200 euro - The Flags of Greece - The Flag of the Friendly Society (Philike Etaireia)
Series: Greece - Gold euro coins
The “Friendly Society” (Philike Etaireia) was a secret organisation founded in Odessa, Russia, in 1814 by three Greeks of the diaspora: Emmanuel Xanthos, Nikolaos Skoufas and Athanasios Tsakalof. The Society’s objective was to free the Greeks of Ottoman rule, and its members included many who would play a prominent role in the Greek uprising. The Friendly Society’s flag, one of the first adopted by the revolted Greeks, was designed in March 1821 according to the instructions of Germanos, Bishop of Old Patras, a Society member, for distribution to the insurgent bands. Its design replicates the symbols from the certificate of initiation (ephodiastikon) to the rank of “priest” within the Society: a bundle of 16 columns tied together, possibly inspired by the fasces of ancient Rome (the significance of the number 16 remains obscure). The bundle is surmounted by a cross within an olive wreath, flanked by flag-bearing spears. The flags are inscribed with the letters ΗΕΑ (left) and ΗΘΣ (right), an abbreviation for the revolutionary motto «Ή Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος» (Freedom or Death).