Levidis, Anastasios

1. Family and studies

Anastasios Kazantzoglou was born in Everek on 6th December 1834. He was the offspring of local notables:1 His father was a merchant and his mother came from a family of rich farmers. When he reached the age of seven, his parents, Michail and Anna, nee Sarandaroglou, sent him to the elementary school of the village for three years.2 Since there was no other school in his village, the education of young Anastasios was continued at home by one of his uncles, the archimandrite Ioannikios. At the age of 20 he went to Constantinople, where his father already was settled,3 and entered the Great School of the Nation (Megali tou Genous Scholi). There the headmaster grecisized his family name and renamed him Levidis instead of Kazantzoglou.4

2. Educational and social work

With zeal and devotion characteristic for most of the scholars and teachers of the period, Levides devoted himself to his work. For thirty years he travelled the region between Kaisareia (Kayseri) and Pharasa teaching Greek, writing Greek-Turkish dictionaries and reading books,5 collecting linguistic material, and “simultaneously preaching the word of God”.6 He was a fanatical enemy of Protestantism that was penetrating the area via the missionaries and he edited in the Caramanli script various works, such as the Mirati fezail ve meagip,7 “for preaching from the ambo on behalf of illiterate priests”, and the Spiritual Armour (Pnevmatiki Panoplia), “biblical passages against the heterodox propagandists”. In 1861, after his graduation from the Great School of the Nation, Levidis returned to his birthplace, where, during a visit to the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, he met Paisios II, who appointed him as a teacher of the Religious School of the Monastery, where he remained for three years but was obliged to leave due to a disease.8

In 1864, after his marriage to Sophia, daughter of the Flaviana notable Isaac Chairpaloglou,
9 he moved to Adana for health reasons , where he remained for two years occupying himself with the trade of cotton, the profession of his father-in-law. After fully recovering and returning to Zincidere, Paisios called him back to the Monastery entrusting him with the administration of the School. Levides remained to this position until the death of Paisios in 1871, when, due to the lack of funds, the teachers and most of the students left the school. He then assumed the administration of the community schools of Zincidere, but in 1873 he returned to the Monastery after the invitation of Eustathios Kleovoulos who had, in the meantime, converted the Religious School into a Gymnasium. Soon, however, he resigned, “seeing the monks conspiring to destroy the School, openly and secretly operating as the means to the annihilation of every virtuous aim of the arduous Metropolitan”.10 In 1874, he was appointed director of the Androniki Schools, where he taught for eight years. In 1883, after a brief passage through Zincidere, he assumed the direction of the schools of the community of Yozgat, for three years, and then he held the same position at Talaş, for three more years. In 1889, “after 30 years of arduous educational service, he retired from active service”11, although he continued, until 1904 when he was totally blinded, to offer his services as the supervisor of the schools of the diocese of Caesarea, as member of the board of the Rodokanakeios Religious School, as a legal counsellor of the spiritual court and as vice-president of the permanent mixed council of the diocese.

3. Works

From 1889 and until his death, on 16th November 1918, Anastasios Levidis dedicated himself to the thorough elaboration of the material he had gathered in various places of Cappadocia he had visited as a teacher.12 Based on this material, the Ecclesiastical History (Ekklisiastiki istoria), the first volume of his Historical Essay (Istorikon dokimion), had already been published in Athens in 1885. The author then prepared the three remaining volumes: Archaeology (Archaiologia), Political History (Politiki istoria) and Description of the Language Previously Spoken in Cappadocia (Perigrafi tis palai en Kappadokia laloumenis glossis), but “lacking the necessary capital needed for their publication, he never managed to see them published”.13 In 1899, he published another work of archaeological interest in Constantinople about themonasteries of Cappadocia and Lycaonia.14 As for the linguistic material, it remained unexploited until, during the visit of Dawkins to Flaviana, around 1911, Levidis’ family gave it to him. It is a rich collection of linguistic and ethnographical data, which is distinguished not only for the quality of the documentation of the local language, but also for the attitude of the author towards his object of study, an attitude which establishes Levidis as the first to “have dealt equally with the Turkish and the Greek linguistic tradition of Cappadocia, considering both as a unique and indivisible whole”.15 Thus, in the tenth and last volume of the collection (and for the first time in the history of the so-called "living monuments" in Cappadocia), 11 Turkish songs are recorded in Caramanli script: one referring to marriage, another to the Holy Sepulchre and another to the martyrdom of Gregorios V, characteristic examples, according to Dawkins, of the interaction of the two cultures which lived for centuries one beside the other, one steadily permeating the other.16 Of course, Levidis himself did not draw such conclusions from this part of his material, which he characterized as “partly barbaric”.17 However, the fact that he included it to his collection is not simply an innovation but also an exception, at a time when the demand was the promotion, by any means, of the Greek character of the Cappadocians and thus the silencing on behalf of the scholars of every element which could be considered opposed to this view.

1. According to Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου (typescript, Archive of the Center of Asia Minor Studies no. 2091935), p. 1.

2. Λεβίδης, Πλ,, Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 1.

3. Due to the Crimean war, according to Levidis (Πραγματεία περί πολιτισμού, Zincidere 1899, Archive of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, manuscript no. 29, p. 274).

4. Kazantzoglou means in Turkish "the son of the couldron-maker" (Kazancıoğlu). The name Levidis comes from "leves" (λέβης) the ancient Greek word for couldron.

5. Which, according to Platon Levidis, “were published in various occasions”. No other reference to them is given by the sources examined.

6. Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 9.

7. “Mirror of virtues and evils” (Katoptron ton areton kai ton kakion). The book was published in Smyrna in 1875.

8. “Chest bleeding”, according to the doctor Platon Levidis. While Levidis was studying in Constantinople he had fallen seriously ill twice, the first with eruptive typhus and the second with pneumonia.

9. Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 5.

10. Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 8.

11. Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 9.

12. See the quotation “Collection of Living Monuments”.

13. Λεβίδης, Πλ., Βιογραφία Αναστασίου Μ. Λεβίδου, p. 11.

14. Λεβίδης, Αναστάσιος, Αι εν μονολίθοις μοναί της Καππαδοκίας και Λυκαονίας (Constantinople 1899).

15. Αναγνωστάκης, Η. – Μπαλτά, Ε., Η Καππαδοκία των «ζώντων μνημείων» (Athens 1990), p. 59.

16. Dawkins, R.D., “The Recent Study of Folklore in Greece”, in Papers and Transactions of the Jubilee Congress of the Folklore Society (London 1930), p. 135.

17. In page 373 of the manuscript no. 473 located in the Archive of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies he characterizes the nuptial song he documents as “a semi -barbaric nuptial song sang in many places of Cappadocia”.