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Thread: Ancient Greek City-States Standards

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    Senior Member valtrex's Avatar
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    Default Ancient Greek City-States Standards

    Introduction

    In ancient times there were no flags. The Ancient Greeks in place of flags had shields bearing distinct and symbolic signs, which they called Episemon/Episema in plural (Standards), Parasemon/Parasema (Orders), Semeon/Semea (Marks or Signals), Mesomphalion/Mesomphalia (Shield Bosses) and through which they recognized their fellow-soldiers in battle. These signs were in the center of the shield. On their shields, they gave their military oath, and that oath-giving was a sacred ceremony*; The man who abandoned his shield was called Ripsaspis (he who abandons his shield, the recreant) and was disesteemed by all. The greatest dishonor was a shield fallen into the hands of the enemy (like today when the flag falls into the hands of the enemy). The Shield (Hoplon, meaning weapon), was made of wood, which was hollowed inside to allow for the soldiers to fit into it. The surface of the Hoplon was covered in bronze or leather or both and the design was painted or etched accordingly.

    City-States Episema

    Athens
    : The letter A (alpha, for Athens), or the owl (Glaphx, the owl was the symbol of goddess Athena the patron goddess of Athens) , or the Medusa's head (when Perseus killed Medusa, he dedicated her beheaded head to Athena's temple in Athens)


    Sparta**: The most common Spartan Standard, the Greek letter Λ (Lamda) for Lacedaemon. Lacedaemon-Sparta's ancient name-was the capital of a south eastern region of the Peloponnese, called Laconia. Lacedaemon was the son of Zeus and Taygete, daughter of Atlas and Pleione. It was Lacedaemon who founded the city of Sparta, which was named after his wife. Sparta was often called Lacedaemon, as well, and the two names were often used interchangeably


    The Royal Standard on the shield carried by the King. It probably symbolizes the Moon (the symbol of goddess Artemis , the patron goddess of the city)


    The symbol of the Dioscuri, the Krotalon. Musical rattles normally consisting of tuned lengths of bone or hardwood suspended at one end from a hand-held frame and used by dancers in the worship of Dionysus and Kybele (Cybele) or the Dioscuri. A Greek letter Π, with two snakes (the Dioscuri) & the spider (the symbol of goddess Athena, the protectress of the Spartan Army). The Dioscuri were Castor and Polydeuces , the twin sons of Leda and Zeus and the brothers of Helen of Troy . Polydeuces was a formidable boxer, and Castor was a great horseman. The cult of the Dioscuri was indigenous of Sparta.


    The Snake-Dragon of the Aegiads, a clan that had descendance from the Sparti people of Boeotia. Drakon (Dragon) was also the legendary primogenitor of Spartans


    Arcadia: The letters AP (alpha-rho, for Arcadia)
    Messenia: The letter M (mu, for Messenia)
    Mantinea: The Trident (for Poseidon, the patron god of the city)
    Corinth: The Pegasus (the winged horse of Greek myth, named for the Pegae , water-priestesses who tended the sacred spring in Pirene in Corinth)


    Thebes: The Heracles' club (Heracles was Theban), the Boeotian shield, or the Sphinx (the monster sent by Hera to guard the pass to the city. Sphinx had the body of lion and the upper part of a woman), although the Thebans used individual shield designs most of times


    Thespiae: The Crescent (the symbol of goddess Artemis , the patron goddess of the city)
    Tegea: The letter T (tau, for Tegea)
    Elis: The Eagle killing a snake (eagle was the symbol of Zeus , the patron god of Elis & Olympia)
    Sicyon: The letter Σ (sigma, for Sicyon), or the Dove (the family arms of Sicyon of Attica who married Zeuxippe , daughter of king Lamedon , and became king of the city which was named after him)
    Argos (the second oldest city of Greece): The Water Snake. Argive distintive feature was the Hydra (water-snake) symbol , which is associated with Argos after Heracles killed the water-snake at Lerna, near Argos


    Samos island: A facing lion's head. Lion was the symbol of Cybele , the goddess of motherhood, mountains and wild-beasts (worshipped in Samos)


    Euboea island (except Eretria): The bull's or cow's head, for Euboea means "Island of Fine Cattle"
    Eretria: A large Eye. Eretria was Athens' closest ally. The eye was one of Athenas' symbols
    Thessaly: A bull's foot. Thessalians venerated god Dionysus, who was also hailed as "Axios Tauros" ("Worthy Bull")
    Crete: A bull's head, one of Zeus' symbols. Zeus grew up in Crete
    Epirus (especially the Molossi, the most prosperous Epirote tribe): The Standing Eagle, one of Zeus' symbols (the oracle of Dodone in Epirus , was the second most important oracle of antiquity, after Delphi, and the oldest. The Delphi oracle was dedicated to Apollo; the Dodone oracle to Zeus, the father of the Gods)
    Macedons: The Eagle (for Zeus), or the Macedonian 8 or 16-rayed Sun (the emblem of the first royal dynasty of Macedonia, the Argeads of Argos)


    Rhodes island: A rose in bloom, which is a punning reference to the island's name
    Syracuse (the largest Greek city of Magna Graecia): Described by Cicero as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all", was founded by Greeks from Corinth & Tenea in the 8th century BC. The Triskelion or Trinakria was the symbol of Syracuse, alluding to Sicily's triangular shape. The Medusa in the center implies the protection of the Goddess Athena, the Patron Goddess of the Island


    *The Ancient Athenian Hoplite, while holding the hoplon, the City was entrusting with him and appointing him defender of the democratic institutions of Athens, took this oath:
    " shall not bring dishonour on my sacred arms nor will I abandon my comrade wherever I shall be stationed;
    I shall defend the rights of Gods and men by myself and with the help of others;
    I shall never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice;
    I shall fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many;
    I shall revere and obey the City's laws, and shall do my best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above me who are ****e to annul them or set them at naught.
    I shall strive increasingly to quicken the public's sense of civic duty.
    Thus in all these ways I shall transmit this City, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.
    I shall believe in the gods of my country;
    I shall revere my City's sacred institutions.
    Gods are my witnesses:
    Agravlos, Enyalios, Aris, Zeus, Thallo, Aphxo, Hegemone"


    **Spartans fought like every other ancient Greek hoplite unit. However, one could say that the Sciritae (an elite unit of Spartan troops descended from Sciritis, a Highland region of the central Peloponnese between Laconia and Arcadia, close to the border with Tegea; they were probably perioikoi, who formed a corps of specialized infantry of the Spartan army, known as Sciritis Lochos (Lochos/ΛΟΧΟΣ-a unit of the Spartan army, roughly comparable to a battalion or regiment, commanded by a lochagos) would fit the characteristics of a "specialised" force. Their duties included scouting, marching at the head of the Spartan Column and taking up posts outside the camp to watch for intrusions.
    Sciritis contributed some 600 men to the Lacedemonian army, they fought at the extreme right of the army (others say they occupied the honorary left wing of the army), they were able to run fast and intercept peltasts but they carried a Hoplon which allowed them to fight in phalanx formation if the need would arrise. Xenophon describes their actions at Tanagra (377 BC) as taking to the hill (with the cavalry) that the Boeotians had retired from upon and attacking the Boeotians from the rear.


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    Quote Originally Posted by valtrex View Post
    Macedons: The Eagle (for Zeus), or the Macedonian 8 or 16-rayed Sun (the emblem of the first royal dynasty of Macedonia, the Argeads of Argos)


    This looks exactly like the former flag of Macedonia (Former Yugoslavian Republic).



    And the Greek Prefecture of Salonika (I think???)


    Cool design.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ordie View Post
    This looks exactly like the former flag of Macedonia (Former Yugoslavian Republic).
    And the Greek Prefecture of Salonika (I think???)
    Yes, you 're right on both.
    It's called the "Vergina Sun", because it was the ornament of many items found in the graves of the macedonian kings (including that o Philip, Alexander's father), discovered near the Greek town of Vergina, SW of Salonika, during excavations in 1977.
    When the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia became independent in 1992, it chose it as the emblem of its flag, but Greece objected fiercely and FYROM changed its flag in 1995, following the Interim Agreement of New York between the two countries.
    Here's the full story and some pictures of the golden larnax, on which the emblem was found:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergina_Sun

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    Senior Member achilles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ordie View Post
    This looks exactly like the former flag of Macedonia (Former Yugoslavian Republic).
    This unfortunate move by the then newly created state of Skopje (UN: FYROM) would be equal to, lets say, France appropriating England's national symbol of the "Three Lions" or "St. George's Flag" and using it as its own national flag!

    This year FYROM decided to name its main airport after the name of Alexander the Great, in another effort to appropriate someone else's history, legend and culture.

    Unfortunately, those people have been brainwashed enough to trully believe that they are somehow linked to Macedonia and its inhabitants of purely Hellenic stock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by achilles View Post
    France appropriating England's national symbol of the "Three Lions" or "St. George's Flag" and using it as its own national flag! .
    Actually it's been done.
    This was the Royal Standard up until the Union of Crowns.
    The Fluer de Lis (Symbol of France) with the Three Lions (England).



    The Fleur di Lis is also the logo of the New Orleans Saints football team. But I doubt any French person would care.

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    Senior Member Mastermind's Avatar
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    Thanks, Valtrex...very interesting topic

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    Senior Member achilles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ordie View Post
    Actually it's been done.
    This was the Royal Standard up until the Union of Crowns.
    The Fluer de Lis (Symbol of France) with the Three Lions (England).

    The Fleur di Lis is also the logo of the New Orleans Saints football team. But I doubt any French person would care.
    Interesting. Thing is that behind the Skopjians' (Fyromians) efforts to appropriate Hellenic symbols, lies their aim to eventually claim Hellenic (Macedonian) history and perhaps raise territorial claims.

    For those same reasons France did not allow the UK to use the name "Great Britain" officially. Dont forget the province of "Britany" in N.France. First its the name, then history and eventually ...turf.

    Its a dangerous path the Skops are dragging us both on.

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    Great thread Valtrex. Here's some more information I found, mainly from ancient clay pots:

    In this picture, Poseidon is depicted between the two Ajaxes. Ajax on the right holds a shield depicting a ram




    In this picture, the shields bear the symbol of a water snake, which was rather common for hoplites throughout ancient Greece.



    Macedonian shields found in Veria and Thessaloniki. Notice that the number of sun rays varies (8 in one case, 16 in the other)


    In this picture, Tydeus's shield bears the symbol of a bull


    All pictures taken from http://users.att.sch.gr/zskafid/simea1.htm

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    Senior Member GeraldDuval's Avatar
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    great info

    and, not to digress too much, but the 3 lions is the standard of Normandy, as in the norman invasion...both those symbols are french.

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    Senior Member achilles's Avatar
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    Default Macedonian and other Greek Symbols



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    Junior Member lupus_Hegemonia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ordie View Post
    This looks exactly like the former flag of Macedonia (Former Yugoslavian Republic).



    And the Greek Prefecture of Salonika (I think???)


    Cool design.....
    That was ALWAYS... the Greek kingdom of Macedonia's royal symbol. No matter if any former SLAVIC nation "addopted" it, it's STILL one of the most ancient Greek (HELLENIC, actually, is the word!) symbol.

    Since most of these symbols were my work in a mod of Rome: Total War (the "Hegemonia: City-States"), I like to say a word:
    The #1 (Athens) was an idea from an ancient Athenian coin, with the owl as the "classic" Athenian symbol of all times. Of course, there WASN'T any "standard" symbol for Athens, 'couse most of Hellenic hoplites were drawing whatever they personal like to.
    The greek "L" for Sparta's symbol, was an OLDER Spartan symbol... In Persian Wars, NON of the Spartan Hoplites was using such a symbol, but like ALL other Greek City-States' hoplites, they were using their favorite symbols...
    The second one, DOESN'T symbolizing the "moon" but the SUN. Also, the moon WASN'T Spartans worship's god - the THESPIANS were one of the quite many they worshiped the Moon... That "Sun" symbol, is the "Left-Turn Spiral", the royal symbol of Sparta; it means "always forward to success".
    The third Spartan symbol is "DOKANA", not "Krotalon"... It's the SPARTAN WAR BANNER!... Non of the ancient Greek Hoplites' armies were using any kind of "war-banner" or a flag, but the Spartans used to carring in battle two poles with a wooden "X" uniting them, to symbolize the TWO TWIN CITY PROTECTORS-GODS, Castor & Polux ("Kastoras & Polydefkes", in Hellenic). So, before the battle that wooden "banner" was removed but the STUART of king in his left side, was that symbol on his shield. It's shows the two poles (and snakes), the symbol of the two God-brothers and a spider, probably as historics saying, to "worship Night"... death!
    The other symbol I would like to say something, is the "Lion head" of Samos... It's NOT Samos' symbol, it's the IONEAN ALLIANCE's symbol.

    Anyways... since ALL the 300+ symbols I made for the mod they're in my possession, if ANY one of you wants one, I can give it to him.

    Cheers to all... or in my language... "HAIRE"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by achilles View Post
    This year FYROM decided to name its main airport after the name of Alexander the Great, in another effort to appropriate someone else's history, legend and culture.
    Isnīt this polemy about the ancient Macedonia a bit sterile? Iīd say itīs as if Greece demands to Egypt removing the name of Alexandria because it isnīt a greek city anymore, or the german Frankonia asking to frenchs to remove the name of France. Everybody knows that the ancient macedonians were a greek people, and everybody(well, Iīm not so sure) knows that former FYROM has more links with the slave world, but..they must have at least one link with greek, musnīt them? Unless thereīre claims involving territory I just canīt see the point in this ongoing discussion, but well if somebody is so apassionate about it there must be some truth in it, but sure thereīre more ways of employing your energies.
    And congratulation for the initial thread, itīs wonderful.

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    Junior sized package member Toddy1's Avatar
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    awesome will make it easier for me when I get to the shields of my miniature army :0

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    Junior Member lupus_Hegemonia's Avatar
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    I assume this is not a politic forum, so I'll not continue any... "who-is-who" talking.
    I'll say only this:
    Macedonians were always a HELLENIC ("Greek" - I HATE that word, we're HELLENES and our country is HELLAS, not "Greeks" & "Greece"!) tribe/nation, although it was far less civilized than the southern and generally rest hellenic tribes/factions. Every other hellenic factions didn't like them, first because they were believed about Macedonians as they were uncultured/uneducated/"bumpkins" etc. and second, because Macedonians never fought back against the Persian Invasion and they gave "earth & water" easily and let the Persians to walk through Macedonia's region to the southern Hellas...
    ...But, Phillip II (Alexander the Great's father) understood that very early and when he came back to Macedon from his hostage by the Thebans, he tryied very hard to TRANSFORM Macedonia to a good civilized Hellenic nation, as the southern factions. Also, he "addopted" ALL hellenic factions' warfare and tactics, he made them FAR BETTER and he succeed to "unite" all Hellenic factions into one big/large UNITED Hellenic nation... for the FIRST TIME in History!!!
    (Of course... "as always"... Hellenes NEVER had any favor for... "unions", since they never stopped fighting each other and hating their hellenic neighboors! EVEN NOW, Hellenes are BY FAR "regionalists" & not "united-lists"!!!)
    And these pathetic poor little devils up north, the VARDARSKANS (not "FYROM", not "Skopians", not "Macedonians" of course...) as there was their name - and they tryied hard to... "forget" it, these poor fellas EARNED their chance to "gain" some piece of History (even if it WASN'T THEIRS!)... because exactly that: We, Hellenes, we CAN'T EVER look further than our nose... because we love to fighting each other, we hating so much our own brothers and WHEN THE DANGER or a PROBLEM REALLY KNOCK OUR DOOR (call me... Persians in ancient times or Italians/Germans in WWII)... ONLY THEN we're forgeting everything and we're united!!!... But, our "beloved" neighboors ARE NOT "BEAUTY-SLEEPS" like us, so that's what our nation is "paying" now (about the... "Macedonian issue")!
    If there were MY TRUE ANCESTORS, my ancient grand-fathers in charge, the VARDARSKANS would be... History by now, since a couple of decades ago!
    Anyways...

    Like I said, if anyone wants HELLENIC SHIELD SYMBOLS, I can give them to him - all I had to do, is to "dig them up" (all 300+ of them) from some forgoten part of my hard drive...

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