3 November 2016

Lost in Translation. Word of the Day: Palikari.


"Palikari" Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837)
"Palikari"
Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837) 


Here’s another Greek word, said to be “untranslatable”, however, the more I look into so-called “untranslatable” Greek words, I’m not sure there is such a thing.


Once you grasp the meaning, get a feel and the sense of a word, and realize in what context it’s used, you can usually pin down an English equivalent (The same goes for any other language I would assume).


Here’s the word;

“Palikari”



"Palikari" Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837)
"Palikari, member of the irregular troops of the Peloponnese, with his clan"
Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837) 



“Palikari”, is a Modern Greek word, taken from the ancient Greek “pallax, pallex or pallix”, meaning, a lad, or, a youth, in his prime, just before adolescence, and unmarried.


A “palikari’, or, “palikar”, is a young, Greek military man, who fought against the Ottomans (Turks) in the Greek Revolution, or, Greek War of Independence, 1821, a brave, valiant warrior, daring and courageous, one who never shies away from danger.




“Palikaria” and heads of irregular troops at the temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth.
“Palikaria” and heads of irregular troops,
 at the temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth.
Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837)



Today, in Greece, when you hear someone using the word "palkari", or calling someone a “palikari”, it’s invariably in an affectionate manner, and more often than not, a compliment for a young boy or man, who has accomplished a strenuous or honourable task.




“Palikaria”, members of irregular troops of Roumeli, Greece. Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837)
“Palikaria”, members of irregular troops of Roumeli, Greece.
Théodore Leblanc (1800? - 1837)



Today, in Greece,  you might hear an elderly woman, thanking a “palikari” who helped her across the street, carried her shopping bags, or offered her his seat on a crowded bus.


A young man who stands up for the underdog, and takes no flak from others, is likely to be called a “palikari”.


Mothers frequently call their sons (regardless of age!), “palikari mou”- my warrior.


To understand the word “palikari”, in a deeper sense, let’s go back to The Greek Revolution of 1821.


Greece was under Ottoman rule, and the Ottomans, in order to keep the Greeks under control, in inaccessible, mountainous regions, often inhabited by “Klephts”, (Thief or brigand, warlike mountain-folk) created “Armatolikia”.



Water-colour painting of an armatolos by Carl Haag (1820–1915).
Water-colour painting of an armatolos by Carl Haag (1820–1915).



“Armatolikia” were regions defended by “Armatoloi”, who were Christian Greek irregular soldiers, commissioned by the Ottomans to enforce the Sultan's authority.


Every “Armatoliki” had its captain (kapetanio), who had his rank-and-file soldiers, who were known as “palikaria”


The “palikaria” trained with their weapons, mainly the “Kariofili”, on a daily basis, and were well-known for their marksmanship.



  In Italy there was a workshop producing muskets, with the name Carlo e figli.  Greeks call it Kariofili and it was used by "Palikaria" against the Ottomans.
In Italy there was a workshop producing muskets, with the name Carlo e figli.
 Greeks call it Kariofili and it was used by "Palikaria" against the Ottomans.



“Palikaria” were experienced in the art of ambush and were capable of going for long stretches of time, with neither food nor water.


. With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, a large number of “Armatoloi” abandoned any allegiance to the Ottomans, and formed Greek land forces. These forces, the “Palikaria” were the only real threat to the Ottomans.




"Palikaria" fighting the Greek War of Independence.
"Palikaria" fighting the Greek War of Independence.



Four of the most famous “Armatoloi”, or “Palikaria”, initially employed by Ali Pasha (Ottomans), who rebelled and fought for Greece in the Revolution, or Greek War of Independence are, Markos Botsaris, Georgios Karaiskakis, Odysseas Androutsos and Athanasios Diakos.




An oil painting on canvas of Markos Botsaris   Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1874.
An oil painting on canvas of Markos Botsaris
 Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1874.



Markos Botsaris, 1788-1823,  was a Greek general and hero of the Greek War of Independence and captain of the Souliotes.

 Botsaris is among the most revered national heroes in Greece.

Botsaris was born into one of the leading clans of the Souliotes, in the region of Souli, Epirus, the second son of captain Kitsos Botsaris, who was murdered in Arta in

1809 under the orders of Ali Pasha.

 The Botsaris clan came from the village of Dragani (today Ambelia), near Paramythia.




Georgios Karaiskakis  lithography by Karl Krazeisen
Georgios Karaiskakis
 lithography by Karl Krazeisen.



Georgios Karaiskaki, born Georgios Karaiskos , was a famous Greek klepht, armatolos, military commander, and a hero of the Greek War of Independence.

Karaiskakis was born in a monastery near the village of Skoulikaria , close to Arta.

 His father was the armatolos of the Valtos district, Dimitris Iskos or Karaiskos, his mother Zoe Dimiski (from Arta, Greece, who was also the niece of a local Monastery Abbot) and cousin of Gogos Bakolas, captain of the armatoliki of Radovitsi.

 He was of Sarakatsani descent. 




Odysseas Androutsos (1790-1825) Painting by Dionysios Tsokos. National Historical Museum, Athens.
Odysseas Androutsos (1790-1825)
 Painting by Dionysios Tsokos. National Historical Museum, Athens.



Odysseas Androutsos 1788–1825, was a hero of the Greek War of Independence,
 born in Ithaca, his family was from the village of Livanates in the Phthiotis prefecture.

 His father was Andreas Androutsos, a klepht, his mother was from Preveza.


After losing his father, Androutsos joined the Turkish army of Ali Pasha and became an 

officer, in 1818 he joined the Friendly Society (Filiki Eteria) which was planning the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.




Athanasios Diakos.  Painting by Dionysios Tsokos (1861). National Historical Museum, Athens.
Athanasios Diakos.
 Painting by Dionysios Tsokos (1861). National Historical Museum, Athens.



Athanasios Diakos 1788 – 1821 was a Greek military commander during the Greek War of Independence, considered a national hero in Greece.

Athanasios Diakos was born Athanasios Nikolaos Massavetas in Phocis, in the village of Ano Mousounitsa, or according to other sources, in nearby Artotina.

 The grandson of a local outlaw, or klepht, he was drawn to religion from an early age and was sent away by his parents to the Monastery of St. John The Baptist, near Artotina, for his education.

 He became a monk at the age of seventeen and, due to his devotion to his faith and good temperament, was ordained a Greek Orthodox deacon not long afterwards.



These then, were the “Palikaria” (Plural of palikari) of the Greek Revolution of 1821.


Simple, but strong young men, inhabiting the mountainous and rural areas of Greece, fighting for a cause, fighting for the persecuted.

 Men, of what we would call today,

“The Working Class”

I think I would be correct, then, in translating the Greek word “Palikari” as something akin to; resistance fighters, guerrilla soldiers, partisans, or, in one word, a rebel or a warrior.


“Palikari”; untranslatable?



More Glorious Greek Words









2 comments:

  1. That was very interesting. I have also lived here for more than 30 years, but unfortunately, I only learnt Greek as I heard it. My inlaws were Pondi, from Trapezounta, but never talked about it. One part of the family even lived on Odos Marcos Botsaris. Only now have I learnt the connection. I look forward to more of your posts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for reading my blog, I learn so much myself while writing posts like this one !
    Susan.x

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for reading my blog, I am always absolutely delighted to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions.
They make all my efforts worthwhile,.

Please do check back, after leaving a comment, as I make every effort to answer all your remarks promptly.
Thanks,
Susan.x

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