Culture & Nature

Great intellectuals

Distinguished citizens of Lefkada

Ioannis Zampelios (1787-1856)

After his studies in Italy and Paris, he returned to Lefkada and was appointed district attorney of the State of the Ionian Islands. Initiated into the Friendly Society in 1817, he came to be recognised as the top member of this society in Lefkada, due to his notable and courageous activities. One of his daring exploits was this: when after the outbreak of the Greek Revolution the British ordered Lefkadians to hand in their weapons to the district attorney’s office, Zambelios, himself the district attorney, collaborating with a boatman named Athiniotis, transported the seized weapons to the rebelling Akarnanians! He wrote twelve tragedies of nationalistic content, and lyric poetry in the idiom of the scholar Koraes.

Spyridon Zambelios (1813-1881)

Son of Ioannis Zambelios, he was a historian known in Europe, basing his theory on the uninterrupted continuity of Hellenism. His early schooling was in Lefkada and he continued his studies in Italy where he spent a large part of his life. He wrote historical and literary works, chief of which is his Byzantine Studies (1857). He was also known as a writer of fiction.

Aristotelis Valaoritis (1824-1879)

He was born in Lefkada and studied law in Geneva and Paris. All his life, his permanent residence was either the town of Lefkada or the family-owned island of Madouri. He was away from Lefkada only on his frequent visits to Athens or travelling to Europe. He wrote chiefly poetry but also books of history and folklore and some charming prose pieces. His poetry is a hymn to Nature and his inspiration is mainly patriotic, of his admiration for the freedom-fighters of the pre-revolutionary period and of the 1821 Greek War of Independence. From 1854 and for a number of years he represented Lefkada in the parliament of the Ionian Islands. He was an excellent orator, and from the ranks of the Radicals strongly urged Union with the rest of Greece. When this dream became a reality, he was elected to the National Parliament where he delivered a momentous salutation on behalf of the Ionian Islands for their first participation in the Greek Parliament, causing a frenzy of national enthusiasm. Amongst his most important poems are the three epics: Kyra Frosyne, Athanasios Diakos, O Foteinos.

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904)

Man of letters, translator, journalist and teacher. He was born in Lefkada of an Irish father, who was a doctor-major in the British army, and his mother was from Kythera.
His parents separated and he was raised in Dublin by an eccentric aunt. He emigrated to Ohio, where he practised journalism, and in 1889 he settled in Japan. There he married the daughter of a samurai, became a Japanese citizen, converted to Buddhism and worked as an English teacher . He wrote notable books and is considered an eminent writer of national status in Japan.
His books favourably influenced western public opinion about Japan and contributed greatly to the preservation and promotion of Japanese folk legends and traditions. His best known works include Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation - 1904, Exotics and Retrospectives -1898, In Ghostly Japan -1899, Shadowings -1900, A Japanese Miscellany-1901, Kwaidan -1904.

Dimitrios Golemis (1879-1930)
Multi-talented, Olympic medallist, poet, artist and politician. He studied law, theology and medicine. He published many collections of poetry. In the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens he came second in the 800 metres.

Angelos Sikelianos (1884-1952)

A major Greek poet and conceiver of the Delphic Idea. His poetry blended ancient Greek and Christian values and he became a pan-humanist. He and his first wife, Eva Palmer, an American,organized the Delphic Festivals in 1927 and 1930. His vision was to make Delphi a universal centre for fraternity of peoples. It was at the Delphic Festivals that the first serious efforts in modern Greece were made for the revival of ancient drama. During the years of the occupation, he emerged as the undoubted leader of the spirit of the Hellenic people. He was at his greatest in his poetic valediction to Palamas at the poet’s funeral (1943) in Athens’ First Cemetery. Amongst his works of poetry are: Alafroiskiotos (Light-Shadowed); Prologos sti zoe (Prologue to Life); Mitir Theou (Mother of God); Akritika (Borderlands). His tragedies include: Sibylla, O thanatos tou Digeni (The Death of Digenis) and he also wrote discourses, essays and more.

Kleareti Dipla – Malamou (1898-1977)

A poetess and prose writer who took part in the feminist movement, the Resistance and the Peace Movement. She was the first Greek woman to be awarded a prize (1930) by the Academy of Athens, for her collection of short stories entitled Gia ligi agape (For a Little Love). She was later awarded the second prize for children’s literature -Istories gia megala paidia (Stories for Grown up Children) in 1938 and also the Friends of Yannis Kordatos prize. Her works include: Sto diava mou (On my Way) (1922); Gynaikeies Psyches (Women’s Souls) (1945); O megalos potamos (The Great River (1953); I dromi tis zoes (The Roads of Life) (1957).

Nikos G. Katiforis (1903-1967)

Author , playwright and for years a columnist in the Rizospastis newspaper. He studied law and worked for a short time in public administration (in the prefecture of Nafplion – as a director) and then as a lawyer in Athens. His works include I Piazza (1930); dictatoria tou Satana (The Dictatorship of Satan) (1935); To meraki tou arhonta (The Yearning of the Lord) (1939).

Gerasimos D. Grigoris (1907-1985)

Man of letters who was awarded two state literary awards (1958 and 1963). He wrote poems and published three collections of short stories. He also translated ancient Greek tragedies, worked in journalism and sketched. His works include Pera apo tin ochthi (Beyond the Shore); Poreia mesa sti nyhta (Hike in the Night); Politeia xeskepi (State Unveiled). The publication of the albums featuring Valaoritis and Sikelianos by the Lefkada Studies Society is almost entirely due to him. His bust stands in the Neapoli quarteri.

Nikos Svoronos (1911-1989)

Internationally known Byzantologist and a scholar of eminence in the study of modern Greek history. He lived and rose to fame in Paris but, incurably homesick, he returned to his homeland as soon as he was given Greek citizenship and settled in Greece, where for the rest of his life he lent his expertise to such institutions as the University of Crete and the National Research Institute. The bust of Svoronos is next to his Library in Marka Square.

Theodoros Stamos (1922-1997)

Internationally renowned artist, one of the pioneers of abstract expressionism in America. He had his first important exhibition in New York at the age of 21. He was the youngest of a group of artists such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock, who changed the direction of art. In the last years of his life he settled in Lefkada where he died and is buried. The Municipal Art Hall bears his name.

Nanos Valaoritis (born 1921-2019)

A significant surrealist poet, author, playwright and university professor. He was the first to translate Greek poets of the 30s into English. In England he knew T.S. Eliot and was part of his circle, in Paris, André Breton and the surrealists. In Greece (1989-1995), he published the surrealist magazine Pali (1963-1967), and Syntelia with the poet Andreas Pagoulatos. From 1968, he taught comparative literature and writing at San Francisco’s State University.

Aristoxenos Skiadas (1932-1994)

Internationally known professor of classical literature, author of significant works and Vice Dean of the University of Athens. Founding member and, for a number of years, president of the Lefkada Studies Society.

Padazis Kodomichis (1924-2005)

Philologist, translator, writer and folklorist. Born and raised in Kavalos, Lefkada. He graduated in 1950 from the Philosophy Department of the University of Athens and made his literary debut in 1946 with a vignette in the newspaper “Students Voice”. He served in public education for more than 30 years, was a founding member of the Society of Lefkadian Studies, creator of the Festivals of Arts and Letters and an active researcher. He left behind a very rich oeuvre for the next generations on the culture, the folk customs and the history of Lefkada.

Agni Baltsa (born in 1944)

Very important Greek mezzo-soprano with an international career. She was born in Lefkada, graduated in 1965 from the National Conservatory and completed her studies in Munich thanks to a scholarship she received from the Maria Callas Association. Her first appearance was in the Opera of Frankfurt in 1968 in “The Marriage of Figaro”. Since then she has performed many roles in the biggest international opera houses and has received numerous accolades. She has also been declared an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera.