Aug 11, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - Thessalonike of Macedon

Thessalonike of Macedon 

Θεσσαλονίκη - Thessaloniki
ΕΛΛΑΣ - Greece

Thessalonike (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη or Thessaloniki) (342 - 295 BC) was a Greek princess, the daughter of Macedonian king Philip II of Macedon, by his Thessalian wife or concubine, Nicesipolis, from Pherae.  (Nicesipolis or Nicasipolis of Pherae (in Greek Νικησίπολις), was a Thessalian woman, native of the city Pherae, wife or concubine of king Philip II of Macedon and mother of Thessalonica of Macedon. There is not much surviving evidence about her background and life but she is likely to have been of noble Thessalian origin and maybe she was a niece of Jason of Pherae.)

Alexander the Great

History links her to three of the most powerful men in Macedon: daughter of King Philip II, half sister of Alexander the Great and wife of Cassander.

Thessalonike was born around 342 BC; to commemorate the birth of his daughter, which fell on the same day as the armies of Macedon won a significant battle in Thessaly, King Philip is said to have proclaimed, "Let her be called victory in Thessaly". In the Greek language her name is made up of two words Thessaly and niki, that translates into 'Thessaly victory'. Her mother did not live long after her birth and upon her death Thessalonike appears to have been brought up by her stepmother Olympias. In memory of her close friend, Nicesipolis, the queen took Thessalonike to be raised as her own daughter. Thessalonike was, by far, the youngest child in the care of Olympias. Her interaction with her older brother Alexander would have been minimal, as he was under the tutelage of Aristotle in "The Gardens Of Midas" when she was born, and at the age of six or seven when he left on his Persian expedition. She was only ninteen when Alexander, king of the then most known world, died.

Thus favored, she spent her childhood in the queen’s quarters, to whose fortunes she attached herself when the latter returned to Macedon in 317 BC, and with whom she took refuge, along with the rest of the royal family, in the fortress of Pydna, on the advance of Cassander in 315 BC. The fall of Pydna and the execution of her stepmother threw her into the power of Cassander, who embraced the opportunity to connect himself with the Argead dynasty by marrying her; and he appears to have studiously treated her with the respect due to her illustrious birth. This may have been as much owing to policy as to affection: but the marriage appears to have been a prosperous one; Thessalonike became queen of Macedon and the mother of three sons, Philip, Antipater, and Alexander; and her husband paid her the honour of conferring her name upon the city of Thessaloniki, which he founded on the site of the ancient Therma, and which soon became, as it continues down to the present day, one of the most wealthy and populous cities of Macedonia. After the death of Cassander, Thessalonike appears to have at first retained much influence over her sons. Her son Philip succeeded his father, but while Antipater was the next in line for the throne, Thessalonike demanded that it be shared between Philip and Alexander. Antipater, becoming jealous of the superior favour which his mother showed to his younger brother Alexander, put his mother to death, in 295 BC.

The Legend of Thessalonike

There exists a popular Greek legend which talks about a mermaid who lived in the Aegean for hundreds of years who was thought to be Thessalonike. The legend states that Alexander, in his quest for the Fountain of Immortality, retrieved with great exertion a flask of immortal water with which he bathed his sister's hair.

When Alexander passed away his grief-stricken sister attempted to end her life by jumping into the sea. Instead of drowning, however, she became a mermaid passing judgment on mariners throughout the centuries and across the seven seas.

To the sailors who encountered her she would always pose the same question: "Is Alexander the king alive?" (Greek: Ζει ο βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος;), to which the correct answer would be "He lives and still rules" (Greek: Ζει και βασιλεύει, και τον κόσμο κυριεύει!). Given this answer she would allow the ship and her crew to sail safely away in calm seas. Any other answer would transform her into the raging Gorgon, bent on sending the ship and every sailor on board to the bottom.

Another Greek folklore about Thessaloniki
the sister of Alexander the Great

After conquering the world, Alexander decided that he would conquer death as well. He asked the wise men how to go about this. They said that the water of life would grant him immortality if he could kill the dragon that guards it.
Alexander accomplished this feat and brought the water back to his home. Tired he took a nap.
While sleeping his sister Thessalonica found the water and thought it was only regular water. She took a sip for herself and watered some plants. Those plants never died but changed and became perennials.
When Alexander woke he discovered what his sister had done and cursed her horribly.
She was to live forever in the sea growing larger with each passing year. Her form a woman from the waist up, but from there down she was to have two tails instead of legs.
Now, her mermaid transformation complete, she roams the Aegean and Black Seas. She has become gigantic and can lift an entire ship with one hand.
When she encounters sailors she asks them if Alexander is still alive.
If they say he is dead she raises great waves and their ship is lost.
If they say he still lives and rules as always she allows them to pass in peace.
In Greece she is called the Gorgona.

Alexander the Great statue - click to enlarge

Thessaloniki the City - My Glorious City

The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great (Thessalo-nike means the "victory of Thessalians").

Thessaloniki is the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia. Thessaloniki is commonly called the 'symprotevousa' (lit. co-capital) of Greece due to both its long history and its strategic geographic and economic importance. More formally it is called as the "Capital of Cultural Affairs". The Thessaloniki urban area curves round the Thermaic Gulf for approximately 17 km.

Thessaloniki is a busy, vibrant city and it is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and cultural center as well as a major transportation hub in southeastern Europe. Its commercial port is of a great importance for Greece and for its southeast European hinterland.

The city has two state universities that host a large student population; it is renowned for its large number of monuments of Byzantine architecture as well as for some main Ottoman structures.

The city is famous for its picturesque restaurants and tavernas as well as for its lively and diverse nightlife, ranging from the traditional rebetadika to designer bars and the prestigious nightclubs located in the area adjacent to Makedonia International Airport. The city is also famed for its bougatsa delicacy that can be found in special stores in just about every corner of the city (!!!).

Thessaloniki - The Bride of Thermaikos

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