Friday, July 16, 2010

Rebel Yell

The Greek Revolution started with series of insurgance fighting, mostly from these wild-eyed mountain men with the handlebar moustasches. The official, legendary start date is March 25th when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised a flag on Agia Lavra in Kalavryta (Kal-AH'-vree-ta) and shouted "Freedom or Death!!"

For us the descendants of the wise and philanthropic Greek Nation, contemporary with the enlightened and favoured countries of Europe and spectators of the good acts which the latter enjoy under the unbreakable aegis of the laws, it was no longer possible for us to bear until heartlessness and credulity the hard plague of the Ottoman State which already for about four centuries oppressed us harshly and was opposed to reason pretending that it knew of the law, persecuted and ordered everything in a tyrannical and arbitrary manner. After a long slavery we were finally forced to take up arms and defend ourselves and our country from such a horrifying and unjust - from the beginning - oppression, similar or capable of being compared to no other.

 Epidauros, January 15. First National Assembly of Independence. 1822

The war waged for eight years. In that time horrible acts of inhumanity were agressed upon the Greeks. Here is an account of the city of Messolonghi which, sieged for a solid year by the Egyptian, Ibrahim Pascha, was so depleted of their food supply they began slaughtering all varieties of animals and finally, even each other. 

In Messolonghi, the same graveyard which the heart of Lord Byron is buried underneath a statue dedicated to him, there are hundreds of identical grave markers with dates between Feburary  and April 1826. The worn and weary citizens decided to organize a heroic mass exodous toward the mountains. It happened on the night of April 10th, but when a "Bulgarian" slipped out and informed the Turkish Egyptian forces of the plan. Out of 9000 who thought they had reached safety in the hills, only 1500 survived and managed their way to Amphilohi.

It is in this story that the "Zallogos" dance was born. The women and children left behind, faced with death or slavry by the Turks, danced to the edge of the cliff and, each in turn, dropped from the ledge.