The Occluding Alphabets of a National Poet: The Case of Dionysios Solomos’ Reflections

Vrasidas Karalis


The problem with national poets is that they demand our reverence – but almost always forthe wrong reasons. Usually, most of them are bad poets and, in most cases, “collectivecreations”, imaginary epitomes of all virtues and vices exhibited by a certain community through time; as a result, their own identity, even their personal biography, is lost behind therhetoric about their greatness. Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857), the national poet of Greece,is such a characteristic case; he is admired by Greek literary criticism for reasons notimmediately apparent to readers from other traditions; and he is venerated unconditionally inthe kind of worship we reserve for sacred figures, exotic idols or museum exhibits.

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