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Roderick Beaton-Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King’s College London

Posted on Mar 15, 2015 | 0 comments




Roderick Beaton is Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King’s College London, a post he has held since 1988. He has written widely on Greek literature and culture from the twelfth century to the present. His books include An Introduction to Modern Greek Literature (2nd edition 1999, also published in Greek as (Εισαγωγή στη νεότερη Ελληνική λογοτεχνία), the award-winning biography George Seferis: Waiting for the Angel (2003), and the novel Ariadne’s Children (1995), both also translated into Greek. He has published translations from Modern Greek verse and fiction, including works by Embirikos, Seferis, Solomos, and the novel Fool’s Gold by Maro Douka. His edition and translation of A Levant Journal by George Seferis (published by Ibis Editions, Jerusalem) was awarded the Hellenic Foundation for Culture Prize for Translation in 2008. His most recent books are Ο Καζαντζάκης μοντερνιστής και μεταμοντέρνος)  and (co-edited with David Ricks) The Making of Modern Greece: Romanticism, Nationalism and the Uses of the Past, 1797-1896, both published in 2009.

For the period October 2009 to September 2012 he haδ been awarded a Leverhulme Major Fellowship to work on his project, a monograph provisionally entitled, Byron’s War: The Greek Revolution and the English Romantic Imagination. During the last three months of 2010 he wαs Visiting Fellow at the British School at Athens.

Selected publications:

Folk poetry of modern Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1980, 229 pp., paperback reissue, 2004

– The medieval Greek romance. Cambridge University Press, 1989, 261 pp.; 2nd ed., revised and expanded: London: Routledge, 1996, 301 pp. Greek translation: Αθήνα, Καρδαμίτσας, 1996; Italian translation: Rubbettino, 1997

– An introduction to modern Greek literature. Oxford University Press, 1994, 426 pp. Greek translation, revised and slightly expanded: , 1996; paperback edition, revised and updated: Oxford UP, 1999, 420 pp.

– George Seferis: Waiting for the angel. A biography. London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003 (512 pp.); Greek translation: Αθήνα, Ωκεανίδα, 2003

– From Byzantium to Modern Greece: Medieval literature and its modern reception, Aldershot: Variorum (Reprints series), 2008

–  [Kazantzakis as a modernist and postmodernist]. Αθήνα, Καστανιώτης, 2009, 203 pp.

Source: Beaton’s CV







Byron’s War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution Roderick Beaton:


[…] It has been a destructive legacy and still is. Europe learned to distrust Greece and Greece learned to beware of strangers bearing gifts. ‘It is a fear that has haunted Greek society and political life ever since,’ Beaton writes, in what sounds very much like a prospectus for the sequel to Byron’s War, and events since have shown it was not unfounded. Indeed, distrust of foreign interests, and still more of those of fellow-Greeks who might be supposed to have sold out to them, has probably done more than any other single factor to stunt the growth and self-confidence of the Greek state, from Byron’s time, through the long schism of the 20th century, to the debt crisis that broke out in 2010.

But that, as Roderick Beaton says, ‘is another story waiting to be told.’

 Source: Spectator


Portrait of Byron in Greek national dress by Thomas Phillips



Ο Δημήτρης Σαλαπάτας παρουσιάζει τον Καθ. Roderick Beaton


Εθνική εκδήλωση της Εταιρείας Πελοποννησίων Μεγ. Βρετανίας, την 25η Μαρτίου 2014, στο Ελληνικό Κέντρο Λονδίνου!




The Making of Modern Greece

Nationalism, Romanticism, and the Uses of the Past (1797–1896)



Image result for the making of modern greece

Edited by Roderick Beaton , King’s College London, UK and David Ricks, King’s College London, UK


[…] The Making of Modern Greece aims to situate the Greek experience, as never before, within the broad context of current theoretical and historical thinking about nations and nationalism in the modern world. The book spans the period from 1797, when Rigas Velestinlis published a constitution for an imaginary ‘Hellenic Republic’, at the cost of his life, to the establishment of the modern Olympic Games, in Athens in 1896, an occasion which sealed with international approval the hard-won self-image of ‘Modern Greece’ as it had become established over the previous century.

Contents: Introduction, Roderick Beaton; Part I Nationalisms Compared: the View from the Early 21st Century: Paradigm nation: the study of nationalism and the ‘canonization’ of Greece, Paschalis M. Kitromilides; What the Greek model can, and cannot, do for the modern state: the German perspective, Suzanne Marchand; Modern nations and ancient models: Italy and Greece compared, Henrik Mouritsen. Part II Towards a National History: Greek and Western Perspectives: European historiographical influences upon the young Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos, Ioannis Koubourlis; Europe, the classical polis, and the Greek nation: Philhellenism and Hellenism in 19th-century Britain, Margarita Miliori. Part III Defining Identity (1): Religion and the Nation State: From resurrection to insurrection: ‘sacred’ myths, motifs, and symbols in the Greek war of independence, Marios Hatzopoulos; Revisiting religion and nationalism in 19th-century Greece, Effi Gazi. Part IV Defining Identity (2): Insiders vs. Outsiders: The notion of nation: the emergence of a national ideal in the narratives of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ Greeks in the 19th century, Yanna Delivoria; From privileged outcasts to power players: the ‘romantic’ redefinition of the Hellenic nation in the mid-19th century, Socrates D. Petmezas; Model nation and caricature state: competing Greek perspectives on the Balkans and Hellas (1797–1896), Basil C. Gounaris. Part V The Colonial Experience: Politics and Society in the Ionian Islands: Radical nationalism in the British protectorate of the Ionian islands (1815–1864), Eleni Calligas; Class and national identities in the Ionian islands under British rule, Athanasios Gekas. Part VI Language and National Identity: A language in the image of the nation: modern Greek and some parallel cases, Peter Mackridge; The language question and the diaspora, Karen van Dyke. Part VII The Nation in the Literary Imagination: The nation between utopia and art: canonizing Dionysios Solomos as the ‘national poet’ of Greece, Vassiliki Dimoula; The novel and the crown: O Leandros and the politics of romanticism, Dimitris Tziovas; Literature as national cause: poetry and prose fiction in the national and commercial capitals of the Greek-speaking world, Alexis Politis; Autobiography, fiction, and the nation: the writing subject in Greek during the later 19th century, Michalis Chryssanthopoulos; In partibus infidelium: Alexandros Papadiamantis and Orthodox disenchantment with the Greek state, David Ricks; Afterword, Michael Llewellyn Smith; Index.

Source: Ashgate

Literature and Nation: The “Imagined Community” and the Role of Literature in the Making of Modern Greece

Roderick Beaton, King’s College London

In this paper I propose to discuss Modern Greek literature as the literature of an emergent nation. That is to say, I will not be pointing out landmarks of literary stature, so much as highlighting the role of imaginative writing, during the first century and a half, roughly, of the independent Greek state, in establishing a communal consciousness for the modern nation. In principle, I believe that the role of literature should not be assumed to be a passive one: yes, literary writers depict and in various ways reflect the political and social reality of their time; but I mean also to make the stronger claim that the production, reading and discussion of imaginative literature may themselves be constitutive of that reality.


 The War of Independence: Solomos and Kalvos

In the early 1820s, while the war of independence was at its height, two poets, each from the Ionian island of Zakynthos, but unknown to one another and writing at opposite ends of Europe, began actively imagining and promoting a collective vision of the nation that was still in the process of taking shape. Dionysios Solomos is known to posterity as the author of the Greek national anthem, but also as one of the subtlest writers in Greek to pursue the ideas and aesthetics of the Romantic movement in western Europe. His “Hymn to Liberty” (the poem that later became the national anthem) was written in Zakynthos in May 1823, and within the next two years published in bilingual editions in Italian, French and English. In it, Liberty is personified as a goddess, and addressed:

From the bones issuing forth,
the sacred bones of the Hellenes,
and as bold as in former times,
hail, o hail, Liberty! 


 At exactly the same time that Solomos was writing his “Hymn to Liberty,” far away in Geneva, Andreas Kalvos was embarking on the series of twenty Odes, of which the first ten were published in 1824. Kalvos, too, knew that “Hellenes” in the Greek language of the day meant primarily “ancient Greeks”; he became one of the first to conflate those distant precursors with the contemporary insurgents. Kalvos’s odes, written in a stiffer, more formal Greek than was used by Solomos, adopt from western eighteenth-century neoclassicism the habit of referring to everything by classical or classicizing names. So it comes as no surprise, in the second ode, “To Glory,” to find an echo of the “Famous Greek War Song” translated by Lord Byron we can see the meaning of the word “Hellenes” changing before our eyes:

Do you understand? — Run, arise
sons of the Hellenes;
glory’s hour has come,
our illustrious ancestors
let us imitate.




George Seferis

Waiting for the Angel: A Biography

Roderick Beaton




Winner of the 2004 Runciman Award

Poet, essayist, diarist, novelist, and diplomat, George Seferis brought about a revolution in the way people viewed his native Greece. Acclaimed for his thought-provoking lyric poetry, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1963. At the same time, he rose in the diplomatic corps to the position of Ambassador to Britain. This elegantly written book—the first full biography of Seferis—provides insights into his work, life, and country.

Roderick Beaton, an acknowledged authority on modern Greek literature and culture, draws on previously unknown sources to tell Seferis’s story. He describes how Seferis occupied key diplomatic positions during periods of historic crisis before, during, and after World War II. He explores Seferis’s service as Ambassador to London at a time when Greece and Great Britain were disputing the future of Cyprus, noting that some of Seferis’s finest poetry was written about that troubled island. He analyzes Seferis’s literary production and his impact on Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, and other British and American writers. Exploring the interplay between poet and diplomat, public and private, and poetry and politics in Seferis’s life and career, this book will fascinate anyone interested in twentieth-century Greek literature, culture, or history.

Source: Yale University Press



Zorba and the Greeks: Nikos Kazantzakis and the Greek Tradition

Professor Roderick Beaton of King’s College, speaking on “Zorba and the Greeks: Nikos Kazantzakis and the Greek Tradition”.

International Symposium on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the birth of Nikos Kazantzakis



Paper presented by Prof. Roderick Beaton at the International Conference on the Reception of Greek Tragic Myth in Modern Greek Poetry and Theatre of the 20th and 21st Centuries (21-22 December 2014, Nicosia-Cyprus). 









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