The Greek Anthem is based on the "Hymn
to the Freedom", a large - 158 strophes - poem written by
Dionysios Solomos, a distinguished poet from Zakynthos Island.
The poem was inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821 against
the Ottoman Empire. During 1828 the eminent musician from Kerkyra
Island Nicolaos Mantzaros composed the music for the Solomos'
Although King Othon (Otto) decorated both
them for their work (1845 and 1849), he did not think (or, maybe,
did not wanted) to replace the Royal Anthem of that time with
the Solomos/Mantzaros Hymn. That Anthem was a musical derivative
from the German one, with a text glorifying Othon and its Dynasty.
After the overthrow of the Othon's Dynasty, the new King George
I and the Greek establishment decided to neglect the fashion of
that time - to use the Royal Anthems also as National - and looked
for a clearly Greek work, both with respect to the poetry and
the music. The "Hymn to the Freedom" was readily there
- extremely popular since the Revolution times, often recited
or sung during patriotic meetings and celebrations.
"Eleftheria" - the Freedom - is a female word and also
a popular female name in Greece. The Solomos' Eleftheria is not
as erotic and earthly as the Delacroix Liberty. It rather reminds
an exiled ancient Goddess, which Solomos identifies with Greece
itself. A majestic and demanding Goddess, an object of respect
and admiration rather than of belief and passion. She has to be
imperative, as the poet reviews the whole history of the Greek
Revolution, comments on the negative attitude of the Great Forces,
describes the pains and the offerings of the rebels, criticizes
their dissensions, calls for unanimity and consolidation - always
pointing to Eleftheria - the major human value.
The Greek Anthem has been written by a man of 25 years only.
The Greeks deeply love and respect their emotionally-youthful
The unusual - for an Anthem - 6/4 tempo of the Mantzaros music
points clearly to the most manly traditional dance of the Greeks