“How the Greeks Learned to Write -Twice!” – by Cynthia Shelmerdine

 When did the ancient Greeks learn to write, and what purposes did this new skill serve? This and other questions will be answered when Prof. Cynthia Shelmerdine gives her talk on this interesting topic at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2022 via Zoom.   

Cynthia W. Shelmerdine is the Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics, emerita at the University of Texas at Austin, and Research Associate in Classics at Bowdoin College. She has published extensively on the Aegean Bronze Age, particularly the archaeology, history and culture of Mycenaean Greece.       She has worked in the field as a ceramic expert with the University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition (1970s), the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (1990s), and currently the Iklaina Archaeological Project (from 1999).

   She was educated at Bryn Mawr College, Cambridge University and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1977). Among her many publications, she edited the Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age (2008), and and collaborated with her sister, Susan C. Shelmerdine, on the third edition of her ancient Greek textbook, Introduction to Greek (2020).

New Initiative and Fall 2021 Lectures

Preserving the history of Greeks of Maine:
New archive at Maine Historical Society
As each generation passes, more and more of the history of the Greeks of Maine is lost. Thus the Hellenic Society of Maine has approached the Maine Historical Society to estab-lish a Greek archive at MHS.
The archive would become a repository for the history of the community and items would be preserved and docu-mented by the Historical Society in such a way that scholars would be able to use the information for research, etc. Other-wise such documents remain at risk stored in cardboard box-es subject to water damage, mold, insects, etc. Also the his-torical value of many documents might not be recognized by later generations who inherit the estates of the elders, and possibly dispose of them.
Items in the archive can include all kinds of paper docu-ments (letters, receipts, work logs, posters, program book-lets, etc.), photos (annual picnics, March 25 events, festivals, businesses, dances, etc.), relevant clothing and fabrics, some audio/visual materials, some books, etc. All material must be related to Maine in some way and would be a permanent transfer to MHS. A staff member would select all donations that are and provide necessary forms.
A committee has formed comprised of volunteers from the four Greek parishes in the state, as well as HSoM mem-bers, to help spread the word of this initiative to appropriate groups and individuals. The committee includes John “Jack” Rozos, Georgia Chomas, John Kesaris, Stavros Nashi, Pam Pappavasiliou, Annie Antonacos, Marina Schneller, and Mary Snell. If you are interested in more information, please contact any member of the committee or msnell@maine.edu

Lecture 1: History of Holy Trinity, Lewiston, Maine
Georgia Goranites Chomas of Lewiston will present the first of a series of talks about the history of the Greek parish-es in Maine at 7 p.m. October 28 via ZOOM.
Her talk will recount the founding of the Holy Trinity Church in Lewiston including the early Greek families that settled the area and the kinds of work that they did.
A retired realtor, Georgia worked in that field for 40 years and was named Realtor of the Year. She was the first woman to be elected to the Auburn City Council, and was one of the first women to serve on the Parish Council of Holy Trinity. She is a former president of Philopto-chos, and of the Daughters of Penelope, and was chosen as Penelope of the Year in District 9.
She was the recipient of the annual Metropolitan Minis-try Award in 2008. A native of Lewiston, Georgia now lives in Poland.

Lecture 2: The Antikithera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism:
2,000 Year Old Greek Computer Revisited
More research has been done in the past decade on the fascinating artifact, the Antikythera Mechanism. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, Jerry LaSala, USM Planetarium Director and Professor of Physics, will follow up on his 2010 lecture to present the latest discoveries. His lecture will be conducted via ZOOM.
The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient Greek computing device recovered from a Roman shipwreck dating back to the first century BCE. Ever since sponge divers recovered this artifact in 1901, scientists attempted to repli-cate its mechanism to understand both how it worked and the types of celestial phenomena it was designed to predict. Astronomers believe they have un-raveled the mechanism’s mysteries and are astonished at its complexity. Inside a box – 13x7x3.5 inches – were a set of bronze gears, dials, pointers, and spirals used to compute the movement of celestial bodies. It is so sophisticated, in fact, that historians and archaeologists are re-evaluating their no-tions of Ancient Greek Astronomy.
Prof. LaSala is a former chairman of the University of Southern Maine Department of Physics and of the Faculty Senate.

200th Anniversary of Greek Independence

Two Events Commemorating
the 200th Anniversary of the Beginning of
the Greek the War for Independence in 1821
Rhigas Pheraios: A Man For All Epochs
by S. Victor Papacosma

S. Victor Papacosma will give this lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 18, via ZOOM. A link will be sent out a week prior.
As a protomartyr for the Greek War of Independ-ence, which broke out more than twenty years after his death in 1798, Rhigas Pheraios played a critical role in the development of Greek nationalism. His writings not only inspired but also guided Greeks in their revolution-ary struggle to overthrow Ottoman Turkish rule. More generally, however, one should also view Rhigas with a broader lens to bring attention to his ideas that are still relevant for societies in the 21st century. The principles in his revolutionary proclamation, declaration of the rights of men, and political constitution were markedly universal in their call for democracy and for societies based on fairness and justice. Rhigas is therefore very much a man for all epochs.
S. Victor Papacosma is Professor Emeritus of History and Director Emeritus of the Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies at Kent State University, where he taught for 42 years. He received his A.B. from Bowdoin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University. He has published extensively on Balkan issues, particularly on twentieth-century and contemporary Greek politics and security issues. Among his publications are The Military in Greek Poli-tics: The 1909 Coup d’État, which also appeared in Greek translation, Politics and Culture in Greece, and ten coedited volumes of Lemnitzer Center conference proceedings. He served as an officer of the Modern Greek Studies Associa-tion and as its Executive Director for ten years until 2014. Since retiring to Maine, he has been actively involved in the Midcoast Senior College.

The Greek Revolution -1821
Documentary & Discussion March 18
Join us on February 18th at 7 p.m. for a discussion of the documentary The Greek
Revolution—1821 originally seen on Greek SKAI TV. A week prior to the discussion, the link to the film will be sent out.
To tell its story, the filmmakers employed old illustrations and maps, contemporary video footage shot in Greece, re-enactments, and interviews with scholars. The roots of the conflict, and the subse-quent lengthy war, are explained in detail. For addi-tional information see “Greece under Ottoman Rule’ in Britannica at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Greece/Greece-under-Ottoman-rule
HSoM will search for relevant 1821 content that may be released from sources in Greece closer to the actual holiday date — March 25. Stay tuned!

Cloudy Sunday

ΟYΖΕΡΙ ΤΣΙΤΣΑΝHΣ (“Cloudy Sunday”)  Dir.: Manousos Manousakis, Greece, 2015

ZOOM Discussion: Thursday, November 19 at 7 p.m.          

During the week of November 12 – 19: watch on the Internet. URL and ZOOM links to be distributed by November 12.

During World War II in Thessaloniki, Greece, under the Nazi occupation, one Christian, Giorgos, falls in love with a Jewess, Estrea — something completely forbidden by both cultures. A parallel storyline follows the drama that takes place in a local ouzeri. Vassilis Tsitsanis, one of the greatest Greek rembetika composers, librettist and singer of the 20th century, plays here each evening. These dramas unfold as the Holocaust descends on the Jewish community there.  In Greek and Ladino w/English subtitles. 116 minutes.

SWING AWAY Dir.: Michael Nickles, USA & Greece, 2016

ZOOM Discussion: Thursday, October 8 at 7 p.m. with Director Michael Nickles         

During the week of October 1 – 8: watch on the Internet. URL and ZOOM links to be distributed by

October 1. (Nominal Fee of $2.99 for this film only.)

Following a meltdown that leads to a suspension, professional golfer Zoe Papadopoulos travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece to escape the harsh spotlight of the international sports world. Between baking bread and eating baklava, she meets and mentors a ten-year-old girl who is determined— against all odds— to become the next golf sensation. Along the way, Zoe rediscovers her Greek heritage, her love of the game, and the hidden strength within herself as she inspires the townspeople in an epic showdown against a greedy American developer. The film was shot on location on the island of Rhodes and stars Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie, Love Actually) and John O’Hurley (All My Children, Seinfeld) as well as many other well known actors. In English. 98 minutes.

Video: “It Was Nothing, It Was Everything”

On Rescuers and the Rescued Jews of Greece

with Commentary by Anna Wrobel

 ZOOM Discussion: Thursday, October 29, 7 pm

     The focus of the video documentary “It Was Nothing / It Was Everything,” is the rescue of Jewish fugitives in Greece during the Holocaust. Highlighting the almost total destruction of Greece’s Jewish community, the documentary combines archival footage and Ladino music along with interviews with rescuers and with those who were rescued in Thessaloniki, Athens, Crete, and other areas in the region. The documentary is in English and Greek with English sub-titles.

Anna Wrobel is an American historian, poet, Holocaust Studies educator and daughter of Polish Jewish refugees — a rescue partisan mother and Soviet soldier father. Her poetry and essays appear in Cafe Review, Lilith, Off the Coast and Jewish Currents, where she is a contributing writer. Anna has two poetry collections, Marengo Street (2012) and The Arrangement of Things (2018), published by Maine’s Moon Pie Press. Her work has appeared in University of Maine’s Holocaust Human Rights Center art and poetry exhibit, Dilemma of Memory, and she’s presented for the Puffin Foundation on Jewish resistance in WWII. Anna’s poetry and teaching have been featured at the Maine Jewish Museum, Colby College, UMaine-Augusta, Jewish Community Alliance, University of Southern Maine’s OLLI classes and OLLI Sage Lectures series. Poems taken from her manuscript Sparrow Feathers: Second Generation/First Person are used by teachers in several U.S. states, Poland, Germany and the Mideast. Anna co-hosts the long running poetry series, Lowry’s Lodge, with musician/writer Jim Donnelly.

Annual Social and Cutting of the Vasilopita Thursday, January 16, 2020

You are invited – bring a friend. Continuing with the Greek New Year’s tradition of individuals and organizations cutting the Vasilopita, we will hold our annual Social and Cutting of the Vasilopita from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at Tiqa, 327 Commercial Street. The Vasilopita is either a sweet bread or cake that has a special coin baked inside. Whoever finds the coin in their slice has good luck for the year. Join us for a drink (cash bar), and we will provide some tasty mezedes, and maybe you’ll get the coin!