15 thoughts on “ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ”

  1. Nice. From the 1955 monument, I see. But what the reference? Is there a gun control measure I an unaware of?

    I’ve never been to Belgium. Is “Nuts” carved at the Bastogne monument?

  2. This has been popular in Texas lately, in English – probably few if any know the ancient Greek origin — of course some cave dweller spoke these words long before, but very likely it was unrecorded.

  3. This has special resonance for Texans.

    “Come and take it” was a slogan used in the Texas Revolution in 1835. In March 1831, Juan Gomez, a Lieutenant in the Mexican Army, worked alongside Tadeo Ortiz, a consul at Bordeaux, France, and granted a small cannon to the colony of San Antonio. The small bronze cannon was received by the colony and signed for by Randy Tumlinson. It was then transported to Gonzales, Texas and later was the object of Texas pride. At the minor skirmish known as the Battle of Gonzales—the first battle of the Texas Revolution against Mexico—a small group of Texans successfully resisted the Mexican forces who had orders from Juan Gomez to seize their cannon. As a symbol of defiance, the Texans had fashioned a flag containing the phrase “come and take it” along with a black star and an image of the cannon which they had received six years earlier from Mexican officials—this was the same message that was sent to the Mexican government when they told the Texans that they had to return their cannon—failure to comply with the Mexican’s original demands led to the failed attempt by the Mexican military to forcefully take back the cannon.

  4. I put this very scene in “Daughter of Texas” – of the scene where they made a flag for the volunteers of Gonzales to carry with them, when they went to meet the party of Mexican soldiers demanding the return of the cannon.

    . Inside the Turners’ parlor it was quieter, but almost as crowded. Mrs. DeWitt and her daughters worked around a center table, upon which a length of white fabric had been laid out. Eveline and Naomi industriously hemmed the edges, while Mrs. DeWitt carefully outlined two shapes upon the silk with a slip of dressmaker’s chalk.
    “We picked out the seams of Naomi’s best silk dress and took a panel from the skirt,” Mrs. DeWitt explained. “She can wear it, still – but we needed enough for a proper flag. The gentlemen of the committee worked out a design, and I think it very pleasing. What do you think of it – this is our cannon, and a single star for Tejas, all embroidered in black thread outline?”
    “You’ll need a motto,” Race said, and his smile broadened. “What about ‘Μολὼν λαβέ’, just below the cannon, in big black letters?”
    “Heavens above, I don’t know what it means!” Mrs. DeWitt exclaimed. “What was that which you just said?”
    “I said it in Greek,” Race answered, “quoting the words of King Leonides of Sparta to Xerxes of Persia, when Xerxes asked the Spartans to give up their arms. The king answered, ‘Come and take them’.”
    “I like the sentiment,” Mrs. DeWitt answered, “and it would make a fine motto, but we would have to put it in English. As it is, you’d likely be the only man in town to understand it.”

    The resulting battle – or rather the skirmish – had somewhat farcial elements … but it kicked off the rebellion of the Texians and Tejanos. Inside several months, the rebels had kicked the Mexican garrison out of San Antonio, but within another three months it all turned deadly serious with the fall of the Alamo.

  5. I like the motto Did a little quick research and will remember it but I will have to think about broadcasting the phrase. It is clearly a slogan of defiance and if one chooses to display it, I think he had better be willing to back it up as the previous users of this expression did. I am not sure how far I am willing to go at this time to protect my rights. I do believe America is very near a critical point and citizens need to be prepared and think about what they are willing to do if necessary.

  6. OK, the Texans decided to follow classical example, but there is a small matter that was different: Spartans held on to their own arms. The cannon in question was not bought or manufactured by Texans. From your description I’d say Texans should have returned the goods that didn’t belong to them.

  7. Tatyana,

    Then cannon belonged to the Texans because it was purchased for the defense of San Antonio by the Democratic government of Mexico. When Santa Anna overthrew the Mexican democracy and established his dictatorship, the legitimate successor government and owner of the cannon was the remaining democratic elements in Mexico which was the rebel government in Texas.

    Most people don’t know that the trigger for the Texas revolution was the collapse of Mexican democracy.

  8. “I do believe America is very near a critical point and citizens need to be prepared and think about what they are willing to do if necessary.” I agree with this – we are one major natural disaster or dirty nuke away from every man for himself. I am prepared but many are not and it would get interesting to say the least. Most importantly I have my mind set up to do things that I don’t necessarily enjoy doing but must be done to protect myself and my family and property. This is a place I don’t like to go in my head, but there it is.

  9. Thanks again for that review, David! One of the things that I tried to do in it was to put the Texas revolt into the context of the conflict in Mexico between the Centralists (conservative, top-down authoritiarians) and the Federalists (old-fashioned liberals, local-state-authority types) – of which many of the Anglo settlers in Texas were. I wrote a bit about that on my book-blog, here: http://celiahayes.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/a-man-of-convienient-and-elastic-virtue/
    – and about the “Come and Take It” fight here: http://celiahayes.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/lexington-on-the-guadalupe/
    In one way, the whole fight for Texas independence could be put into perspective from south of the border as just the last spasm of a long-running Mexican political conflict. Now and again, it isn’t all about us.



  11. The Greek phrase Molōn labe!

    meaning “Come and take them” is a classical expression of defiance reportedly spoken by King Leonidas I in response to the Persian army’s demand that the Spartans surrender their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae.

    Νow Greece has a new dictatorship and we say Molōn labe!

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