- by Maria Andrikopoulou
The bicentennial anniversary of the Greek Revolution was an occasion for celebration and reflection and a source of inspiration for the creators of art and speech. The Revolution of 1821 became a point of reference and inspired in various ways, resulting in the production of a wide range of works, theatrical performances, documentaries, musical compositions, museum exhibitions and, of course, a rich and very interesting related book production.
Among the best examples of publications that moved in this theme is the collected volume Memoirs of Theodoros Kolokotronis , recently released by En plo Publications. It is an extremely careful rendering in modern modern Greek of the text dictated in the summer of 1836 by the Elder of Moria to Georgios Tertsetis and published by the latter in 1851, since Kolokotronis had made it a condition not to see the light of public during his lifetime. The original edition bore the title "The Old Man Kolokotronis", while the full title was: "Narration of Events of the Greek Race from 1770 to 1836. Dictated by Theodoros Konstantinou Kolokotronis".
This is a luxurious, linguistically and historically edited edition of the original text. With key interventions where it was deemed appropriate, but also respecting the original text and the Elder of Moria, this collector's edition is a useful tool for researchers, but above all it contributes to making a text inaccessible to the average reader, which is an important document as a single narrative of the events of the Greek Revolution, through the mouth of one of its most recognizable protagonists.
The editors' note at the beginning of the book states the intention to offer readers an accessible narrative and the vision for young people to gain access to it by moving away from the wordy, pretentious language of the original publication and rendering it colloquial. The difficult undertaking was jointly undertaken by the philologist Flora Vgontza and the historian Eleni-Filothei Kalathas. Both are long-time employees of Secondary Education and are united by a love of studying and teaching history. The publication is prefaced by Dr. Stefanos Kavallierakis, historian, director of the Museum of the City of Athens - Vouros-Eutaxia Foundation, focusing on the escalation of Theodoros Kolokotronis' evolution from a mischievous thief to one of the most recognizable and leading figures of the Revolution. As he aptly states: "Kolokotronis is identified with the evolution of the Greek revolution".
The rendering of the memoirs in modern Greek is accompanied by a commentary with information necessary to introduce persons, to state locations, to clarify points that needed explanation. For the convenience of the readers, descriptive subtitles have been chosen, which summarize the narrative by dividing it into chapters.
This is a luxurious, linguistically and historically edited edition of the original text.
The fact that the original text is the recording of an oral narrative – and indeed of an illiterate person – foreshadows the difficulties of its curation, but also the philological challenge of adapting it to the modern Greek language. It should be noted that the original text is not divided into chapters and is full of repetitions and earlier forms that overturn the sequence of events, making it difficult to understand in several places, as Georgios Tercetis did not want to make changes in the way of expression of the narrator, who with difficulty was convinced to trust his memoirs.
The task of memorizing and rendering the memoirs of the Elder of Morias in the modern Greek language required scientific proficiency, patience and courage. The editors, equipped with scientific knowledge suitable for the approach and methodical commentary of the text and educational experience useful for adapting a pretentious narrative into a text more accessible to the general public, successfully carried out their task. To achieve their goal, they had to dare to make changes helpful to the readers, but not catalytic, modifying the syntax, eliminating repetitions, replacing words with other colloquial ones, where it was deemed necessary to smooth the narrative and make the text easier to understand.
With the aim of a comprehensive approach to this important historical source, at the end of the book a chronology and glossary are listed and the Peloponnese of Kolokotronis is mapped. There are also a few words about Georgios Tercetis, to whom we owe the memoirs, an important source for the Greek Revolution, despite any subjectivity involved in the narration of one of its protagonists.
The volume is accompanied by a digital disc (CD) with a reading of representative texts by the actor Leonidas Kakouris and musical score by Stamatis Spanoudakis and is decorated with engravings kindly provided by the Museum of the City of Athens.
The elegant edition is the result of professionalism and collective work, the kind and tireless cooperation of the curators, the vision of the editors, the contribution of the Director of the Museum of the City of Athens - Vouros-Eutaxia Foundation and the other contributors to the edition. This inspired collective effort resulted in an even publishing result, a tribute to the fighter of the Revolution, an occasion to stir memory and connection with our roots, a great aid to approach history and evaluate the greatness of the struggle of 1821.
The flawless result of the harmonious cooperation of all the contributors to the publication, personally, reminded me of the team spirit and sympathy that prevailed in the first years of the Revolution, the effectiveness of which was extolled by the Old Man of Moria himself. Let us recall, in closing, the relevant passage from the emblematic speech of Theodoros Kolokotronis in Pnyka, which is included in the volume:
"During the first year of the Revolution, we had great unity and we all ran together. One went to war, his brother brought wood, his wife left leaven, his child carried bread and gunpowder to the camp, and if this unity lasted two more years, we wanted to conquer Thessaly and Macedonia as well, and perhaps we would reach and in Constantinople".
Memoirs of Theodoros Kolokotronis (book with CD)
Narration of events of the Greek race from 1770 to 1836
Rendering in modern modern Greek with comments and glossary
Edited by: Flora Vgontza / Eleni-Filothei Kalathas
Foreword: Dr. Stefanos Kavallierakis
Music: Stamatis Spanoudakis
Narration: Leonidas Kakouris