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Italian Translators of Elytis on Elytis

The centenary from Odysseas Elytis’ birth was grandiosely celebrated in Rome Monday, in an event co-organized by the La Sapienzia University of Rome, the Greek Embassy in Italy and the Hellenic Foundation for Culture.

Among other events, a symposium was hosted at the Italian University, which was attended by many renowned translators and neohellenists, who have dedicated a large part of their work and studies to the Greek Nobel laureate poet.

More particularly, Mario Vitti referred to his meeting with Elytis in Paris, 1951. “I was his firend and his translator; or better, I was his translator because I was his friend” pointed out the prominent literature critic and neohellenist. He also reminded everyone present that the first translator of Elytis poetry in Italian was philhellenist Filippo Maria Pontani.

Professor emeritus Vincenzo Rotolo of the Sicilian Institute of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies “Bruno Lavagnini” referred to Greek poetry and its wealth, underling that markets and demand cannot and must not replace the basic values transmitted over the years through the Greek literature.

“The expressions Elytis employs are reflective of how impressively flexible and creative the Greek language can be” said Mr. Rotolo.

According to the Greek Ambassador of Greece in Italy Mr. Michael Kampanis, Odysseas Elytis and other Greek poets are the most important representatives of the Greek culture abroad.

“Elytis’ work ‘Axion Esti’ is closely linked to the Greek Orthodox tradition, and thus it is an integral part of the social heritage of Greece. Therefore, one can say that the respective translation can transmit only 30% of the original creation” noted Classic Philology Professor Massimo Cazzullo.

Each translator of Elytis approaches a different parameter of the poetical work and it is impossible for every poet to have a single translator, stressed out Maria Minucci, Professor of Modern Greek in the La Sapienzia University. Minucci will attempt translating and editing the comprehensive poetical work of Elytis in Italian in the future.

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