Vendetta (or the so called "gdikiomos") appeared as a result of fights between competing families. At first it was a punishment for some hostile action against a family or a kin and not against an individual.

A decision to start vendetta was usually taken in cold blood at a family’s gathering and could be directed against any member of the hostile family.

If during the vendetta the father of the family was killed then every boy in the family lived with only one dream – to take a revenge for their father’s death. After that the family that fulfilled their duty closed itself in the house to avoid any contacts with the members of the "defeated" family.

Vendetta was rather often aimed at a full extermination of the hostile family. The family that decided to begin vendetta announced officially about their intention, the village bells rang, both families locked in their towers and this meant that the war started. After this any method of the fight was considered right and legal. Other villagers tried not to stay in the way of the fighting families and most of their time spent in the houses.

In some cases vendetta could be temporally stopped, it was a kind of a break, the so-called "treva". Usually these were the periods of agricultural labors such as tillage, sowing, threshing, gathering of olives and so on. The hostile parties could even work on the neighboring fields but in dead silence. They used the nights for storing food and weapons in their house-towers. As soon as the "treva" ended the military actions resumed.

Also short breaks were acceptable if in a hostile family there were such holy ceremonies as christening, weddings and so.

Usually vendetta finished when the hostile family was completely exterminated. Those few who could be saved would leave the village and so all the property of the defeated enemy became loot of the winners.

Sometimes upon their wish members of a defeated family could stay in the village. This was possible on some certain terms. If it was a plain murder a remoursed murderer would perform a simple ceremony and after this he would become a special protector and benefactor of the family of his former enemy. Cases like this were discussed and approved by a local council, or "Gerontiki" that was headed by a Bey or a captain. This council was the only administrative organ that ruled and maintained order in Mani.

The fights between hostile families would immediately stop only in one case – in the case of the Turkish thread. The longest truce or "treva" was announced on the eve of the liberation movement on the request of Mavromichalis.

The fights or vendetta continued after the liberation of Greece but they were gradually dying out until completely stopped after the end of the Second World War. Today this Maniot custom belongs to the past of this area, part of its old traditions.

Wedding ] Weeping Songs ] [ Vendetta ]