State symbols
The National Anthem

The National Anthem of Greece consists of the first two verses of the poem “Hymn to Freedom” which was written in May 1823 in Zakynthos by the poet Dionysios Solomos. A year later it was published in Mesolonghi and the same year Foriel included it in a collection of Greek folk songs. In 1828, Nicholas Mantzaros, a Corfu musician and friend of Solomos, set the poem to music, based on a folk theme, not as a march but for a four-voice male choir. After that the “Hymn to Freedom” was regularly heard on national holidays.

(The Hellenic National Anthem. A translation in English by Rudyard Kipling, 1918)

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,

From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail.
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

In 1844 the poem was set to music for a second time by Mantzaros, and submitted to King Otto in the hope that it would be accepted as the national anthem. In spite of N. Mantzaros being awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of the Redeemer and D. Solomos the Gold Cross of the same Order, the work was not ratified as the national anthem but became popular as a battle song.

In 1861 the Minister for the Military asked Mantzaros to compose a march based on the “Hymn to Freedom”. The musician altered the rhythm of Solomos’ hymn, giving it the rhythm of a march and in 1864, after the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece, the “Hymn to Freedom” was established as the national anthem. The national anthem, along with its music, was printed for the first time (27 copies) in London in 1873.

The poem “Hymn to Freedom” consists of 158 four-line verses of which the first 24 verses were established as the National Anthem, in 1865. Of these the first two are those which are usually played and which always accompany the raising and the lowering of the flag and are sung on official occasions. During the playing of the national anthem one stands to attention.