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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Greece, Ionian Islands: Unification with Greece, May 21,1864, Επετείου της Ένωσης της Επτανήσου με την Ελλάδα, 21 Μαϊου (May 21 Celebration); Lofos Strani (Dionysios Solomos and The Hill of Strani), Zakynthos - ο λόφος του Στράνη - Λουδοβίκος Στράνης - Διονύσιος Σολωμός - Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν

In the spirit of Solomos and the Hymn to Liberty.

Solomos wrote the Hymn to Liberty on the Hill of Strani, Zante -
and some early draft sketches for The Free Besieged
He spent two or three summers staying at the Villa Strani (destroyed by the earthquake of 1893), which belonged to his close friend Loudovikos Stranis, who published and introduced Solomos' first volume of poetry, Rime Improvissate.

Hill of Strani, Aglaia Papa (Solomos Museum, Corfu)

References to the name Strani, as a place-name, first appeared in Zante towards the end of the fifteenth century, according to Dinos Konomos.

As a family name it was first recorded in  Zante in 1519, according to other historical sources.

From "Zakynthos, Volume Two", by Dinos Konomos (Athens 1979)

WE knew thee of old, 
Oh divinely restored,
By the light of thine eyes 
And the light of thy Sword.

From the graves of our slain 
Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again— 
Hail, Liberty! Hail! 

(from Rudyard Kipling's translation of the Hymn to Liberty)

From Zante, Archduke Ludwig Salvator (1904)

From "Zakynthos, Volume Two", by Dinos Konomos (Athens 1979)

At a small distance from the Villa Strani, the spot where Solomos would also sit and write, and where he heard the sound of the cannon-fire from the besieged Messolonghi. Salvator writes that Solomos would sit here often in May, 1823, composing the "Hymn to Freedom", gazing at the distant shores of Kefallonia, where Lord Byron was staying at the time. As a result, the spot is held as a sacred place, throughout the whole of Greece.

From Corfu Reading Society

Finally, an extract from a long historical Resistance poem, "To Corfu, Enslaved", written under Italian Occupation during World War II (and distributed in secret, at great risk to his life) by Dionysios Stranis (1899, Zakynthos-1967, Corfu).

Dionysios Stranis

It is a poem which condemns all the invasions and occupations suffered by the people of Corfu, and Greece generally. This short extract is most relevant to the period of British Protection, the Unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece, and the Celebrations of May 21st.:

Stefanos Sgouros, The Monk Disturbed, Ochi Day, 1940

Also of (allegorical) relevance, "The Rock and the Wave", Aristotle Valaoritis

Μέριασε, βράχε, νὰ διαβῶ! 
Τοῦ δούλου τὸ ποδάρι θὰ σὲ πατήση στὸ λαιμό...
 Ἐξύπνησα λιοντάρι!

See also, this webpage

Στὸ συμβολισμὸ τοῦ ποιήματος, βράχος εἶναι ὁ κατακτητὴς Τοῦρκος καὶ κῦμα ὁ ὑπόδουλος Ἑλληνισμός.

Strange: I always understood that "the rock" represented the British. For more about this poem and its allegorical meaning, see page 50 of my book "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History".

On Doukaris and Vrettakos

A 19th Century British History of Corfu - Henry Jervis White-Jervis
"History of the Island of Corfu, and of the Republic of the Ionian Islands"


  1. Πολύ ωραία ενημέρωση. Δυστυχώς, δεν ξέρω με ποίο σκεπτικό, κάποιοι ταύτισαν την Οικία Στράνη με την Οικία Σολωμού αφού υπεξαίρεσαν τις φωτογραφίες από το διαδίκτυο και άρχισαν να προκαλούν σε υποθέσεις για το πώς ... μπορεί να διέθετε περιβόλι, αν και ως γνωστόν και οι δύο οικίες, αυτές που γεννήθηκε, και αυτή που εγκαταστάθηκε μετά την επιστροφή του μετά τις σπουδές στην Ιταλία δεν διέθεταν κάτι τέτοιο. Εσείς πολύ καλά κάνετε και παραθέτετε την εικονογράφηση παραπέμποντας στις πηγές σας.

  2. As said in Greece I congratulate you on the well written post. The picturs of Stranis House were reposted as Solomos House and then these, that they reposted the pictures, begun to provoke arguments on how a garden was attached to the house. Both the houses that Solomos occupied in his life in Zante, that in his early years, and the other one, that he occupied after returning from his studies in Italy, were lucking a garden.