Thursday, March 25, 2010

Global Greece: 25th March 1821 - Zito i Ellas! 25η Μαρτίου 1821 - Ζήτω η Ελλάδα!

Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν κόψι
Τοῦ σπαθιοῦ τὴν τρομερή,
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν ὄψι,
Ποῦ μὲ βιά μετράει τὴν γῆ.
Ἀπ’ τὰ κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
Τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὰ ἱερά,
Καὶ σὰν πρῶτα ἀνδρειωμένη,
Χαῖρε, ὢ χαῖρε, Ἐλευθεριά!

The Oath - O Orkos
Se gnorizo apo tin kopsi
tou spathiou tin tromeri,
se gnorízo apo tin opsi,
pou me via metrai tin gi.
Ap' ta kokkala vgalmeni
ton Ellinon ta iera,
kai san prota andriomeni,
chere, o chere, Eleftheria!  

To Kryfo Sholio - The Secret School
  We knew thee of old,
O, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword.
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again,
Hail, Liberty! Hail! 
(Translation Rudyard Kipling - 1918) 
 Theodoros Kolokotronis  

The Hymn to Liberty (Ýmnos is tīn Eleftherian) was written by Dionýsios Solomós in 1823 and set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros. At 158 verses it is in fact the longest hymn in the world.   

On the 4th August 1865, the first two verses officially became the national anthem of Greece and in 1966 also that of the Republic of Cyprus. Corfiot operatic composer Nikolaos Mantzaros composed two choral versions, a long one for the whole poem and a short one for the first two stanzas; the latter is the one adopted as the National Anthem of Greece.   The Greek War of Independence, the Greek Revolution, was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between 1821 and 1829, with later assistance from several European powers, against the Ottoman Empire.  

Following the capture of Constantinople in 1453 and the fall of the Byzantine Empire most of Greece came under Ottoman rule. During this time, there were many unsuccessful revolts by the occupied Greeks attempting to gain their independence.
In 1814, three Greeks, Nikolaos Skoufas from Arta, Emmanouil Xanthos from Patmos and Athanasios Tsakalof from Epirus met one another in 1814 in Odessa and decided the constitution of a secret organization to unite of all the Greeks in an armed organisation, in order to eventually throw off the Ottoman rule.

At the beginning, during the 1814–1816 period, there were about twenty members.

In 1817, the Society expanded mainly bringing in the Greeks of Russia and of Moldovlachia (the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia), which had a particularly strong Greek element and the Lord of Moldavia, Michael Soutsos himself, became a member.  Massive initiations began only in 1818 and by early 1821, when the Society had expanded in almost all regions of Greece and Greek communities abroad, the membership numbered in thousands. Among its members were tradesmen, clergy, Russian consuls, Ottoman officials from Phanar and Serbs, one of them the revolutionary Karageorge.   

Alexandros Ypsilantis, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Odysseas Androutsos, Dimitris Plapoutas, Manto Mavrogenous, Bouboulina  and the  Bishop Palaion Patron Germanos were among the legendary leaders of the revolution and are revered to this day.    
Because of Greece's classical heritage, there was tremendous sympathy for the Greek cause throughout Europe. Many wealthy Americans and Western European aristocrats, such as the renowned poet Lord Byron and later the physician Samuel Howe, took up arms to join the Greek revolutionaries. Many more also financed the revolution. The Scottish historian and philhellene Thomas Gordon took part in the revolutionary struggle and later wrote the first histories of the Greek revolution in English.  
 In Europe, the Greek revolt aroused widespread sympathy among the public, although at first it was met with lukewarm and negative reception from the Great Powers.
One of the Ottoman massacres inspired Eugène Delacroix's famous painting The Massacre of Chios (below) while other philhellenic works by Delacroix were inspired by many other poems by Byron, the most celebrated philhellene of all. Byron lent not just his name, prestige and wealth to the cause, he died for it ...  

The mountains look on Marathon --
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream'd that Greece might yet be free
For, standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

Lord Byron - Isles of Greece    

Byron's poetry, along with Delacroix' magnificent art, helped arouse European public opinion in favour of the Greek revolutionaries to the point of no return, and led Western powers to intervene directly.  
The anniversary of the Revolution is a major National Holiday, celebrated on the 25th of March on Evangelismos,  the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary,  and is a double celebration for Greece and for Greek Communities everywhere in the world. 

ΖΗΤΩ!!! Zito to Ethnos! Zito i Ellada!

The Massacre of Chios

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