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§845 Metaxas dictatorship and Damaskinos in Greece; End of Civil War under American relief (1936-1949): IV-38.

IV-38 (§845):

While the general shall occupy the king and the country,
The chief of the Byzantine Church captive in Samothrace:
Before the assault the one and the other shall resist the occupants:
The trass of blood shall follow the shoed contrary.

(Pendant que duc, roy, royne occupera
Chef Bizantin captif en Samothrace:
Avant l'assaut l'un l'autre mangera:
Rebours ferré suyvra du sang la trasse.)
(№6).

NOTES: Here is a summary of the facts in history that is essentially relevant to the quatrain: « Greece A republic was proclaimed in May 1924 but the monarchy [royne] restored in November 1935. In August 1936 King George II [the king] accepted the establishment of a fascist-type dictatorship by General Metaxas [the general], in power until his death in February 1941. The Italians invaded Greece in October 1940 but were defeated and thrown back into Albania. In April 1941 the Germans overran Greece. Rival monarchist and communist groups [the one and the other] maintained a guerilla war with the Germans [shall resist the occupants] from 1942 until the British liberated Athens in October 1944 when the two resistance groups started fighting [the assault] each other. Bitter civil war [the blood] lasted from May 1946 until October 1949, when the monarchists were successful [the trass of the blood].» (Palmer, p.119-120).

Duc: = General Metaxas, the French word duc being a leader, a commander, a duke or a general.

Roy: = King George II of Greece, having divorced in 1935; « [In 1920] Prince George became engaged to Princess Elisabeth of Roumania, eldest daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie. » ( Kiste, 1994, p.121);« Crown Price George was betrothed to Carol’s sister, Elisabeth, and had been in Bucharest when his brother [Alexander] died. Both weddings [of George and Elisabeth, and Carol and Helen, George’s sister] were celebrated in March 1921. King Constantine and Queen Sophie did not attend their son’s wedding in Bucharest, but were present at Athens for the wedding of Carol and Helen at the Metropolitan Cathedral. After a honeymoon at Tatoi, they left for Roumania.» (Kiste, id., p.130); « Faced with a similar problem to that of his father fifteen months before, King George concluded that the interests of his country demanded the avoidance of further strife at all costs. He declined to abdicate, but agreed to leave the country, ostensibly on a visit to his wife’s parents in Roumania. On 19 december he, Queen Elisabeth and Crown Prince Paul were escorted to a waiting warship. They were seen off by the loyal Prime Minister and Madame Gonatas, the latter weeping profusely as she presented the Queen with a large bouquet of flowers. On their departure from Greece in December 1923, King George and Queen Elisabeth were offered a wing of the Cotroceni Palace in  Bucharest by King Ferdinand and Queen Marie. They were there when they received news from Athens of the abolition of the monarchy. The signs of strain in their marriage were becoming ever more evident. Elisabeth, confessed her mother, was ‘one of the griefs of my life’. She had never really cared for George, and found the humiliation of exile and lack of material possessions deeply galling. Embittered by her misfortune, she sought revenge on her younger, happily married sister, Queen Marie of Serbia, by taking advantage of her illness while on a visit to Belgrade to flirt with King Alexander, a faithful albeit unimaginative husband, who was too naïve to realize he was being used as a pawn by his sister-in-law. She idled most of her time away at gambling tables or gorging rich cakes – she cared nothing about her figure – and gloating over a magnificent collection of pearls which the sympathetic Queen Sophie, always ready to see the best in everybody wherever possible, had given her. After a few months of exile in Bucharest, at Cotroceni and later at a rented house on the Calea Vitoriei, King George was frustrated by this life of emptiness. The show and ceremony of the Roumanian court grated on him, as it had on his mother. He had a ready ally in Queen Marie, who felt guilty about the effect her daughter’s behavior was having on him. Years later, he told her: ‘You are the only one who made my life supportable.’ His journeys abroad, particularly to Florence to visit his mother, and to Britain, became longer and more frequent. For some time he followed the routine of staying with his wife in Bucharest for six monts of the year, but under duress. In 1932 he decided to live entirely in England, accompanied by his devoted friend and equerry, major Dimitri Levidis, and faithful manservant ‘Mitso’ Panteleos. Though he had little reason to love the country which had played a shameful role in undermining the position of his family, a love for the Emglish way of life was engrained in him. Like his exiled uncle, the former German Emperor William, he gave the impression that all he ever wanted was to live the peaceful life of an English country gentleman. He was certainly the most Anglicized of his family. While making many friends, he took care to avoid any political or other activity that would embarrass the British court or government, particularly as he was a regular visitor to the British royal family.» (Kiste, id., p.144-146);

« That same year [in 1932] King George separated completely from his wife, who made it evident that she was happier on her own in Bucharest. For both, the marriage had been a hollow one ever since they left Greece. Three years later Queen Elisabeth was advised to bring a divorce action against him on the grounds of desertion, as he had been absent from the country for so long. At a special court session in Bucharest on 6 July 1935, the marriage was dissolved. The Queen, who thenceforth resumed her Roumanian nationality, was represented by an advocate, while nobody represented the King. The first he knew of it, allegedly, was when he read the news in a London paper.» (Kiste, id., p.151). 

Royne (Reine, Queen): = The country of Greece, a country being linguistically feminine and there having been no Queen in Greece since the King George II’s divorce in 1935. In fact, of 9 usages of the word Royne/royne, 6 refer to a Queen (I-86, VII-16, VIII-23, IX-77, X-17 and X-19) and 3 to a country or a government (III-89, IV-38 and VIII-66).

Occuper: = « To bring something under control » (Ibuki).

Duc, roy, royne occupera: = « [Le] duc occupera [le] roy [et la] royne ».

Bizantin: = Byzantin (Byzantine).

Chef Bizantin
: The head of the Byzantine Chuch in Greece. On the other hand, the same expression « Chef Bizantin » of the quatrain X-62 (§307) refers, according to the contex, to another person (
Emeric Thököly).

Chef Bizantin captif en Samothrace
: Damaskinos, Archbishop of Athens, is demoted to a provincial monastery by the ultra-conservative Metaxas regime, who repudiates his republican disposition: « One of the forces which the King most heavily counted upon to guarantee his return to Greece was the support of the British Government. To assure this support, he decided to make a trip to England and there try to mend his political fences in person. Accordingly, in March 1944, he left Cairo and the Greek Government behind him and went to London. In the British capital, King George found sympathetic ears. The British Government, in the person of Mr. Churchill at least, had a sentimental regard for the institution of kingship, and liked to imagine Greece in the postwar world, a firm friend and grateful ally of Great Britain, securely ruled by a constitutional monarch. Furthermore, King George had nominally headed the Greek Government at the time when Greece came into the war as Britain’s only European ally, and Churchill no doubt felt an obligation to forward the King’s cause in return for the help he had given in the dark days of 1940. At lower levels, however, British official opinion was confused… The more sympathetic attitude of officials in London encouraged King George to make no further concessions to republican pressure from Cairo and Greece. He took up residence in the British capital, and a coterie of Greek royalists quickly formed round him… The republican movement continued to gain momentum in the King’s absence. In December 1943, Prime Minister Tsouderos sent a representative into Greece with the mission of sounding out political leaders within the country as to their opinions on the question of the postwar regime. What particularly he wanted was their reaction to the proposal that a regent be nominated secretly by the King in order to exercise the royal powers for an interim period immediately after liberation. The original suggestion for the establishment of a regency in Greece had come from individuals in the British Embassy near the Government of Greece which had been set up in Cairo in 1943. Tsouderos favored the idea of a regency, and the Athenian politicians, with whom his representatives discussed the matter, likewise approved of the proposal. All groups that were consulted, including the Communists, agreed that Damaskinos, Metropolitan of Athens and Archbishop of All Greece, should be the Regent. Throughout the occupation, Damaskinos had succeeded in keeping above party strife and was almost the only man in prominent position who could command the respect and confidence of both Left and Right. When news of the favorable reaction of Greek political figures to the proposed regency reached the Prime Minister, he, wrote a letter to King George urging him to sign a decree in secret, nominating Damaskinos as his temporary representative in Greece. The King refused, to consider the proposal. From that time on, he began to regard Tsouderos with suspicion, seeing him as no more than the agent of a republican conspiracy against him.» (McNeill, 1947, p.122-125).

« BEFORE the final military overthrow of ELAS [National People’s Liberation Army. By far the largest guerilla force in Greece, organized by EAM], two steps of the greatest importance had been taken toward the political pacification of Greece. On New Year’s Day, 1945, His Beatitude, Damaskinos, Metropolitan of Athens and Archbishop of All Greece, became Regent. Three days later, General Nicholas Plastiras was appointed Prime Minister. This change in regime undoubtedly attracted many of the EAM [National Liberation Front. Leftist political resistance organization.] moderates away from their Communist leaders, and made possible the early end of the civil war. From the point of view of the British, who had in large part engineered the transfer of power, the move was therefore a success. When Churchill returned from his Christmas visit to Athens, he promptly interviewed King George II. The Greek King still cherished a stubborn determination not to yield one jot or tittle of his rightful powers; but brief and forceful argument changed his mind. Churchill insisted, and the King unwillingly agreed to authorize Archbishop Damaskinos to become Regent. A telegram was despatched to Athens announcing King George’s decision. Accordingly a hasty ceremony was arranged in an upper room of the Foreign Office, at which the Archbishop-Regent took an oath to exercise the royal power in accordance with the Constitution.» (McNeill, 1947, p.191).

« The new Regent was a striking figure of a man. He stood well over six feet, and was broad in proportion. The flowing robes and high mitre, which he wore by virtue of his episcopal office, exaggerated his height, and assured that his mere physical presence dominated any ordinary gathering of men. His face was coarse featured but majestic. His nose, which had been broken and thickened at the root, served as visible reminder that Damaskinos’ early career and first fame came as a wrestler where his extraordinary size and strength served him well. While still a young man Damaskinos gave up the wrestling ring and became a monk, which, in the Orthodox Church, is the normal prelude to a prelate’s career. His imposing physical appearance, keen intelligence and general good sense assured him of preferment. In 1922 he was appointed Bishop of Corinth. Five years later, a great earthquake devastated the town, and Damaskinos undertook a trip to the United States to raise money from the Greeks of America for the rebuilding of the destroyed city. He was very successful, gathering several million dollars, which helped to rebuild Corinth on a new site some three miles from the old town. Damaskinos rapidly rose to a leading place in the Greek Church. In 1936 he again travelled to America, this time on a political mission in connection with the election to the patriarchate of Constantinople which occurred in that year. He went to drum up support among the Orthodox Church leaders of the United States for the candidate favored by the Greek bishops. In the same year, the incumbent Archbishop of All Greece died, and the council of bishops assembled to elect a successor. There were two candidates: Damaskinos and another bishop named Chrysanthos. The election was closely contested, but Damaskinos was finally elected by the margin of a single vote. This outcome displeased Dictator John Metaxas. Damaskinos was generally known to be republican. He was no great friend or supporter of the King, and openly disapproved of the reactionary and extra-legal acts of the dictatorial Government. Consequently, on the ground that one of the participating bishops had been unqualified to vote, the Government declared the election invalid. The bishops met again, and a new vote gave a majority for Chrysanthos. To remove a troublesome personality from the public eye, Metaxas thereupon sent Damaskinos into retirement in a provincial monastery.» (McNeill, 1947, p.191-193); « Wanting to avoid further humiliation, the Fourth Of August Regime passed a law demoting any metropolitan who remained away from his see for an extended period without synodal permission, which was used to remove Damaskinos as metropolitan of Corinth. On March 23 [1939], the synod decided to banish Metropolitan Damaskinos to the Phaneromene Monastery on the island of Salamis, an act approved by the king on April 11. Damaskinos’s two-year exile [May 1939-April 1941] affected him deeply, but he remained convinced of his legitimacy as archbishop of Athens and all Greece. During his exile, he remained under armed guard, forbidden from having any communication with friends and family [Chef Bizantin captif en Samothrace].» (Anastasakis, 2015, p.53-54).

« He remained there until after the Germans had occupied Athens. Thinking to gain a grateful supporter, the quisling Government in 1941 annulled the election of Chrysanthos and declared Damaskinos to be the rightful head of the Church. Chrysanthos in his turn retired, taking up private residence in Athens; and Damaskinos came to the capital and assumed the robes of office. Despite the circumstances of his accession to power, Archbishop Damaskinos never truckled to the quisling Governments. He busied himself with organizing relief for the people of Athens, and gathered around himself a group of earnest young men who conducted summer camps, helped suspects escape to the Middle East, carried blankets and other supplies to freshly burnt villages, and in other ways tried to reduce the hardships of the occupation for the people. During most of 1944 he was kept under house arrest by the Germans, but was not molested otherwise. Damaskinos was able to remain almost entirely above the strife of factions which tore Greece apart during the later years of occupation. He never denounced EAM, although strong pressure was brought to bear upon him to do so. EAM reciprocated by refraining from denouncing him, and indeed the majesty of his robes and sacred office held a strong power over the imaginations of most of the rank and file of the movement. Despite this, conservatives never accused the Archbishop of being a leftist, although some of them thought he was overly inclined to sympathize with republicanism. He was thus in a thoroughly unique position among prominent Greeks, and it was for this reason that he had been fixed upon by common consent as far back as 1943 as candidate for the office of Regent. The personal character of Damaskinos was kindly. He is said to have been ambitious and scheming as a young man; but, having arrived at so high a place, ambition no longer goaded him. His education, save in theology, was not extensive; but experience and native good sense have made him wise in the ways of men, a capable administrator and a practical politician. Such a man was surely well chosen to preside over the destiny of Greece in troubled times.» (McNeill, 1947, p.193-194).

Samothrace: This remote island is not the real place of his new mission but a symbol of exclusion from the capital and at the same time of the traits of deeply religious atmosphere, there having been in antiquity the famous cult of Cabires: « SAMOTHRACE, An Island on the coast of Thrace… It was famous above all by the cult of Cabires, which they named mysteries of Samothrace.» (Landais); « CABIRES, (from the Phoenician cabir, great, strong, powerful; thence les dieux cabires were also called greats gods), the divinities of the ancient people, originating from Egypt. They gave this name to the principal infernal divinities, Pluto, Proserpina and Mercury, also called the gods of the dead: Proserpina figured the earth that received them; Pluto, the hell where they were going to dwell; and Mercury, the divine power that made them enter there. Peoples of Italy invoked the cabires gods in their domestic misfortunes; sailors made wishes to them amid tempests and parents and friends, in the funerals of those of whom the death had deprived them.» (Landais).

Avant l'assaut l'un l'autre mangera: If l’assaut means the Greek civil war between rival monarchist and communist groups, the phrase: l'un l'autre mangera should no be understood as « They shall destroy one the other » as usually but as « L’un et l’autre mangeront [les occupants] (They shall together resist the enemy occupying their country) », the civil war starting after the Allied liberation of the country.
The verse: « l'un l'autre mangera » is a feigned prophetic transformation of the phrase: « l'un [et] l'autre mangeront [something] ».

Rebours: = « Le contre-pied, le contre de ce qu’il faut (the contrary, the contrary to what is to be).»
(Littré).

Ferré: « ferrer. To shoe (a horse); to tag (a lace); to iron (a movable).» (Dubois).

Rebours ferré: American military and economic aids to the ruling parties of Greece to repulse and to end the Greek tremendous revolutionary movement.

La rasse: = Le trass to rhyme with Samothrace: « TRASS, Espèce de tuf volcanique (a sort of volcanic tuff).» (Littré); « TRASS: pierre de trass, pierre volcanique, qui entre dans le ciment; pierre pour les constructions hydrauliques (tuff, volcanic stone, a component of cement; stone for the hydraulic constructions).» (Landais).

Du sang la trasse: = La trasse du sang: This expression figures the last and definitive end of continuous blood-shedding of the civil war.

Rebours ferré suyvra du sang la trasse: The end of the civil war comes after the American powerful intervention in favour of the royalists: « Bitter civil war lasted from May 1946 until October 1949, when the monarchists were successful.» (Palmer, p.119-120); « In the meantime, the British Government passed from the Conservative to the Labour, and its policy toward Greece also changed. The Government of Labour began to demand that the United States should shoulder the policy toward Greece, excusing the loss of reason of its expeditionary troops in Greece by the conclusion of the Peace Treaty of Paris. In accordance with it, the United States now intervened in the Greek Civil War. On 12 March [1946] President Truman asked the Congress to afford military and economic aids to Greece and to send there military personnel, and began the direct intervention into Greece… And, in August 1949, the leftist resistance was utterly routed by the Government Army.» (Sakurai, 2005, p.340-341).
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© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2019. All rights reserved.
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Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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