Dance of Zalongo

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Les Femmes souliotes by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858).

The Dance of Zalongo (Greek: Χορός του Ζαλόγγου, Horos tou Zalongou) was a mass suicide of women from Souli and their children during the Souliote War of 1803, near the village of Zalongo in Epirus, in the then-Ottoman Empire. The name also refers to a popular dance-song commemorating the event.[1] There is also a similar Albanian dance-song called Vaji i Zallogut ("Dance of Zalongo").[2]

History[edit]

During the Souliote War in December 1803, the Souliotes began evacuating Souli after their defeat by the forces of the local Ottoman-Albanian ruler, Ali Pasha.[3] During the evacuation, a small group of Souliot women and their children were trapped by Ali's troops in the mountains of Zalongo in Epirus.[3] In order to avoid capture and enslavement, the women threw their children first and then themselves off a steep cliff, committing suicide.[4] According to the legend, they jumped down the precipice one after the other while singing and dancing.[5] The incident soon became known across Europe. At the Paris Salon of 1827, the French artist Ary Scheffer exhibited two Romantic paintings, one of which was entitled Les Femme souliotes ("The Souliot Women").[6] Today, the Zalongo Monument on Mount Zalongo in Kassope commemorates their sacrifice.[7]

Songs[edit]

There is a popular Greek dance-song about the event, which is known and danced throughout Greece today.[8] The Greek folk song "Dance of Zalongo" has the following lyrics:

Monument commemorating the Dance of Zalongo.
English Greek

Farewell poor world,
Farewell sweet life,
and you, my poor country,
Farewell for ever

Farewell springs,
Valleys, mountains and hills
Farewell springs
And you, women of Souli

The fish cannot live on the land
Nor the flower on the sand
And the women of Souli
Cannot live without freedom

Farewell springs,
...

The women of Souli
Have not only learnt how to survive
They also know how to die
Not to tolerate slavery

Farewell springs,
...

Έχε γεια καημένε κόσμε,
έχε γεια γλυκιά ζωή
Και ’συ δύστυχη πατρίδα
έχε γεια παντοτινή.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
λόγγοι, βουνά, ραχούλες
Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
και σεις Σουλιωτοπούλες

Στη στεριά δε ζει το ψάρι
ούτ’ ανθός στην αμμουδιά
Κι οι Σουλιώτισσες δεν ζούνε
δίχως την ελευθεριά.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
...

Οι Σουλιώτισσες δε μάθαν
για να ζούνε μοναχά
Ξέρουνε και να πεθαίνουν
να μη στέργουν στη σκλαβιά.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
...

An Albanian dance-song called Vaji i Zallogut ("Dance of Zalongo") was developed with lyrics that refer to the same aforementioned mass suicide:[2]

English Albanian

Mosko1 afoot, has left her baby in the ground,
Hits this woman, this brave woman,
Her gun and cannon everything scares.
"Look here girls, how close they are!"

Even walls became ash, but Dhespo1 as always stands up,
To her girls speaks, with voice and calamity.
"Girls, slaves of the Turkish can we be?
Follow me, girls, our place is down there!"

Moskua në këmbë, foshnjën përdhe ka lënë,
Qëllon a s’qëllon kjo grua, deli grua,
Pushka top gjithçka zhurit.
"Vështrojuni një çikë more, si jeni bërë meit!"

Edhe muret u bënë hi, po Dhespua përherë në këmbë,
Nuseve ç’u thërret, me zë e me gjëmë.
"Skllave të turkut bija, a mund të bëhemi ne?
Pas meje, mori nuse, vendin e kemi atje!"

1 Dhespo is the wife of Giorgos Botsaris and Mosko was the wife of Lambros Tzavelas.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]


Coordinates: 39°8′59″N 20°40′57″E / 39.14972°N 20.68250°E / 39.14972; 20.68250