The great Greek lyric poet

The great Greek lyric poet

Angelos Sikelianos was one of the greatest poets and playwrights and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Angelos Sikelianos was born on 28 March 1884 in Lefkada, where he spent his childhood. His father was a professor of the French language. In 1900, he went to Athens in order to study at the Law School but he never finished his studies.

His interest for poetry led him to study Homer, Pindarus, the Bible as well as foreign writers such as Gabriele D’Annunzio. The next years he travelled extensively and devoted himself to poetry and theater.

In 1907, he married Eva Palmer. They married in the United States and moved to Athens a year later. During that period, Sikelianos came in contact with Greek intellectuals, and in 1909 he published his first collection of poems, Alafroískïotos (The Light-Shadowed), which had an immediate impact and was recognized by critics as an important work.

His next period was introduced by the philosophic poem Prólogos sti zoí (1917; “Prologue to Life”) and includes the long works Meter Theou (“Mother of God”) and Pascha ton Hellenon (“The Greek Easter”).

In 1927, with the support of his wife, Sikelianos held the Delphic Festival as part of his general effort towards the revival of the “Delphic Idea”. He believed that the principles which had shaped the classic civilization, if reexamined, could offer spiritual independence and serve as a means of communication among people. The event consisted of Olympic contests, a concert of Byzantine music, an exhibition of folk art as well as a performance of Prometheus Bound.

In March 1938 he meets Anna Karamani, the wife of the tuberculist Georgios Karamanis. Their acquaintance evolves into deep love, and he asks his wife for a divorce. She agrees, as does Doctor Karamanis. Their marriage will take place on June 17, 1940.

The tragedies of Sikelianos (Sibylla, Daedalus in Crete, Christ in Rome, The Death of Digenis and Asklepius, which are introduced by the long dramatic poem The Dithyramb of the Rose) are more notable for their lyric than their dramatic qualities.

During the German occupation, he became a source of inspiration to the Greek people, especially through his speech and poem that he recited at the funeral of the poet Kostis Palamas.

Sikelianos died on 19 June 1951 in Athens.

He was 5 times nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature :

1. In 1946, proposed by Swedish Academy member Anders Österling
2. In 1947, proposed by Nikos Vee, who proposed in the same year Nikos Kazantzakis, thinking that they should be awarded together
3. In 1948, proposed by a member of the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities of Sweden Axel W Persson and the member of the Swedish Academy author and journalist Elin Wägner. That year, Anders Österling, who proposed Sikelianos in 1946, proposed to share the prize with the winner of that year’s T. S. Eliot, but his proposal was rejected.
4. In 1949, proposed by the member of the Swedish Academy, author Sigfrid Siwertz
5. 1950, proposed with two proposals. One by the Hellenic Writers Society and one, together with Kazantzakis, by the Swedish Academy member, Hjalmar Gu


-In 1940 he married his second wife Anna Karamani.

-In 1943-1945 he was chairman of the Society of Greek Writers.

-He was nominated 5 times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.