People of Letters
Every village, every city, and every country in this planet takes pride in the people that have managed to become accomplished and to leave their name written in gold letters throughout history.
Omodos, through its age-long and turbulent history, can present several active and insightful people that -through their deeds and each in his / her field -have their name already written in history. People different from one another have offered their services and -many times -their lives in various fields such as that of the Church, of politics, of literature, of the arts, and of music.
In the pages that follow we record the history of these people, a modicum of homage for the services and deeds they offered not only to their homeland but also to the whole of Cyprus
The Archimandrite (Dean) Nikiforos Evgeniadis was born in Omodos. He served as the Headmaster of Linassol’s “Scholarcheio” (a 3-form school for children) that was established in 1841. He was an august man with superior knowledge and worked with great zeal for the youth’s education. He withdrew from Limassol’s “Scolarcheio” in 1848 due to a stomach ailment and went to Alexandria. Leaving his teacher’s seat he donated all the books of the library to the Greek School and his house to the Church of Agia Napa in Limassol. The Dean and teacher of Greek letters died in Alexandria in July of 1861.
The folklore scientist Georgios Lukas was born in Omodos in 1843. He first received education in the school of Omodos. Afterwards he went to Limassol and Larnaca for higher studies. At the age of sixteen he goes to Athens and there he received a diploma as a primary-school teacher. In 1862 he enrolled in the Philosophical School of the University and graduated in 1869. As a student he made some folklore materials public in the “Chrysalida” (Chrysalis) and “Pandora” magazines.
In 1869 he returns to Cyprus with a certificate for attending university courses in literature and being trained in church music; he is appointed headmaster of the Mutual Teaching Method school of Agia Napa. In 1874 he goes to Athens where he publishes his first book under the title “Philologike episkepsis ton en to vio ton neoteron Kyprion mnimion ton archaion”.
In 1901 he is awarded -in Athens -a copper medal and an honorary diploma for the zeal he exhibited in his studies of folklore. After that he is summoned by the Metropolitan Bishop of Pafos, Neofytos, so as to serve as the Headmaster of the Mutual Teaching Method school of Ktima. During his long career as an educator, he taught in various villages of Limassol such as Agios Therapontas, Arsos, Vasa, Vouni, Lofou, Mallia, Mandria, and in Omodos as the Headmaster of the communal Mutual Teaching Method school of the Monastery of the Cross until 1877.
He served in the field of education for a total of 38 years. Georgios Lukas died in Limassol at the age of 82 in April of 1925.
Stylianos Chourmouzios (1848-1937) was born in Omodos. His real name was Stylianos Eleftheriadis. He is the father of Evripides, Christodoulos, and Georgios Chourmouzios and grandfather of Aemilios Chourmouzios. His first received education with the Peloponnesian teacher Dionysios Ziakas and was taught the “Oktoehos’ and the “Psalm-book” by Achilleas Nicolaides in Vasa. In 1862 he settled in Kaimakli of Nicosia until 1873. He attended lessons in the Greek School of Nicosia. He served as a Precentor in the cathedral of the Archdiocese (1874-1880) and taught Byzantine music to children who studied in the school of the Monastery in Pallouriotissa. During this time he worked as a lawyer for two years. In 1880 he settled in Limassol where he worked as the headmaster of the Mutual Teaching Method school of Agia Napa from 1883 until 1888 and as a teacher from 1888 until 1904. He served as a chanter in the church of Agia Napa until 1916. He was also involved in journalism and was publishing a weekly newspaper called “Salpinx” (The Trumpet) from 1884 until 1901, the “Mikra Salpinx” (Small trumpet), and -for seven months -the satirical “Mastinx” (The Whip, 1904-105). In 1917 he was invited to Nicosia by Archbishop Cyrillus III and taught Byzantine music until 1931 as a professor in the Pancyprian Gymnasium and the Pancyprian School.
He played a leading part in the formation of a movement for the study of Byzantine music and published his articles and studies in the “Eklisiastiki Alithia” (Ecclesiastical Truth) of Constantinople and in the “Formigga” (Lute) of Athens. He wrote a total of eleven books of his own and in 1901 he was elected as a corresponding member of Constantinople’s music society; in 1904 he received an award by the same society for his “Theoritikon” project. In 1935 he was honoured by the Church of Cyprus with the title of “Master Precentor”.
Christodoulos Ioannidis, known under the pseudonym “Geron” (Old Man), was a native of Omodos. He was born in 1821 and after first receiving education in the School of Omodos, he went to Athens where he received more education and returned to Cyprus. He was appointed as a teacher in the Greek School of Nicosia in 1859. He uninterruptedly taught with rare vividness and self-denial; first Physics, then Greek, Grammar, Technology, etc until 1896 when he died at his desk while teaching.
Theodoros Nestoridis was born in Omodos during the last years of the Turkish Domination era in Cyprus and was a deacon in the Archdiocese. He escorted the -then -Archbishop of Cyprus to Constantinople so as to ask help for Cyprus. After A disagreement that Nestoridis has with the Archbishop, he remains there and becomes secular. Then he goes to Smyrna (today’s Izmir) where he meets the teacher Mersine and they get married. The Governor of Smyrna was some Pasha who had previously served in Cyprus and was acquainted with Nestoridis. Nestoridis then asked his permission to establish a Greek School in Smyrna, something that was achieved. He opened a Greek Elementary School their and in 1918 he founded a kindergarten and a high-school, which then cost him twenty thousand pounds. In 1922, after the destruction of Smyrna by the Turks, Nestoridis went to Athens and settled there. There he established a high-school with the aid of Prime Minister Plasteras.
The baritone John Modinos was born in Omodos in 1927. His parents were Philippos and Aglaia Elia. Since he was a kid he sang in the church of the Holy Cross in Omodos and his voice was particularly special. After graduating from the Polydoridis Lyceum he attended music lessons with the great Cypriot composer Solon Michaelides. In 1848 he migrated to the States to be with his uncle and continued his musical studies there. Today the prominent baritone lives in Switzerland.
Polys Modinos was born -of Cypriot parents that were natives of Omodos- in 1899 in Alexandria of Egypt. He studied in Paris’s law school from 1917 until 1921 and practised law in the mixed courts of Egypt (Courts for cases involving foreign nationals, with both Egyptian and foreign judges) from 1922 until 1937. From 1937 until 1949 he serves as the chairman of the council in the mixed courts of Egypt.
In 1951 he entered the Chancellery of the Council of Europe as an advisor in the management of political cases. In 1962 he is elected by the counselling assembly as deputy general secretary of the Council of Europe and serves in this position until 1968. He was an ambassador of Cyprus in France and Spain.
Among other things, he was chairman of the archaeological corporation of Egypt (1949-1952), vice-president of the committee for the editing of “Revue des Droits de l Homme”, et al.
Polys Modinos dies on the 2 nd of June, 1988, and was buried in Athens.
Aristodimos Pelavakis (1868-1945) was known to the Public of Cyprus as “Aristodemos the Teacher”. He earned his title through his long-term employment as a teacher, from 1888 until 1928 with two interruptions. The first was in 1892-1893 when he assumed the duty of a special inspector for elementary schools, the second was in 1897 when he volunteered as a soldier and fought in Farsala and Domokos along with other Cypriots.
He worked as the Principle of the Higher Trade School of Platres from 1930 until 1931 and taught Greek in the Trade Academy of Limassol. As the headmaster of elementary school he also taught from time to time in the higher classes of he Girl’s School and -for a little while -in Limassol’s High School. Between 1930 and 1934 he was a member of the educational and examinations’ council and also of the school-board of Limassol.