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Greece: Army unit flags - Part 2

Last modified: 2005-02-19 by
Keywords: army corps | support brigade | helmet: greek | spear (red) | shield (yellow) | cross (white) | cross (black) | rainbow | sword (white) |
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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

1st Army Corps, 1st Support Brigade (1 Sôma Stratou, 1ê Taxiarchia Ypostêrizês)

[1st Army corps, 1st Brigade]by Marcus Schmöger

Colours: blue-red-blue with white fimbriation, black shield.

Description: Helmet and spear of Leonidas.
They symbolize the determination of the 1st Army Corps to fight, if demanded, to the last, as Leonidas did with this men at the Thermopyles.

Motto: ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ, molôn labe (Come and get them).
In context: "When Xerxes wrote "send the arms" he wrote back "come and get them". (Plutarch, Apophthegmata Lakonika). The above messages were exchanged on the eve of the Thermopylae battle (August of 480 BC) between Persian King Xerxes commanding an army of 300,000 men and Spartan King Leonidas, who was defending the Thermopylae pass with a force of about 7,000 men (300 were Spartans, who stayed until the end with Leonidas and fell all but one).

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

2nd Army Corps, 2nd Support Brigade (2 Sôma Stratou, 2ê Taxiarchia Ypostêrizês)

[2nd Army corps 2nd brigace]by Marcus Schmöger

Colours: red-yellow-red with black fimbriation, black shield.

Description: A shield and crossed spears of a soldier from ancient Sparta.
They symbolize the power, the pugnacity and the determination of the ancients.

Motto: Η ΤΑΝ Η ΕΡΙ ΤΑΣ, ê tan ê epi tas (either this or upon this).
Encouragement by Spartan mothers to their sons, when they gave them the shield, when they departed for war. ("Either you shall bring the shield back as a victor, or they shall bring you dead upon it").

Remark: The motto is Spartan dialect, in Attic dialect it would be êtên ê epi tês.

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

3rd Army Corps, 3rd Support Brigade (3 Sôma Stratou, 3ê Taxiarchia Ypostêrizês)

[3rd Army corps 3rd Brigade]by Marcus Schmöger

Colours: dark blue-yellow-dark blue with light blue fimbriation, light blue shield.

Description: It depicts the cross, symbol of faith, patience and martyrdom, that is defended by a shield, which also bears the cross, symbol of the power of the Byzantine emperors.
The letters "B" in the corners of the cross mean: Basileus Basileôn, Basileuôn Basileuontôn (King of kings, ruling over rulers). These elements were taken from Byzantium, because Thessaloniki was the second city of Byzantion after Constantinople.

Motto: ΟΥ ΦΕΙΣΟΜΕΘΑ ΤΗΣ ΖΩΗΣ, ou pheisometha tês zôês (we will not spare our lifes).
In context: "To deliver the city to you, is neither my right nor the right of any other of its inhabitants, as we all, by common opinion, are going to die defending ourselves and we will not spare our lifes." These words constitute the answer of Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos to Sultan Mehmet II, who besieged Constantinople in 1453, after he had asked him to deliver the city and withdraw safely.

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

4th Army Corps, 4th Support Brigade (4 Sôma Stratou, 4ê Taxiarchia Ypostêrizês)

[4th Army corps 4th brigade]by Marcus Schmöger

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

Description: In the light blue field, that symbolizes the Greek sky and the seas of our country, appear two helmets and a sword, that constitute the typical military elements of the uniform of warriors of Alexander the Great. The hilt of the sword appears on the bright disk of the rising sun, which is surrounded by a rainbow.
The combination of the rainbow (symbol of calmness, optimism and hope) and the hilt of the sword on the rising sun, symbolizes the concurrent aim of the campaign of Alexander the Great, to distribute Greek spirit and culture in the countries of the East he conquered.

Motto: ΤΩ ΞΙΦΕΙ ΤΩ ΔΕΣΜΟΝ ΛΕΛΥΣΘΑΙ, tô xiphei to desmon lelusthai (the knot being undone by the sword) (Arrianos, Alexander's Anabasis 3, 7).
The phrase describes the boldness and the determination with which Alexander the Great cut the known Gordian Knot with this sword, verifying, with his later successes, the respective myth, that wanted, that the one that would untie the knot would be determined to rule over Asia.

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

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