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Greek National Anthem

The Greek National Anthem - The Hymn to Freedom

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' Hymn.

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 Anthem.

The unusual - for an Anthem - 6/4 tempo of the Mantzaros music points clearly to the most manly traditional dance of the Greeks - Tsamiko.

Latin Transliteration

Se gnoriso apo tin kopsi,
Tou spathiou tin tromeri,
Se gnoriso apo tin opsi,
Pou me via metra tin yi.
Ap' ta kokala vialmeni,
Ton Ellinon ta iera,
Ke san prota andriomeni,
Haire, o haire, Eleftheria!
(repeat previous two lines three times)

English Translation

The Hellenic national Anthem
A translation in English by Rudyard Kipling in 1918

We knew thee of old,
Oh, 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!

Long time didst thou dwell
Mid the peoples that mourn,
Awaiting some voice
That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day
And no man dared call,
For the shadow of tyranny
Lay over all:

And we saw thee sad-eyed,
The tears on thy cheeks
While thy raiment was dyed
In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons
With impetuous breath
Go forth to the fight
Seeking Freedom or Death.

From the graves of our slain
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

Lyrics: --Dionysios Solomos, 1824
Music: Nikolaos Mantzaros, 1828
Adopted: 1864
Listen to the Anthem

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