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Banditry (ληστεία, listeia) was an important phenomenon in Greece that appeared the first years after the Greek revolution of 1821 and spanned until the beginning of the 20th century. The mountains that cover the vast majority of the Greek territory offered a good shelter to the brigands (ληστές, listes). Greece has a long tradition of outlaws (κλέφτες, kleftes) living on the mountains that played a very important role for the liberation of the country.
The Greek state in 1838 established the “Guard of the mountains” latter to become the gendarmerie to deal with the listes. The bandit groups had about 10-15 members who were living a very hard life.
Famous incidents involving foreigners was the massacre of foreign travellers at Dilesi in 1871 by the group of Arvanitakides and the kidnapping of a French officer of the army at Pireas during the Crimean War by the famous group of Ntavelis at 1855. The latter managed to receive as a ransom 30000 golden drachmas that was a huge amount at the time.

In 1856 Ntavelis group managed to disarm a group of gendarmes at Menidi (near Athens).
According to the legend his group invaded the famous Monastery of Dafni (near Athens) which was a nunnery at the time and spend there 3 nights.Finally his group was pursued by the gendarmerie at Elikonas, Parnasos and finally to the mountains of Lokris where he has killed. His head was publicly exposed at Syntagma square.


Author: Aggelis Zarokostas

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