The shade of Solomos

By: | Post date: June 11, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

When a small town in Greece has produced a great person, the shadow of that person weighs heavy on that town. Mostly because that town sees to it that it does.

Everything in Sitia is named after the great Renaissance poet Vincenzo Cornaro. Similarly, everything in Zante is named after Greek national poet, Dionysios Solomos.
The Greek national anthem is the first two stanzas of his Hymn to Liberty. But the Hymn to Liberty is not his greatest poem, and now that some Greeks are gradually and tentatively allowing themselves not to be fire breathing patriots, you will even find people saying that it has not aged well.
Solomos was a tinkerer who seldom finished his major efforts (the Hymn is an exception), and his genius is mostly in the fragments. In fact, in a post-modern kind of way, the genius is highlighted by the fragmentariness, and his marginalia in Italian. His striking imagery and lyricism can stand out, without being bogged down in the chattiness of 19th century Romantic poetry.
That said, I have never sat down to read Solomos seriously, the way I have Cavafy. Something else to fix.
In the picture, the statue of the great man in front of the new museum, in the Central Square named after him; and the old museum, formerly Church of the Almighty (Pantocrator), rebuilt after the earthquake into the museum of Solomos, Kalvos, and Other Illustrious Zacynthians.

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