Tomb of Antonios F. Papadakis, benefactor of the University of Athens

Funerary stele with embossed bust and a symbolic statue depicting “Science”. Sculptor: Georgios Vroutos (1843-1909)

Antonios Papadakis’ monumental tomb consists of a high pedimental funerary column (stele) and a full-length sculptural figure. The portrait of the benefactor Antonis Papadakis is depicted in relief, on the front side of the stele. A full-length sculptural life-size female figure is placed in front of the column. Inspired from antiquity, she wears a tunic and has classical physiognomic features. She turns her head slightly towards the tombstone and with her right hand writes (engraves) the name of the deceased A.F. PAPADAKIS. She holds a scroll with her left. She could symbolize memory or immortality, but in fact, the woman symbolizes The Science that pays gratitude to the deceased, since he was benefactor of the University of Athens. On the steps of the tombstone there is the signature of the sculptor: ΒΡΟΥΤΟΣ ΕΠΟΙΕΙ / 1881 (made by Vroutos / 1881).
Antonios Papadakis lived a legendary life. He was born in Crete, in the village of Psychro Lasithi, in the year 1810. He was the son of the priest Fragios (Fragiskos) Papadakis. In 1823, during the raid of the Turkish army, his father and mother were massacred. Their three children Antonios, Emmanuel and John (or Andreas) were taken prisoners to Constantinople. According to another source, the children were taken to Alexandria, where they were delivered to the court of the Khedive (=regent) Mehmet Ali Pasha, who took care of their conversion to Islam and their upbringing. However, Antonios escaped and found himself in Odessa in 1829. He learned Greek letters, got a job in a Greek printing house and then entered the agricultural school. After graduating, he was appointed manager of the estates of Alexander Sturzas in Bessarabia in 1833. Thanks to his agricultural knowledge, he greatly increased the income of the estates and expanded his employer's activities in the field of animal husbandry. He also engaged successfully in trade. When he settled permanently in Athens, he bequeathed to the University of Athens the building of the University Club and all his other assets for scholarships to students.
The search for his two brothers has always been a burning desire of his. They finally met when they were still alive. The eldest of them, Emmanuel, had been renamed Ismail and had become the infamous General Ismail Pasha Papadakis known as Ismail Selim Pasha (1809-1867). Also, Ismail served as Minister of the Military of Egypt. The younger brother Andreas had become the Chief Constable in Alexandria. They both had embraced Mohammedanism.

City of Athens, Department of Cultural Heritage, 2022

@ text: Georgia Antonopoulou. Katerina Tsatoucha

@ photo: Victoria Kaisari

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