Angelos Sikelianos

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Poet (1884 – 1951)

The Greek postage stamp of 1982 printed by the Hellenic Democracy depicts Angelos Sikelianos, whom Nobel Prize laureate Georgios Seferis called “the master of our voice”, commemorating one of Greece’s most celebrated poets and playwrights of the 20th century.

Like most of his contemporary literary figures, Sikelianos abandoned his law studies in Athens seeking spiritual cultivation in the works of Homer, Pindar, Orpheus, Aeschylus, as well as the works of philosophers like Plato and Pythagoras, who imbued him with the immortal ancient Greek spirit. His first poetic collection was published in 1909. It was called Ἀλαφροΐσκιωτος (The Moonstruck) and it was a major success in the literary cycles, considered today as a landmark of modern Greek literature. The following poems that he published were The Consciousness of my Land (1915), The Consciousness of my Race (1916), The Consciousness of my Wife (1916) and The Consciousness of my Faith (1917) as well as the poetic collections Easter of the Greeks and Mother of God. All of his poems are characterized by a deep sense of Hellenism, the Hellenic ideals and religion.

During the Axis occupation of Greece in 1944, Sikelianos partook actively in the resistance against the German axis. His poem Ἠχῆστε οἱ Σάλπιγγες (Sound the Salpinges) was delivered during the funeral of Kostis Palamas in 1943, which was written in his memory. It is widely considered as one of the finest pieces of literature written in the previous century.

The postage stamp shows the poet standing in front of the pillars of Delphi. Sikelianos was the chief inspirer of the Delphic Idea, a vision of immense proportions aiming at the creation of a world spiritual center in Delphi that would unite the peoples of the world. With the help of his wife, he delivered lectures and published papers in an effort to implement his life-long dream. In 1927 the Delphic Idea was realized. The first Delphic Festivals took place, lasting for 2 days featuring ancient Greek theatre plays, sports, art galleries, music and songs. The festival had a world-wide acceptance. Men of letters, artists and scientists from all over the world came to Greece to participate in the celebration. The success was such that a second one was implemented in 1930. Sikelianos was awarded the silver medal by the Academy of Athens for his efforts to revive the Ancient Greek spirit. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints of the couple, the Delphic Idea ended in 1934.

Sikelianos served as President of the Literary Society of Greece and was nominated for the Nobel Prize of Literature 5 times. Kostis Palamas called him a philosopher more than a poet and Nikos Kazantzakis loved him as his closest friend and important source of influence. His works combined elements of romanticism and symbolism with the Ancient Greek Orphics and Pre-Socratic philosophers.

Bibliography

  1. Kolovou, A. Η ζωή, το έργο και ο τραγικός θάνατος του ποιητή Άγγελου Σικελιανού. LIFO.gr, LIFO 2015. Retrieved on October 23, 2016.
  2. Άγγελος Σικελιανός: Ο μεγάλος λυρικός. Tvxs.gr. Web. June 19, 2016. Retrieved on October 23, 2016.
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Angelos Sikelianos

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