This Past Week in History

The statue of the poet Nikos Kavadias in Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece. Photo by Saintfevrier, via Wikimedia Commons

February 10th:

On this day in 1975, Nikos Kavvadias, the Greek poet, writer and sailor, died in Athens at the age of 65. He was born in 1910 in Harbin, Manchuria – in the northern part of today’s People’s Republic of China. His parents were Greeks from Kefalonia and when he was very young, they returned to their homeland – first to Kefalonia and then to Piraeus. From his early years, he started to write and eventually became a significant poet in Greece. He published three collections of poetry as well as a novel, and a series of short stories. Kavvadias loved the sea and traveled throughout his whole life. He wrote about the life on board, the sailors, and the things he loved most. His poems are widely regarded as belonging to the symbolist school and he has been characterized by some as a poete maudit (a poet living a life outside or against society). Today there is a statute of Kavvadias located at the end of the beach of Argostoli in Kefalonia in a small square with a bench. The locals honored the artist and placed his statute next to the sea so that he could forever gaze lovingly at the boats that come and go.

February 12th:

On this day in 1954, Tzimis (“Tzimakos” as he was often called) Panousis, the Greek singer, songwriter, and stand-up comedian, was born to a refugee family from Asia Minor. He grew up in Holargos in northern Athens.

The late Tzimis Panousis. (Photo by Katomeris Kostas/EUROKINISSI)

Panoussis was known not only for his semi-raunchy comedy routines, but also for his rock albums, movie roles, and regular appearances on television and radio programs. According to EuroPopMusic, a famous court battle with the well-known Greek singer George Dalaras began in 1997. Panousis had frequently made fun on Dalaras in his live shows, showing money coming out of his mount whenever he sang. The court ruled that Panousis would be charged with a 1 million Drachma fine (approximately $3,000) every time he mentioned Daralas by name on stage. Panousis’ response to that was to call him “the unmentionable” in his show. His famous on stage quip became, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have 3 million Drachmas to spare: Dalaras, Dalaras, Dalaras!” In January of 2018, Panousis died suddenly of heart attack at the age of 64. He was rushed to the Erythros Stavros Hospital in Athens where doctors failed to resuscitate him.

February 13th:

On this day in 1975, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash proclaimed the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus. However, the newly formed ‘state’ was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, the UN, and the international community. United Nations Security Council Resolution 367 stated regret for the declaration. Rauf Denktash hoped that the Greek Cypriots would treat them as equals and proceed to the establishment of their own federated state – which they did not do. After 8 years of failed negotiations between the Greek and Cypriot Turkish community, the North declared its independence on November 15, 1983 under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This unilateral declaration of independence was again rejected by the UN and the Republic of Cyprus.

February 15th:

On this day in 1996, there was a mortar attack on the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece. According to reports, unidentified assailants fired a rocket at the U.S. Embassy compound, causing minor damage to three diplomatic vehicles and some surrounding buildings. The circumstances of the attack suggested it was an operation carried out by the Marxist Revolutionary Organization called the 17 November.