By Matthew Namee (www.orthodoxhistory.org)
What follows is the text of Alexander Ypsilantis’s call to the Greek people to revolution against the Ottoman Empire. The proclamation is dated February 23 (Julian March 7), 1821. It was published in English in the Morning Chronicle of London on April 13, 1821. I made a couple of minor updates to the spelling of a few words, but otherwise the text is unchanged from that London text. As far as I know, this is the first time Ypsilantis’s proclamation has been published in English since 1821.
Ypsilantis’s proclamation contains several important references to Orthodoxy (e.g., “see our temples defiled,” “elevate the cross,” “avenge our country and our holy religion,” etc.), but it also incorporates pagan Greek imagery, most notably “The blood of our tyrants is dear to the shades” of the heroes of ancient Greece — a reference to blood feeding the shades/spirits of dead heroes in the Odyssey. While the Greek Declaration of Independence was not issued until January 1822, Ypsilantis’s proclamation is perhaps an even more pivotal document in the Greek War of Independence.
The hour has struck, valiant Greeks. For a long time the people of Europe, fighting for their rights and their liberties, invited us to follow them. They, although almost free, have sought with all their strength to increase their liberty, and thus all their happiness.
Our brethren and our friends are ready on all sides. The Serbians, the Suliotes, and all Epirus, await us in arms. Let us unite with enthusiasm, our country calls us on.
Europe has its looks fixed upon us, and is astonished at our tranquility. Let the sound, then, of our warlike trumpet, resound through all the mountains — let the valleys re-echo the terrible din of our arms! Europe will admire our valour and our trembling and debased enemies will fly before us.
The civilized people of Europe are busy in laying the foundations of their own happiness, and, full of gratitude for the benefits they received from our ancestors, desire the liberty of Greece. Showing ourselves worthy of our virtuous ancestors, and of the age, we hope to deserve their support and their aid, and many of them, partisans of liberty, will come to fight by our sides. — Let us march, friends, and you will see one of the first Powers protect our rights. You will see, even among our enemies some who will turn their backs on them, and will join us, drawn on by the justice of our cause. Let them present themselves with sincerity, and our country will receive them in her bosom. What, then, holds back your powerful arm? The enemy is weak and without courage, without vigour; our Generals are skillful, and the whole nation filled with enthusiasm.
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