1. From Kotyora to the National Defence
Xenophon Akoglou, son of Kosmas and Aphrodite Grigoriadis, also known under the pen-name ‘Xenos Xenitas’, was born in Samsun (Sampsounta, Amisos) in 1895. He spent his childhood in Kotyora (Urdu),1 where he completed primary education, before he studied in the high school of Amisos. In 1915 he fled from the Ottoman Empire and went to Thessaloniki, where he joined the forces of the National Defence as a volunteer in the following year. After 1918 he was trained at the School of Reserve Officers, which he completed as a second lieutenant. He then took part in the operations of the Asia Minor campaign. Akoglou became a permanent military officer and remained in the army until 1935, when he retired as a major. He was recruited again, however, in 1940-1941, and became a correspondent of the journal Neoellinika Grammata, sending news from the Albanian front. He completed and republished his reports in 1945 in Athens under the title The Miracle of Albania from the Viewpoint of the ΙΙΙ Division.
2. Works - Collection of Folklore Material
Akoglou published a great number of articles in various journals (Archeion Pontou, Mikrasiatika Chronika, Pontiaki Estia, Neoellinika Grammata and particularly Chronika tou Pontou,2 which he directed throughout its publication) and four books. He usually used the pen-name ‘Xenos Xenitas’. Apart from the Miracle of Albania from the Viewpoint of the ΙΙΙ Division, he also published the Diigimata Ethografika, a collection of short stories on the milieu of taverns and fishermen (Athens 1939), as well as the play Akritas in the Pontic dialect. This work (an historical drama in five acts and a scene), for which Akoglou received a honorary mention at the Kalokairineios contest in 1945, concerns the activity of Pontic chieftains and guerrillas in 1914-1923. The writer originally aimed to prepare a study but, since he lacked the necessary primary sources, he composed a play; under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the play does not seem to have been particularly successful on stage, apparently due to its seriousness.3
However, his most important work is the two-volume The Life of Pontus, Laographika Kotyoron" (Folklore Material of Kotyora). Produced after a long and arduous4 period of collecting folklore material provided by people from Kotyora who lived all over Greece (Athens, Piraeus and suburbs, Thessaloniki, Katerini and Kilkis), the book was described as one of the finest of the kind.5 Akoglou, apart from the full and detailed image of life in Kotyora he provides (life cycle, communal and economic organisation, customs and popular belefs), which meets the requirements of Greek folklore studies (laografia), tries to be objective, an effort quite exceptional in similar collections. Τhe Laographika Kotyoron does not provide an idyllic image of his birthplace: it frequently refers to intracommunal conflicts, class struggles and the restricted intellectual life of the area. In brief, in comparison to respective works by other collectors, Akoglou's book provides the reader with the feeling that it describes a real and active society rather than a utopian reconstruction of the lost homeland.
Akoglou died in Athens in December 1961.
1. Akoglou, who never mentioned Samsun in his works, considers himself a native of Kotyora. Besides, it results from his book Laographika Kotyoron that his family came from Kotyora.
2. Chronika tou Pontou the monthly folklore journal of the Club ‘Argonautai Komnenoi’, was in circulation from September 1943 until February 1954. However, only 24 issues were published, which as a rule were printed after a considerable delay. Thus, the last one is dated ‘July-August 1946’.
3. See the quotation "Review of Akritas".
4. See the quotation ‘The “tekelteas”’.
5. Among several favourable reviews is that by Giannis Kordatos in Neoellinika Grammata of 8th July 1939.