Greece Literature: .Century of the Phanariotes (1669-1774)

By | August 7, 2021

From 1669 to 1774 there is the so-called century of the phanariotes. In this period, according to commit4fitness, Greek culture is still in a situation of stagnation, even if the first signs of renewal are evident, for example, through the multiplication of schools. Literary activity develops mostly in Greek communities abroad (Venice, Trieste, Rome) and in particular among the phanariotes of the Danubian principalities. An example of this trend is the poetic collection Fiori di Pietà (1704), composed by the students of the Flanghiniana School of Venice, among which the figure of E. Miniatis (1669-1714) stands out: it is a work of exquisite artistic quality, greatly influenced by the Italian Baroque. But the poetic production in general is rather scarce: the whole century is antipoetic, and the impulse towards knowledge prevails and not towards art itself. It is the century of the Enlightenment and the thirst for knowledge leads to the diffusion of mainly scientific works. An exception is the personality of K. Daponte (1714-84), the only poetic voice of the period, with long didactic and moralizing compositions (The mirror of women, Il giardino delle Grazie). For the rest, pamphlets, translations, scientific and ecclesiastical works often circulate in the archaic language (katharéyusa). But the ideals of the Enlightenment raise the question of the use of a language understandable to all. In this direction moves E. Vúlgaris (1716-1806), a libertarian intellectual, responsible for the diffusion of Voltaire’s work in Greece and full of confidence, like many of his compatriots, in the politics of Catherine of Russia. for the liberation of his homeland. The language problem was particularly felt among Greek intellectuals, both due to the enormous difference now created between the language commonly spoken and that used in educated circles, and because it is intimately linked to the problem of national identity and therefore to that of foreign occupation.. The use of a common language would have favored the birth of a truly national literature and the formation of a conscience, thus accelerating the process of liberation. This was the opinion of the most enlightened intellectuals of the period, such as I. Misiòdakas (ca. 1730-1800), known for giving dignity to a relatively new discipline, pedagogy, D. Katartzìs (ca. 1730-1807), progressive intellectual, with which we can begin to talk about the history of the language. L’ Enlightenment takes root to such an extent among intellectuals that it creates a real fashion that also influences the very formula of the book. Product of this trend is the Anonymous from 1789, a pamphlet in narrative form, imbued with the spirit and thought of Voltaire. Furthermore, there is a strong push in literary activity with numerous translations of foreign works, with the publication of new vocabularies and with the birth of a new conception of historiography. The historian G. Zaviras (1744-1804) is an example of this strand of late-century Greek culture. The figure of Rígas Feréos (1757-98) stands out, who with his tireless literary and political activity in a nationalist and progressive sense contributed enormously to the creation of a liberation movement; the famous Hymn is also remembered from Rígasin the demotic language, which remains fundamental in neo-Greek history and literature. The literary activity of the second half of the century. XVIII still moves exclusively in a phanariot environment; the poem is mainly inspired by neoclassicism with direct consequences also for the language. The greatest exponents of this generation are D. Fotinòs (1777-1821), also remembered for some historical works and for a paraphrase in verse of the Erotòcrito; M. Perdikaris (1766-1828), author of a satire of the society of the time, directed both against the nobility and the clergy, and against the progressives; G. Sakellarios (1765-1838), a particular character halfway between the pre-romantic and the neoclassical, known for having introduced Shakespeare in Greece and for a correspondence in verse with Perdikaris. Two figures of the period deserve a place apart for their progressive position towards the problem of language and for the quality of their poetic production; they are A. Christópulos (1772-1847) and I. Vilaràs (1771-1823). The first is considered the greatest poet of the generation and is remembered among other things for the use of a very elegant demotic, completely foreign to the tradition of popular songs. The second is known for a linguistic work, the Romanic Language, and for the close link with the authentic expressions of popular culture. But the greatest figure both for the work he did in the philological field and for the tireless activity of political propaganda inspired by nationalism, remains undoubtedly that of A. Koraís (1748-1833), convinced of the need to free Greece from Turkish occupation through the re-evaluation and systematic study of the classical heritage, considered a source of light for the strengthening of national consciousness. An intellectual with a powerful erudition, influenced by the Enlightenment, Koraís is led by his classical culture in search of a middle ground, of balance and harmony in all things, even in the linguistic question, on which he takes a stand progressive, but proposing solutions that are often misunderstood and mistaken for conservative. In addition to numerous followers and admirers, including K. Kumas (1777-1836), Th. Farmakidis (1784-1860), A. Psalidas (1764-1829), Koraís’ views on the language get him many opponents, including A. Parios (ca. 1725-1813), P. Kodrikás (1762-1827), N. Dukas (1760-1845).

Greece Literature - Century of the Phanariotes (1669-1774)