Greek Literature Resources
Dear friends, it has been granted to me to write in a language that is spoken only by a few million people. But a language spoken without interruption, with very few differences, throughout more than two thousand five hundred years. This apparently surprising spatial – temporal distance is found in the cultural dimensions of my country. Its spatial area is one of the smallest; but its temporal extension is infinite. Odysseas Elytis, Nobel Prize Speech
1976, 500 years since the first greek printed book " Επιτομή των oκτώ του λόγου μερών" (Summary of the Eight Parts of Speech) by Constantine Lascaris (1434-1501) printed by Dionysius Paravisinus in Milan
Greece has the most rich literature history, around 2800 years ( Alphabetic script adapted from Phoenician 800 – 750 BC? ) with only China and India probably having a similar (but less known worldwide) record. Compared to the development of ancient Greek literature from Homer and the golden ages to the Hellenistic period and even during the occupation of Greece by the Romans there was no real significant progress of Greek literature (if we ignore the work of historians, or the poems about the heroic Vasilios Digenis Akritas) during the 1000 years period of “Byzantium”, a religious dominated society. Mainly theological or technical writings were produced. For more details see: The History of Byzantine Literature: from Justinian to the end of the Eastern Roman Empire (527 – 1453. Erotocritos in Crete (16 – 17th century ) was one of the first pieces of "modern“ Greek literature (Venetian influence). A large part of Greece in the period 1453 – 1821 was occupied by Turks. A few years before the war of independence we have the first real works of modern Greek literature in the Ionian islands from Greeks (Solomos, Kalvos) who lived outside the occupied region. A Problem for modern Greek literature is that only less than 20 millions worldwide speak Greek. Kazantzakis and Cavafy are probably the most known Greek authors together with Samarakis, Ritsos, Elytis and Seferis. Films like Zorba the Greek made Kazantzakis known worldwide including also the music of Theodorakis. Important for the international success is the translation in English, French, German, Spanish and other languages and in the last years the number of books translated has increased.
Νεοελληνική Λογοτεχνία - Σύγχρονοι Έλληνες συγγραφείς
Apokopos, Bergadis 1509
(Some other early authors: Georgios Choumnos, Leonardos Dellaportas, Marinos Falieros, Andreas Sklentzas : )
Erotokritos, Antonio Bortoli edition, 1713
Markos Antonios Foscolos (Mάρκος Aντώνιος Φόσκολος) (Handakas 1597? – 1660) Example in Greek
Adamantions Korais and Rigas Feraios help Greece, Theophilos Hadjimichail
Adamantios Korais (Αδαμάντιος Κοραής)(27.4.1748 Smyrni – 6.4.1833 Paris) son of a merchant in Amsterdam. He tried to rouse the enthusiasm of the Greeks for the idea that they were the true descendants of the ancient Hellenes by teaching them to regard as their own inheritance the great works of antiquity. Letters written from Paris (Library of Korais in Chios with many rare collections of books and documents ). He was very critical in his letters and publications with the orthodox church who dominated the life of the Greeks under the Ottoman regime. The Orthodox church (with some exceptions) was not very enthusiastic with an idea of a revolution and an independent Greece. “Μέσα από ...το πλούσιο συγγραφικό έργο του Αδαμάντιου Κοραή, ασκήθηκε έντονη και συνολική κριτική για την ανάμειξη του ιερατείου στα πολιτικά πράγματα, τον τρόπο αναπαραγωγής του, τη διαγωγή και το μορφωτικό του επίπεδο, καθώς και για τον τρόπο λειτουργίας των πολυάριθμων μοναστηριών. Η αντίδραση του Πατριαρχείου ενάντια στα επαναστατικά ιδεολογικά και πολιτικά προτάγματα των διαφωτιστών και κυρίως του Αδαμάντιου Κοραή, εντάθηκε κατά τα πρώτα έτη του 19ου αιώνα, για να κορυφωθεί με τις αφοριστικές εγκυκλίους ενάντια στην έναρξη της Επανάστασης στη Μολδοβλαχία και στην κυρίως Ελλάδα” (PDF File in Greek) Biography in Greek, Σάλπισμα Πολεμιστήριον , Παράρτημα: Ο Νεοελληνικός Διαφωτισμός
Antonios Martelaos (1754 – 1819)
A Stamp with an inscription of Rigas Feraios: Whoever thinks freely, thinks well, from Physikes Apanthisma (A Handbook of Physics), 1790. National Historical Museum, Athens
Rigas Velestinlis Feraios (or Pherraios) (Antonios Kyriazis) (Ρήγας Φερραίος) (1757 (estimated year) Velestino/Thessalia – 24. 6. 1798 killed by the Turks in a prison in Belgrade ) A national hero, “It is better to live free for one hour, than forty years of slavery and bondage” Thourios “το ιερότερον άσμα της φυλής μας (Γ. Τερτσέτης)” (Greek Text) (Info Greek) Rigas Velestinlis: An Anthology of Physics, 1790 , C. M. Woodhouse: Rhigas Velestinlis: The Proto-Martyr of the Greek Revolution. Denise Harvey Publications, Mai 1995,
Ugo Foscolo (Niccolo Foscolo)(Ούγος Φώσκολος) (26.1.1778 Zakynthos – 10.10.1827 Turnham Green ), Italian father, Greek mother, influenced Italian literature and politics (independence), The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis , Info
Heptanesian School (Επτανησιακή σχολή)
Konstantinos Asopios (1785/90 - 1872)
Andreas Ioannidis Kalvos ( Ανδρέας Κάλβος ) (? April 1792 Zakynthos – 3.11.1869 Louth/England), "the poet without a portrait", a romantic poet, Italian Neoclassic influence (Examples in Greek) Ελπίς Πατρίδος , O Filopatris , Images
Antonios Matesis (1794 – 1875)
Yannis Makriyannis (Ioannis Triantafyllodimitris) (Γιάννης Μακρυγιάννης/ Ιωάννης Τριανταφυλλοδημήτρης) 1797 – 27.4.1864) The Memoirs of General Makriyannis , Γιώργος Σεφέρης: Ένας Έλληνας - ο Μακρυγιάννης
Dionysios Solomos with his famous: "Is there anything in my mind but liberty and language?"
Spyridon Trikoupis to Solomos during a meeting in Zakynthos. "Your talent as a poet will you provide a good place in the Italian Parnassus, but the most important places are occupied. The Greek Parnassus does not have his Dante"
"I don't know well Greek", replied Solomos, "How can I write well?"
Dionysios Solomos (Διονύσιος Σολωμός) (1798 Zakynthos– 9/21.2.1857 Kerkyra (Corfu)), He lived in Corfu in a house which later was destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War. The house was restored and is now the Solomos Museum (Corfu) , Eleutheroi Poliorkimenoi ("Free Besieged", Greek ) Solomos: Le sue poesie in lingua italiana. Solomos Stamps, Ο θάνατος του Διονυσίου Σολωμού, Text of Greek National Anthem (Hymn to freedom 158 verses (written all in May 1823) ! The longest anthem according to The Guiness Book of World Records,
Σε γνωρίζω από την κόψη του σπαθιού την τρομερή,
Απ’ τα κόκαλα βγαλμένη των Ελλήνων τα ιερά,
I recognize you by the dredged edge of your sword,
You were created from the sacred bones of Greeks,
First Athenian School (Α' Αθηναϊκή Σχολή)
Andreas Laskaratos (Ανδρέας Λασκαράτος) (1811 Lixouri/ Kefalonia – 1901 ) satirical author Μυστήρια της Κεφαλονιάς provoked often the church (he was excommunicated) and the society with his critical work.
Dimitrios Vernardakis (Δημήτριος Βερναρδάκης)(b. 1833), author, professor of history
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire