- of Eleni Dikaiou
- Angeliki Mastromihalaki and Pantelis Zouras, both educators, have had a steady presence in the field of letters for the last 20 years. They have given us examples of writing both in the field of educational books and in that of children's and adolescent literature, which can include readers of all ages. In addition to the books signed by each of the two authors separately, they have also collaborated in the writing of several others.
Their latest book, which was recently released by En plo Publications, is the work of a collaboration, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Revolution of 1821. Title of the book: Twice in '21 . An imaginative title, which provokes and invites one to discover what exactly can be contained in the pages of the book.
The foreword by Dr. Stefanos Kavallierakis, director of the Museum of the City of Athens, and the authors' short note at the beginning of the book make it clear that what follows are "brief portraits" of those who spearheaded the Revolution of 1821, the struggle for the liberation from the Turkish yoke and the creation of an independent Greek state.
The authors selected 21 men and 21 women. As they emphasize: "The selection of the persons was made after a long and very careful study of the sources that inspired us to record their stories."
21 men: Ypsilantis, Kolokotronis, Rigas Feraios, Athanasios Diakos, Papaflessas, Patriarch Gregory V... The names of most of them are known, we have met them in the history books, regardless of whether very little remains in our memory from a school history lesson .
They give us a book with the "smell of the classic".
On the contrary, little is known about the names of the 21 women whom the two authors "portray" and even less well known about their activities before the Revolution, during it and after it. Actions for which these women did not have to come under the banner of any feminist movement, in order to be a vanguard in their male-dominated era. 21 women, who participated in the uprising and fought sometimes with the sword and sometimes in social battles, mothers, wives, lovers. Female role models whose mention removes the veils of oblivion from their essential participation in the struggle for the creation of modern Greece and places them equally alongside the male fighters.
This balance constitutes justice and is one of the book's strongest features, along with the semiology of Rigas Feraios' "revolutionary proclamation" and the reference to the "teachers of the nation" and the importance of education, preached by Cosmas the Aetolos : "...Open schools [...] Let all of you make sure that all the children study without paying [...] It is better to have a Greek school in your country than to have fountains and rivers, because the fountain waters the body, while school waters the soul."
The last chapter of the book refers to the jeletzis. How many of us know about the children and teenagers in vests in the besieged Messolonghi? I fear few, to say the least. And yet, each of these children has been our own little Gavrias, like the one in Hugo's Les Miserables, who ran to help from barricade to barricade in revolted Paris: "And behind the children with drawn swords. To stand, to fight, to help others."
Excerpts from poems, folk songs, quotes intersperse the texts and mark each "portrait".
As mentioned at the beginning, Angeliki Mastromihalaki and Pantelis Zouras have written educational and literary books. In Twice in '21 they attempt to make a combination of both. A difficult task, considering that historical ideas and events, character analyzes and consequences of actions had to be included in as short and "readable" texts as possible. Result: We are given a book with the "smell of the classic".
The illustration by Spyros Zacharopoulos combines masterfully with the text. He mentions in his biography that in his childhood "heroes" dominated the classrooms of the schools and concludes: "In this book, two hundred years after the Revolution, I relived the estrus of my childhood."
Twice in '21
21 heroes and 21 heroines of the Greek Revolution of 1821
Angeliki Mastromihalaki – Pantelis Zouras
Illustration: Spyros Zacharopoulos