The Piraeus Athena and Literature: 100 Drachmai (Greece, 1978)-Article

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

This Greek banknote represents the 2nd entry of the Third Modern Drachma, 1978-87 sub-series. The Third Drachma circulated for nearly 48 years, from 1 May 1954 to 1 March 2002. The Third Drachma, can be broken into 5 printing phases. With sub-series issued in 1954, 1954-56, 1964-70, 1978-87, and 1995.

Initially the Drachma was pegged to the US dollar, until the Bretton Woods system was abolished in 1971. Which caused the Drachma to undergo continuous inflation, relative to the US dollar (1973:1 to 30, 1998:1 to 400). On 1 January 2002, the Greek drachma was replaced by the Euro. The drachma ceased being legal tender on 1 March 2002.


The observe prominently features the famous “Piraeus Athena” in profile, wearing a Corinthian helmet. The enigmatic Piraeus Athena is a 4th century Greek bronze stature, uncovered by labors in 1959. On the note's lower right is the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). NKUA is the oldest higher education institution of the modern Greek state. Founded in 3 May 1837, by King Otto of Greece. NKUA has continuously operated, since its establishment.

At the note's upper center is the text “Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος”, which translates/transliterates to the Bank of Greece. Below is the text “Δράχμες Εκατον”, identifying the note's hundred drachmae value. Which is further reinforced by 2 additional occurrences of the number “100”. Located at the note's upper left and upper right.


The reverse features an portrait of Greek scholar Adamantios Korais, founder of modern Greek

literature. The note's portrait is a mirrored version of the original oil painting. The Arkadi Monastery, from the island of Crete can be seen in the lower right.

At the upper center is the text “Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος”, the Bank of Greece. And at the lower center is “Πενήντα Δράχμες”, identifying the note's hundred drachmae value. The is the number “100” on the the note's upper left, upper right, and lower left.

"Pateras tis Patridos"

Adamantios Korais was declared the "Pateras tis Patridos" (Father of the Fatherland), by the revolutionaries of the Third National Assembly of Troezen. The Encyclopædia Britannica has compared Korais's influence on the modern Greek language, “to that of Dante on Italian and Martin Luther on German".

Korais was born in 1748, in the Ottoman city of Smyrna (former ancient Greek colony). His father was Ioannis Korais of Chios was the demogérontas (elected leader) of Smyrna. Adamantios Korais was noted as being exceptionally passionate in the study of philosophy, literacy and linguistics in his youth. He graduated from the prestigious Evangelical Greek School. Famous for educating numerous key figures of the Modern Greek Enlightenment movement.

After graduation, Korais lived in Amsterdam working as a merchant. Before resuming his studies at university. Where he the studied Hebrew, Dutch, French and English. Further reinforcing his linguistic acumen, from his already impressive knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin. From 1782 to 1787, Korais studied at the school of medicine of the University of Montpellier. His 1786 diploma thesis was entitled “Pyretologiae Synopsis” and his 1787 doctoral thesis was entitled “Medicus Hippocraticus”.

After 1788 Korais continued his life as an expatriate in Paris, France. Where he translated the works of ancient Greek authors. He succeeded in producing thirty volumes of translations. Becoming one of the first modern Greek philologists and publishers of ancient Greek literature. While translating the ancient literature of his people, Korais became disillusioned with the lack of education in contemporary Greek society.

As a witness to the French Revolution (1789-1799), Korais concluded Western Europe was the heir of the ancient Greek civilization. He became an admirer of the American revolutionary figure Thomas Jefferson. And advocated that wealthy Greeks should open new libraries and schools throughout Helles (Greece). Believing that education would ensure not only independence, but the formation of a new liberated Greek nation. That would introduce a new era, equal to the Golden Age of Pericles.

Korais died in Paris at age 84, on the 6 April 1833. Shortly after publishing the first volume of his autobiography. His remains were returned to Greece, in 1877. Some of his great linguistic achievements include the creation of Katharevousa (purifying), based on the ecclesiastical language used by the Greek Orthodox Church. Katharevousa is closely related to the Koine Greek (also known as Alexandrian dialect), which was originally spoken 336 BC-300 AD.

Korais believe a language free of foreign influence was a prerequisite to Greek liberation. Katharevousa served as the means of guiding and complmenting the evolution of Dimotikí Glóssa, the "language of the people". Which was adopted in1 976, as the official language of Greece.

“The Head of the Charioteer”

The watermark features the “Head of the Charioteer” of Delphi (Heniokhos). A 5th century bronze stature, considered by many to the finest surviving example of ancient Greek bronze sculptures. Heniokhos was commissioned to commemorate the victory of tyrant Polyzalus of Gela and his chariot. During the Pythian Games of 470 BC, at Delphi. Held in honor of ancient Greek god Pythean Apollo.

The life-size 1.8m (5 ft 11in) statue of a chariot driver was found, in 1896. At the Sanctuary of Apollo, in Delphi. And is rare surviving example of a freestanding ancient Greek bronze suture. As the majority of stature from the period, have since corroded or been melted down for raw material. The mostly intact charioteer, is believed to have survived due to a rock slide, in 373 BC.

Third Modern Drachma Gallery

(Gallery contains only banknotes within the database)

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 144 × 64 mm (5.67 x 2.52 in), slight smaller than its predecessor the 100 Drachmae 1966 (158 × 67 mm).

  • This note ceased being legal tender on 1 March 2002, after it was fully replaced by the Euro.

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