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Odysseas Elytis

AKA Odysseas Alepoudelis

Born: 2-Nov-1911
Birthplace: Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Died: 18-Mar-1996
Location of death: Athens, Greece
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Athens First Cemetery, Athens, Greece

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Poet

Nationality: Greece
Executive summary: Axion Esti

Military service: Greek Army (1938-41, to Second Lieutenant)

Odysseas Elytis was a Greek poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979. He was widely praised as an important writer as soon as his first poem was published, and while he remains an obscure talent in translation, he is considered one of the finest modern Greek poets. Critics raved about the inner architecture of his poems, and his ability to merge a modern sensibility with a Greek historical perspective. He was probably best known internationally for "Axion Esti" ("It Is Worthy").

Elytis was born into a Cretan family that was wealthy from the soap business, and he studied law for several years but dropped out to join the Greek Army during World War II. He memorialized his war experiences in the poem "Asma iroiko ke penthimo ghia ton hameno anthipolochago tis Alvanias" ("Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign").

After achieving fame, Elytis wrote literature criticism for the newspaper Kathimerini and held bureaucratic posts at the Greek National Theater, and at the agency responsible for Greek public radio. He represented Greece at the founding of the International Art Critics Union in 1949, and at the Incontro Romano della Cultura in 1962, and he was a member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1985. He spent several years living in Paris, where he hobnobbed with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Elytis never married, but spent his last years living with the poet Ioulita Iliopoulou.

Girlfriend: Ioulita Iliopoulou (poet)

    Law School: Athens University (attended, 1933-38)

    Nobel Prize for Literature 1979

Author of books:
Prosanatolizmi (Orientations) (1940, collected poems)
Ilios o protos (1943, collected poems)
Asma heroiko kai penthimo gia ton chameno anthypolochago tes Albanias (1945, collected poems)
To axion esti (1959, collected poems)
Exi kai mia tipsis yia ton ourano (1960, collected poems)
Thanatos ke anastasis tou Konstandinou Paleologhou (1971, collected poems)
To fotodhendro ke i dhekati tetarti omorfia (1971, collected poems)
Maria Nefeli (1978, collected poems)
Odysseus Elytis: Selected Poems (1981, collected poems)
Odysseus Elytis: Analogies of Light (1981, collected poems)
Tria poiemata me simea efkerias (1982, collected poems)
To imerologio enos atheatou Aprilou (1984, collected poems)
Ta Demosia ke ta Idiotika (1990, collected poems)
Ta elegia tis Oxopetras (1991, collected poems)
The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis (1997, collected poems)



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Greek Literature


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