Angelos Sikelianos

Angelos Sikelianos from Lefkada: Angelos Sikelianos is a leading 20th-century Greek poet. He was born and brought up on the beautiful Ionian Island of Lefkada. He entered the Law School of Athens in 1900 but did not complete his studies. A year later he began devoting himself to poetry.

In 1907 he got married to an American student of archaeology in Paris, Eva Palmer. Sikelianos went to America to marry his love. He came back to Athens in 1908, where he got profoundly influenced by Greek intellectuals. He published his poem Alafroiskiotos (The Light-Shadowed) in 1909, which was appreciated by critics as a significant literary contribution.

In 1927, Eva helped her husband organize the Delphic Festival. The motive was to revive the Delphic idea; Sikelianos believed that the principles behind the classic civilization should be re-examined and this, in turn, could give spiritual independence and serve as a means of communication amongst people as well.
The events that took place during the festival were an Olympic contest, a Byzantine Music Concert, a folk art exhibition and a performance of Prometheus Bound. The Festival was a huge success and although the organizers never received state assistance the Festival was repeated the following year. However, the festival had to be abandoned due to a lack of funds and state patronage.

The European Cultural Centre of Delphi later renovated the house of Eva and Angelos Sikelianos, in honor of their memory. The house has been converted into a museum of Delphic Festivals.

Angelos Sikelianos got married to Anna Karamani when Eva left him and went back to America. He inspired hundreds of Greeks during the German occupation on more than one occasion - especially with his speech and recitals at the funeral ceremony of the eminent poet Kostis Palamas.

His active participation during the German occupation of Lefkada island, to save the lives of hundreds of Jews won him general admiration. The letter sent by Archbishop Damaskinos to the German high command demanding an end to the persecution of Greek Jews was written by Sikelianos and was signed by prominent Greeks, who wanted to save their Jewish brethren.

This kind of document, protesting against the inhumane atrocities perpetrated on Jews, by Europeans, is unparalleled in the history of the Second World War. He was selected as a candidate for the prestigious Nobel Prize for literature. He died on June 9th, 1951, after days of hospitalization due to a pill that caused him extensive damage.