Literature, drama and theater
The first centuries after the fall of Byzantium
The linguistic conditions that prevailed from the time of the birth of Christ cause Greek literature from the late Middle Ages to appear in varying language costumes, archaic, popular or mixed. Western influences began to manifest themselves in form and content, especially in the areas that, after the Fourth Crusade in the beginning of the 13th century, remained under Frankish rule, for example. Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes and the Ionian Islands. After the Turks’ conquest of the Byzantine Empire, many Greek scholars took refuge in Western Europe and met here the Renaissance’s newly awakened interest in ancient Greek culture.
- Countryaah: Population and demographics of Greece, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.
A popular expression of the Greeks’ reactions to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 is the lamentations that came about during the period thereafter. Here is everything from bitter self-accusations to hopes of a once-resurrected Greek Byzantium. In Cyprus, the influence of Italy during the 1400’s and 1500’s was very noticeable: the love lyric, written on local dialect, introduced verse forms such as eight rime and sonet.
Within the Turkish empire, Kyrillos Loukaris, born in 1572 in Crete, was educated in Padua, patriarch of Constantinople in 1620. He represented a Christian humanism, a popular education and enlightenment that was in stark contrast to the Roman Church’s contemporary persecution of the “heretic” of the heretical. Loukaris was arrested by the Turks and executed in 1638.
16th century Crete
Crete, which stood under Venetian supremacy in 1204–1669, is the part of the non-Turkish areas where inspiration from Europe brought with it a still admirable literary flourish in Greece. The intellectual and artistically fruitful encounter between the Byzantine-Greek identity of the Cretans and the Southern European poetry produced works of their own luminosity and clearly Greek character. The foundation was the genuinely popular Cretan language. Among the first author personalities is Stefanos Sachlikis, whose verse portrayals of urban entertainment are sometimes compared to François Villon’s songs.
The real highlight of the 1600’s was Vitsentzo’s Kornaro’s “Erotokritos” (“The Tried in Love”), an epic verse drama of over 10,000 lines about a couple of lovers who finally unite after difficult trials. The merits in this paragraph lie among other things. in the rich language, with the lively dialogues. It is still performed in the original as a theatrical performance in Greece, and some parties have found their way into the new Greek folk songs. Kornaros also wrote “Abraham’s Victim” (probably 1635), a dramatization of the well-known Old Testament episode.
The 19th and 20th centuries
During the 18th century, the Greeks realized that the Turks were not militarily invincible. At the same time, the old conflict between the Byzantine-Christian tradition and the heritage of pagan antiquity, which now together became the basis for a new Greek identity, which also took impetus from the French Enlightenment, was alleviated. Greekism was thus ideologically ready for the liberation from the Turkish yoke. Adamantios Koraïs, a typical representative of the new ideals, sought through new editions and comments on the ancient authors to raise the national level of education and proposed a neo-Greek purified from foreign elements, enriched with lexical and grammatical elements of the ancient language (compare Greek).
Greek literature was characterized by a double tradition during the 19th century. There, on the one hand, were the writers who linked to Koraï’s language ideas and those who had their roots in the higher official cadets of the Ottoman Empire, the so-called fanatics, who now held important posts also in the Greek nation state. On the other hand, in the areas that were not included in the Kingdom of Greece, a folk-linguistic tradition lived on from the folk songs and the Cretan renaissance literature, a tradition that was established mainly in the Ionian Islands.
Dionysios Solomos, the portal figure in modern Greek poetry, read folk songs and contemporary literature on dimotiki (compare Greek) and wrote poems in both Italian and Greek. Solomos gradually became interested in the struggle for the vernacular, which he saw as part of the Greek people’s struggle for independence. He praises this in his “Hymn to Freedom” (1825), whose first two sentences are the text of the Greek national anthem.
The romance gained great prominence among the poets who during the first decades dominated the literature of the new Greek state, the so-called Athenian school. The language was most often archaic or purist in Koraï’s aftermath, and sometimes the lyrics were embossed, e.g. by Dimitrios Paparrigopoulos, of an attraction to the morbid with illness and death as recurring motives. Poetry on a significantly more artistically high level was written, among other things. of the brothers Alexandros and Panajotis Soutsos and Achilleas Paraschos.
“The Winemaking Johanna” (1866), a historical novel by Emmanouil Roidis, is a biting satire on contemporary intellectual anguish and literary exaggerations. Internationally renowned became Dimitrios Vikela’s “Loukis Laras” (1879), which tells of the fate of a Chiotic merchant in the context of the War of Independence and subsequent developments in Greece. At Alexandros Papadiamantis, the legacy of Byzantine and specifically Greek Orthodox piety lived strongly and united in his short stories, e.g. “The Murderer” (1903), with naturalistic features in a way that conjures up the thoughts of contemporary Russian writers.
In the 1870’s and 1880’s, dimotics began to gain ground as a literary language, first in poetry but gradually also in prose. The demotic tradition of the Ionian Islands was introduced into the lyric by Aristotelis Valaoritis, whose poems with national motives gained great acclaim, while the linguist Jannis Psycharis ‘My Journey’ (1888; not in Swedish translation), which was a paragon in Paris, brought a breakthrough for the linguistic renewal of the Prose.
Several of those who would become leaders in the New Athenian school, with its orientation towards France and the so-called Parnasse, debuted about 1880 and came to be called the “1880’s generation”. The group’s foremost, Kostis Palamas, was for many decades the truly big name in Greek literature and a great advocate for the dimotics. His extensive production, mainly poetry and literary theory, reflects both the external history of Greece and the new flow of ideas around the turn of the century. Here is inspiration from both Marx and Nietzsche in the poem cycle “The twelve songs of the gypsy” (1907; not in Swedish translation), where Palamas paints the poet, the creative man’s role in the contemporary, against the background of Byzan’s downfall.
Far from the literary world of the motherland, Konstantinos Kavafis spent most of his life as an official in the birthplace of Alexandria. His sparse poetry basically has a centrally important character, whether the outer frame is contemporary or late antique, whether the motif is gay love or reflections on art and life.
The failed Greek campaign in Asia Minor, which ended with the collapse of 1922, resulted in Greece receiving about 1.5 million refugees. This had profound social and political consequences, but also affected the intellectual life, as several of the writers who appeared in Greece after 1920 came with the wave of refugees. Among the prosaists, for example, Ilias Venezis in “Aeolian Earth” (1943) and Giorgos Theotokas in “Leonis” (1940) have embodied these experiences.
Greece’s most translated novelist during the 20th century is Nikos Kazantzakis. His early period is dominated by the 33 333 verse-long continuation of Homer’s “Odyssey,” published in 1938. Of the post-war novels, the first, “Play for Me, Zorbas” (1946), is today his best with a fascinating drawing of the rough-faced life-worker. Alexis Zorbas.
The troubled political development in Greece after the Second World War left traces in some writers, such as Rodis Roufos and Vassilis Vassilikos, while others wrote a sensitive, lyrical prose, sometimes in French imitation, e.g. Margarita Lymberaki and Galatia Saranti.
In Angelos Sikeliano’s poetry, there is a longing for an “orphic” holistic view of the world, for example. in “Prologue to Life” (1915-17; not in Swedish translation) and “Lyrical Life” (1938). The 1963 Nobel Laureate in literature, Giorgos Seferis, represents modernism and a more scaled-down expression. A combination of free-flowing inspiration, lyrical language and political conviction characterize Jannis Ritso’s poetry. In 1979, Odysseas received the Elytis Nobel Prize, mainly for his poem cycle “Axion Esti – Promised Being” (1959), where his personal experiences blend with the Greeks’ overall historical experience.
The theater in modern Greece has a relatively short history: the first theater house in Athens, intended exclusively for summer use, was first built in 1835, and state scenes did not come until well into the 20th century.
The theater had a brief flowering period as early as the 17th century in Crete, but plays in the modern sense were not written until the early 1800’s, first romantic dramas in archaic languages, later realistic and symbolist works and bourgeois dramas (Palamas, Xenopoulos). The 1920’s and 1930’s involved attempts at renewal. During the post-war period, proseists such as Theotokas and Terzaki were active as playwrights. The absurd theater got a representative in Stratis Karras during the 1960’s.
Regular Greek film production first began in 1923, but in 1910-11 Spiros Dimitrakopoulos had success with a series of comic short films in which he himself starred. With its melodramatic intrigues, theater actors and their emotionally charged cast, the feature films of the 1920’s anticipated a forward-dominant line. The first significant feature film was “Prometheus desmotes” (“The Feathered Prometheus”, 1927) by Dimitris Gaziadis (1899-161), the great director’s great director’s name, along with Achilles Madras (1871-1966) and Orestis Laskos (1907-92). The metaxase dictatorship, the Germans’ occupation and the civil war meant severe production disruptions.
The internationally successful filmmakers of the 1950’s were strongly influenced by Italian neorealism, e.g. Michael Cacoyannis (“Stella”) and Xipolito Tagma (“Barefoot Battalion”, both 1954). Their stars were Melina Mercouri and the tragedy Irene Papas, and even the film music of composers such as Manos Hadjidakis (1925–94) and Mikos Theodorakis became a bestseller. Two of the country’s greatest successes were “Never on a Sunday” (1960), directed by American Jules Dassin with himself and Mercouri in the lead roles, and “Zorba” (1964), directed by Cacoyannis with Anthony Quinn as the title character.
With the 1967 coup came a new artistic stagnation, although directors such as Pantelis Voulgaris (born 1940) and Theo Angelopoulos – the latter soon one of the foremost European films – despite the repression were able to create personal, poetically ambiguous works. One director who chose to work outside the country was Constantin Costa-Gavras, who made world success with his Oscar-winning portrayal of the run-up to the military coup, the French-produced “Z – he lives” (1969).
During the junta era, production reached its peak with over 100 films per year; the same was true of audience figures in cinema, with 134 million tickets sold in 1968. Democracy’s reintroduction in 1974 began an uneven artistic recovery, but the 1980’s saw a deep crisis depending on the popularity of television and video. In 1989, only 14 million tickets were sold and the annual production was down to about 15 films. When domestic film was most popular with Greek home audiences towards the end of the 1950’s, it had 25% of the national biomarket and Hollywood film about 45%. In 1991, the first figure was down to 7% and the latter up to 88%, an expression of a general trend in the commercial dominance of American film at the expense of European.
However, the curve reversed during the 1990’s with films such as Olga Maleas (born 1960) “En kos orgasm” (1997) and Michalis Reppas (born 1959) and Thanassis Papathanasious (born 1959) “Safe Sex” (1999).
Recent successes include Yannis Smaragdis (born 1946) “El Greco” (2007) and the internationally award-winning Yorgos Lantimos (born 1973) “Dogtooth” (2009) and “Alps” (2011) and Athina Rachel Tsangaris (born 1966) “Attenberg ”(2010).
Current Greece first appeared as a special art province until recent times, but significant art was added to Greek soil early after ancient times. In Late Hellenistic tradition, the mosaics from the 400’s AD in Hagios Giorgios in Thessaloniki. The same tradition in conjunction with strong impulses from South Asian cultures gave rise to a relatively uniform, new art tradition with a legacy of both classical realism and Byzantine art’s ornamental view of form during the 400-800’s. The churches in Dafni near Athens are good examples of Greek-Byzantine art; Kristos Pantokrator from the 1100’s finds one of the style’s most representative mosaics.
With the Turks’ conquest of Byzantine 1460, the unity was broken in the Eastern Roman tradition, which, however, survived mainly in the icon painting but also in the church ornaments in the areas of Eastern Europe where Orthodox Christianity ruled. The present Greece, together with the whole of Macedonia, appeared in these respects as a relatively unified province of art. Important iconic traditions were developed in various parts of Macedonia, especially during the 1300’s and 1500’s, in Crete during the 1500’s-1700’s (from here, for example, El Greco) and throughout the entire phase of the Athos monastery complex. Although influences from the East, not least from Islamic art, continued to be significant, Italian development played an important role at times in shaping Greek art, especially from the 16th century. In recent times, popular image production came to dominate as an often colorful variation of the Byzantine tradition. Without usually building on close direct contacts, this painting in the early 1800’s gradually gained stronger impressions from the Western European romantic tradition.
With independence in 1832 and the new monarchy, neoclassicalism from Munich quickly became associated with a new Hellenistic cultural consciousness. expressed himself in classic buildings in Athens – but also in the education that Greek youths now received at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. An art college was started in Athens in 1837, led by the Bavarian Bavarian von Zetner. Among the first artists with the new education was Theodorus Vryzakis, who was especially devoted to the motives of the Greek War of Independence. Conscious attachment to Byzantine traditions became evident around 1900, i.a. at Konstantinos Parthenis, and this national tendency soon came to be partly intertwined with features of incipient modernism. At the younger Nikos Chatzikyriakos-Ghikas, Byzantine form features became elements of an entirely modern post-cubist painting. Ghikas propagated for a Greek national consciousness in the art form, among other things. through his own art magazine. Nationalist tendencies – emphasizing both classical and Byzantine tradition – continued to play a major role in Greek art until the 1940’s. In the following decades, visual art turned significantly outwards to the world, and several artists, such as Takis and Varden Chryssa, received international attention.
The Christian churches of the Byzantine era (395-1453) were erected as elongated basilicas in ancient temples or shaped as central buildings with a Greek crossplane. Famous cross churches in Athens are Hagios Theodoros, Kapnikarea and Mikri Mitropoli. Sometimes, as in Thessaloniki, the two church types were merged. There is also the cross church Hagios Georgios with center dome over the roundabout and smaller domes over the cross arms. Other well-preserved counterparts are found in Dafni (near Athens), Fokis and Mistra. They were built of stone or brick, sometimes walled in patterns. Exquisite mosaics and frescoes give these church buildings their distinctive character. More striking are the Franconian castle ruins from the 13th and 13th centuries with towers and fortified courtyards. Located on mountain tops, they are eye-catchers in the landscape.
At countless strategic centers in Greece, you can find the Venetians’ 400-year-old fortification business begun in the 13th century. Their facilities in the form of fortified cities, castles and castles offered the Turkish resistance. Acro Corinth, Nauplion, Pylos as well as Chania and Heraklion are some of the places where the Venetian Saint Marcus Lion became a symbolic architectural detail.
During the Turkish era (1453-1827), temple sites, cities and military facilities were used and changed with additions such as mosques, baths and caravans. Some of the oldest and most well-preserved mosques are found in Athens near Agora and in Nauplion, Chania and Heraklion. Other clear Turkish tracks are bridges and roads with the special stone setting, calderim.
After several centuries of imported architectural elements, there was, more than in any other country, strong symbolism in independent Greece’s emphasis on the new antique architecture ideal during the 19th century. The reconstruction of Athens and the search for modern national architecture began in the 1830’s with the Danish brothers Christian and Theophilus Hansen’s grand projects in neoclassicism, the so-called Athenian trilogy: the University, the National Library and the Academy of Sciences. The re-created Greek architectural tradition may in the 20th century have been said to have lived in symbiosis with modernism without any real innovating happening. The competition for the biggest building task of the century in Greece, a new Acropolis museum, was won in 1990 by Italians Manfredi Nicoletti and Lucio Passarelli.
For the music of ancient Greece see the article Greek music.
Centuries after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the millennial Greco-Byzantine church song took on increasingly artificial and virtuous forms. After the formation of the nation state in 1821, however, a reform was led, led by Chrysantos of Madytos (c. 1770 – c. 1840), who rectified the song. The sheet music and the scale systems were simplified, the church songs were printed and used in all Greek churches and monasteries.
Western art music penetrated Greece very slowly through Italian opera tunes and folk mandolin and brass ensembles. The first generation of composers, influenced by Italian art music (eg Nicholas Mantzaros, 1795-1872), was replaced in the second half of the 19th century by a national, folklorically colored school (eg Manolis Kalomiris, 1883-1962). Modernism got its main representatives in Nikos Skalkottas and Iannis Xenakis. After World War II, politically radical composers began, among other things. Manos Hadjidakis (1925–94) and Mikis Theodorakis, composing in a new, urban tradition, rehab music. This has also attracted international attention, among other things. through the films “Never on a Sunday” (1959) and “Zorba” (1964).
Greece has also trained several famous opera singers, with Maria Callas, Nicola Zaccaria and Agnes Baltsa probably the best known. Among the conductors are Dimitri Mitropoulos.
Greek folk music is strongly influenced by the church song in melody and performance. In addition to instrumental and vocal dance music, epic songs (kleftika), table songs, work songs and gray songs.
A regular village ensemble consists of a violin or clarinet, laouto (lute) and santouri (chopping board). Sackpipes (gaida and tsampouna) are also played in the shepherd culture in northern Greece and in the Toloes.
In Crete and in the Pontian population, the three-stringed lyric has its position as the leading melody instrument. Common dances throughout Greece are the chain dances syrtos and kalamatianos (at 7/8 beat), on the islands ballos and sousta.
Greek popular music exhibits an equally multifaceted sound world as folk music. The influences are strong from both Western European and Arabic and Turkish popular music. Much of the dance music has its roots in rebetiko, with the solo dance zeimbekiko and the chain dance hasaposerviko. The leading melody instrument is bouzouki (long-necked), which in rebetiko music was previously associated with hashish, prostitution and crime, but which has become something of a Greek national instrument.
Style-forming composers of rebetiko have been the bouzouki players Markos Vamvakaris (1905–72) and Vassilis Tsitsanis (1917–84). The rebetiko music developed the more tempo- like laiko, which in turn developed into more modern forms. Nana Mouskouri is one of the internationally best known rebetico singers.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, pop singer Demis Roussos had international success and became popular in Sweden as well. Roussos was also a member of the pop group Aphrodite’s Child (formed in 1967), where the musician Vangelis began his career. Vangelis has later become a world name with its synthesizer-based music and film music for, among other things. “The Moment of Triumph” (1981).
Alongside traditional and very popular rehab music, a rock scene has emerged in Greece. Among the most influential rock groups are Trypes, Xylina Spathia, Stereo Nova and Raining Pleasure; the latter is one of the few bands to sing in English. During the 1980’s, punk rock, heavy metal and indie rock gained a foothold in the country. Later came hip-hop.
Among the biggest successes in recent years in Greek popular music is the Eurovision Song Contest 2005, when Greek-Swedish Helena Paparizou (born 1982) sang the victory with the song “My Number One”.
Greek rural culture has, in our own time, been characterized by strong conservatism and long preserved, for example, types of tools that have changed little since ancient times. The connection with ancient Hellas is particularly evident in popular beliefs and customs. Thus, New Greek sacred worship includes numerous features that could be derived from locally practiced, pre-Christian cultic practices.
Alongside the Albanians, the Greeks are the only Balkan people who have retained their ethnic and linguistic peculiarities fairly intact since ancient times, and the influence of Slavic immigration towards the end of the 500’s was never as pronounced in Greece as in the rest of the Balkan Peninsula. The infiltration of Albanians from the 13th century became most significant in the then sparsely populated parts of the provinces of Argolis, Megara and Attica, where the Albanians, as early as the 20th century, constituted a linguistically indistinguishable minority, which depended mainly on semi-nomadic goat and sheep breeding. An eye-catching cultural loan from the Albanians meets in the fustanella, the richly wrinkled, wide, white skirts included in some newer male folk costumes and in uniforms. The Turkish influence is best seen in the cities and in details in some rural folk costumes. Most unaffected by such influences remained the Greek island world. The Mediterranean character of the Greek cultural landscape is emphasized by the numerous terraces on steep terrain and by the extensive wine and olive groves. The rural population’s homes have long maintained the cohabitation between people and pets in natural stone buildings with an open hearth in the single room.
Not least interesting is the tradition of ancient folk culture which can be traced in the richly varied Greek festivals. The big festive days of the livestock-farming villages have included St. Georg’s Day, April 23, when the animals begin summer work in the mountains, and St. Demetrio’s Day, October 26, when they are taken home again. New Year’s and especially the epiphany celebrations have been very much cherished, the latter not least in the port cities, where the sea is blessed on this day. The pleasure of the carnival time (Apocreos) has consisted in, among other things. worm and dressing gowns. Among the spectacular festivals with roots in ancient cult use are the feast of Saint Constantine and Saint Helena, May 21, which is celebrated in some Macedonian villages by hiking on glowing coal (Anastenaria).
Greek folk poetry was long overlooked, but better still survived to a greater extent than in most other European countries. Even in the 1960’s, thousands of folk tales were collected. In 1916, the Greek State Life Archive was founded in Athens, whose collections of folk poems are among the largest in the world today. A grateful object for ethnological and folkloric fieldwork offered the numerous Greeks who in 1923 were transferred from Asia Minor and eastern Thrace. Since 1909, the Society for Public Life Research publishes the journal Laographia.