There is a simple story, used to explain why there are no Jews in Kefalonia, also showing how clever the Kefalonians are. Here is the story: a Jew merchant came to the island caring its merchandise on a donkey. He met a Kefalonian man on the street so he asked him what he could buy in order for him to eat, to feed the donkey and also to keep something out of it to relax. The Kefalonian guy told him to buy a watermelon, so as to eat it, give the outer side to the donkey to feed it and keep the seeds to chew them and relax. It is said that the Jew guy left the island, telling the rest of the Jews that they shouldn’t go to that island because they wouldn’t manage to compete the Kefalonians.
Odysseus of Ithaca, king of the kefalonians was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer‘s epic poem, The Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer’s Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle. King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning. He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous Trojan Horse trick.
Epiphanes, was born on Cephalonia in the late 1st Century or early 2nd Century to Carpocrates (his father), and Alexandria of Cephallenia. He is the legendary author of On Righteousness, a notable Gnostic literary work that promotes communist principles.
Both Odysseus and Epiphanes characteristics, show the outstanding cleverness of Kefalonians and at the same time their open mind (due to the fact that most of Kefalonians used to work in ships or being merchants in other countries, the culture and ideas of the natives were following the “developed” part of the world).
The Kefalonians are thought to be very clever, always cheerful and ready to swear easily about every simple aspect of their lives. It is very common to say good morning to a person very close to you and at the same time swear in a very bad way for something related to a Saint of Christianity, Virgin Mary (mother of Jesus), or God. The only Saint which is said not to get that kind of treatment is Saint Gerasimos (Gerasimus of Kefalonia), the Saint which came to Kefalonia in 1555. The Saint Gerasimos body is kept in the island and the Saint is thought to be the protector of it. Saint Gerasimos is believed by natives of Kefalonia to protect them and to also heal them of illness. Many natives of the island name their children after Saint Gerasimos as a tribute to the saint who protects them.
The island is the place of birth of Andreas Laskaratos, who was unchurched by the Greek Orthodox church in 1856 because of his book titled “The mysteries of Kefalonia”. His question about the unchurch was “What will happen to me because of the unchurch?” another guy told him “Your body will not waste away when you die”, so Laskatatos last response was “Would they at least unchurch my shoes too in order for them not to waste away?”. This is one more example of the way the Kefalonians confront every challenge in their lives, always with a cheerful way, making fun of every difficulty they might face.
The aforementioned Kantades which show how sensitive a man can get and the Kefalonian madness together with the bright colors of the island and the sea that the natives experience in their everyday life makes them highly rational, and sensitive at the same time. Many love stories with men doing whatever it takes to manage to conquer the heart of a Kefalonian woman are still mentioned in tavernas (restaurants) or kafenia (cafes) of the island. One well known story is the Captain’s Corelli’s Mandolin Movie, based on the love story of the Italian soldier “Bambaloni” falling in love with a native Kefalonian woman.
The population of the island is estimated that it was 125,000 before 1953 while 100,000 left the island soon after the 1953 earthquake. Nowadays its population is about 45.000. Because of the earthquake, many Kefalonians left the island trying to seek a better life in the rest of Greece and in other places around the world. That is the reason that there is the common joke which says that when Neil Armstrong went to the Moon, he found a Kefalonian guy there telling him hello.
The positions held by Kefalonians all over the world in other countries’ governments and companies, are evidence of their intelligence and commitment to succeed.