that more Greeks recall Demetrios Toufalos than the two Combis brothers. This is because Toufalos won the 1906 heavy weigh lifting contest in Greece. Demetrios Toufalos was to have a complex career before, during and long after his association with the Grecian Gladiators. Toufalos as a weigh lifter, wrestler, trainer/promoter of wrestlers and if old newspaper accounts are to believed an opera singer! Toufalos became an American citizen in 1921, which is important to note since he is the first and I believe only Greek-American athlete to have a stadium named after him in Greece.

In his birthplace Demetrious Toufalos is remembered by the “TOFALOS Stadium [which] has 5000 seats. It lies 6 kilometers from the center of the city and just 3 km from the hotel where the teams will be accommodated. It is fully equipped, has 10 changing rooms, 6 showers in each changing room for the teams, 3 extra changing rooms for referees, medical facilities, a building control center, VIP room, parking both for VIPs and journalists and for sports fans for up to 3000 cars and of course air conditioning, and media facilities (fax, telephone, etc.)"

The bluster of television glitter seen on the World Federation of Wrestling is a far cry from the demonstrated athletic ability of these vaudevillian strongmen. The Grecian Gladiators were among the true strongmen giants so often written about in histories of American Vaudeville. From men such as George Hackenschimdt, the Russian Lion, or Jim Londos, the Golden Greek, to Demetrios Toufalos, the heavy built Grecian Gladiator who would lift full grown men over his head with one hand and then twirl his handlebar mustachios with the other, were all extremely disciplined men of hard-won physical strength and seasoned abilities.

All Hail the Gladiators!

In reading standard histories of Greeks in North America it would seem that only married men who ran their own businesses and belonged to fraternal organizations, and/or the Greek Orthodox Church ever influenced American notions of what it meant to be Greek. This is simply not true. As self-serving as this institutional “struggle and success” model may be, it is a selected presentation of history.

The claim can well be made that immigrant performers, such as Athanasios and Theodore Combis and their able partner Demetrious Toufalos offered, in a more dramatic and entertaining fashion, an image of who the Greeks were to the working classes of rural and urban America than any other group ever did. The time for recognizing the Grecian Gladiators, and all the other Greek immigrants performers, and to allow them to take their bows on the stage of history is long overdue.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 19.09.2006

galanis supermarket potamos.

one of the supermarkets of potamos,gets very busy during august

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 15.09.2006

''you can leave your hat on''

the sempraveda saleman at potamos on sundays wearing one of his creations.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 15.09.2006

''stie barbarkia''

still working in their village barbarkias, this lady collects the ready watermelons.

Photos > Working Life

submitted by Stephen Trifyllis on 15.09.2006

the blanket of beans.

drying out beans to make fava and to plant for next years crops.