Constantinople (modern Istanbul) Ottoman Empire
|Occupation||Poet, novelist, journalist|
Panagiotis Soutsos (Greek: Παναγιώτης Σούτσος 1806-1868), was a Greek newspaper editor, journalist, author, and poet of the romantic school, born in Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey). He was an admirer of the ancient Greek tradition, while he used an archaic language in his works. Soutsos is known today as a visionary of the revival of the Olympic Games who inspired Evangelis Zappas to sponsor the revival of the Olympic Games. Soutsos wrote and published an article with the title "Evangelis Zappas" about the re-establishment of the Olympic Games in his own "Helios" newspaper on July 13, 1856 two whole days before Alexandros Rangavis, the foreign minister of Greece, received a letter from Zappas with details recorded in the article.
Soutsos was born in 1806 in Constantinople, from a prominent Phanariot family with a tradition in poetry and literature. After finishing his studies in Paris and Padua he moved to Transylvania. In 1833, after the end of Greek War of Independence he moved to Nafplion, at the time the capital of the newly formed Greek state. He soon founded a newspaper called Helios (Ἥλιος, "Sun") promoting the cause of Greek unity and culture.
In 1831 he wrote the dramatic poem The Wayfarer (Ὁ Ὁδοιπόρος), while three years later he published the novel Leander (Ὁ Λέανδρος). Panagiotis Soutsos wrote several erotic poems on a moderately archaic language and together with his brother Alexandros Soutsos were considered as representatives of early Greek romanticism.
Olympic revival movement
Soutsos admired the ancient Greek tradition and often wandered in the ancient ruins, while he viewed the omnipresence of classical antiquities in Greece through the prism of an inflated romanticism. In 1833 he published the poem Dialogue of the Dead, in which the ghost of Plato surveys his tattered land in dismay, wonders if he is really looking at Greece and addresses:
|“||Where are all your theaters and marble statues?
Where are your Olympic Games?
This work was the first reference for the revival of the ancient Olympic Games, as part of the revival of the ancient Greek tradition. Later, in 1835, he put his thoughts into action by writing to the Greek minister of interior, Ioannis Kolettis suggesting that March 25, the anniversary of the outbreak of the Greek war of independence, should be declared a national holiday. Soutsos proposed that in this anniversary festivities should be held including a revival of the ancient Olympics. The idea of marking March 25 as national holiday was approved, but the Olympic revival plans appear to have been stalemated that time.
Finally, in early 1856, a wealthy merchant of the Greek diaspora in Romania, Evangelis Zappas, inspired by this revival effort was determined to found the Olympics and suggested to the Greek government to sponsor the entire project of the Olympic revival, providing also cash prizes for the victors. In July, Panagiotis Soutsos wrote an enthousiastic article in the Greek press, making Zappas' proposal widely known to the public and triggering a series of events. On November 15, 1859, 25 years after he conceived the idea, the first modern revival of the athletic Olympic Games took place in Athens. Moreover, on October 18, 1859, when his Olympic dream became reality, he published an account of the Games' events paying tribute to its sponsor, Evangelis Zappas.
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