The Famous Personalities of Ithaca, Ionian Greece: Ithaca, apart from the homeland of the legendary Odysseus, is also the birthplace of many other modern personalities. These personalities include a fighter for the Greek Independence, a poet and a politician.
Odysseas Androutsos, who fought for the Independence of Greece and its liberation from the Turks, was born on the island of Ithaca in 1788. In fact, Androutsos was a highly controversial figure. He joined the Albanian army of Ali Pasha at a young age after the death of his father and became an officer. However, in 1818, he became a member of Filiki Eteria, an organization which was plotting the liberation of Greece from the Turkish army and had gained much reputation among the Greeks and the Philellines.
Androutsos gained his fame in 1821 during the heroic battle of Gravia against the overwhelming forces of Omer Vrionis, a commander of the Turkish army. Vrionis was beaten back with the heavy loss of 400 soldiers by Odysseus Androutsos who, with his band of about 100 fearless men and with the loss of only two soldiers, managed to slip through the enemy. His magnificent feat of valor and tactics brought him the title and honor of Commander-in-Chief of the Greece forces in Central Greece during the War of Independence.
However, the fortune of the hero soon came to an abrupt end. Androutsos was accused of collusion with the Turkish Army. He was also suspected of having embraced Islam while under the service of Ali Pasha. The Greek revolutionary government locked him up in a cave at the Acropolis. Odusseus Androutsos was finally executed on June 25, 1825.
Lorentzos Mavilis was born on Ithaca on September 6, 1860, although his parents were from Corfu. One of his teachers and mentor, Ioannis Romanos, initiated him at a young age into the society of intellectual and artistic people, such as Iakovos Polilas and Dionysios Solomos. Mavilis also came under the intellectual influence of the German philosophers Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer while he lived in Germany. He could speak several European languages and Sanskrit. He translated the works of Schiller, Byron, Shelley and Tennyson, as well as Sanskrit poetry into Modern Greek.
The own poetry of Lorentzos was the meeting ground of various strands: his socialistic ideals, 19th century literature, artistic movements and the poetic tradition of the traditional Ionian culture. He exclusively used the sonnet form for his poetic expression. The major body of his works consists of 50 sonnets, which are regarded as some of the finest examples of Modern Greek poetry. Apart from a poet, Mavilis was also a statesman and patriot. He participated in the Cretan struggle for Independence and fought for the liberation of Ioannina during the first Balkan War in 1912. Mavilis was killed on November 29, 1912 on Mount Driskos during a fight.
Ioannis Metaxas was another famous native of Ithaca who made his unforgettable stamp on Modern Greek history. Starting his adult life as a career soldier, he rose in the ranks to become Chief the Greek General Staff between 1913 and 1917. Metaxas was an ardent conservative and monarchist. He went into self-imposed exile when the Greek King, Constantine I, was deposed from power. Metaxas supported the Axis Powers during the First World War, despite Greece joining the Allied Powers.
After the fall of the Greek monarchy in 1923, he became the opposition leader as chief of the ultra-royalist party whose tireless efforts resulted in the restoration of monarchy in 1935. The next year, he became the Prime Minister of Greece and was given full royal mandate to establish a fascist-like dictatorship. Although political freedoms were suppressed or curtailed under his authoritarian rule, Metaxas has been given credit for reviving the economy and instituting social reforms.
Today Ioannis Metaxas is remember as the politician who denied to surrender Greece to the Italian army, during the Second World War. The whole country united under his leadership to defend Greece against Mussolini's attack. Ioannis Metaxas died on Jan. 29, 1941, three months after he had organized the successful Albanian campaign against Italy.