Angelos Sikelianos

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Angelos Sikelianos (18841951) was a modern Greek poet and playwright. One of Greece's most important 20th-century lyric poets, he emphasized national history, religious symbolism, and universal harmony in poems such as The Light-Shadowed, Prologue to Life, Mother of God, and Delphic Utterance. His plays include Sibylla, Daedalus in Crete, Christ in Rome, The Death of Digenis, and Asklepius.


Sikelianos was born in Lefkada where he spent all his childhood. In 1900 he entered the Law School of Athens but he did not graduate. The next years he traveled a lot and devoted himself to poetry. In 1907, he married American born Eva Palmer, who has at the time an archaeology student in Paris. Their marriage took place in America and they moved to Athens in 1908. 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 positive impact and was recognized by critics as an important poetic work.

In May 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. Sikelianos believed that the principles, which had shaped the classic civilisation, 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. It became very successful and despite lack of state assistance, it was repeated once more, the following year. The revival was permanently abandoned due to the excessive expense of organizing it. In honour to the memory of Angelos and Eva Sikelianos, the European Cultural Centre of Delphi bought and restored their house in Delphi, which is today the Museum of Delphic Festivals.

Eva Palmer left for the United States, and Sikelianos married Anna Karamani.

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

In 1949 he was a Nobel Prize for Literature candidate. He died in Athens, in 1951, and was buried in Delphi.

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