High up on the Greek Mt. Aenos, Alekos the goatherd watches his goats around him and notices a valley burning down below. The narrator notes that while Alekos's life is timeless, soon Greece will have more problems than hedgehogs dying in a fire. Soon, Greece will have to deal with the "superior races" unleashing genocide on the world.
Alekos acts throughout the novel as an outside observer of the war, as it seldom touches him. In this way, he shows another way for someone to interpret history that's separate from it, yet technically involved.
Despite this, the narrator says that everyone, including Pelagia, admires strength. She hears that the strongman, Velisarios, is performing in the square and she joins the crowd. He hops on one foot, holding a man on each arm and the six-year-old girl Lemoni on his head. Lemoni, however, is too scared to move her hands from Velisarios's eyes, so he stops and drops his helpers with a flourish. Then, someone asks Velisarios to lift the passing Father Arsenios--the priest is globular, greedy, and has no respect from the villagers. Velisarios swoops Father Arsenios up onto a wall before the priest can protest. Soon, however, an embarrassed hush falls, and Father Arsenios tumbles down. He goes into the church without speaking.
When Velisarios swoops in and lifts Father Arsenios without thinking, it illustrates one of the issues that comes from having too much power: acting without thinking. This is, notably, something that Mussolini will do throughout much of the novel. By showing Velisarios doing the same thing here, it suggests that the capacity to abuse power is something that all humans have, even humans as kind and generous as Velisarios usually is.
Pelagia scolds Velisarios for his cruelty. He considers lifting her into a tree but decides to end the act. One woman, however, calls for "the cannon." Velisarios agrees. Villagers race off to find stones and shards of pots to fill the cannon and then gather for the explosion. After the villagers suggest a number of unsuitable targets, Velisarios picks it up and shoots the cannon down the road. As the smoke clears, they hear a groan and see that young Mandras happened to come around the corner and received an old nail in the shoulder. Velisarios carries him to Dr. Iannis's house. There, Mandras falls madly in love with Pelagia at first sight. On Mt. Aenos, Alekos hears the boom and wonders if another war is starting.
The villagers' glee at Velisarios's cannon suggests that most people naturally enjoy explosions that do actually have the power to be destructive, as they assume the explosion isn't actually going to hurt anyone. The fact that Mandras does get hurt implies that while it may be human nature to be attracted to such things, spectacles like this are never truly benign and always have the capacity to hurt people.