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Greece: Army unit flags - Part 1

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by
Keywords: army general staff | eagle: double-headed (black) | sun: vergina |
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The website of the Greek Armed Forces shows 66 flags, probably all the unit flags of the Greek Army. By clicking on the link below each flag, you can reach another page with a large image of the flag.

All flags have the same general design: Three horizontal coloured stripes, with a fimbriation between them, an emblem in the middle and a golden fringe.

Ivan Sache, 18 February 2002

I translated the first part of the texts from the website mentioned above, and added some minor comments.
The mottos in the emblems are mostly from ancient times, therefore in various forms of ancient Greek (e.g. from Homer's Ilias). Transliteration of Greek is according to the rules of transliterating ancient Greek into English, i.e., ζ is transliterated "z", η "ê", θ "th", χ "x", υ "u" or "y", φ "ph", χ "ch", Ψ "ps", Ω "ô", all others are straightforward. The modern pronunciation of Greek, however, is different: especially a whole set of vowels and diphthongs (y, ê, ei, oi) are pronounced as "i" (like "invincible"). If the Greek terms would have been only in Modern Greek, I would have preferred a more phonetic transliteration; for this mixture of ancient and modern Greek I prefer the more traditional transliteration. I left off all the diacriticals (accents, spiritus, iota adscriptum).

Marcus Schmöger, 25 February 2002

Army General Staff (Geniko Epiteleio Stratou, GES)

[GES flag]by Marcus Schmöger

Colours: red-green-red with white fimbriation, yellow shield.

Description: The double-headed eagle with the national coat of arms (without laurel wreath) in the center of the body.
The double-headed eagle illustrates the two eagles of Zeus and was used all the time in Greece, as the symbol of military and spiritual power. In the old Greece the double-headed eagle was the symbol of divine power. In Byzantine times it symbolized the vigilant surveillance, the courage and the freedom, the sovereignty over the East and the West and the world domination of christianity.
Today, the double-headed eagle continues to symbolize the adamant Greek spirit, the vigilance and readiness of the Greek Army to preserve the territorial integrity of our fatherland from any foreign scheme. Furthermore, it symbolizes the Greek Christian ideals, essential elements for guaranteeing the cultural, civilizational and spiritual dimension of Hellenism.

Motto: ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΝ ΤΟ ΕΥΨΥΧΟΝ, eleutheron to eupsuchon (Freedom consists of valour).
In context: "These take as your model, and judging happiness to be the fruit of freedom and freedom of valor, never decline the dangers of war." (Thukydides 2, 43, 4). From the funeral oration, that was delivered by Pericles in the winter of 431 BC, at the burial of the fallen of the Peloponnesian War.

Marcus Schmöger, after the website of the Greek Armed Forces, 25 March 2002

1st Army (1ê Stratia)

[1st Army]by Marcus Schmöger

Colours: red-green-red with white fimbriation, light blue shield.

Description: An ancient Macedonian shield, with the Sun of Vergina upon it.
Symbolizes the determination, the power and the will of the 1st Army, that it will never come to a compromise with its enemies.

Motto: ΕΣΤ ΑΝ ΤΗΝ ΑΥΤΗΝ ΟΔΟΝ ΙΗ, est an tên autên odon iê (So long as it keeps its own course).

In context: "Now bring this message to Mardonios, that the Athenians say: "As long as the sun keeps its own course by which it now goes, we will never come to terms with Xerxes." (Herodot 8, 143). Before the battle of Plataea (spring 479 BC), Mardonios, eager to divide the Greeks, proposed peace to the Athenians and got the answer above.

Marcus Schmöger, after the website of the Greek Armed Forces, 25 March 2002

Go to part 2