Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dr. Saleeby's Blog (Part III)

Starting off with the 3rd chapter of my blog with a posting from Part II. In case anyone missed it. A bit about my heritage....

From Sparta to Lebanon to America

A Proud Heritage

In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. There is much interest in this battle because of the opening of a new movie "300" which hit theaters in mid March 2007. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians in one of history's most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I could pass. After three days of battle, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a mountain path that led behind the Greek lines.

Dismissing the rest of the army, King Leonidas stayed behind with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespian volunteers. Though they knew it meant their own deaths, they held their position and secured the retreat of the other Greek forces. The Persians succeeded in taking the pass but sustained heavy losses, extremely disproportionate to those of the Greeks. The fierce resistance of the Spartan-led army offered Athens the invaluable time to prepare for a decisive naval battle. While King Leonidas of Sparta battled the Persians on land, a great Athenian general and statesman named Themistocles did battle at sea. His rather small fleet of triremes halted the great Persian armada in the stalemate battle of Artemisium. The subsequent decisive Greek naval victory at the Battle of Salamis once again led by Themistocles left much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes was forced to retreat back to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius, who was to meet the Greeks in battle one last time.

The Greeks assembled at full strength and defeated the Persians decisively at the Battle of Plataea, ending the Greco-Persian War and with it Persian expansion into Europe.

The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is often used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain to maximize an army's potential, and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. The heroic sacrifice of the Spartans and the Thespians has captured the minds of many throughout the ages and has given birth to many cultural references as a result. Source: Wikipedia

There is a strong connection between the Saleeby descendants and the Spartans. Our family history goes back some 300 years B.C. to the region of Sparta and the justices that ruled that city state. In the second century A.D. beginning from Prince Petronious Amiries son of Polithictos, son of Epocratos, the Hellinc of the Tibbanous family which ruled in Sparta during that time. This Amiries was born in a ship while his mother Aghrist with his uncle Emofaratis fled from Sparta after his father's death; this was near the shores of Biblous, the city of the Phoenician Gods (now modern day Lebanon).

This Amiries grew to be commander over Caesar's army. As an idolater although his mother, a Christian tried to convert him to her faith, but in vain. She prayed that her desire may be fulfilled. By a miracle he was converted by John, an apostle of Saint Paul, who converted and baptized him during the year 67 A.D. This was the same year when the apostles assembled in Antioch and were called Christians.

Thinking it unwise to return to Rome, he went to Huran in Syria where he knew friends and relatives and lived (in El-Basseer), built a home and moved his family and lived to be 101 years of age. He died and his body was carried back to Sparta and buried.

Amiries' son, Nocalaous, married and begat El-Gouth, a great hero who was called El-Saleeby by an Arabian prince for his wars against the Jews and idolaters, defending the Christian faith. He was born the year of 89 A.D. and died 197 A.D. in Azrah of Huran.

When the Christians lost power and wealth, they began to migrate - leaving their homes. John Ben Bilsarous El-Saleeby gave up Saint Jacobs Monastery to the Moslems. This was built by El-Gouth El-Saleeby during the second century. One Jacob Demitry Saleeby migrated from Huran to El-Kourah in Lebanon. Where after Farris El-Saleeby, son of Acklidis - followed.

Lebanese citizens make "human flag" in protests against Syrian military occupation and political intervention in 2006.

Al-Abry Farris' son left to Antioch and from him all the Saleeby's and Saliba's in that section descended. After Farris's death, Tamir, Jacob's son, became the leader who during his days things developed until the 12th century when the Crusaders came from Europe to rescue Jerusalem form the Muslims. But for the bad conduct and mistreatment to the inhabitants of Lebanon by the Crusade Armies these Saleeby's were forced to form an alliance with the Arabs to fight for their safety until 1380 when things were settled. When El-Wardy Ben-Mansour El-Saleeby died, the family began to scatter in all directions of the country where many have been given nicknames, other than Saleeby. About 30 branches were given these various names, as is recorded in our family books.

The Saleeby's who came from El-Koura to Bteghreen during 1625 A.D. are Jacob and his cousins Assad, Joseph and Harun, came to Btalloon, built a home and lived, whereafter Joseph returned to Bteghreen and Harun went to Nebatyeh. Assad and his family stayed at Btalloon, thereafter some of his children moved to Souk-El-Gharb and other towns nearby.

In 1886 migration to the western world began where we find thousands of Saleeby and Saliba families in North and South America, England, Africa, Australia, and all parts of the world. During the Lebanese revolution for independence from the French amidst WWII a young Yusuf M. Saleeby (JP's grandfather) was given a life term appointment as village elder (Mukhtar). He served his village well under the occupation of the Ottomans, early in his life and later the French. During the civil war in the 1970's -80's he continued to remain neutral despite the political forces around him. He kept the peace in Bkhechtay for years amongst the neighboring Druz, Muslims and Christians. Yusuf begat his eldest son Michael who after high school came to American for higher education at Oklahoma City University and later Seton Hall University in New Jersey where he met his wife Phyllis. They wed and returned to Lebanon to raise a family. In 1978 Yusuf (JP) Saleeby, son of Michael Saleeby and Grandson of Yusuf M. Saleeby the mukhtar of Bkhechtay, made his final journey to the shores of America. In the summers of 1992 and 1993 JP embarked on a mission in Greece (then London) to row a trireme. This trireme named "Olympias" was a ship constructed by the Greek Navy and British naval architects. The sea trials of 1992 in Poros as well as the celebration of 2000 year of Democracy in London on the Thames River was an opportunity of a lifetime for a "Saleeby" to return to his roots and row a vessel of his Greek/Spartan heritage. In turn JP had a son Michael (named after his grandfather) in 1999. Source: Saleeby-Saliba Association of Families.

The Trireme "Olympias" at sail in the Aegean Sea
JP was a Zygian (middle) and Thranite (top) rower in a Triad of Rowers on the starboard side
He was also part of the medical staff on board the ship


Looking for more? Visit www.DocSaleeby.blogspot.com


Michael Saliba said...

Hi Dr. Saleeby,
Thanks so much for your blogs. I try to keep my children and other relatives aware of the family history and your blog is a great asset. Please continue.
Michael Sapp Saliba, Jr. age 84
Michael Sapp Saliba, Sr and
Milady Abood
from Bteghrine

S. G. Saliba said...

This is very interesting, the more I read about my family "Saliba" name, the more I discover clues about our origins and roots.
Thanks for posting this blog,
S G Saliba