Like the shot fired at Concord, Massachusetts, in 1775, the Greek Revolution was heard around the world, and many poets, Byron and Hugo among them, fired off their own poetry in response. This lecture will turn to Greek poetic responses to ’21 – and not just at the time, but as the noise of old battles has echoed through subsequent decades of Greek experience up to the present day. The focus will be on tensions between the pen and the sword, or rather the pen and the gun, over the years since 1821: the best Greek poets have faced such tensions memorably, and in doing so have made a distinctive contribution to the world’s poetry.
David Ricks is Professor Emeritus of Modern Greek and Comparative Literature, King’s College London, and a Fellow of the College. He studied classics and philosophy at Oxford before coming to King’s to write a doctoral thesis, on what would today be called classical reception, under the supervision of then Koraes Professor Roderick Beaton. The two worked in harness at King’s from 1989 to 2018, supervising between them 39 doctoral students in the fields of modern Greek literature and culture, no few of them now established in the republic of letters. David Ricks co-founded the CHS journal Dialogos (1994-2001) and served for many years on the board of the journal Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, first edited from King’s by Donald Nicol; since 2020, he has been its editor, with Ingela Nilsson (Uppsala). He has published on many facets of poetry in Greek, from Digenes Akrites and Erotokritos in earlier periods to a wide range of poets from the last two centuries. These include such major figures as Solomos and Kalvos from the Revolutionary period, Cavafy and Sikelianos in the twentieth century, and Nasos Vayenas and Michalis Ganas today.
The vote of thanks will be given by Dr Dionysis Kapsalis. Born in Athens in 1952, Dr Kapsalis studied Classics and English Literature at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (1970-1974). He pursued postgraduate work at King’s College London, in the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (1981-1984). Since 1999, he has been Director of the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece. He has published poems, essays, and various translations of poetry. He has translated Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett and others for the Greek stage. He holds an honorary Doctorate from the University of Thessaloniki (2015), and he has been awarded the Greek State Prize for best literary translation for Hamlet (2015) and the Grand Prize for Letters (2017).
The Runciman Lectures are generously sponsored by the late Nicholas and Matti Egon and the Egon family. This event is open to all to attend.
Please register your place online at Eventbrite.