The National Anthem of Greece consists of the first two verses of the “Hymn to Freedom”. The “Hymn to Freedom” was written by the poet Dionysios Solomos in a single month, May 1823, in Zakynthos (Zante) on the hill of his bosom friend Loudovikos Stranis.
In 1828, Nicholas Mantzaros, a Corfiot musician and friend of Solomos, set the poem to music, based on folk themes, not as a march but for a four-voice male choir.
The “Hymn to Freedom” was adopted as the national anthem in 1864, after the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece. It is the only national anthem to extol freedom.
The “Hymn to Freedom” consists of 158 quatrains of which the first 24 were adopted as the Greek National Anthem in 1865. Of these, the first two are those which are played, 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
In the first two verses of the “Hymn to Freedom”, which form the National Anthem, Solomos salutes Greece-Freedom. He identifies Greece with Freedom and extols her in words she has never heard before. He also endows the personification of Freedom with flesh and bones, and addresses her in the second person singular.
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!