The Final Farewell for Manos Eleftheriou

The funeral for Manos Eleftheriou in Athens. Photo: (EUROKINISSI/ Vasilis Rebapis)

ATHENS – Crowds of people gathered on July 24 at the First Cemetery of Athens to bid a final farewell to acclaimed lyricist, poet, and author Manos Eleftheriou.

Poets, prose writers, composers, singers, actors, and representatives of the government and the political world attended the funeral of the prolific Eleftheriou, who distinguished himself as a lyricist, poet, novelist, historian of Syros and its musical theater, collector, painter, creator of albums and collage, and also as a children’s book writer.

“The Greek language with its Homeric roots is a fabric on which Manos Eleftheriou has worked hard, a fabric on which he sewed precious gems,” said Lydia Koniordou, Minister of Culture and Sports.

“Manos Eleftheriou made it so that the artist, on the one hand, would meet in song with the laiko (folk) craftsman on the other. And he allowed us, through the intimacy and authenticity of his creations, to follow his poetry, a poetry of urgency with its proud Greekness and its ability to pass from the individual to the collective. Future generations will sing the songs of Manos without, perhaps, knowing his name. But this is the fate of folk art: It works like collective memory,” she added.

“He lived among the poor as the rich,” lyricist and director Thodoris Gonis remarked about Manos Eleftheriou. “In a place that prefers to decline rather than to ascend, Eleftheriou has shown that the less glowing people matter, that such people leave their own shine. As for him, he knew how to get enough, but also how to starve,” he added.

“He left when everything seemed to have started to go well,” noted poet and literary critic Thanasis Niarchos. He noted, “He held a feeling of the good householder in his everyday life and when he was dealing with his artistic work, he was deeply anarchist. He was a prodigy of productivity and managed to bring together marginal or regional forms with large, central personalities.”

“Manos left because he had planned to leave. He was not afraid of death, but he despaired of illness,” said his cardiac surgeon and personal physician Sotiris Prapas.

Finally, Syros Mayor George Maragos gave the closing remarks, noting Eleftheriou’s long-time contributions to the island, his birthplace, through the production of albums and historical publications, as well as his rich contributions to books.

Among those who sent wreaths were Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Nikos Voutsis, the Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis, the publishing houses Metaichmi and Mikri Arktos, the family of Stavros Kougioumtzis, Marianna Latsi, Spyros Vrahoritis, Nikos and Giorgos Lavranou, Giorgos Margaritis, the Open University of Cyprus, and the radio station Athens 9,84.

From the political world, those present included the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports Constantinos Stratis, the Deputy Minister of Economy and Development Stergios Pitsiorlas, the former Ministers Aristides Baltas, Evangelos Venizelos, and Kostas Laliotis, and the MP Spyros Lykoudis. From the literary circle, the poets Titos Patrikios, Dimitris Kalokyris, Giorgos Markopoulos, Christoforos Liontakis, Yiorgos Chouliaras, Panos Kyparissis, Stratis Paschalis, and Yannis Tzanetakis, the prose writers Achilleas Kyriakidis, George Sombardis, Ioanna Karystiani, Maria Efstathiadis, Kostas Akrivos, Nikos Davetas, and Christos Chomenidis, and publisher Nontas Papageorgiou.

Also present were actors Gelly Mavropoulou, Vasilis Papavasileiou and Stelios Mainas, while Thanos Mikroutsikos, Christos Leontis, Lavrentis Macheritsas, Notis Mavroudis, Michalis Terzis, and Kostas Thomaidis were present from the world of music.