Introduction & Prologue
ημάς οικείν, ...ώσπερ
τήν θά- λατταν
PLATO 109/ "Phaedοn"
Translation: ,..we, who do well along the borders of the sea just like frogs
about a marsh...'
The Aegean has played a decisive role in Greek Maritime History, and principally for
this reason it was decided to establish the Aegean Maritime Museum on Mykonos, Delos's
close neighbour, in 1983. Delos, located approximately in the centre of the Aegean, was
the connecting link in antiquity for sea transport between East and West.
The purpose of the Museum is to collect, classify, study, research and display historical
and scientific material and to create á nucleus that will form a centre of activity for
everyone interested in studying and preserving the maritime traditions of the
The Museum is housed in a traditional l9th century Cycladic building in the centre of the
town of Mykonos; it formerly belonged to the legendary Mykonian sea captain Nikolaos
Sourmelis. The rooms and spacious green garden have been suitably transformed into a
harmonious setting for the display of the exhibits, which have been chosen with the object
of acquainting the visitor with Greek Maritime History and Tradßtßon and in particular
with the evolution and function of the merchant ship, chiefly in this historic region,
from antßquity to the present day.
The Aegean Maritime Museum is a Private Foundation and has been functioning since 1985.
Áll the costs of acquiring the exhibits both from Greece and abroad as well as of housing
and maintaining the museum have been met by the Myconian George Ì. Dracopoulos, who is
also the President of the Foundation.
To enable the visitor to follow the maritime developments, and
particularly the evolution of of the merchantship in the Aegean from antiquity to the
present, and thus to appreciate the wonderful continuity in the nautical tradition of the
region, we have thought it helpful to give a brief review of its maritime history.
It has been an especial pleasure to learn of the foundation of the Aegean
Maritime Museum. The Mykonian George Ì. Dracopoulos, a fine Greek and a patriot, made the
decision and undertook its foundation ïn his ïwn initiative.
The place, Mykonos.
Our islands have always been the channels and receivers of civilization. But ïõr islands
are linked to each other and to the great civilized centres by ships. Merchant ships. They
are the principal conveyors, fetching and carrying civilization to one place and
transmitting it to other places further away. They above all have contributed to the
spread af Greek civilization and the transmission of the Greek spirit. The spirit that,
fortunately for mankind, was born in a country which, thanks to its geographical position,
was able to scatter it throughout the world and inspire mankind. And naturally one's
thoughts immediately turn to the precious conveyor that diffused this greatest human good
around the world. The merchant ship. It has always appeared in the stream of history
taking á leading part. And whenever there was need, it supplied the navy with experienced
sailors. Throughout the long history of our country the merchant ship has been present,
and its presence has ever signalled the critical moments in the life of Greece. It is also
the messenger of the Gods. Hence the foundation of the Aegean Maritime Museum is án
important contribution to the country, and it comes to fill á great gap. É hope that
now, as the museum constantly expands and progresses, which I see as á certainty, and is
continually enriched by new exhibits, students of our country's maritime history will find
in it the serious sources they need.
The establishment of the museum ïn Mykonos, in addition to the founder's patriotism, is
á fine example of the significance of the merchant ship. Because É recall that during
the struggle for independence the merchant ships of Mando Mavrogenous were transformed
like Iightning into men-of war. The book that G. Ì. Dracopoulos has written, gives us á
full and lively picture of the development of the Merchant Marine in the Aegean and of the
activity of the Aegean sea-folk from the earliest times to the present day.
Finally, É must express my own personal, particular, satisfaction at the founding of this
important museum ïn Mykonos, because Mykonos is my birthplace.
É should like to congratulate the founder warmly ïn his brilliant inspiration, and to
emphasize that É am sure that what his work is doing for the country is more important
than he himself realizes.
Admiral É. Ì. Toumbas
Member of the Athens Academy
Aegean Maritime Museum