Zakynthos Dionysios Solomos

Dionysios Solomos - the Greek National Poet born in Zakynthos: Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857) was born on the island of Zakynthos. He is considered the Greek national poet as stanzas of his poem Hymn to Liberty have been declared as the National Anthem of Greece. Solomos is also credited as the first to create a modern poetic culture in Greece.

Dionysios Solomos was the illegitimate child of the wealthy nobleman Nikolaos Solomos and his maid Aggeliki Nikli. His father married his mother just a day before his death to make Dionysios and his brother his legitimate children. In 1808, young Solomos was sent to Italy to study. He finished high school in Cremona and in 1817 he graduated from the Faculty of Law of Pavia University.

Solomos started writing poetry in Italian, as he was a fluent speaker of the language and had great knowledge of Italian literature. Soon he was liberally welcomed in Italian literary circles as a brilliant poet.

When Solomos returned to Zakynthos, with his background in Italian literature, he found a flourishing literary culture. He made many friends in literature circles. They met frequently to compose poems and talk about literature evolutions. There, Solomos took a big decision: to write his poems in Greek, not Italian. However, he didn't want to write in the purist language, highly influenced by Ancient Greek. He wanted to write in the language and idiom of the common people of Zakynthos. He began to systematically study traditional songs and Cretan literature that were the best representations of the demotic dialect of Modern Greek literature.

The Greek Revolution of 1821 and the Exodus of Mesolonghi were great inspirations for Solomos to write one of his best poems, the Hymn to Liberty. This poem was the flag-bearer of the entire literary output of Solomos and established him as a master of his native idiom.

A financial dispute with his relatives forced Solomos to move to Corfu, where he found an atmosphere congenial to his poetic and lonesome nature. There he became a center of attraction for his admirers and noblemen. During his final years, Solomos started writing poetry in Italian again. He also became estranged from some of his friends and started drinking too much. He died of a stroke in February 1857. His body was transferred to Zakynthos, his beloved island, in 1865.