Masculinity on Stage

Dueling in the Greek Capital, 1870–1918

in Aspasia
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  • 1 Hellenic Open University


Based on some forty duels that took place in Athens between 1870 and 1918, this article examines the different connotations middle-class dueling assumed in the political culture of the period. Drawing on newspaper articles, monographs, domestic codes of honor, legal texts, and published memoirs of duelists, it reveals the diversified character of male honor as value and emotion. Approaching dueling both as symbol and practice, the article argues that this ritualistic battle was imported to Greece against a background of fin de siècle political instability and passionate calls for territorial expansion and national integration. The duel gradually became a powerful way of influencing public opinion and the field of honor evolved into a theatrical stage for masculinity, emanating a distinct glamor: the glamor of a public figure who was prepared to lay down his life for his principles, his party, the proclamations he endorsed, and his “name.”

The historiography of the duel in the nineteenth century is nearly three decades old. Important scholarship, closely studying Western societies where this ritual flourished, has shown only insignificant similarities with its earlier medieval manifestation. The duel, from the second half of the nineteenth century to its decline sometime within the first third of the twentieth century, was defined as a modern practice conveying particular middle-class characteristics.1 Following recent trends in the history of masculinity, some researchers have approached the duel by focusing on the male body and its disciplining practices, via its inclusion in the nature/culture divide. The duel was described as a way of exhibiting bravery and integrity, virtues that only rational, civilized subjects possessed, as they could tame their violent instincts and subsume them under a set of acceptable rules. For others, their point of departure has been the various ways in which manly emotions were articulated, shaped, and reproduced as liberal and patriotic values, by underlining in particular the fluid and polysemous concept of male honor.2 The history of the duel has also been intertwined with the history of crime, which brought out the ambiguities of the justice system and the practice of law toward this act of interpersonal violence, and highlighted the debates between its opponents and supporters.3 Finally, most historians today agree that the historical study of the duel privileges the complex transition of Western societies toward the newly established liberal regimes of the nineteenth century.4 When members of the emerging middle classes adopted the practice they did so as “citizens,” in other words, as independent men holding inalienable civil and political rights. Only a citizen par excellence could defend his personal interests and at the same time act as guarantor of the general interests of society.5

This article draws on some forty duels that took place in Athens between 1870 and 1918. The 1870s witnessed the first fatal incident, which became the subject of a thorough public debate in the press.6 In December 1918, a new and particularly tough law on dueling was introduced, which, unlike the previous, also prohibitive, legislation, was approved with the intention of being implemented. Law 1592 “On Dueling” brought a profound change in the legal treatment of the duel and was immediately marked as “draconian” by supporters of the practice. They complained that in earlier times, when dueling was forbidden only “preemptively” since it led to death, “the accused was brought to justice for involuntary manslaughter.” Yet, “he was never accused of murder, … of premeditated manslaughter.”7

Duels were not listed in the Greek statistics of justice. To estimate their propagation, without of course being able to arrive at precise numbers, one needs to carry out extensive research in the newspapers—a particularly time-consuming task for an individual researcher. Therefore, my interest on the subject is not based on estimations of the numbers of duels that took place in the Greek capital, but on a few patterns that surfaced in nearly all the forty cases of my sample. In these ritualized battles, save for two exceptions, there were no incidents of violations of so-called family honor, but rather cases of sullying politicians’ and army men's public image and social standing. This fact was a source of puzzlement even for the experts on honor issues, like Michael Fouridis, the author of a “Greek” dueling code, when he stated: “My experience has shown that in Greek issues of honor, the French saying ‘look for the woman’ should be replaced by ‘look for the insult.’ Indeed, in most duels the insult is present.”8 Sure enough, duels were usually preceded by abuse, affronts, defamatory statements, or controversies made in oral or written form in the public domain, for example, in Parliament or the press. Both the practice of the duel and the extensive public debate around it were conducted by the leadership of Greek society. What is more, although dueling had already been banned in Greece in the nineteenth century, the perpetrators remained systematically unpunished, even in fatal incidents.

In this article I wish to integrate the Greek case into the existing historiographies of the middle-class duel. I am not, however, just interested in adding a new case from Southeastern Europe to those already known. If the duel was, as I argue, a middle-class practice that was imported into the Greek state along with its establishment in the early nineteenth century and reached its peak at the turn of the twentieth, it also required—as all things “imported”—to be nationalized. Although many of its prime characteristics (as already known from the relevant literature) are equally detected in the Greek case—for instance, references to male honor, masculinity, and politics—these aspects had to be adapted to the realities of the specific time and place. A comparison of the domestic duels with relevant cases from the international scholarship highlights the public character that the practice acquired in Greece and its strong linkages to masculine political identities.9

One core characteristic of middle-class duels that is essential to the analysis that follows is their connection with breaches of male honor. As Efi Avdela reminds us with her work on crimes of honor in the postwar period, rural Greece has been one of the case studies that informed the anthropological construction of the “unity of the Mediterranean,” building on the social values of “honor and shame” as early as the 1950s.10 According to these initial approaches to the concept, it has been argued that for modern Mediterranean societies individual honor was always intertwined with family honor. Men appeared as holders and protectors of both, where women's honor was identified with their sexual chastity, and when damaged was felt and expressed as shame.11 International scholarship has long challenged these images as oversimplifying, highlighting, for example, the multiplicity and diversity of both honor and shame, and the complexity of their engendered characteristics, which are always context-specific.12 In what follows I engage more recent and sophisticated approaches, which perceive honor as an emotion and connect its diverse meanings over time and space with power dynamics of difference, such as gender, socioeconomic status, age, and ethnicity.13 The threefold topic of honor, interpersonal violence, and emotion attracted social and cultural historians, who highlighted its profound connection to an array of masculine competitive attributes and performances.14 As stated, despite their socioeconomic status all people possessed some sense of honor, albeit invested with diverse meanings. Whenever this emotion was threatened it triggered multiple reactions, often, as the case of dueling practice indicates, violent, especially among men.15 Perceiving honor as an emotion offers significant analytical advantages. The recent “emotional turn” in history has shown the strong relevance between emotions and social practice,16 stating that emotions are expressed and communicated as actions. The concept of “emotives,” initiated by William Reddy in 2001, and Monique Scheer's more recent approach of emotions as “a kind of practice,” is quite clear: emotions are not just something we “feel,” but also something we “do.”17 The duels, these ritualized battles between middle-class men aiming to settle breaches of their honor, vividly illustrate how an emotion triggers discourses and practices alike. In what follows, I aim to link this act, as discourse and social practice, to the culture of public life of the long nineteenth century in Greece. I will argue that the ruling Greek middle classes embraced dueling when parliamentarism was plagued by political instability and the people longed for integration of the national territory. During an era of irredentism, which foregrounded the political role of army officers, and clientelism, which privileged a close, at times interpersonal relationship between politicians and constituents, the duel increasingly became a means to demonstrate in the public arena a man's integrity, and thus his legitimate claim to play an active role in mainstream politics. Full participation in the affairs of the state needed proofs of honor, a possession seemingly of greater value than life itself, which demanded to be defended at all costs. Still, the “honor” invoked by those who dueled was not of a universal kind, since it shifted across gender and class lines. These boundaries safeguarded it, protected it, and conferred value upon it.

The following incident from the beginning of the twentieth century vividly illustrates the correlations between male honor and its public performance through dueling. In June 1904, the Greek minister of education, Spyridon Staes, met on “the field of honor” the deputy Konstantinos Chatzipetros. Chatzipetros had irreparably insulted Staes in the corridors of Parliament, by loudly and repeatedly calling him “scoundrel, dishonest, malicious and c[uckold].”18 Both politicians had decided that only a duel would give them satisfaction. Alas, upon the exchange of the first pistol shots, the young deputy drew his last breath in the deserted area of Trachones. The duelist minister, after having expressed his sincere regrets for the tragic outcome, stated to the journalists: “The insults hurled in my face and repeated several times in front of the whole House, were so outrageous, that out of an elementary duty to my dignity as a person, as a deputy, and as a minister, I could not let this pass.”19 Staes resigned from his high governmental position and was detained for nine months until he was brought before the Criminal Court, charged with murder by negligence. After his acquittal, in December 1905, he returned to the same key ministerial position. Apparently, everyone had judged the matter closed. Two years earlier, in 1902, after a bloodless and equally unpunished armed confrontation between lieutenant general and member of the Greek Parliament Konstantinos Koumoundouros and the justice minister, Konstantinos Topalis, the latter would clarify the connection between dueling and moral integrity, a prerequisite for the assumption of any important public position:

I raised my pistol upward as I did not want to shoot Mr. Koumoundouros, for whom I had no hostility. If I sought to solve the dispute between us with firearms, it was only for the sake of the integrity of the ministerial office. I also hope to have made it clear that since for the sake of the ministerial office I did not hesitate to put my life in jeopardy, still less could I ever belittle its prestige for base motives or for reasons of personal and partisan revenge.20

Dueling practice was not a farcical mimicry or an annoying demonstration of overdeveloped masculinity, although such criticisms were not unusual, especially from its sworn enemies. These widespread views were echoed, for instance, in 1908, by the director of the Athinai [Athens] newspaper, Georgios Pop, when he described duels as “stupid and ridiculous medieval customs,”21 or by the member of the Parliament and army man Theodoros Libritis, who declared that “those who are inclined to duel (the bully-boys) hope to impress by doing so.”22 And yet, the parody argument is not helpful if we want to understand what pushed even reputable men to duel, risking their own lives for the sake of honor.

Dueling in Greece

The duel in the Greek capital, at least from the last decades of the nineteenth century until the outbreak of World War I, was not a marginal phenomenon. Its pinnacle spanned two periods of war: the “golden age” of the duel began on the eve of what the Greek side called the “Unfortunate War,” a conflict between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire in 1897, and closed with the victorious Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 that found Greece on the winning side. This periodization is justifiable as it assuages a severe national defeat with a national triumph. During the nineteenth century both domestic and foreign politics of the recently established Greek state were driven by the so-called Megali Idea (Great Idea), the nationalistic dream for territorial expansion of the nation-state to include all Greek-speaking populations of the Ottoman Empire. The Great Idea fueled popular nationalist and irredentist sentiments for many decades. The opportunity for territorial expansion aroused in 1896 when Crete revolted, demanding unification. Ethniki Etaireia (Nationalist Society), a Greek secret society, supported the Cretan rebels with ammunition and armed men. Soon after, in 1897, the Greek army attacked the Ottoman troops on the northern borders of the country. This war lasted only for thirty days and ended up being a debacle for Greece, as it was obliged to pay war reparations and to accept the imposition of international financial control. Perceived as a national humiliation and as a partial loss of national sovereignty, the “unfortunate war of 1897” triggered questions regarding the causes of the defeat.23 There were not a few who blamed parliamentarism and the political parties for the national failure.24 The following extract from an Athens daily, in the aftermath of a deadly duel between two members of the Parliament, was quite clear: “Greek society has to mourn for both victims: the dead and the survivor. And also to rue the slaughterer: Greek parliamentarism and the way its state operates.”25 In the meantime, strong nationalist, anti-parliamentary societies were arguing for militarization, in order to engage in a new war with the Ottoman Empire and fulfill the vision of the Great Idea. Within this febrile atmosphere it was not surprising that the number of duels in the country soared.

From the few figures I was able to gather, it seems that during this period ten duels took place annually, in Athens alone. Challenges to duel must have been issued on a much more frequent basis, with many ending in compromise, through witness mediation. These trivial numbers, compared with those in France (200–300 per year for the period 1875–1900), Italy (3,513 for the period 1879–1897), and Germany (2,111 for the period 1882–1912), seem negligible.26 Albeit, in these countries the practice had deep and persistent roots and witnessed such a tremendous proliferation that contemporaries came to see it as a dreadful social scourge. In Greece the duel was imported, although its admirers often recalled its ancient Hellenic practice that had survived down to their modern epoch thanks to the indomitable and brave soul of the “Greek race.” According to the chairman of the House of Commons, Nikolaos Levidis, it was practiced originally by foreign officers who accompanied the first king of Greece, the Bavarian Otto, in the 1830s and was preserved over the next decades within the army.27 It seems, however, that it remained a marginal practice of honor-associated violence until the last quarter of the nineteenth century.28 It was only then that it became more widely accepted as cosmopolitan Greeks, this time not just army officers, who had been in Western countries where its presence was already strong (such as France, Italy, and Germany), continued to participate in duels after their return to Greece.

The duel was an armed, ritualized combat based on written rules (known as “honor codes” or “duel codes”) and aimed at undoing the affront that had tarnished a man's reputation. However, there was not a single definition of the “breach of honor.” According to a Greek writer, “every word, text, movement, or blow against the dignity, chivalry or honor of an individual represents an insult.” He would, however, admit its definitional ambiguity since “according to it, anyone can consider himself offended in infinite ways by another.”29 The case was entrusted to witnesses who acted as legislators and independent judges: they undertook to reconcile the adversaries, in order to avoid the battle on the field of honor. In cases where the dispute ultimately resulted in an armed confrontation, these mandated witnesses set out the duel terms in special protocols carrying the weight of unconditional law. On the field of honor, they ensured the faithful respect of the duel terms and any irregularity was simply unacceptable. Witnesses’ pivotal role transpired from all dueling codes. The codes did not just underscore witnesses’ various powers and responsibilities, but also the skills and character traits they ought to possess. They had to be persons of “recognized uprightness.” The perfect witness was proficient in the use of weapons. He knew fencing, and displayed agility, clear-sightedness, and self-collectedness. Finally, he had to possess two somewhat oxymoronic qualities: flexibility and stability.30

Duels were conducted secretly in remote areas, such as Faliro, Patisia, or Kifissia. This was the rule, though sometimes they also took place in Athens, in the enclosed gardens of urban mansions. The weapon used originally was the sword, but in the last decades of the nineteenth century, the pistol became increasingly the norm. Although most of the duelists were skillful fencers who had undergone intensive training in the army and/or in sports, the duels in which they partook did not constitute athletic competitions, but unlawful and violent standoffs. For instance, from the end of the nineteenth century, the fencers of the sole Athenian gentlemen's club Athinaeke Leschi (Athens Club) and their teachers were often involved in duels, as opponents and witnesses of the showdown—albeit not as athletes.31 As an “aristocratic” sport of high prestige, fencing shared, however, at least one common feature with dueling: they were both social practices of distinction for middle-class men.32

Men that Count

Most duel treatises clearly stated who was entitled to settle their personal differences through dueling.33 Since this right suggested moral virtue,34 it was removed from all those who allegedly did not possess it, namely, women, minors, and the subordinate classes. The physical and, above all, the moral weakness of women barred them from the practice. Their honor was not for them to protect, but for men holding patriarchal authority over them: fathers, husbands, and siblings. This exclusion seemed so self-evident that duel codes usually did not mention the subject at all, with only one exception, published in 1893, that clearly stated that “dueling between women was absolutely forbidden” and “women would not be tolerated either as opponents or as witnesses.”35 All the aforementioned social categories were therefore excluded from the privilege of self-defense, because they were deemed devoid of the necessary rationality and emotional composure. And if a woman could be the cause of a serious brawl between two men of different social status, a challenge to duel was then categorically rejected, according at least to the duel treatises, as “small people” were not allowed to engage in the practice at all, since they were altogether without honor.36 Dueling (and the lack of punishment for such) was a privilege of class that other “less worthy” and “dishonorable” classes did not possess. It is worth mentioning that these (imported and translated) Greek treatises often adopted terms such as “low orders” or “small people,” echoing the aristocratic character of the preceding medieval and early modern practice. Dueling manuals continued to be loyal to a previous aristocratic vocabulary, despite the fact that sociopolitical practices of dueling and their importance appeared considerably different in the nineteenth century, and the words used were invested with novel meanings.

There is no doubt that the majority of those who fought on the Greek field of honor came from political and military circles. Of the eighty duelists in my sample, with only two or three exceptions, all of them were officers or politicians. Often, of course, they combined both characteristics, a fact that did not escape the attention of contemporary commentators. In 1908, the prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Demosthenes Tsivanopoulos, noted that “if one excludes the politicians and Army men in Greece, it will become clear that no other class is affected by this disease.”37 The active involvement of officers in duels was not surprising. Beyond their familiarity with the use of pistols and swords, honor and bravery were at the core of military values. At the end of 1897, War Minister Konstantinos Smolenskis, an active duelist as well as a witness involved in many battles, introduced “honor councils” in the army. These quasi-judicial bodies were responsible for examining and evaluating incidents pertaining to officers’ honor and dignity. Their decisions were binding, and their main concern was to reach an agreement with reciprocal concessions to avert a duel between the parties.38 The honor councils represented an innovation that was introduced exclusively in the army at the end of the nineteenth century in other countries as well, like Germany, France, and Spain, and in South America.39 This initiative mirrored the ambivalence of the justice system toward the custom of self-redress, and the need to fill the gap between law and custom, starting from the military world, a world susceptible to both dueling and firm discipline.

For the Greek military world the end of the nineteenth century was marked, as we saw, by humiliation, following the defeat in the Greek-Ottoman War of 1897. This was the dominant feeling, especially in the minds of those who by profession had found themselves on the front line and were then blamed for the failure to fulfill the national expansionist dream. As a result of the preceding traumatic war and the spirit of vitriolic patriotism it ignited, the number of duels rose dramatically. In such times, masculine ideals appeared “more warlike, aggressive and violent, projecting precisely those male traits that the situation itself seemed to absolutely if not urgently demand in order to break the national and social impasse.”40 Important scholarship has long stated that modern masculinities of the nineteenth century were fueled by the new meanings that “citizenship” and “nation” acquired at the time. The “New Man” of the period intersected with nationalistic ideologies and the ideal of citizen-fighter, both giving tangible content to the expansionistic dreams of the nation.41 The soldier- patriot, who risked his own life for his homeland,42 embodied values and qualities that privileged physical strength, aggressiveness, toughness, and robustness,43 performed on the battlefield and elsewhere, for instance, in sports44 or on the field of honor. The remarkable increase of duels in the wake of national ordeals has also been observed in other European countries, for example, in France after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871.45 It was then that the honor councils were introduced into the Greek Army, on the one hand confirming real facts and seeking to control and normalize dueling practices, and on the other recognizing the enhanced right of officers to duel. Officers were exposed to the pressing expectations of nationalist sentiment, which saw them as the personification of the ideals of homeland and nation. For their part, they did not hesitate to show at every opportunity, both on the fields of battle and honor, that they were worthy of their uniform and weapons, and ready to face attacks against themselves and their country by shedding their own blood.

The following words, though not from an army man, but from the neurologist-psychiatrist and rector of the University of Athens, Michael Katsaras, clearly outlined the conventions that made these values dominant: “The officer is the person to whom we have all assigned our [national] defense and honor, since the figure of the officer represents, in some way, the embodiment of the dignity of our homeland.”46 Sometimes the internalization of the honor of the homeland was quite obvious, as in the duel, in February 1907, of Epaminondas Valsamakis with Ratko Kontsatsief, the president of the Association of Bulgarian Students in Paris, when the latter “orating with cockiness” argued that the Greek guerrilla parties in Macedonia were more brutal than the Huns.47 This emerged even more strongly in the duel of Lieutenant Athanasios Pierrakos Mavromichalis with Alfred Bey, secretary of the Ottoman Embassy in Athens in the summer of 1892. This confrontation ended with the serious wounding of the young officer, despite the fact that “he was very tall, with square and robust shoulders, and had a type of physique we associate with Maniots,” at least according to the Acropolis journalist.48 Such confrontations were not perceived by the individuals involved and the press simply as fights for the settling of personal scores, but as imitations of an ongoing conflict with a rival nation. The members of specific nations, especially the eternal enemies opposing national claims, were supposed to have an elusive or underdeveloped sense of honor.

The second social category or—to use the contemporary Greek language—“class” prone to the “fatal complications” of the duel were politicians. Members of Parliament such as Konstantinos Zavitsanos, ministers such as Konstantinos Konstantopoulos, presidents of the house such as Themistocles Sofoulis, and later prime ministers such as Ioannis Rallis, Stefanos Dragoumis, and Georgios Theotokis made their armed appearance on the field of honor. They needed to defend the correctness of their opinion, refute false accusations, restore their prestige, offset insults, demonstrate their integrity, and above all prove that they were worthy of the powers granted to them by their constituents. The journalist Georgios Pop was quite clear when he commented explicitly that “the members of the Greek Parliament who fight, do it mainly to avoid being seen as cowards, and frightened of losing their prestige.”49 In this light, the duel became some kind of proof of the dedication Greek politicians evinced in their private and public affairs, within a political representative system based on local clientelist networks. This is how a newspaper commented on the lethal duel between the politicians Staes and Chatzipetros:

Behold the unfortunate Chatzipetros, a victim of Greek parliamentarism. The voter, with his tyrannical dominance over the one he voted for, put constant pressure on the deputy [i.e., Chatzipetros]. The deputy happened to be an upright man, one of those men for whom their voters’ problems became a matter of personal pride which brooked no middle road, and his failure to satisfy a petition, drove this virtuous man to vituperate bitterly at a Lord of the State, a Minister.50

This is not to say that all duels deliberately aimed at immediate political gains. And yet this private practice was not merely a settling of scores between two men, but rather a public proof of a politician's exceptional moral abilities. For the politician-duelists, the personal was political. Besides, one should not underestimate that the risk of being challenged to a duel could nip aspiring political opponents in the bud, or at least make them more prudent when they voiced negative judgments. This was particularly the case when it came to individuals who showed great skill in the use of shotguns or who had the reputation of unhesitatingly resorting to dueling. An extreme example, perhaps, is the army officer and politician Lykourgos Tsoukalas, who, during his active life, took part in eleven duels from which he emerged victorious every time and on one occasion his rival was mortally injured. The cause of this fatal battle was an “intense brawl that resulted in insults and blows,” under the startled gaze of passengers on the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways.51

Gradually the duel became a powerful way of influencing public opinion and the field of honor was a place emanating a distinct glamor: the glamor of a public figure who was prepared to lay down his life for his principles, his party, the proclamations he endorsed, and his “name.” Several voices claimed that the purpose of most duels in Greece was to make an impression on public opinion. As proof, they commented on the remarkably high rate of bloodless combats. The following extract was humorously stating that the vast majority of duelists “[know] beforehand that the results of the battle would be 99% a) two shots without result b) the bullet will pass next to one's ear, as the papers usually describe c) the opponents will celebrate over a pasta dinner d) next morning the press will write that there was a duel between the one and the other, which is not a negligible headline, as well as all the other nonsenses that accompany most battles.”52

Private Affair or Public Spectacle?

As duel researchers have shown, the transition from a secret combat on the field of honor to the crowded and loud public space owed much to the press.53 In the gray area between fact and fiction, duels often became public news and even public spectacles. In fact, not without reason, many accused the daily press of fomenting duels. The anti-duelist commentator Panayiotis Panas, for example, deplored the journalism of his time, because “instead of combating duels, it incited them either by conspicuously publishing protocols and exchange of letters or by welcoming these immoral and absurd challenges.”54 The fast-growing print culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries discussed criminal acts in detail. Reporters filed front-page news, shaping the profiles of the individuals involved, especially when the case included famous men or the crime was especially appalling. Press cuttings spread community reactions and formed readers’ opinion of the incidents, and readers demanded salacious details of the story. Historians of crime have pointed out the importance of press accounts and highlighted the reformative power of publicity. Far from being neutrally descriptive sources, newspaper reports formed the events and the basic plots of “what happened,”55 including duel incidents. The regular publication of verbal abuse and the details of the quarrels between politicians or other public figures aroused the spirits. But also so did the journalists’ diverse treatment of dueling, which covered the entire spectrum of opinion on the subject. This backdrop aggravated the feud and forced rivals to push to the extreme an argument that could have been settled outside the field of honor. The newspapers, however, were not only considered a part of the problem but also a part of the solution. The argument went that when journalists ceased treating duelists as heroes and instead degraded them, only then would this barbaric custom decline. Of the many voices defending this notion was Spyridon Staes, an ex-duelist himself, who was simply following the rule when he stated “although I have found myself in the inevitable need to send and receive challenges to duels, I emphatically reassure you that I am against the custom. I find duels profoundly inappropriate means of satisfaction in our times.”56 Most duelists, when they were called upon to express their opinion publicly, rarely admitted to being in favor of the custom.

The press did follow the challenges to a duel closely, especially when famous public figures were involved. The newspapers eagerly reproduced the letters exchanged between rivals as well as the protocols drawn up by their witnesses, thereby keeping readers on their toes day after day. The dramatic and peculiar character of the duel as an incident of interpersonal violence drew the curiosity and interest of readers. The incidents that led to bloodshed or death were given more attention and extensive coverage. The impact of fatal confrontations was also wider and more lasting since it reached beyond the limits of printed journalism and generated a number of independent publications that primarily highlighted the irrational, immoral, and unlawful nature of the practice.57 On the other hand, its champions used a “roundabout” argument, as it were, to publicly portray their point of view, usually by writing codes of honor.

The six codes of honor written in Greek that I have traced are either translated treatises or Greek adaptations of foreign publications. They were issued between 1879 and 1928 and written by officers and teachers of the use of pistols and swords, in other words, from men repeatedly in the field of honor, either as duelists or as witnesses.58 These texts attempted to impart legitimacy to the duel: it was not, as its detractors claimed, an act of violence dictated by brutish passions, but an exemplary exercise of self-control and disciplining of the violent masculine nature. It made room for the manifestation on both sides of a civilized aggressiveness, which was controlled by a set of firm rules. After all, always according to the codes of honor, the duel was not a criminal act, since it was not driven by criminal intention. The duelist did not want to injure his rival. His action aimed at something much more crucial: to prove that he had the courage to expose himself to the ultimate danger, and thus face fearlessly the possibility of suffering a fatal wound. Or, as the nineteenth-century national poet Aristotle Valaoritis wrote in a letter to his son Emilio, when he was copiously reprimanding him, “real manhood did not reside in unruliness but in the power of moral courage. Real knights fought to the last drop of their blood, while laughing and joking with their rivals.”59 The duel was nothing but a noble and courageous act of self-defense, aiming at restoring a man's dignity by erasing a slight.60

On the Field of Honor

The references to male honor were abundant among advocates of the duel. It was the central concept supporting their entire argument. It allowed them to demonstrate the natural and indisputable need to defend it when threatened, and thereby to establish the rightness and legitimacy of dueling. As both an emotion and a social value, male honor transcended the narrow limits of one's self-image to become a recognition of a person's moral worth before the eyes of society.61 If a person's integrity was questioned, the recourse to justice was not enough to repair the damage. A court verdict could acknowledge the unfairness of the offense, but it could not restore a smeared reputation. This harmful deterioration of public standing, however, could be remedied by dueling and bloodshed. Indeed, only these could remove the stigma of the offense, efface hatred, and restore mutual respect. In this conceptual context, the duel became both privilege and obligation, derived from a civilized albeit natural right.62 Thus, to put a definitive end to the confrontation, “the duelists shook each other's hands as a sign of sincere friendship, since through the shedding of blood any hatred or insult was erased.”63

In 1931, the lawyer Epameinondas Valsamakis, a veteran duelist, nostalgic for the “golden youth of the prewar era,” as he himself declared, published in the newspaper Elliniki (The Greek newspaper) a series of long articles in favor of the practice.64 An enthusiastic and enthralling narrator, this old champion of fencing described through a seemingly paradoxical nexus his two great passions: ideological anti-Venizelism and dueling. In fact, the revival of the debate around dueling thirteen years after the toughening of the law against it was not accidental, nor was the fact that its delegate was hostile toward political liberalism. It was the period of the final liberal Venizelos government (1928–1932) and a time of major political instability, in which frequent elections and democratic intervals alternated with military coups. Monarchist Valsamakis revived the discussion over duels to suggest that honor, bravery, military courage, love, and sacrifice for one's home soil remained major masculine attributes for any individual willing to take action in the central political scene, which was exposed at the time to the imponderables of military coups.65 As the most outspoken advocate of the duel, he denounced the prohibitive law passed by the Venizelos government in 1918 as “morbid” and “effeminate.” It was “morbid” because as long as it remained in force, it poisoned the blood of the Greek race by injecting it with defeatism and dastardliness, and impaired the youth's previously healthy perceptions of masculinity. Yet it was also an “effeminate” legislative decision, in other words, “soft” and “irrational,” as it canceled one of the most fundamental psychic ingredients of masculinity: the sense of honor and the imperious need to protect it. This loss was bound to have devastating consequences for the nation as a whole, which was now doomed to rapidly degenerate into a gutless herd of “cowards” and “defectors.” A failing manly honor foreboded national calamity in the shape of an unguarded nation, unable to fend off foreign aggression. For Valsamakis, the decriminalization of dueling was conducive to the thriving of individual and national values, which gave precedence to the status of soldier-patriot over that of citizen:66

We, the duelists of the old days, never hurt anyone unjustly. We, the youngsters of 1912 and 1913, [were the soldiers who fought on the front lines of the Balkan Wars] … Nor have we ever been Don Quixotes of the sword. But when the time came to fight in a unanimous effort for Greece, all of us, the “duelists,” remembered our sword, and thank God, we made a good use of it then!67

Valsamakis was, however, defending a practice that was no longer accessible. The most ambitious campaign against dueling had been conducted in the pages of the newspaper Scrip (Scrip) more than two decades before, during the first months of 1908, in the noisy aftermath of the deadly combat between two young sublieutenants.68 Lawyers, politicians, senior officers, and scholars tended to approach male honor as an intrinsic and fixed quality. They claimed that it lay imperishable inside whoever lived in conformity with the vague and general beliefs of society and state laws. According to Dimitrios Levidis, president of the Chamber of Parliament, “insult and defamation can not dishonor, as they turn against the perpetrator. Insult and defamation are defects of vulgar and groveling souls.”69 All opponents of the practice stated that manly honor could not be protected through violence and bloodshed. Some stressed the immorality and absurdity of dueling. Others remarked that an injustice could not be remedied through uncertain and unforeseeable results. Everyone agreed, however, that taking the law into one's hands would abolish the established rules of justice. It presaged a dreadful regression into barbaric regimes or past lawless societies where physical strength still reigned. The most scathing indictors flatly stated that the real victims were the state and the law.70 The above argument was not always expressed without hesitation and ambiguity. The discomfort derived from the fact that all these “duelists,” “scorners of the law,” “blusterers,” or “fools” (the phrases abounded) were not some obscure or anonymous people of the subaltern social classes, habitually known for their immorality and disregard for the law. Far from it—each time ministers, deputies, supreme judges, officers, scholars, and well-known newspaper publishers denounced the practice, in fact, they condemned a criminal action committed by one of their ilk: colleagues, collocutors, and often, close friends.

Coup de Grâce

In the most popular and widely translated treatise on the duel, published in Greek in 1887, the French sword master Adolphe Tavernier described the duel as “a custom almost absurd in theory and almost logical in practice,”71 in an effort to keep a somewhat specious distance from the outlawed practice. Like most of its proponents, he was afraid to voice his wholehearted support for dueling and chose instead to describe it as “a necessary evil.”72 It was a stern option to resort to only when no other practice could restore endangered male honor. As an exponent of an era that still gazed upon tomorrow with the anticipation of humanity's continuous progress, he predicted the custom's decline in the near future. Until then, as long as societies and the people who formed them remained incomplete, the passion for honor and the desire for its preservation would continue to express themselves on the field of dueling. For Greece, this moment came in 1918 when the adoption of the new prohibitive law confirmed in institutional terms the demise of a practice that thenceforth belonged irretrievably to the past. Moreover, the decline of the duel after the disruption of World War I was also witnessed in all Western societies where it had formerly spread during the nineteenth century.73 The reasons behind this decline were numerous. Nonetheless, it seems that the duel distanced itself from its social underpinnings and its political context, and lost its mythical aura. In the vortex of the National Schism,74 legislative toughness was not conjunctural. Instead, it strove to prevent political opponents from dueling. Of greater importance was the explosive change that had occurred in the parliamentary, political, and social life of the country. The distance that separated the nineteenth-century Greek state from the twentieth-century one, via Venizelos's liberal intervention in the political life of the country, was enormous. A new generation of political leadership surfaced on the eve of the twentieth century, expressing urgent demands for modernization and ideological opposition to the old order. The new strong Komma ton Fileleftheron (Liberal Party) found its seminal leader in the face of Eleftherios Venizelos, who, as prime minister, passed not only a new constitution (1911), but also an impressive variety of new laws regarding almost every aspect of political and social life. The 1910s experienced profound political, social, fiscal, and military reforms.75 In this light, the radical renewal of political personnel that followed the arrival of new men in parliamentary life, the exclusion of officers from Parliament, the forceful condemnation of the “old partisanship,” and the conscious effort to create organized party mechanisms that delegitimized the obtaining of governmental positions through local patron-client networks, certainly played an important role. Another factor in the decline of dueling was the intensity with which the press now opposed it. It openly condemned the practice and repeatedly taunted and mocked duelists by portraying them as caricatures rather than public heroes. In 1922, member of Parliament Agamemnon Schliemann submitted to the House a bill “to abolish the law that abolishes dueling,” in the midst of the Greek military campaign in Asia Minor and with national defeat clearly on the horizon. However, his proposal was barely heard, as it immediately raised a storm of vociferous laughter.76 The spontaneous reaction of his colleagues had unmistakably shown their current views on dueling. The end of an era had, indeed, come.


Robert A. Nye, “Honor Codes in Modern France: A Historical Anthropology,” Ethnologia Europaea: Journal of European Ethnology 21 (1991): 5–19; Ute Frevert, “Male Crime in Nineteenth Century Germany: Duelling,” in Gender and Crime in Modern Europe, ed. Margaret L. Arnot and Conelie Usborne (London: Routledge, 1999), 173–188, here 176–180.


The relevant literature is quite extensive, but here are some examples: Robert A. Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France (London: Oxford University Press, 1993); Irina Reyfman, “The Emergence of the Duel in Russia: Corporal Punishment and the Honor Code,” The Russian Review 54, no. 1 (1993): 26–43, doi:10.2307/130773; W. Scott Haine, “The Duel in the History of Masculinity,” Histoire Sociale/Social History 29 (1996): 211–215; Ute Frevert, “The Taming of the Noble Ruffian: Male Violence and Dueling in Early Modern and Modern Germany,” in Men and Violence: Gender, Honor and Rituals in Modern Europe and America, ed. Pieter Spierenburg (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998), 37–63; Kevin McAleer, Dueling: The Cult of Honor in fin-de-siècle Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); Peter Gay, The Cultivation of the Hatred: The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993).


David S. Parker, “Law, Honor and Impunity in Spanish America: The Debate over Dueling, 1870–1920,” Law and History Review 19 (2001): 311–341, doi:10.2307/744132.


Besides the aforementioned studies, see also: V. G. Kiernan, The Duel in European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988); Ute Frevert, Men of Honor: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995); Steven Hughes, “Men of Steel: Dueling, Honor and Politics in Liberal Italy,” in Spierenburg, Men and Violence, 64–81; Robert A. Nye, “Fencing, the Duel and Republican Manhood in the Third Republic,” Journal of Contemporary History 25, nos. 2–3 (1990): 365–377,; and Pablo Piccato, “Politics and the Technology of Honor: Dueling in Turn-of-the-Century Mexico,” Journal of Social History 33, no. 2 (1999): 331–354,


Thomas Humphrey Marshall, “Citizenship and Social Class,” in Thomas Humphrey Marshall and Thomas Bottomore, Citizenship and Social Class (London: Pluto Press, 1992), 3–51.


This several-day “heinous tragedy” led to the field of honor the “citizen” Antonios Dokos and the “infantry captain” Dimitrios Vourvachis and ended with the fatal shooting of the latter on 19 October 1877. As a high-profile case it drew the attention of the press for several days, both before and after the confrontation (Efimeris [Newspaper], 5, 18, 20, 21, 22 October 1877; Karteria [Patience], 10, 20, 22, 23, 24 October 1877). Original documents of the case (correspondence, protocols, etc.) are kept in the ELIA-MIET Archive, Alexios and Konstantinos Kolyvas Papers, File 6.1.


Epameinondas Valsamakis, “H monomahia prepei na epanelthei. Ai istorikai monomahiai en Elladi. Ta yper kai ta kata tis monomahias” [The duel must come back. Historical duels in Greece. Pros and cons of dueling], Elliniki [Greek news], 21 September 1931: 1. All translations by the author unless noted otherwise.


Michael Th. Fouridis, Ellinikos kodiks monomahias [Greek code of dueling] (Athens: Ilias Papapavlou Press, 1918), 9.


Showing significant analogies with the case of Spanish America, see especially Parker, “Law, Honor, and Impunity in Spanish America.”


For the social values of “honor and shame” and the criticisms imposed on the idea of the “Mediterranean concept,” see Efi Avdela, “Dia logous timis”: Via, synaisthimata kai aksies sti metemfyliaki Ellada [“For reasons of honor”: Violence, emotions and values in post–civil war Greece] (Athens: Nefeli, 2002). This research, which focuses on “crimes of honor” in the 1950s and 1960s, and approaches honor as an emotion and a discourse of the self, remains the sole historical piece of work that examines in detail the concept of honor in Greece; see particularly chapter 4, 201–234. See also Thomas W. Gallant's remarks in his “Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting in Nineteenth-Century Greece,” The American Historical Review 105, no. 2 (2000): 360–361,


For the concept of honor as an organizing principle of Mediterranean societies in these early anthropological works, see, e.g., John K. Campbell, Honor, Family and Patronage: A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964).


For a brief presentation of these critics see Avdela, “Dia logous timis,” 223n56. For the definitional multiplicity of honor from an anthropological point of view, see Frank Henderson Stewart, Honor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 12–13.


Henderson Stewart, Honor, 30–31; Carolyn Strange, Robert B. Cribb, and Christopher E. Forth, eds., Honour, Violence and Emotions in History (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).


Pieter Spierenburg, “Masculinity, Violence, and Honor: An Introduction,” in Spierenburg, Men and Violence, 1–29.


Lyman L. Johnson and Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, eds., The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), 8–13; Spierenburg, Men and Violence. In this sense, the example of the bourgeois duel that is being studied here is remarkably different from other ritualistic confrontations that also referred to honor, and were conducted by Greek men of the lower strata, such as stabbing; see Gallant, “Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting,” 359–382.


This correlation is mentioned regularly in almost every survey of the field. See, e.g., the responses of Alon Confino, Ute Frevert, and Lyndal Roper to the question “Why Do We Need a History of Emotions?” in the virtual roundtable discussion “History of Emotions,” German History 28, no. 1 (2010): 67–80, here 70–72,


William M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Monique Scheer, “Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and Is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understanding Emotion,” History and Theory 51, no. 2 (2012): 193–220,


“H tragiki monomahia Stae-Xatzipetrou” [The tragic Staes-Xatzipetros duel], Scrip [Scrip], 19 June 1904, 1–2.




“To Scrip eis ton topon tis monomahias” [Scrip at the location of the duel], Scrip, 17 February 1902, 1.


“Kato i monomahia. Pos na polemithei to varvaron ethimon. Ti legoun oi epifaneis” [Down with the duel. How to fight the barbaric custom. What prominent men say], Scrip, 15 March 1908, 3.


“Down with the duel,” Scrip, 28 February 1908, 2.


For brief accounts of modern Greek history in the English language, with references to the elevation of nationalism and irredentism and its impact on foreign and domestic politics, see Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); and Thomas W. Gallant, Modern Greece: From the War of Independence to the Present (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).


For the 1897 war and its effects, see Yiannis Yiannoulopoulos, “I evgenis mas tyflosis … ”: Eksoteriki politiki kai “ethnika themata” apo tin itta tou 1897 eos ti mikrasiatiki katastrofi [“Our noble blindness … ”: Foreign policy and “national issues” from the 1897 defeat to the Asia Minor catastrophe] (Athens: Vivliorama, 2001); Thanasis Bochotis, “Esoteriki politiki” [Domestic politics], in Istoria tis Elladas toy 20oy aiona: Oi aparches 1900–1922 [A history of twentieth-century Greece: The beginnings 1900–1922], ed. Christos Chatziiosif, vol. Α2 (Athens: Vivliorama, 2000), 37–105.


“I tragiki monomahia Stae-Chatzipetrou: To drama” [The tragic Staes-Chatzipetros duel: The drama], Scrip, 19 June 1904, 1.


For Germany, see Frevert, “The Taming of the Noble Ruffian,” 48; for Italy, Hughes, “Men of Steel,” 68; for France, Nye, “Fencing, the Duel and Republican Manhood,” 371.


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 2 March 1908, 2.


Christina Koulouri, Sport et société bourgeoise: Les associations sportives en Grèce 1870–1922 [Sports and bourgeois society: Sporting clubs in Greece, 1870–1922] (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2000), 89.


Socrates A. Chalkiopoulos, Kodiks monomahias [Dueling code] (Piraeus: Chronograph Press, 1893), 3.


“Kodiks monomahias” [Dueling code], Stratiotiki kai naftiki efimerida [Military and naval newspaper] (Athens: Printing House New Idea, 1893), 21; Adolphe Tavernier, Peri monomahias: Pragmateia [On dueling: A treatise] (Athens: Hestia Bookstore, 1887), 7.


Dimitra Vassiliadou, “Andriki koinonikotita stin astiki Athina: i Athinaeki Lesxi, 1870–1940” [Men's sociability in urban Athens: The Athens Club, 1870–1940], Mnemon [Afterthought] 30 (2009): 179–211, here 203–205, For the connection between fencing and dueling in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, see Robert B. Shoemaker, “The Taming of the Duel: Masculinity, Honor and Ritual Violence in London, 1660–1800,” The Historical Journal 45, no. 3 (2002): 525–545, here 528, doi:10.1017/S0018246X02002534. For France at the turn of the twentieth century, see Nye, “Fencing, the Duel and Republican Manhood,” 370–374.


Koulouri, Sports and Bourgeois Society, 89.


Theodoros Padouavos, Kathikonta ton te martiron kai ton diamaxomenon en tes monomahies [The duties of witnesses and adversaries during dueling] (Corfu: Printed by Korais, 1879), 5–6; Chalkionopoulos, Kodiks monomahias, 3–25; Fouridis, Ellinikos kodiks monomahias, 4–8; “Kodiks monomahias,” 7–13.


Fouridis, Ellinikos kodiks monomahias, 5.


“Kodiks monomahias,” 6.


Fouridis, Ellinikos kodiks monomahias, 5.


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 1 March 1908, 2.


“Peri systaseos symvoulion timis (stratitikon) kai peri tou skopou afton” [On the establishment of the honor councils (military) and their purpose], Efimeris tis kyverniseos [Government gazette] 163, 3 November 1897, 443–444; “Peri tropopoieseos kai prosthikis arthron is to apo 29 Octovriou 1897 V.D. peri systaseos kai skopou ton symvoulion timis” [On the amendment and addition of articles in the October 29, 1897 Royal Decree on the Establishment and Purpose of the Honor Councils], Efimeris tis kyverniseos 156, 23 November 1898, 449.


. Parker, “Law, Honor and Impunity in Spanish America,” 338–340.


Sakis Spyridis, “Women's Beauty, Male Elegance: Cosmetics, Jewelry and Grooming in Greece (mid Nineteenth-Early Twentieth Century)” (Master's thesis, University of Crete, 2011), 241.


John Horne, “Masculinity in Politics and War in the Age of Nation-States and World Wars, 1850–1950,” in Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History, ed. Stefan Dudink, Karen Hagemann, and John Tosh (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), 22–40.


Robert A. Nye, “Western Masculinities in War and Peace,” The American Historical Review 112, no. 2 (2007): 417–438, here 417–418,


Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Michael Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press, 1996).


George Mosse, The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).


Haine, “The Duel in the History of Masculinity,” 212.


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 7 March 1908, 2.


Valsamakis recounted the emblematic duel with eloquence, twice in fact, in his daily editorial in the newspaper Elliniki [Greek news], under the general title, “H monomahia prepei na epanelthei. Ai istorikai monomahiai en Elladi” [The duel must come back. Historical duels in Greece] (7 and 18 September 1931).


Dimitrios Meletopoulos, “To Faliricon epeisodion. I xthesini monomahia” [The Faliro event. Yesterday's duel], Acropolis, 28 June 1892, 2–3. Mani, an area in southeast Peloponnese, was a notorious birthplace of “tough,” “strong,” and “brave” men.


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 15 March 1908, 3.


O kathimerinos [The everyday man]; “To drama” [The drama], Scrip, 19 June 1904, 1.


“I xthesini monomahia-fonos tou antiploiarxou Yiotopoulou” [Yesterday's duel-murder of Commander Yiotopoulos], Scrip, 10 April 1910, 1–2.


Dikastikos, “Afti i varvarotis. Pos tha eklipsei” [This barbarity. How to kill it off], Scrip, 13 June 1908, 2.


For example, William M. Reddy, The Invisible Code: Honor and Sentiment in Post-Revolutionary France: 1814–1848 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 218–219, 223–225; Shoemaker, The Taming of the Duel, 536–539.


Panayiotis Panas, I monomahia [The duel] (Athens: from the Union Printing Press, 1883), 5.


For the sensational press and crime stories, see indicatively, Clive Emsley, “Violent Crime in England in 1919: Post-war Anxieties and Press Narratives,” Continuity and Change 23, no. 1 (2008): 173–195, doi:10.1017/S026841600800670X; Todd Herzog, Crime Stories: Criminalistic Fantasy and the Culture of Crisis in Weimar Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009); John Carter Wood and Paul Knepper, “Crime Stories,” Media History 20, no. 4 (2014): 345–351,


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 28 February 1908, 2.


Isisoridis Skylissis, “Oti i monomahia oudolos kathairei tin yvrin” [That the duel in no way washes away the insult], Kleio [Cleo] 21 (November 1888): 327–330; Ioannis G. Fragkias, “I monomahia” [The duel], Imerologio Skokou [Skokos's journal] 18, no. 1 (1903): 294–300; Fragkoulis, “The Duel”; Konstantinos G. Mytilineos, Peri monomahias. Istoria–dikaion–syghronos nomothesia. Meleti [On dueling. History–law–modern legislation. A study] (Athens, 1894); Panas, I monomahia; K. G. Xenos, I monomahia kai to dikaion: Meleti [Duel and justice: A Study] (Athens: Union Press, 1882); see also Melchisedek Froudakis, Ta aitia tis monomahias kai tis aftoktonias [The causes of dueling and suicide] (Athens: 1885); Emmanuel Roidis, “Ai monomahiai ton germanon foititon” [The duels of German students], Panellinion imerologion: Etision parartima tis Attikis Iridos [Panhellenic diary: Annual annex of Attikis Iridos] (Athens: Law School Press 1908): 374–382.


See Padouavos, Kathikonta ton te martiron; Tavernier, Peri monomahias; Halkiopoulos, Kodiks monomahias; “Kodiks monomahias”; Fouridis, Ellinikos kodiks monomahias; Entry on “Monomahia” [Duel], Megali elliniki encyclopedia [Great Greek encyclopedia], vol. 17 (Athens: Pyrsos, 1928), 346–347.


Aristotle Valaoritis to Emilio Valaoritis, 21 January 1873, ELIA/MIET, Valaoritis Family Archive, File 9.1.


For the rules of honor as they appear in dueling codes, see Parker, “Law, Honor and Impunity in Spanish America,” 326–328.


For the changing concepts of honor in Greece in the 1950s and 1960s, see Efi Avdela, “Honor, Violence, and Crime,” in Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Greece: International Comparative Perspectives, ed. Leonidas K. Cheliotis and Sappho Xenakis (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011), 353–373. For honor as emotion, see Efi Avdela, “Emotions on Trial: Judging Crimes of Honor in Post-Civil-War Greece,” Crime Histoire & Société/Crime, History & Societies 10, no. 2 (2006): 33–52; Ute Frevert, Emotions in History—Lost and Found (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2011), 40–65.


For honor as barbarity and as culture, see Avdela, “Dia logous timis,” 175–184.


Padouavos, Kathikonta ton te martiron, 13.


ELIA/MIET, Archive Epaminondas Valsamakis, File 1.3.


For the interwar political climate in Greece, see Christos Chatziiosif, “Koinovoulio kai diktatoria” [Parliament and dictatorship], in Istoria tis Elladas tou 20ou aiona: O mesopolemos 1922–1940 [A history of twentieth-century Greece: The interwar period 1922–1940], vol. B2 (Athens: Vivliorama, 2003), 37–123.


For the conflation of the citizen with the soldier in another field, that of gymnastics in Greece, see Eleni Fournaraki, “Genre et éducation physique en Grèce du xixe siècle: Aspects idéologiques d'un nouveau champ pédagogique (1850–1900),” [Gender and physical education in nineteenth-century Greece: Ideological aspects of a new pedagogical field (1850–1900)], Etudes Balkaniques—Cahiers Pierre Belon [Balkan studies—Pierre Belon review] 11 (2004): 93–124,


Valsamakis, “The Duel Must Come Back,” Scrip, 10 September 1931, 2.


It was the duel between Chalioula and Dimopoulos that led to the death of the former (“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 28 February 1908, 2).


“Down with the Duel,” Scrip, 2 March 1908, 2.


“Yesterday's Duel-Murder of Commander Yiotopoulos,” Scrip, 10 April 1910, 1–2.


Tavernier, Peri monomahias, 16.




Nye, “The End of the Modern French Duel,” 82–101; Frevert, “Male Crime in Nineteenth Century Germany,” 186.


Soon after the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) Greece would almost double its territories and population with the annexation of Nees Chores (New Countries). Despite the transient gratification for partially fulfilling the nationalistic dream, the country's participation in World War I divided the Greek political world in 1915: King Constantine, a supporter of neutrality, which was favorable to the Central Powers, was opposed to Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who insisted on fighting with the Triple Entente troops. Their opposition also reflected a divergence between parts of the society who were close to the values represented by the monarchy, and those finding expression in Venizelos's modernization program. Soon, the rivalry between royalists and Venizelists turned to an all-pervasive political and societal conflict with riots, prosecutions, violence, and reprisals from both parties. This conflict is known in Greek history as Ethnikos Dikhasmos (National Schism) and it deeply marked the political life of the country up until the interwar period. For the National Schism, its causes, and its effects, see indicatively George Th. Mavrogordatos, 1915: O ethikos dichasmos [1915: The National Schism] (Athens: Patakis, 2015).


For a detailed presentation of Venizelos's politics, see the collective volume George Th. Mavrogordatos and Christos Chatziiosif, eds., Venizelismos kai astikos eksygronismos [Venizelism and liberal modernization] (Irakleio: University of Crete Press, 1988).


Triti Syntaktiki Synelefsi [Third constituent assembly], 64th meeting, 8 May 1922.

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Contributor Notes

Dimitra Vassiliadou holds a PhD in modern history from the University of Crete (2015), and currently teaches at the Hellenic Open University. She is a coeditor of two collective volumes, on gender history and the history of masculinities, respectively. In her monograph The Tropic of Writing: Family Ties and Emotions in Modern Greece, 1850–1930 (Athens: Gutenberg, 2018), which is based on correspondences, she traces the emotional cultures of middle-class families. Most recently, she received a two-year fellowship from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation, for her new project, which focuses on autobiographical discourses of melancholy, and explores the historical transformation of a disorderly emotion into a disease. Email: