The first Greek to reach America

As we all know, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was the first to discover the American continent in 1492. Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa, which means that the Italians may bask a bit in the sunshine of Columbus' discovery.
Crews in those days were a mixed lot. When we call a ship Spanish or when an expedition is paid for by a Spanish king or queen, it doesn't follow that the entire crew would be Spanish.

So, who was the first known Greek to have reached the Americas? That would be Theodoros Griego, a sailor who landed on Florida with the Spanish expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez (1470 (or 1478)–1528) on April 14, 1528. The fleet of five ships and 600 men sailed from the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda to North America. The expedition first reached Cuba and then sailed on to Florida.

Griego was born somewhere in the Aegean and later moved to Spain. Theodoros Griego simply means Theodore (the) Greek in Spanish. His original Greek name was Doroteo Teodoro.

As did most of his companions on this ill-fated expedition, Theodoros Griego did not survive his adventure. After landing on the florida peninsular, the conquistatores were repeatedly attacked by Indians. After de Narváez was injured in such an attack, Teodoro thought it wise to desert[1]. Some reports of the time says he lived among the Indians for quite some time, but others claim he was almost immediately killed by them[2]. Only four members of the original crew survived to tell the story.
Today, a statue has been erected in Florida in the city of Tampa in honour of this Greek conquistador,  explorer and deserter. Ironic seems the correct word to describe this story.

[1] Hugh Thomas: The golden Age of the Spanish Empire of Charles V – 2011
[2] Robin Varnum: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaga: American Trailblazer - 2014

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