Tuesday, 25 March 2008

'On that day, our country raised its head again'

The Greek War of Independence, which began on this day 1821, was fought by Greeks against Turks, Arabs, Albanians, Turco-Albanians and critically wounded the Ottoman Empire, the most degenerate, depraved, corrupt, backward, wicked, malignant, pernicious, squalid and cruellest institution or set of institutions known in human history. It was a war characterised by extraordinary Greek bravery and the usual Turkish atrocities.

The video clip above shows images of various battles, heroes, martyrs and massacres from the Greek Revolution, including works by Eugene Delacroix and Theophilos. The music is Saranta Palikaria, sung by Stelios Kazantzidis.

Below is an excerpt from the Homeric memoirs of one of the heroes of 1821, General Yiannis Makriyiannis, describing the battle of Langada in western Greece:

‘The Langada pass… was held by Gogos, Iskos, Georgakis, Valtinos, Karayannopoulos and eight Turks who were on the Greek side, with Soliman Vernozis at their head. All in all, eighty-one men. All that Turkish force [of seven thousand] fell upon these few men. Gogos ordered his men not to fire before he did. The Turks fell upon them with great bravery, because on this day hung the fate of the Turks and the Greeks. The Turks took stones in one hand and their swords in the other and came forward in line; they attacked the Greeks again and again, and were killed every time without achieving anything. For on that day the Greeks swore to work for their faith and their country, and neither bullet nor sword could stick in them.

‘After the Turks and Greeks had fought like lions for more than eight hours, over a thousand Turks were killed, and their skeletons remained unbroken for a whole year; the bones had dried hard. So many of them fell dead and were wounded that Arta was full of fugitives. The Greeks drove them before them with their daggers and hunted after them as far as Komboti, causing great slaughter and seizing much booty. Neither the Greeks nor the Turks could be accused in the matter of their bravery; both sides fought like lions. However, injustice was vanquished, for all bravery could do, because the Turks had gone far from the ways of God. On that day all the leaders and the soldiers did their duty. Gogos of beloved memory outshone all others in his glory. Our country owes him thanks. He fought like a lion and commanded like a philosopher. And, on that day, our country raised its head again. If the Turkish power had gained the pass then, Khursit Pasha was making ready other large forces, they would have relieved all those Turks who were besieged by the Greeks in Vonitsa, Agrinion, and elsewhere, but they lost heart when they learned of this slaughter of their own troops.’
(Makriyiannis: The Memoirs of General Makriyiannis, 1797-1864)

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