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Europe/Other : That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

 

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Guthrum
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22 Dec 2015
08:11:55pm
αιέν υψιπετείν

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Actually, the Air Force motto is aien upsikratein, not upsipetein. However, the latter is what appears on the Greek stamp SG651, issued May 1st 1947, shown above.

The Air Force commander who coined 'aien upsikratein' ('Always dominate the heights', according to wikipedia), the motto on the Greek Air Force badge, was reinterpreting, or giving a modern twist to, what appears to be an ancient Greek saying - a saying so well-known that, although there are several references to it on the internet, I can find no modern translation. (The nearest may be something like 'aim for something spiritual'.)

The Ancient Greek dictionaries on the internet have never heard of it!

Personally, I think the stamp should read 'Always dominate the heights' (the English equivalent of the RAF's per ardua ad astra, or even 'Reach for the sky') - but it doesn't.

Any professors of Ancient Greek on SOR? Any Greek members?

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SWH
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23 Dec 2015
05:19:56am
re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

I can't say I have a full answer but I think I do have some pieces of the puzzle.

Aien in Greek means 'Always'
Upsi means 'High'
Kratein means 'Master, Control, Conquer'
and
Petein means 'Fly'.

Both Aien upsikratein and Aien upsipetein are used in relation to modern - military - aviation, upsipetein also being used in other contexts such subjects related to birds. I have not found a translation to English - Google translate doesn't translate the words. But as said I have found both terms widely used. I therefore think the inscription on the stamp is deliberately Aien upsipetein.

An example of Aien upsipetein being used in a military context you will find here: https://ptisidiastima.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/%CE%B1%CE%B9%CE%AD%CE%BD-%CF%85%CF%88%CE%B9%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BD/

When you google in the Greek alphabet you'll find many more sites. All in Greek though. But you might want to contact these people to try and find out more. A particularly interesting site to contact because it uses both terms is: http://tro-ma-ktiko.blogspot.nl/2011/12/video_7810.html

The search terms in Greek would be αιέν υψιπετείν and αιεν υψικρατειν.

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Guthrum
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23 Dec 2015
11:18:43am
re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

The Dutch education system comes to my rescue!

I'm happy to go with 'Always flying high' or 'always aiming high', as I gather there is a metaphorical meaning to υψιπετείν as well. I just didn't know πετείν - 'to fly'. (I imagine it is cognate either with 'pteron', a wing, or 'petalon', a leaf.)

All that just so that I can mount this stamp with the correct translation below! Perhaps SOR should adopt it as their motto as well!

Many thanks for your help, Gerben.

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SWH
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23 Dec 2015
11:49:47am
re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

My pleasure. My guess would be that they used upsipetein so that the stamp addresses all fly boys instead of just those of the Greek Airforce.

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Author/Postings
Members Picture
Guthrum

22 Dec 2015
08:11:55pm

αιέν υψιπετείν

Image Not Found

Actually, the Air Force motto is aien upsikratein, not upsipetein. However, the latter is what appears on the Greek stamp SG651, issued May 1st 1947, shown above.

The Air Force commander who coined 'aien upsikratein' ('Always dominate the heights', according to wikipedia), the motto on the Greek Air Force badge, was reinterpreting, or giving a modern twist to, what appears to be an ancient Greek saying - a saying so well-known that, although there are several references to it on the internet, I can find no modern translation. (The nearest may be something like 'aim for something spiritual'.)

The Ancient Greek dictionaries on the internet have never heard of it!

Personally, I think the stamp should read 'Always dominate the heights' (the English equivalent of the RAF's per ardua ad astra, or even 'Reach for the sky') - but it doesn't.

Any professors of Ancient Greek on SOR? Any Greek members?

Like
Login to Like
this post
Members Picture
SWH

23 Dec 2015
05:19:56am

re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

I can't say I have a full answer but I think I do have some pieces of the puzzle.

Aien in Greek means 'Always'
Upsi means 'High'
Kratein means 'Master, Control, Conquer'
and
Petein means 'Fly'.

Both Aien upsikratein and Aien upsipetein are used in relation to modern - military - aviation, upsipetein also being used in other contexts such subjects related to birds. I have not found a translation to English - Google translate doesn't translate the words. But as said I have found both terms widely used. I therefore think the inscription on the stamp is deliberately Aien upsipetein.

An example of Aien upsipetein being used in a military context you will find here: https://ptisidiastima.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/%CE%B1%CE%B9%CE%AD%CE%BD-%CF%85%CF%88%CE%B9%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BD/

When you google in the Greek alphabet you'll find many more sites. All in Greek though. But you might want to contact these people to try and find out more. A particularly interesting site to contact because it uses both terms is: http://tro-ma-ktiko.blogspot.nl/2011/12/video_7810.html

The search terms in Greek would be αιέν υψιπετείν and αιεν υψικρατειν.

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this post

www.stampworldhistor ...
Members Picture
Guthrum

23 Dec 2015
11:18:43am

re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

The Dutch education system comes to my rescue!

I'm happy to go with 'Always flying high' or 'always aiming high', as I gather there is a metaphorical meaning to υψιπετείν as well. I just didn't know πετείν - 'to fly'. (I imagine it is cognate either with 'pteron', a wing, or 'petalon', a leaf.)

All that just so that I can mount this stamp with the correct translation below! Perhaps SOR should adopt it as their motto as well!

Many thanks for your help, Gerben.

Like
Login to Like
this post
Members Picture
SWH

23 Dec 2015
11:49:47am

re: That Greek Air Force motto - what does it mean?

My pleasure. My guess would be that they used upsipetein so that the stamp addresses all fly boys instead of just those of the Greek Airforce.

Like
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this post

www.stampworldhistor ...
        

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