Saturday, June 10, 2006

Knife Fighting in Nineteenth-Century Greece

Petri the Knife also belonged to this knife obsessed culture.

Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting in Nineteenth-Century Greece

On the sweltering night of July 26, 1830, Tonia Theodoros from the village of Agios Theodoros on the island of Kerkyra brutally slashed the face of his fellow villager Gioragachi Mokastiriotis. Theodoros then spit on his prostrate victim and left the wine shop where the incident had occurred, while five other men, including the proprietor Panos Landates, looked on. Ten days later, Constable Andreas Sallas approached Theodoros, served him with an arrest warrant, and took him into custody on the charge of assault with a deadly weapon. At his trial in police court on August 28, the various versions of Theodoros's assault on Mokastiriotis were recounted. There had been bad blood between the men for some time; no one was quite sure why. That night at the bar, both had been drinking heavily when Theodoros called Mokastiriotis a fool and a braggart. Mokastiriotis loudly replied that he would rather be a fool than "the lord of a house full of Magdalenes." Theodoros erupted from his chair, drew his pruning knife, and demanded that Mokastiriotis stand and face him like a man. None of the other men in the room intervened as the knife-fighters traded parries and thrusts. Finally, Theodoros with a flick of his wrist delivered a telling blow that cut his victim from the tip of his chin to halfway up his cheek. As the blood flowed, Mokastiriotis fell to his knees cursing his assailant. When asked by the presiding magistrate at the police magistrate's court in the town of Kerkyra why he started fighting, Theodoros sternly replied that no man would call his wife and daughters whores and get away with it. His reputation would not allow it. As a man, he would not stand for it.
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