At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis (John) Metaxas demanding Metaxas to allow the Italian army free passage to occupy strategic sites throughout Greece.
What would Metaxas do?
Metaxas was expected to quietly acquiesce like Austria had over the phone. He was pro-Hitler and shared many qualities with the Nazi chief: he was a dictatorial thug who abolished freedom in Greece, limited immigration, & banned the Ancient Greek texts from schools because they espoused republicanism.
The hand of Fate
Yet the ascendant 17 Virgo 45 “two young girls working a ouija board” seems to hint at a strange metaphysical spirit swaying the Prime Minister’s hand. Virgo, the sign of assimilation, dominates the chart with its preponderance . Marc Jones suggests Virgo associated with centaur Chiron hints at physical disability and a long siege requiring patience and self control .
The first house, always opposite the seventh in the great circular wheel, throws its weight into that empty sector, portending the need for strategic partnerships to finally succeed. In the eighth, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn are stalemated opposite both the Sun and Mars signalling the need for a will for combat is the only way forward. The T-Square with its offshoot of Pluto suggests the people of Greece would not accept another foreign invader; perhaps the Prime Minister knew he had no backing for agreement and succumbed to Fate.
The Sun, Greece’s will, has several oppositions — one to Uranus showing the slow deaths that Greeks would face from starvation and racial extermination from the Nazis; and then from the Sun to the Line of Motivation (Jupiter to Saturn) as the German’s tried to undermine their determination.
The Big Ohxi
Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, “Alors, c’est la guerre” — “Then, it is war. ” This was quickly translated into the vernacular “Oxi,” or Greek for no, by the citizens of Athens and spread like wildfire throughout the countryside as Greeks, after hundreds of years a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, exerted their will.
Before the ultimatum had even expired at 5:30 am, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous Pindos region of Northern Greece. There they met fierce and unexpected resistance (see our header picture when the Hellenes successfully routed the Italians).
Within six months, Ioannis Metaxas would be dead; his successor, Alexandros Koryzis, would commit suicide; and the Germans would raise the swastika over the Acropolis.
The Victorian response
King George II of the Hellenes, the first cousin of Prince Phillip of Edinburgh, the husband of King George’s daughter Elizabeth, later Elizabeth II, rose to great popularity for his vehemence against Hitler and Germany. After the Nazi invasion in April 1941 he was forced into exile in Egypt. The Allies restored him after the war, though he died shortly afterward.
His brother Pablo (King Paul I) ascended to the throne. He had married a Colberg-Saxe princess in 1938, which made sense as the Greek monarchy owed its roots to Queen Victoria whose Albert was of Colberg-Saxe roots. Paul remained in power until the 1967 coup when he and his family were dethroned.
Two 19-year-old students secretly climbed the northwest face of the Acropolis and tore down the swastika banner later day.
The big surprise
Despite Greece’s ultimate fall to Axis powers, Metaxas’ response resulted in a fatal diversion for Hitler and the Axis powers, and and masterful delay for the Allied powers, who also did not expect Metaxas’s response. British military historian Sir John Keegan in his masterpiece The Face of The Battle describes the Battle of Greece as “decisive in determining the future course of the Second World War,” as it gives the Allied forces a toehold in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The gambit astrologically
Progressing the Prime Minister’s chart to the early morning announcement, we a stubborn exertion of will (his most aspected planet) coupled with the concern (his least) of Saturn that the Allies would not deliver. Metaxas was ill with throat cancer, Greeks are heavy smokers, the square between Mercury and the preponderance in Pisces in the eighth. The chart shows he did not expect to see the outcome of his actions, but his reliance on his countrymen Pluto in the ninth despite a lack of artillery power, that they could forestall the Nazi invasion long enough for the Allied come to their aid. It was a surprisingly gambit; it worked.
για την αδελφή του παππού μου, τη θεία Κωνσταντίνα που πέθανε αγωνιζόμενη με τους ναζί, zoe sas.
For my Great Aunt Konstantina who died rallying the local town against the Nazi’s in Langadia. She was 65. May her memory be eternal.
Notes: This essay was updated on the US Memorial Day, 2023.