Sappho (630 - 570 BC) was an archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. She is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung and accompanied by a lyre. Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem – the "Ode to Aphrodite". As well as lyric poetry, ancient commentators claimed that Sappho wrote elegiac and iambic poetry.
Sappho was a prolific poet, probably composing around 10,000 lines. Her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the canon of nine lyric poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Sappho's poetry is still considered extraordinary and her works continue to influence other writers. Beyond her poetry, she is well known as a symbol of love and desire between women.
Alkaeos of Mytilene (6th century BC) was a lyric poet from the Greek island of Lesbos who is credited with inventing the "Alcaic stanza". He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. He was an older contemporary and an alleged lover of Sappho, with whom he may have exchanged poems. He was born into the aristocratic governing class of Mytilene, the main city of Lesvos, where he was involved in political disputes and feuds.
Alcaeus with Sappho and Anacreon, being 'monodists' or 'solo-singers', composed and performed personally for friends and associates on topics of immediate interest to them, wrote in their native dialects (Alcaeus and Sappho in Aeolic dialect, Anacreon in Ionic) and preferred quite short, metrically simple stanzas or 'strophes' which they re-used in many poems - hence the 'Alcaic' and 'Sapphic' stanzas, named after the two poets who perfected them or possibly invented them.
Theophrastus (371 – 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesvos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death, he attached himself to Aristotle who took to Theophrastos his writings. When Aristotle fled Athens, Theophrastos took over as head of the Lyceum. Theophrastus presided over the Peripatetic school for thirty-six years, during which time the school flourished greatly. He is often considered the father of botany for his works on plants. After his death, the Athenians honoured him with a public funeral. His successor as head of the school was Strato of Lampsacus.
The interests of Theophrastus were wide ranging, extending from biology and physics to ethics and metaphysics. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. There are also surviving works On Moral Characters, On Sensation, On Stones, and fragments on Physics and Metaphysics. In philosophy, he studied grammar and language and continued Aristotle's work on logic. He also regarded space as the mere arrangement and position of bodies, time as an accident of motion, and motion as a necessary consequence of all activity. In ethics, he regarded happiness as depending on external influences as well as on virtue.
Pittacus was a native of Mytilene and son of Hyrradius. He became a Mytilenaean general who, with his army, was victorious in the battle against the Athenians and their commander Phrynon. In consequence of this victory, the Mytilenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honour and presented the supreme power into his hands. After ten years of reign, he resigned his position and the city and constitution were brought into good order. He tried to reduce the power of the nobility and was able to govern with the support of the popular classes, whom he favoured.
Some of his sayings:
"Forgiveness is better than revenge."
"Whatever you do, do it well."
"Power shows the man."
"Do not say beforehand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at."
"Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you."
"Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies."
"Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry."
Odysseas Elytis (1911- 1996) was regarded as a major exponent of romantic modernism in Greece and the world. In 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Elytis' poetry has marked, through an active presence of over forty years, a broad spectrum of subject matter and stylistic touch with an emphasis on the expression of that which is rarefied and passionate. He borrowed certain elements from Ancient Greece and Byzantium but devoted himself exclusively to today's Hellenism, of which he attempted - in a certain way based on psychical and sentimental aspects—to reconstruct a modernist mythology for the institutions. His main endeavour was to rid people's conscience from unjustifiable remorses and to complement natural elements through ethical powers, to achieve the highest possible transparency in expression and finally, to succeed in approaching the mystery of light, the metaphysics of the sun of which he was a "worshiper" -idolater by his own definition. A parallel manner concerning technique resulted in introducing the inner architecture, which is evident in a great many poems of his; mainly in the phenomenal landmark work It Is Truly Meet (Το Άξιον Εστί). This work due to its setting to music by Mikis Theodorakis as an oratorio, is a revered anthem whose verse is sung by all Greeks for all injustice, resistance and for its sheer beauty and musicality of form.
Theophilos Hatzimihail (1870 - 1934), known simply as Theophilos, was a major folk painter of modern Greek art. The main subject of his works are Greek characters and the illustration of Greek traditional folklife and history.
His life was very hard in part because people made fun of him, since he went around wearing the traditional Greek kilt, the fustanella. At the age of 18 he abandoned his home and family and worked as a gate-keeper at the Greek consulate in Smyrna. There he stayed a few years, before he settled in the city of Volos in about 1897, searching for occasional work and painting in houses and shops of the area. Many of his murals exist today. Most of his years he spent in Ano Volos. His protector during that period was the landholder Giannis Kontos, for whom he did many works. Today the house of Kontos is the Theophilos Museum.
In 1927 he returned to Mytilene. Legend states that he left Volos because of an incident in a kafeneio (coffee shop), when someone played a joke on him in front of others and threw him down from a ladder where he was painting. In Mytilene, despite the mockery of the people, he continued to draw, painting many murals in villages for little payment, usually for a plate of food and a cup of wine. Many of his works of this period have been lost, either due to natural aging or from damage by the owners.
In Mytilene, the renowned art critic and publisher Stratis Eletheriadis (Tériade), who lived in Paris, discovered Theophilos and brought him a great deal of recognition and also international publicity, though posthumous. With Tériade's funding in 1964 the Museum of Theophilos was constructed in Vareia, Lesbos. Theophilos died in March 1934, on the eve of the Annunciation, perhaps from food poisoning. One year later, his works were exhibited in the Louvre as a sample of a genuine folk painter of Greece.
The prehistoric city of Thermi (ca 3000 BC), the ancient Greek temple of Messa, the aqueduct and the mosaics of the roman period, the byzantine churches, the castles of the medieval period, the mosques of the Ottoman time, the industrial heritage of the past century including olive press and olive oil processing installations, the traditional architectural style of the buildings and the small villages form a unique colorful cultural atmosphere offering an unforgettable experience to the visitors.explore
Mytilene (Μυτιλήνη in greek, also known as Mytilini) is the capital of the island of Lesvos. It is the third bigger island of the Aegean Sea.explore
The island has a long cultural tradition from the ages of the ancient Greek music composer Terpandros, the poets Sappho and Alkaeos, the one of Greece's Seven Sages Pittacos and the philosopher Theophrastos up to the contemporary naive painter Theofilos and the 1997 Nobel prize winner poet Odisseas Elytis.explore
Today the island is famous for the excellent olive oil produced from the 11.000.000 olive trees. Ouzo is another characteristic product of the island which affects the local food culture and tradition.explore