1902 Encyclopedia > Greece > Modern Greek Literature

Greece
(Part 27)




UNIT IV: GREEK LITERATURE (cont.)

SECTION III: MODERN GREEK LITERATURE

Modern Greek Literature

In narrating the history of modern Greek literature Peculia. several difficulties of a peculiar nature present themselves "ature o. which do not emerge in an account of the literature of ™r°e^™ previous periods. The literature is no longer homogeneous, utera,-and we have to answer for ourselves the question whether ture, we are to record the literary efforts made by Greeks or the literary efforts made in Greek. If we adopt the first course, we have to take notice of books written in Italian, French, German, and English, as well as in Greek, for the Greeks like the Jews were, during the three centuries of Turkish domination, a dispersed people. They found refuge far away from their native land ; they spoke the languages of strange peoples, and, when they published books, frequently used these languages. Few, however, forgot their native tongue, and there are consequently very few authors who, however copiously they may have written in the languages of the countries in which they settled, did not leave at least one work written in Greek. Even since the kingdom of Greece has been established, many of her most distinguished men have written some of their best works in French, German, or English, in order to obtain a wider audience than they could expect if they had used modern Greek. We have to divide even those who used Greek into two works classes,—those who used the ancient language and those who in the used the modern, though many have used both forms. The ancient
lan-guage.
ancient language was still the literary language at the time of the capture of Constantinople, and the use of it as a1 vehicle of literature has been handed down in unbroken tradition to the present day. This has been specially the case with ecclesiastical writers. The church service is in ancient Greek. The New Testament is still read in the original language in Greek churches. The learned priests were familiar with the ancient language, and in learned treatises felt bound by a firmly impressed tradition to use only the language which the great fathers of the church had used. Cultivated Greeks in all lands still continued to make verses in imitation of the ancients. A change took place when Greece revived in the 19th century. All the great writers felt that it was pedantic to adopt many of the old forms of inflexion and construction,—that, in one word, the ancient language was not fitted to be the vehicle of modern civilization. They therefore resolved to adapt it, to omit what might fetter the full and free expression of modern thought, but to retain at the same time the body and substance of the language. And hence arose a form of the language which is practically identical with the ancient, but transfused with modern ideas, and fitted for the clear and rapid expression of modern literature. The influence of the ancient language on the modern is manifest in every part of it. And it could not be otherwise. Educa-tion is spread over every corner of free Greece. But in education the Greek child does not learn the grammar of the modern language but of the ancient. He often reads ancient books, and every cultivated Greek becomes as familiar with Xenophon and Plutarch as an Englishman is The with Shakespeare and Milton. Before entering on the modem history of modern Greek literature, it is necessary to trace laI1' the modern language through its various stages. Historians

of the Greek language acknowledge that alongside of the literary language there existed a conversational, which must have varied in different localities. We have the clearest traces of this language in the New Testament, as noticed under GREEK LANGUAGE, p. 135, and some ecclesiastical writers of a later date bear equally unmistakable indi-cations of it. The Pastor of Hernias is specially marked by such features, and the form of it given in the Codex Sinaiticus is as far advanced towards the modern as we find in several works of the 12th century written in the popular language. Very distinct approximations to the modern forms are also to be found in some of the apocry-phal gospels, and in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, but especially in the Apocryphal Acts and Apocalypses pub-lished by Tischendorf. All these writings tend to show that it is impossible to fix on any period when the modern language may be said to be definitely formed. It grew out of the conversational language of earlier times. Till very recently some poems of Theodorus Prodromus (often called Ptochoprodromus) were supposed to be the earliest distinct specimens of the modern language; but recent researches among the libraries have brought to light the fact that between the 10th and 15th centuries various works were produced in the modern form of the language. These researches are not yet concluded, and any results Earliest that are attained must be deemed merely provisional. The modem work which is now regarded as the earliest specimen of the works new £°rm IS Exploits of Basilios Digenis Acritas, written according to Legrand in the second half of the 10th century. The writer of this work unquestionably knew classical Greek well, and most of the lines would be perfectly intelligible to every scholar. But now and then words and construc-tions purely modern intervene. Yet there is a wide and marked difference between the language of this poem and that of the two poems of Prodromus, belonging to the 12th century, published by Corais ; or the three more recently discovered by E. Miller, and published by him in his Melanges, and subsequently by Legrand. In every line of these the scholar comes upon forms which are quite strange.
The difference will be best appreciated if we quote some lines from each of the writers. We take a passage from the Digenis, which contains more than the usual number of modern peculiarities.
Kal yap o /M.Kpbs doe\(pbs tear' ovap elde TavTa' Mera OKoTias dyeipeTai, \eyei TOLS a.5e\(po7s TOV "Opa/xa eiSop, &5eAc/><n, ev Tavry rf} eoirepa' 'Iepa/ces p.oi efpavvoav eirl Aevicijs TTJS irerpas, Kal aerbs xPv0~°'7rTeP0s -xepio-Tepav otciiKcov ''hoirp-nv KaQd-Kep x'Lova> lc' eoefi-n 's TO KOV$OVK\LV. 'Ey t£ KOL/xaraL 6 ya/xfipbs p.eT<x TT}S a5eA0?)s [las.
Here the accent of O-KOTIO., TOV for avrov, aenrpos signify-ing white, 's for eis, KuvfiovKXiv from cubiculum, and /ias for 77JUW, are the novel peculiarities, and none of them need puzzle the scholar. As a contrast we take a few lines from one of the poems of Prodromus published by Miller.
"npfirjoa TaxaTe tcayk Tb va yevoi T^ayydp-ns, M^j va x°PT"(T£0 T0 ^etiixlv rb Xeyovv a/pparfa^iv, 'AAAa rb fj.eo-OKa6a.pov rb Xeyovoi TTJS fj.eo-rjs, T' e-jri6vfj.ovv ypaixjxaTLKol leal Ka\oo-Ti-£OTr\6KOt. Kal Te&s yvpexioiv -nvp-nica teal T&prapov ond-jrov, K eSaJKa TO K rjyopacra oovy\lv dirb T^ayydpvv.
The lines are thus translated by Miller :—" Et moi aussi, j'ai essay6 de la cordonnerie, non pas pour me rassasier de pain de gruau, mais de ce pain bis, dit de moyenne qualite, qui fait envie aux grammairiens et aux versificateurs de talent. Apres maintes recherches, j'ai trouve' une menue monnaie, et je 1'ai donnee pour prix d'une alene de cordon-nier." After the fall of Constantinople some of the learned Greeks took an interest in the popular form of the language, and one of them, Sophianos, composed a grammar in the first half of the 16th century, which Legrand has published,

along with a translation by the same scholar of Plutarch's, treatise On the Education of the Young, into modern Greek. This grammar proves that the popular form of Greek was by that time fully developed, and it might still be taken as a good exposition of the ordinary spoken language of illiter-ate Greeks. Of course there were great varieties in this popular form. Almost every small district and every island had inflexions, constructions, and words peculiar to them-selves. Kavasilas wrote to Martin Crusius in the end of the 16th century that there were upwards of seventy modern dialects, of which that of the Athenians was the worst. But however many dialects there may have been, there is no reason to suppose that the difference was such as to prevent a Greek residing in one part of Greece from understanding a Greek residing in any other part. Since that time changes have taken place in the popular forms. ! Turkish words were introduced to a larger extent, but the language has remained substantially the same. There aie ! indeed still a considerable variety of forms in the different i districts, and one of the most amusing of modern Greek comedies, 'H j3af3v\o>via rj rj Kara roirovs Siaepopa Tfjs 'EAAIJVI/OJS yA(6o-o-?js, by D. K. Byzantios, is based upon the different dialects spoken by the Greek of Asia Minor and the Peloponnesian, the Chian, Cretan, and Cypriote, the Albanian and Heptanesian. This language is no longer the language of cultivated Greek society, of literature, or of Neo-science. When Greece was stirred with new life, no Hellenic, question agitated the patriotic Greeks more intensely than that of the form which the language should take. Some, led by Chrysopoulos, maintained that the popular language was really ancient, that it was a mixture of iEolic and Doric, and that it ought therefore to be retained. Others, with QEconomos as their champion, were for adopting the classical language with a few slight modifications which could claim the sanction of some of the best Byzantine writers. A third party, headed by Corais, were for steering a middle course, and they have ultimately triumphed. Colonel Leake has well described the present language. o' This style," he says, " may with tolerable accuracy be defined to consist in Hellenic words, arranged in the syntax of modern Europe, with a grammar partly Hellenic and partly modern. Inversions and transpositions occur with almost the same degree of frequency as in Italian, and the arrangement in general is not much more complex than that of our own language" (Researches, p. 54). We extract a specimen of it from the sixth volume or "Epilogos" of the History of Greece by Paparrhegopoulos.
"OT£ T<£ 1790 rpets TOV edvovs avTi-Kpoow-noi Kadvirefiahov els TT)V fxeydx-nv AlKaTepivav TT]V OXT-OOIV TOV va. tcaTa-jre/Aipr) Tbv eyyovov avTrts YLoivGTavTlvov cos avToicpdropa, ol avbpes OVTOL oev -napeo~TT}0-av irXeov ws 'Fcafj.a'ioi leal aiv\a>s XpicrTtavol dAA.cc us "EAA?7J>es Kal cWci-yovoi Taiv}A67]vaiwv Kal TOIV AaKeSatfj-ovioiv.
In this sentence all the words are ancient. Two of them are contracted, va for iW and Skv for ovSev, and some have had their meanings modified. The remarks of Paparrhego-poulos relate to a subject which demands a brief notice. The Greeks at the time of the capture of Constantinople were proud of being 'PM/XCUOI or Romans, and the term included all the Christians who formed the subjects of the Greek empire. Hence the term Romaic was the name given to the popular language. But during all the period of the Turkish domination the Greeks occasionally spoke of themselves as TpaiKol and "EAAT^CS, and when the period of revival came, they cast off the old name of 'Pcop-atot and "Pin/jLaiKr], and spoke only of "EAAijj/es and 'EXhnvLK-rj. Accordingly the Greek language is now spoken of as the Hellenic tongue. When it is necessary to distinguish the modern from the ancient, the language of cultivated men is called Neo-Hellenic, veoeWrjviK-ri, and the popular form is styled 6.ir\oek\-i)VLKri (see especially






Greeks In narrating the history of this literature, we have at the of the earliest stage to treat separately those who used the classical Renais- ]anrruacre an(j those who used the vulgar. In both cases
s&nce
before we cannot draw a fast line at the date of the fall of Con-the fall stantinople, for, though that event is of great importance in of Con- the history of the Greeks as a people, it does not constitute stanti- a kreak; [n literary history. It is often imagined that cop e' the dispersion of the Greeks in 1453 stood in close con-nexion with the revival of literature in "Western Europe. But the fact is that the Greeks had come into contact with the Westerns long before, and their influence had become decided before the Turks seized the capital of the Greek empire. The crusades had brought Greeks and Latins together. The Latin empire in Constantinople had made the contact still more frequent. Greeks and Latins had entered into keen discussion on the truth of the dogmas in regard to which they differed. Some of the Greeks had become converts to Roman Catholicism, or at least desired the union of the Eastern and Western Churches. In these circumstances they often left their native land to seek pre-ferment in the church in which they could labour with greater sympathy. Many of them also had become connected by marriage or other ties with the Italian nobles who ruled in the ^Egean, and circumstances led them to settle in Italy. Of the Greeks who thus found their way to the West before the taking of Constantinople, the most prominent were Leon or Leontios Pilatos, Georgios Gemistos Plethon, Manuel and John Chrysoloras, Theodoros Gazis, Georgios Trape-zuntios, and Cardinal Bessarion. Hody has given a full account of most of these men in his work Be Groecis illus-tribus Lingua; Grcecce Literarumque Humanionim Instaura-toribus (London, 1742). Pilatos was a native of Thessalo-nica and a pupil of Barlaam, a Calabrian monk who taught Petrarch Greek. Pilatos himself taught Boccaccio his native language, and expounded Homer in Florence. He died in 1364. Gemistos was a native of Lacedsemon. He taught in Constantinople, Athens, and Florence, and had in all places a large number of pupils who eagerly imbibed his Platonic teachings. His works were numerous, but most of them still lie hid in the great libraries of Europe unpub-lished. Manuel Chrysoloras was one of the pupils of Gemistos, and is famous as the translator of Homer and Plato. Both he and his brother John had many illustrious men as their pupils in Greek. Manuel taught in Milan, Venice, Padua, and Rome. He has the merit of composing the first Greek grammar that appeared in the West (iptuTrjfjLara), published for the first time in Venice (1484). He made his first visit to Italy in 1393 in the capacity of ambassador from the Greek emperor to seek aid against the Turks, and he returned to Italy on the accomplishment of his mission that he might spread the knowledge of Greek literature. He was sent as deputy to the council of Con-stance, and he died in Italy in 1415. Theodoro3 Gazis, a native of Thessalonica, fled from his native place in 1430, and became a teacher of Greek in Ferrara, Rome, and Florence. He prepared a Greek grammar in four books (first published in Venice 1495), which continued for a long-time to be a text-book in Greece and other countries. He translated many of the classical writers, and wrote on the ancient history of the Turks and on theological subjects. He died in 1478 in Calabria, where he had settled in his old age. Georgios Trapezuntios was born in Crete in 1396. He received the appellation of Trapezuntios because his family had come from Trebizond. A Venetian noble took him to Venice to teach Greek in 1428. He removed to Rome in 1440, where he remained till 1450, at first highly honoured, but subsequently, through the bitterness of his temper, falling into disgrace. After that he led a wandering and miserable life, and died in 1486. He translated many of the Greek writers into Latin, and wrote a treatise in which he compared Plato with Aristotle. Cardinal Bessarion was a native of Trebizond. He received his education in Constantinople. In 1425 he went to the Peloponnesus to hear Gemistos expound the philosophy of Plato. In 1439 he removed to Italy, after he had been made archbishop of Nicasa, because the Greeks bitterly resented his attachment to the party which saw no difficulty in a union between the Western and Eastern Churches. He rose to great honour in the West, obtaining the cardinal's hat. He died in Ravenna in 1472. He was passionately attached to the classical literature of his country, and took a profound interest in the education of his fellow-countrymen. He aided in the most liberal manner all the men of ability who came from Greece. He made a large collection of manuscripts. He translated portions of Xenophon, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and other Greek writers, and he wrote on the theological questions of the day.
The Greeks who were most prominent in spreading a The knowledge of Greek in Europe after the fall of Constanti- Greeks nople are Joannes Argyropoulos, Demetrios Chalcocondyles, £ Constantine and John Lascaris, and Marcus Musuros. con-Argyropoulos was a native of Constantinople, and there stanti-taught Constantine Lascaris. In the West he taught at nople. various times in Padua (1434), Florence (1456), and Rome (1471), and had amongst his scholars Angelus Politianus and Reuchlin. He translated many of the works of Aristotle. Chalcocondyles was a native of Athens and became teacher of Greek in Florence in 1471; after some time he removed to Milan, where he died in 1511. He edited very many of the Greek authors. Constantine Lascaris, descended from a noble Bithynian family, taught Greek in various Italian cities, and finally settled in Sicily, where he died about 1500. He wrote a large number of works, most of them still unpublished. His best known work is his Grammar. He also transcribed manuscripts, and made a large collection of them. His name is well known to modern readers through the romance of Villemain (Lascaris ou les Grecs du XVme siecle). John was probably the younger brother of Constantine. He was principally employed in collecting manuscripts for the great men of the day, wrote several works, and edited several Greek books for the first time. He died at Rome in 1535.
Almost all these men were rather employed about litera-ture than engaged in producing it. They taught Greek; several of them wrote Greek grammars ; they transcribed and edited Greek classical writers; and they collected manuscripts. Bessarion laid the foundation of the library of St Mark in Venice. The collections of Constantine Lascaris formed the nucleus of the Escorial library; John Lascaris and his pupil Budseus gathered the first stores for the national library in Paris; and Pope Nicholas V. employed the services of Bessarion, Gazis, and C. Lascaris in establishing the Vatican library. But almost none of these men accomplished much in literature strictly so-called. The question which most deeply interested them was the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Somehow or other the championship of Plato was undertaken by those Greeks who eagerly desired the union of the Greek and Latin churches, and the philosophy of Aristotle was upheld by the opposite party. Gennadios, whom Mahomet II. appointed as patriarch of Constantinople after the capture of the city, showed himself a keen partisan of the Sta-girite, and hurled his thunderbolts against the Platonists. Gemistos Plethon was the chief defender of the Platonic philosophy, and received unmeasured abuse from George of Trebizond for his heterodox opinions. The works on these subjects were numerous, but beyond these theological questions (for they were theological rather than philosophi-cal) there is not much. Scholarship continued to survive in Greece or among the Greeks for a long time after the

Turks began to rule in Greece, and a considerable list might be adduced, including the names of Apostolios, whose collection of Greek Proverbs is well known to scholars, and his son Arsenius, metropolitan of Monemvasia. Among the few who still used the Greek language for literary purposes Leo Allatius is prominent. His Greek verses show skill and cleverness. Mention also should be made of Constantine Ehodocanakis, honorary physician to Charles II. of England. He wrote verses on the return of Charles to England not without merit (see a very curious life of C. Rhodocanakis published in Athens, 1872). Early We now return to the literature in the modern language, works in and here again we have to go back several centuries before Greek'1 ^e ^ °^ Constantinople. We have already seen that the Romantic earliest production is the Exploits of Digenis Acritas, so poems, called because he was the son of a Turk and a Greek, and because he spent a large portion of his time in watching the frontiers. There is reason to believe that his adven-tures formed the subject of poems in many parts of Greece. Some have called him a Cyprian Hercules, and believe him a kind of mythological character, while others regard him as a genuinely historical personage. The poem published by Legrand describing his adventures is imperfect. Many of the incidents are of a purely romantic nature. From the 12th to the 16th century many poems were composed in the popular language. Our knowledge of these works is still incomplete. Several of them lie hidden in the great libraries of Europe ; but much is now doing to increase our knowledge. Many have been already published in the collections of Mavrophrydis, Sathas (aveVSoTa), Wagner (Carrnina Medii JEvi), and especially Legrand. They all breathe the spirit of chivalry, and are full of romantic adventures and tales of love. M. Gidel has the special merit of drawing attention to these poems in his Etudes sur la Littérature Grecque Moderne (Paris, 1866), and he has gone further into the subject in his Nouvelles Etudes sur la Littérature Grecque Moderne (Paris, 1878). He has proved that the romances which delighted the knights of France and Italy found their way probably through the Genoese and Venetians and some French families into Greece, especially into the islands. The Greek minstrels took them and adapted them for their Greek audiences. He has given an analysis of the various poems and com-pared them with the Western forms. The most important in modern Greek are " The Old Knight " (12th century), a tale of the Round Table ; " The Story of Belthander and Chrysautza" (probably 12th century); "The Loves of Lybistros and Rhodamne " (probably 12th century) ; " The War of Troy," taken from the Guerre de Troie of Benoit de Sainte-More, who wrote in the second half of the 12th cen-tury (the Greek translation was made some time before the fall of Constantinople); "Flore and Blanchefleur "; and the " History of Imberios and Margarona." There are various other poems belonging to this period of a different character, such as the " Oracles " of Leo the Wise, imita-tions of Reinelce Fuchs, and " Physiologus." The history of Alexander the Great was a favourite theme, and there is a Greek version of Apollonius of Tyre. We do not know the authors of any of these poems. But about the time of the fall of Constantinople we meet with the names of some versifiers. Papaspondylos Zoticos described the battle of Varna (1444) in verse, and from the poem we gather that he was present at it. We have three poems written by Georgilas Limenitis (1450-1500), one "On the Deeds of the great Commander of the Romans, Belisarius ; " another " On the Plague in Rhodes," which took place in 1498 ; and a third, " A Complaint on the Fall of Constantinople." Some have been inclined to think that this last cannot be the work of Georgilas. From an examination of the poems of Georgilas and some other phenomena, Corais, in the pro-legomena to the second volume of the 'AraKra, came to the conclusion that rhyme was unknown to Greek poems before the fall of Constantinople, and had become established as a feature of them when Georgilas wrote on the Rhodian plague. Gidel has accepted this as giving a clue to tho dates of Greek poems. A third versifier was Jacobos Trivolis of Corfu, who lived in the beginning of the 16th century. He wrote the history of Tagiapiera, a Venetian noble, and the history of the king of Scotland and the queen of England, a tale taken from Boccaccio. Almost none of these poems have poetical merit; but they are interesting as specimens of the popular language, and curious as throw ing light on the manners and thoughts of the Greeks of those days.
From the earliest times the Greeks were in the habit of Historical putting into verse any remarkable occurrence that stirred poems their feelings. Crusius tells us that in his time Greeks, especially on the islands, contended with each other in repeating or extemporizing verses, and the custom has re-mained down to the present day. Accordingly the Greek popular poetry is'rich in historical subjects: we have already noticed the poems on the battle of Varna and on the taking of Constantinople. There is also a chronicle of the con-quest of the Morea (given by Ellissen in his Analecten). There are several lamentations over the fall of Constanti-nople. And the klephtic ballads relate real adventures. Almost every leader in the war of independence had his song in his honour. Some have thought that the largest portion of the ballad poetry of the Greeks is recent; but Legrand's collection lately published shows that some of them belong to very early times, being edited from a manu-script of the 16th century. There are two or three famous historical poems connected with the islands. Especially noteworthy is one on the exploits of Mercurios Boua by Coronseos.
There are three poems belonging to the 16th and 17th Early centuries which have obtained wide popularity among the popular Greeks. The first is the Erotocritos, the epic poem of Poems-modern Greece, of about 11,400 lines. Of its author Vincenzo Cornaro, a Cretan, we know almost nothing; but it is probable that he belonged to a noble Venetian family and lived in the middle or towards the end of the 16th cen-tury. The tale is one of two lovers who, after many trials of their fidelity to each other, are at last united and blessed. There is genuine poetry in the work. Many of the scenes are charming, and, as M. Gidel remarks, there is not a single situation which shocks propriety nor a single senti-ment which is not modest and of rare purity. The second poem is a drama called Erophile, and its theme is the love of Panaretos and Erophile. The author of it was Georgios Chortakis, who was brought up in Rhethymnos, a Cretan town, and lived towards the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century. It was thought to be nearly the only drama of this period; but Sathas has brought to light the fact that there was a considerable number of them, and he has already published three, Zeno, Stathes, and Gyparis, in addition to the Erophile. Some of them are translations, and all of them are closely connected with Italian dramas of the same period. The Erophile has interludes to each act, dealing with an entirely different theme, and most probably written by a different author. The third poem, The Shepherdess, is a charming idyll written by Nicolaos Demetrios, a native of Apocorone in Crete, who lived in the beginning of the 17th century.





There are few prose productions of any importance Early belonging to the early period of modern Greek literature. Prose Crusius mentions works written by Malaxos, Zigomalas, and wor s' Canavoutzis. Sathas has more recently brought to light a number of chroniclers, such as those in the second volume of his BibliotJieca Grceca Medii JEvi, that relate the history

of Cyprus, Leontios Machaira, in the beginning of the 15th century, and Georgios Boustronios, whose narrative extends from 1456 to 1501. His sixth volume contains curious documents (the assizes of Cyprus, Cretan wills, <fcc), which afford insight into the forms of modern Greek prevalent among the Cypriotes and Cretans, though a considerable number of them are written in classical Greek. Miklosisch and Miiller have made a similar collection of documents, Acta et Diplomata Grceca MediiJEvi. Even in the 18th century we find the classical language used much more frequently than the modern. Meletios, the man whose name stands most prominent in this period, wrote his Ecclesiastical History from the time of Christ to the year 1700 in ancient Greek, and his work had to be translated into modern Greek to give it currency among the masses. Another ecclesiastical history by Sergios Makraios, given in the collection of Sathas (from 1750 to 1800), is written in the same language, and we find some writers like Caisarios Daponte and Meletios using sometimes the ancient and sometimes the modern form. We have almost no attempts at elegant literature in the modern Greek prose of this period. But it is possible that manuscripts containing such works may be hid among private family documents. One has recently been edited by Innocente Damaria (Turin, 1872), The Loves of Erogelos and Erasmia, by Holophilos, which was most probably written between the 12th and 15th centuries, but which might have been written by any one of the Scriptores Erotici, as the language discloses modern forms only in one or two sentences. Litera- In the 18th century a revival of enthusiasm for educa-ture of tion and literature took place among the Greeks. Schools the 18th were established in every important Greek city, school books and translations from Continental languages poured forth from the presses of Venice, Trieste, Vienna, and other places where the Greeks had influence. The leaders in this move-ment were Eugenios Bulgaris, Nikephoros Theotokis, and Adamantios Corais. The first two, both natives of Corfu, were devout adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church, warm partisans of Russia, and both became archbishops in the Russo-Greek Church. They were true but narrow patriots. They wrote much in defence of Greek orthodoxy as against Latin heresy. Bulgaris also wrote on philosophy and Theotokis on physics, and the latter prepared or trans-lated educational treatises on physics, mathematics, and geography. Far before these stands Adamantios Corais, who was above everything a Greek of widest aim and of the greatest culture. He was born in Smyrna in April 1748. He studied nearly every branch of learning, medicine, theology, and literature, in the universities of Italy and France, and then devoted his life to the resuscita-tion of his country from ignorance and servitude. He edited a very great number of the classical writers, with admirable critical notes, and generally with prolegomena, which tried to awaken the interest of his countrymen in their past glories, and strove to rouse them to emulate their ancestors. He also devoted his attention to the modern language, especially in his "AraKTa, discussed the writings which had appeared in it, prepared a provisional dictionary of it, and determined the mode in which the popular dialect might become the basis of a literary language. Modem From the time of Corais we may date a new era in the era. history of the literature. Henceforth the works become exceedingly numerous, and efforts are made in every direc-tion of literary activity. Perhaps no nation now produces so much literature in proportion to its numbers. The Greeks seem restless in their desire to give expression to their thoughts. They have indeed great difficulties to con-tend with in the way of publishing. The number of readers is necessarily small, owing to the smallness of the nation. To take an instance, one of their most important periodicals, the "AO-ijvcaov, containing articles on archaeology and literary history, which should be known to all scholars, had not more than 150 subscribers in 1876, as we ara informed in the preface ; 600 copies were published, of which 100 were sent by the university of Athens to the various libraries in Europe and America, 150 were distri-buted free, and only 150 were subscribed and paid for. The number of subscribers had not increased in August 1879. In these circumstances many rich Greeks have come nobly forward and published books at their own expense ; and much credit is due to the Zosimades, the Ralli, and the other Greeks who have served their country in this way. Very frequently scholars produce their best works for periodicals or even newspapers ; and some most valuable treatises have been published as supplements to Greek periodicals. Trans-lations of many of the best French novels have also been given away with these periodicals, and occasionally some of our most esteemed English writers have been thus made known to the Greeks ; for instance, a translation of the Bride of Lammermoor was published by the editors of the Pandora. These circumstances, while impeding the pro-duction of Greek books, also tend to prevent foreigners from knowing exactly what the Greeks have _ done. Another circumstance that marks this period deserves notice. Almost every literary man of eminence makes efforts in every literary direction. Theologians, scholars, physicians, are all found in the list of poets. The same persons write school-books, histories, dramas, lyrics, and novels. It would be impossible to give even a notion of this endless activity. All that can be done is to point out a few of the principal writers.
In the early part of this period two poets claim our notice, Poetry. Rhegas of Velestino in Thessaly, and Christopoulos. Rhegas was the poet of liberty, and his great war song, Aevre: -n-aîSes TW 'EWyvuiv, is well known to English readers through Byron's translation. He wrote many songs or hymns calculated to rouse his fellow-countrymen, but acting rashly he was seized and shot at Belgrade in 1798 at the age of forty-four. Christopoulos was born in Macedonia in 1770, and died in 1847. He devoted himself to songs of love and wine, and many of his anacreontics are melodious, graceful, and charming. Somewhat later than Christopoulos comes Jacobos Rizos Neroulos, who was born in Constanti-nople in 1778, and died in 1850. Neroulos wrote lyrics, tragedies, and comedies with considerable success, but his best known book is a work published at Geneva in French in 1826—Cours de la littérature Grecque moderne—and admirably translated into modem Greek by Miss Olympia Abbot of Thessalonica. It is an interesting account of modern Greek literature up to the time at which the lectures were delivered, and is written in a bright and forcible style. It is perhaps rather too favourable to the phanariots, to whom Neroulos himself belonged, but it is an honest de-fence ; and it has to be remembered, on the other hand, that he lashed the vices of the phanariots with great boldness in his comedies. From these writers we pass to the era of the independence of Greece. During this last period three Sontsos. writers have appeared who have established for themselves a permanent place in the history of mankind as men of true genius, Panagiotis Sontsos, Alexander Sontsos, and Alexander Rizos Rangabé. Panagiotis and Alexander Sontsos were brothers, and belonged to the phanariots. They were born in Constantinople in the first quarter of this century, and were educated first in Chios and then in the universities of Italy and France. They threw all their energies into the war for independence, and sang of its glories. But they conceived a determined dislike to Capodistrias. They were stillmore bitter against Otho, and, adopting extreme opinions and always discontented, they fell out of sympathy with their fellow-countrymen. Panagiotis received high posts of

honour at the end of the war of independence, and Alexander was offered great literary distinctions; but the unmitigated abuse and contempt which they both, but especially Alexander, heaped on all men in authority rendered absence from their country a necessity. Alexander died in Smyrna in a hospital in 1863, and Panagiotis died at Athens in utter obscurity in 1868. Both tried various forms of poetry, but as nearly all critics have remarked, Panagiotis was always lyrical and Alexander continually returned to satire, whatever his subject might be. Both had a rich command of musical language, were highly ideal in their conceptions, were strongly patriotic, and possessed an ardent love of liberty. Of the two the muse of Panagiotis strove more after the sublime, but was less steady, less uniformly excel-lent than that of Alexander. Both were deficient in giving unity to their poems, or in forming a sustained and original plot. The plays of Panagiotis remind one of such works as Bailey's Festus, where there is a profusion of poetical conceptions but no coherent whole. Many passages in the works of both brothers bear a strong resemblance to lines which are to be found in the writings of poets whom they admired, especially Lamartine, Béranger, and Byron. The spirit of Byron pervades both, The principal works of Panagiotis are 'OSora-opos (The Traveller), a drama in five acts, for which Byron's Manfred stood as model ; Meo-o-tas rj ra trâôr] 'Irjcrov X.purrov (The Messiah), also a drama in five acts ; and three other plays Vlachavas, Garaiscakis, and The Unknown, in all of which there is an utter want of character and plot, and a rich store of poetry ; a novel, Leandros, and many lyrics, especially 'H Kiôdpa, first pub-lished in 1835. He tried in his later days to strike out a new style in modern Greek, but his effort was unsuccessful. Alexander's principal works are—Tiav6pap.a ri}s 'EAActSos, a collection of poems for the most part bitterly satirical, recently republished by Legrand at the end of his grammar ; 'O Tle.pnrXavmp.evo's (The Wanderer), a poem which was sug-gested by and contains many direct imitations of Byron's Ghilde Harold ; and several comedies, The Prodigal, The Premier, The Untamed Poet, and The Constitutional School, and numerous odes and lyrical pieces. He also wrote one comico-tragic novel, 'E^opto-roç TOS 1831, or The Banished One of 1831.
gabé. The other great poet that regenerated Greece has pro-duced is Alexander Bizos Rangabé. He was born in Con-stantinople early in the century, and belonged like the Sontzos to a phanariot family. He thus describes his own career :—" A pupil of Vardalachos and Gennadios, he com-pleted his studies at the military school and at the univer-sity of Munich. In his own country he was at first an artillery officer, then a councillor in the ministry of public instruction and also in that of the interior, professor of archaeology in the university (of Athens), minister for foreign affairs, deputy, and later on representative of his country in different foreign countries." His works are of wide range. He has written a grammar of modern Greek, con-tributed to a dictionary and a cyclopaedia, composed a history of ancient Greece, and edited many school-books. He has written an able work on ancient art, and an exceed-ingly valuable and scholarly work on inscriptions, Antiquités Helléniques. He has contributed much to the Pandora, the Archaeological Journal, and the Eranistes. He has narrated the results of his travels, and discussed mathemati-cal problems. He has also composed several novels. And he has written a history of the literature of modern Greece, —bright, genial, sparkling, and full of true and sometimes trenchant criticism. It is on his poems, however, that his claims to remembrance will specially rest. In these he shows fine poetic feeling, a rare command of exquisite and harmonious language, and a singular beauty and purity of thought and sentiment. His poetical works consist of a
large collection of hymns, odes, and songs; long narrative poems ; ballads ; four tragedies and three comedies ; trans-lations of the Antigone of Sophocles, and of three plays of Aristophanes.
Besides these three poets there is a great number of Other writers who have composed poetry of considerable merit, poets, but we can only mention the names of a few,—Valaoritis, Zalacostas, Salomos, Vlachos, Cokkinakis, Carasoutsas, Tantalides, Zampelios, Orphanides, Cleon and E. Rangabe, Euphrosyne Samartsidis, and Antoniadis. Elias Tantalides, who for a long time was blind and who died a few years ago, published an interesting collection of songs, including nursery rhymes and school songs, with music (Athens, 1876). The production of poetry was much stimulated by an annual poetical contest. A sum of money was set aside for prizes, poems were sent in, judges were named, and when all was ready, a speech was delivered in the university by the convener of the judges, assigning their reasons for their decision and giving criticisms of the poems. The envelope of the successful candidate was then .opened, and he received the laurel wreath with a thousand drachms. From what is stated in the Athenaion of Athens for May, June, July, and August 1878, where the exposition of the contest of 1877 is given, it would seem that probably that of 1877 was to be the last. Amongst the poets of recent days special mention should be made of Chrestos A. Parmenides, who while in Manchester did much to make the works of his fellow-countrymen known to Englishmen, and the best works in recent English literature to Greece. Among other things he translated Boscoe's Life of Lorenzo de' Medici, Byron's Sardanapalus, Villemain's Lascaris, and poems of Goldsmith, Bryant, Burns. Goethe, and Victor Hugo. He also wrote original poems of great merit, and a novel called Euyewa. Two writers have distinguished themselves by poetic compositions m ancient Greek, Leukias and Philippos-Joannes.
The drama is a form of poetry to which the Greeks feel Drama, peculiarly prone. Rangabe' gives a list of ninety writers of dramas in his History of Modem Greek Literature, and the list he says is incomplete, Out of these writers we may select for notice Demetrios N. Bernardakis, whose Mapla AoiaTrarprj, " Maria, the daughter of Doxapater," with its prolegomena, has deservedly attracted much atten-tion and been analysed by Gidel.
In prose there is no department of literature which is not History, well represented. In history the Greeks are particularly-strong. Perrhaevos has described with great vigour the ex-ploits of Suli. Tricoupis's History of the Revolution is a masterly work. Philemon has given the Russian side of the revolutionary movements with great earnestness; and nearly every man who took a part in the movements has handed down his recollections, or, as in the case of Coloco-tronis, who was illiterate, has dictated them to some one who could put them into shape. The Greeks have been particularly active in investigating the history of the Byzantine empire, of the Venetian domination, and of special localities. The history of Paparrhegopoulos is especially valuable in regard to the later periods, and its style is singularly clear and flowing. Along with him should be mentioned Sakellion, Sakellarios, Sathas, Byzan-tios, Monstoxydes, Dragonmis, Triantaphyllis, and Paspatis. In theology GSconomos stands forth as the first of preachers, Theology, occupying the place which Miniatis held as a popular orator in the 17th century. Contogonis is well known by his History of Patristic Literature down to the Fourth Century, and Bryennios by his edition of Clemens Romanus. Braila Philo-stands first among Greek philosophers for profoundness and sophy. originality. Along with him may be mentioned Vamvas and Renieri. Greeks have also distinguished themselves in medicine, but very frequently they write their scientific

books in French. They have also produced many treatises Law &c. on law, political economy, and on mathematics and the physical sciences, * Little has been accomplished in the way of original novel-writing. We have seen that Panagiotis Fiction, and Alexander Sontsos and Kangabé wrote novels, and others have done so likewise, but with moderate success. One recent work, H IIá7rio-o-a 'Iojcura, by Eoidos, has gained considerable popularity, and is written in an attractive and vigorous style. Another novelist, Stephanos Xenos, is known to English readers by his work on the Ionian Islands called East and West. He is the author of a novel called the Devil in Turkey, and he wrote in Greek an interesting account of the Exhibition in London in 1851. Several ladies have distinguished themselves in the field of Greek Female literature. Especially deserving of mention is Dora authors. d'Istria, whose work on the Women of the West, contributed to the Pandora and forming a pendant to her Women of the East, written in French, shows remarkable powers of research, exposition, and criticism. The Greeks, as might have been expected, have produced good editions of the classical writers. They have also done much to elucidate Arenco- the archaeology of their country, though most of their works logy- on this subject are written in foreign languages. Among these works especially deserving mention are Ancient Athens of Pittakis, in French; the Gravestones of the Ancient Greeks, by Pervanoglous, in German; the Hellenic Antiquities, by Rangabé, in French; the Sepulchral Inscrip-tions of Attica, by Coumanoudis, in modern Greek; and Dodona and its Ruins, by Carapanos, in French. The works of Lambros on numismatics are of great value. The Greeks have also contributed much to a knowledge of the Philo- ancient Greek language. Asopios has gained a great name logy. in this direction, and the contributions of Constantinos Contos are very valuable. They have also done much to collect materials for a knowledge of existing dialects. Investigations have been made into the dialects of the Tzaconiansby (Ecónomos andNeo-Locrian by Chalkiopoulos,
and lists of peculiar words and forms to be found in Cythera, Chios, Crete, Cyprus, Locris, and other places, have appeared in Pandora and other journals. Castorchis has written much and well on Latin literature. The Greeks have a very large number of newspapers and journals, if we consider the number of the population ; but, as might be expected, their existence is precarious, and many are short lived. Translations abound in modern Greek, especi- Transia.-ally from the French, but the Greeks have also translated tious-classical English and German works, and novels of all kinds. The translations include those of Miiller and Donaldson's History of Greek Literature by Valettas, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth by Bikelas.


Read the rest of this article:
Greece - Table of Contents





Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries