By Roderick Beaton

A wide-ranging research of renowned poetry and tune within the Greek language from the final years of the Byzantine Empire to the current day. the folks poetry of the identify contains the songs, composed and passed down through be aware of mouth, of unlettered villagers, of wandering minstrels with pretensions to professionalism, and, in additional fresh occasions, of the poorer population of Ottoman and Greek towns. The artistic interval of this people poetry covers, on the minimal, 500 years of background and a geographical quarter stretching from Corsica within the west to Cyprus and Trebizond within the east, in addition to northwards into the Balkans. this isn't a normal or theoretical survey of people poetry, yet an exploration, according to literary, historic and sociological facts, of a unmarried cultural culture and the forces that have formed it.

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Example text

15) Pontos, 1946. Mikro Kostantinon goes off for a short journey and is gone for thirty years. He arrives back, and Eleni, to whom he 31 The songs had been betrothed or married before his departure, tells the story in the first person: she addresses him first as 'my eyes', a term suitable to a husband or a lover, and he does not answer. She then addresses him as 'brother' and he turns and tells her to be quiet. He has fallen in love with someone else, he says, and tells her to dress in black and come to the wedding.

The first part of the story is very similar to example 1. Kostantinos returning from the war meets his wife (dressed as a shepherd) at the sea-shore, and the returning husband is compared to the 22 'Mikrokostantinos' and the tradition sun, an eagle and a prince. The recognition is quickly effected but then he rides off to his mother without another word. The dialogue with the mother is also similar to that of example 1, but after the confrontation between mother and wife Kostantinos stabs the former, cuts off her head and chops it into small pieces.

But a hint of what may be an older attitude was given by the informant who provided the version of 'Mikrokostantinos' cited above: O erac TO Xeet era* 6 dXkoq TO Xeet OXXCCJC. Mdaropr? TO Tpayovd' 8ev ex'! (Megas, 1961, p. 490). That's how one man tells it, another will tell it differently. In song no one has the last word. Clearly this singer did not consider transmission to be the same thing as exact memorisation, a discovery which leaves the way open for the kind of composition-in-performance which was found, at least until relatively recently, to have been practised in parts of Yugoslavia.

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