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Nights of 2021/2022: Regarding Dionysios Solomos’ “Free Besieged” at the bicentennial’s end



Nights of 2021/2022: Regarding Dionysios Solomos’ “Free Besieged” at the bicentennial’s end

Spatial Coverage


4 December 2021


Bicentennial commemorations for the Greek Revolution have taken many forms this year. As the curtain comes down on the zoom-administered spectacle, our weary minds may be forgiven for reaching for a screen-mediated metaphor: a childhood memory of the end of a day’s programming on the Greek state channel, ERT. Then, Nikolaos Mantzaros’ musical orchestration of Dionysios Solomos’ poem “Hymn to Liberty”, known to all today as the Greek National Anthem, provided a serene and sombre endnote to a long, hot summer’s day. As the flag melds into a dark screen and silence tonight, at the end of 2021, soon there will dawn a centennial commemoration of a far less upbeat, though no less significant event, the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922. The sunset both exhilarates and debases, as Emily Dickinson observed. This co-celebrant finds himself suspended in a moment of vastly irreconcilable emotions, liberated by history in one moment and devastated by it in the next: freed by it and soon-to-be besieged by it. Partly to throw light on a certain period – then and now – or partly to kill an hour or two, let me look not to the “Hymn to Liberty”, but in the direction of Messolonghi. Let me look to Dionysios Solomos’ “Free Besieged” and read it alongside Syllas Tzoumerkas’ film “The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea” (2019), for a topical commentary on revolution and resistance, failure and endurance, sacrifice and agency for men, but mostly, for women.

(Edited description from organiser’s website)

From the book of abstracts as it was published on Washington University’s website.

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