Makriyannis was a man of humble origins who became a revolutionary fighter and leader in the Greek war of independence against the Ottoman Turks in the second decade of the 19th century.
Makriyannis was a veteran of innumerable battles and a political idealist who, after Greece became an independent state with a Bavarian monarchy, was active in a movement for constitutional government.
What earned Makriyannis an honoured place in Greek literature is that, an illiterate man, he taught himself to write late in life, and, fired by the desire for the truth of his people’s fight for liberty to be known, wrote an account of his life that has the literary stature of an epic.
Makriyannis’ Memoirs weren’t published till 40 years after his death and only began to be read more widely in recent years. These are the words of General Makriyannis:
“All this has given me cause to learn how to write in my old age so that I could write it all down. I too was one of them. Let someone else write whatever he knows about me. As for myself, I will tell the bare truth. For I have a share in this country where I and my children will live. For I was young and grew old before my time from these horrors brought ?n my country. I have five wounds in my body from various battles for my country, and I have come out of it only half a man. Most of the time I am bedridden, debilitated by it all. I glorify God for not depriving me of my life, and I am grateful to my country for honoring me with promotions in keeping with my position and circumstances up to the rank of General. I live like a human being with the blessings God has bestowed upon me, without ever feeling a pang of conscience and without ever having deprived anyone of even a foot of land.”
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