History

 

The first written reference to Styra is found in the “Illiad” of Homer, in the “catalogue of ships”, where its participation is mentioned, along with other Euboean cities, in the Troyan war under the command of Elafinor. The ancient Greek histographers, especially Herodotus, classified the population of Styra as part of the pre- Hellenic Indo-European tribe of the Dryopes.

According to the lexicographer Stefanos Vyzantios, the Dryopes settled initially around Oitis and Parnassos. After the arrival of the Dorians they were forced to move towards Peloponnese and Euboea, occuping the are of Dystos, Styra and Karystos. In contrast with this view, the ancient geographer Strabo attributed the foundation of Styra to colonist from Marathon.

The dominant theory in comparative linguistics at the end of the eighteenth century identified the etymology of the root of the place name Styra with the Phoenician goddess Astarte (Astira) and the establishment in the area of a Phoenician trading colony. Today, this view has been rejected and today’s generally accepted version is that the name “Styra” comes from the Sanskrit word “Stoura” which was current around the ninth century B.C. and which means bull or ox.

Styra was conquered by the troops of the Persian general Dates during the Persian campaign against Greece in 490 B.C. Before the battle of Marathon, the Persians transported the captured Eretrians to the small islet of Styra, the ancient Aigileia. During the second Persian campaign against Greeks, the Styreans took an active part in the struggle against Xerxes’ forces, with two triremes and an infantry battalion taking part in the battle of Plataia in 479 B.C.

From the 477 B.C. Styra, along with all the other cities of Evia, participated in the Athenian league. The Styreans took part in many military campaigns on the side of the Athenians during the Sicilian expedition of 415 B.C. in the second phase of Peloponnesian War. It appears that in the early fourth century B.C. Styra came under the dominance of Eretria, since epigraphic evidence of the time refers to it as though it were an Eretrian territory. During the Lamian War between the Macedonians under Antipater and the Athenians in 322 B.C., the Styreans supported the former. As a result the city was destroyed by the army of the Athenian general Leosthenes.The Styreans, along with the Eretrians and the Chalkidians were famed for their prowess at fishing for deep-red shell – fish.

It was also during the period of Frankish rule that Albanian- speakers were first settledin Evia, after a decision by the Venetian Senate (20 April 1402), with the purpose of using this population in the defense of the island. A second wave of the Albanian – speakers arrived in Evia around 1425. These Albanian-speakers settled in the region which stretches out to the south Ochi as fas as Avlonari and Aliveri. These populations mixed with and were absorbed by the Greek population which was already there. The memories of these events are today preserved in the form of linguistic idiom of the region of Styra, the (Arvanitika), a combination of Greek, Albanian and Medieval linguistic elements. This idiom was spoken over the last few years by a large part of the population.

In our days it tends to vanish as well as the traditions related to it. This “language” was considered barbaric, so the school teachers tried to eradicate it, aiming to the clean and perfect Greek, without any relation to the Turkish occupation. This leaded to the vanishing of a whole tradition of songs, music and cultural elements.

The Styreans (Stouraites) took active part in the struggle for the liberation against Ottomans. On 12, Junary 1822 on the hill of Kokkinomilos, north-west of Styra, one of the most dramatic pages in modern Greek history was written. Elias Petrobey Mavromichalis and a few brave men entrenched inside a wind-mill, the ruins of which still remain, were besieged by the Ottoman hordes of Omer Bey of Karystos, and suffered a martyr’ death. A monument was erected to act as a local reminder of the sacrifice of the Maniat war-lord and his fellow fighters.

A few months after the battle of Kokkinomilos, in June 1822, Nikolaos Kriezotis was appointed head of the Greek revolutionary powers in Evia. On 20, March 1823 Kriezotis fortified the slope of Diakoftis below the castle of Armenians, with the purpose of using the area as a base for the military campaign to besiege Karystos. On 23, March 1823 the Ottoman forces attempted to occupy the area and destroy the revolutionaries. After a six-hour battle Omer Bey’s forces were repelled by the Greek fighters. The Battle of Diakoftis had a greater effect on the course of the revolution in Evia, reinforcing the morale of the revolutionaries as it was the first time that the fearful Bey of Karystos had been defeated in battle by the revolutionary forces.

 

Language

 

It was also during the period of Frankish rule that Albanian- speakers were first settledin Evia, after a decision by the Venetian Senate (20 April 1402), with the purpose of using this population in the defense of the island. A second wave of the Albanian – speakers arrived in Evia around 1425. These Albanian-speakers settled in the region which stretches out to the south Ochi as fas as Avlonari and Aliveri. These populations mixed with and were absorbed by the Greek population which was already there. The memories of these events are today preserved in the form of linguistic idiom of the region of Styra, the (Arvanitika), a combination of Greek, Albanian and Medieval linguistic elements. This idiom was spoken over the last few years by a large part of the population.

In our days it tends to vanish as well as the traditions related to it. This “language” was considered barbaric, so the school teachers tried to eradicate it, aiming to the clean and perfect Greek, without any relation to the Turkish occupation. This leaded to the vanishing of a whole tradition of songs, music and cultural elements.

 

Greek Revolution

 

The Styreans (Stouraites) took active part in the struggle for the liberation against Ottomans. On 12, Junary 1822 on the hill of Kokkinomilos, north-west of Styra, one of the most dramatic pages in modern Greek history was written. Elias Petrobey Mavromichalis and a few brave men entrenched inside a wind-mill, the ruins of which still remain, were besieged by the Ottoman hordes of Omer Bey of Karystos, and suffered a martyr’ death. A monument was erected to act as a local reminder of the sacrifice of the Maniat war-lord and his fellow fighters.

A few months after the battle of Kokkinomilos, in June 1822, Nikolaos Kriezotis was appointed head of the Greek revolutionary powers in Evia. On 20, March 1823 Kriezotis fortified the slope of Diakoftis below the castle of Armenians, with the purpose of using the area as a base for the military campaign to besiege Karystos. On 23, March 1823 the Ottoman forces attempted to occupy the area and destroy the revolutionaries. After a six-hour battle Omer Bey’s forces were repelled by the Greek fighters. The Battle of Diakoftis had a greater effect on the course of the revolution in Evia, reinforcing the morale of the revolutionaries as it was the first time that the fearful Bey of Karystos had been defeated in battle by the revolutionary forces.