Dionysius the Philosopher

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Dionysius the Philosopher (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Φιλόσοφος; ca. 1560 – 1611) was a Greek monk who led two farmer revolts against the Ottoman Turks.

Life and career[edit]

Dionysius was born in c. 1560 AD in Paramythia, Thesprotia. He was of Greek descent, from Macedonia (specifically Avdella, Grevena regional unit) with Epirotian parentage. At a very young age, Dionysius became a kaloyeros at Dichouni.

At age 15, he went to Padua where he studied medicine, philosophy, philology, logic, astronomy, and poetry. In 1582, he lived in Constantinople and in 1592 he was elected metropolitan bishop of Larissa and Trikke.[1]


Dionysius led two farmer revolts against the Turks. The first revolt occurred in 1600 in the region of Agrafa, which was ultimately successful. He was demoted from the rank of Metropolitan Bishop of Larissa for his public speeches inciting rebellion and for his related fundraising activities. He subsequently left for Venice where he raised enough funds to pay for a peasant army. After returning to Greece, he made his headquarters in the Monastery of Saint Demetrius in Dichouni (Greek: Διχούνι) of Thesprotia. As a monk, he toured the surrounding villages, raising an army of about 700 men. Armed with simple weapons, his army succeeded in several surprise attacks against small Turkish garrisons of the area. Encouraged by these successes, he led his army into Ioannina on 11 September 1611. The inhabitants of the city were so surprised by the sight of the armed men and the fires that they turned against each other in confusion, unaware of the purpose of the fighting. This second revolt by Dionysius in 1611 in Ioannina ended in failure as the Turkish garrison under Aslan Pasha eventually prevailed.[2]


Dionysius hid in a cave by the lake but was captured. When he was presented to Osman Pasha his famous words were: "I fought in order to free the people from your tortures and your tyranny". Dionysius was tortured and perished upon being flayed alive by the Turks in September 1611. His skin was filled with hay[3] and was paraded around the city, rebuked as the "skylosophos" - rather than "philosophos" (skylos meaning "dog").[4] The term was possibly coined by one of his main opponents, Maximus the Peloponnesian, another monk.

The Greek population was removed from those houses inside the castle of Ioannina and lost their privileges. The old church of Saint John the Baptist, guardian of the city, dating to the period of Justinian, was destroyed and its monks were killed. In its place was erected the Aslan Pasha Mosque in 1618, to commemorate the success of Aslan Pasha in quelling the rebellion.[5]


  1. ^ Ta Nea; Vrellis.
  2. ^ Ta Nea; Vrellis.
  3. ^ Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall: Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches: Bd. 1574-1623, p. 442; note a. "Prete scorticato, la pelle sua piena di paglia portata in Constantinopoli con molte teste dei figli d'Albanesi, che avevano intelligenza colli Spagnoli"[1]
  4. ^ Ta Nea; Vrellis.
  5. ^ Ta Nea; Vrellis.


  • (Greek) Dionysius the Philosopher, Metropolitan of Larissa - Analytical Biography (Ta Nea, 17 August 2000).
  • (Greek) Vrellis, Paul. "Wax Effigy of Dionyisus in the Vrellis Museum". Άλφασταρ Ελλάς Α.Ε. 1998-1999. Retrieved on September 12, 2008. "Γεννήθηκε στα μέρη της Παραμυθιάς και πολύ νέος έγινε καλόγερος στο Διχούνι. Αργότερα σπούδασε στα μεγάλα Ευρωπαϊκά κέντρα της εποχής (Βενετία, Πάδοβα) φιλοσοφία, φιλολογία και ιατρική. Συνέχισε τις σπουδές του στην Κωνσταντινούπολη με λογική, ποίηση, γραμματική και αστρονομία, μέχρι τα 34 χρόνια του. Με τα δύο αγροτικά κινήματα που έκανε - το 1600 και 1611, έδωσε στο ραγιά φως και πίστη για ξεσηκωμό. Τον έπιασαν οι Τούρκοι (με προδοσία), κάτω από το τζαμί του κάστρου των Γιαννίνων και τον έγδαραν ζωντανό - σε ηλικία 70 χρόνων. Προηγουμένως, όταν τον παρουσίασαν στον Οσμάν πασά, είπε άφοβα: "πολέμησα για να ελευθερώσω τον λαό από τα βάσανα και την τυραννία σας". Ένα μέρος της σπηλιάς όπου μαρτύρησε θέλησα ν' αποδώσω. Για την φυσιογνωμία του, μελέτησα μια μικρογραφία χειρόγραφου που βρέθηκε στην μονή Προδρόμου Σερρών, καθώς και πολλές περιγραφές βιογράφων του. Τον απεικονίζω στα 3/4 της πρώτης ώρας από τις 5 ώρες που κράτησε το μαρτύριό του. Δείχνω την προσφορά του αγώνα του προς εμάς, με το ματωμένο δεξί μισάνοιχτο χέρι του. Στο πρόσωπό του έδωσα την έκφραση του πόνου και της καρτερικότητας. Αντίθετα χαρακτήρισα τους δύο δήμιους - έκφραση μίσους και εκδίκησης."

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