Our story really begins on
island of Chios in the eastern Aegean Sea, the place where our family hails from. More accurately, the village of Lagada, a tiny fishing village a few kilometres north of Chios town, on the east coast of the island.
|Map of Chios - Eastern Aegean|
The island is also known as one of the possible birthplaces of the poet Homer, to whom the epic Iliad and Odyssey have been attributed for ages. Homer has generally been thought to have been born c. 850B.C., four hundred years before the historian Herodotos. For hundreds of years afterward, there was a guild of bards on
Chios known as the Homeridae (the Sons of Homer) who specialized in Homeric recitation.
The first colonist of Chios is said to have been Oinopionas, a grandson of King Minos of
Crete. Oinopionas was said to have brought the art of viticulture to the island thereby teaching the inhabitants to make the wine for which Chios would later be so renowned. Oinopionas had a daughter whose name was Chiona, whom the island was said to be named for.
|Reproduction of Chios' ancient seal|
, where the Haviaras family comes from, produced mainly two things, fishermen and merchant marines. Though the name ‘Haviaras’ is derived from the word for caviar, my grandfather entered the merchant navy during World War II, the sea being the vehicle by which he would begin his own Odyssey to America. village of Lagada
I should not get ahead of myself however, for there is one thing that shaped the place where my grandparents came from perhaps more than the crystalline globules of the much sought-after masticha trees – WAR.