March 24, 2021

Kalo Voli! The Famous Wish of the Greek Revolutionaries

Greek Revolutionary hero and general Markos Botsaris shot in the head by a Turk in Karpenisi, painted by Peter von Hess.
"Kalo Voli" was a famous wish Greek rebels and revolutionaries wished each other during Turkish rule. It was a last wish that the enslaved Greeks exchanged before starting a battle or a clash with their Ottoman oppressors. Kalo Voli can be translated into English best as "Good Bullet" or even "Good Shot".

The strange and unexpected thing about this wish is that it does not mean what comes to mind. That is, to wish their fellow soldiers a good bullet or good shot with the reasoning being to achieve as many dead enemies as they can.

The opposite in fact. They wished a good shot or good bullet so that the shot that will hit them will be of good quality and they will have a quick and painless death!

The bullets used during the Turkish occupation and the Greek Revolution were made of lead. The lead was sometimes of poor quality and if the bullet hit a bone it would crumble and death would be slow (two to three days) and painful. A real torture for anyone who got such a shot.

For this reason we find the variant of the wish as "Kalo Molyvi" or "Good Lead".

Thus, the young men before being thrown into battle wished "Good Bullet" or "Good Shot", meaning that the bullet shot at them will be a good one that will help them to attain a death that is glorious and quick on the battlefield. 

The fatal bullet and blood-stained headband of Markos Botsaris.