Horses, mules or donkeys, nameless four-legged heroes standing by our side through the millennia. From ancient times to the Greek Revolution and WWII, always present, in every fight, in every war. Sometimes they carried provisions or guns and ammunition, sometimes the injured persons. Sometimes they carried great heroes and revolutionaries! Creatures that stood by us throughout time, our comrades in arms and our fellow travellers, with their quiet nature, their mighty stature and their ungrudging character. Creatures that carried the hopes of a nation on their backs. Proud, majestic animals as befitting to a hero, also equipped with an acute intuition that can not be denied! So powerful, almost infallible…
It is alleged that In April 1827 the great George Karaiskaikis, ignored his horses’ instinct when it obstinately refused to move forward, and ignoring his adjutants’ cries that this was a bad omen, he rushed into battle and was fatally wounded, dying a few hours later. Even though references to the contribution of equines and their role in the Greek revolution are scarce, tribute is paid to them in the folk songs that described the circumstances of that era. The Kleftes, militia who were resisting the Ottoman occupation, were able to survive because of their horses, either in battles or by roaming in the mountains seeking refuge. One of our most famous folk songs (Kleftika) wanting to show how inextricably linked the revolutionaries and their horses were, tells (free translation):
“On horseback, they go to church, on horseback they worship (pray), on horseback they receive the sacrament from the priest’s hand.”
The years have passed and equines in war have now been replaced by machines, but even today there are always equine heroes! It’s the animal that instead of a wounded body now carries a wounded spirit, it’s the one that endures immense suffering at the hands of cruel humans, it’s the one that gives joy to a child with special needs, or the one that competes with you for a medal! It is the equine that gives our soul peace by simply being.
Let us then in turn make our most sincere efforts to be deserving of these four-legged heroes who have always stood admirably alongside all of our honoured heroes!
Writen by Mandilara Georgia for ESPI