1. In the Land Between the Seas

We are Salentine, citizens of the world
deeply rooted in the Messapians
with the Greeks and Byzantines.
If you don’t forget where you come from
You better value your own culture [1]
This is the refrain of the song Le Radici ca tieni (The Roots You Have), by the local Salentine band SudSoundSystem. It mentions the Messapians, as well as the Greeks and Byzantines, prompting the listener to engage with the past in order to grasp and give “value to your own culture,” as they sing. Indeed, because of its strategic location, Salento has always been a territory of passage, a land in between the seas. Archaeological data confirm the Messapian presence between the seventh and the third centuries BCE, while the foundation of the polis of Taranto—which dates to 706 BCE—was part of the colonization of Southern Italy, an area known collectively as Magna Graecia. After two centuries, the Greeks were ousted by the Romans, and with the fall of the Western Roman Empire seven centuries later, Salento was conquered by Germanic tribes and the Saracens. Whether the Greek language endured during this time is a pivotal question that has long interested philologists and historians, and that has been answered only provisionally rather than conclusively. In the sixth century CE, the Byzantines established their presence in the area, aiming to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire. They renamed the territory Terra d’Otranto, and for the most part it remained under Byzantine rule until the Norman Conquest in 1071 CE—other migrations were caused by Arab attacks of the ninth century. The Normans were followed by Swabians (in the twelfth century), Angevins (in the thirteenth), and Aragonese (in the fifteenth century).
Despite the Norman Conquest, Greek culture continued to flourish, surviving through the centuries. With the probable aim of gaining local support and preventing revolts, in 1099 the Normans re-founded the monastery of San Nicola di Casole, located near Otranto, the easternmost Italian city. The monastery was populated by monks who patiently reproduced precious ancient Latin and Greek manuscripts and Holy Scriptures. During the Norman era, migrations from Greece continued, bringing priests and entire populations to the westernmost province of the Empire. At the height of its splendor, San Nicola di Casole was considered the most important monastery of southern Italy and played a pivotal cultural role (see Figure 9); its school was indeed open to whoever wanted to acquire greater knowledge of Greek and Latin literature. The creations of the poetic circle of Casole—founded by the priest Nettario, and to which Giovanni Grasso, Nicola d’Otranto, and Giorgio di Gallipoli belonged—synthesized sacred and profane themes. Even though this circle’s creative output is not considered particularly innovative, it played a very important role in the preservation of the Greek language. Most importantly, for centuries the rich library of the monastery was a bridge between the West and the East that guaranteed the diffusion of Greek culture in the West and Latin culture in the East.
The fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, however, broke the link with the East, and Otranto lost its status as the gateway to the East par excellence. Not long afterward, in 1480, the Ottomans invaded Otranto, which belonged to the Kingdom of Naples at the time; this further contributed to the decline of Greek culture and language in the area. The monastery of Casole was destroyed together with its library, but some of the manuscripts survived and can now be found in a few European libraries (including Turin, Florence, Naples, Venice, Vatican City, Paris, London, and Berlin). The preservation of manuscripts is believed to be linked mainly to Sergio Stiso from Zollino, and to the activity of his scriptorium. (Giovanni Bessarione, the patriarch of Constantinople, also contributed to the survival of certain manuscripts simply because he often borrowed them without ever returning them to the monastery.) Among Stiso’s disciples was Matteo Tafuri from Soleto, a philosopher, astrologer, and magician. Stiso and Tafuri are the most illustrious representatives of ‘the Italo-Byzantine Humanism of Terra d’Otranto’ epitomized by the Monastery of Casole itself. Moreover, several scriptoria located in the area of Nardò-Soleto-Gallipoli-Maglie in fact enabled the perpetuation of Byzantine culture until the beginning of the seventeenth century. [2]
Figure 9: The remains of the Monastery of San Nicola di Casole
If the Normans had promoted Latin-rite Catholicism but opted for religious tolerance, the Council of Trento (1563), for its part, replaced Greek priests and liturgical books with Latin ones. This change had a profound effect on the religious as well as the linguistic configuration of the area: religious ceremonies, prayers, and the entire liturgy were to be administered in Latin; this struck another serious blow to the roots of the local grecità (Italian: Greekness) of the area, favoring a shift away from the use of Greek. Surprisingly or not, however, the Byzantine rite did not disappear. [3] Rather, it survived by cohabiting with the Latin rite even after the Council. As attested upon the apostolic visit of the Archbishop of Otranto, Lucio De Morra (1606–1623), the Byzantine rite was still to be found in thirteen villages, as were a total of eighty Greek priests; it survived the longest in my home village of Zollino, where it was present until 1688; in Corigliano until 1683; in Sternatia until 1664; and in Castrignano until 1663. Transition to the Latin rite deprived locals of an important communicative environment. From this time onward, the Greek linguistic and cultural heritage was transmitted orally.
From the early eighteenth century, Southern Italy was ruled by the Bourbons until the Unification of Italy in 1861. By that time, contact with the East had long been severed, and the language that survived increasingly became associated with the peasant world; knowledge of Greek history and Greek as the language of culture was restricted to educated locals, while the majority of Griko speakers typically lacked such historical consciousness. By the twentieth century, the Greek-speaking area had shrunk to a compact district south of Lecce made up of the villages of Calimera, Martignano, Sternatia, Soleto, Zollino, Martano, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano, and Melpignano.

“The Past Will Haunt Us Until We Acknowledge All of It!”

The streets of the historical center of Soleto are rather narrow, and the glow of amber lights at night give it a mysterious atmosphere. And that is appropriate, for after all mystery and magic linger in this village, which is home to the astrologer Matteo Tafuri, popularly known simply as il mago (the magician). Indeed, so strong is this sense of magic that Soleto is referred to as il paese delle macare (the village of the witches). I enjoy wandering through the historical center of town, and I never tire of admiring the Guglia, the spire tower of the Chiesa di Maria Santissima Assunta, which, according to legend, Tafuri himself erected—with the help of seven little demons—rather remarkably, a century before he was born. [4]
Francesco and I had agreed to meet that evening in the building that hosts the cultural association Nuova Messapia (New Messapia), just a few meters away not only from the humble birthplace of Tafuri, but also from my own house. The walls of the room were plastered with copies of newspapers published by the association. The association was founded in 1995 by Francesco, and a few of his friends, when he was not even eighteen years old. He is now in his early forties and an expert in local history. Among other things, he works as a tourist guide and sings in a folk music group. I had never before explicitly asked him about the choice of that name for the association.
“We chose it because Soleto is a village of Messapian origin, because we are passionate about the history of Soleto, and because we have been researching it for years. It is the village’s vocation in a way. For Soleto has a long tradition of local historians,” he paused before continuing, “Nuova Messapia does not focus only on Griko,” he emphasized, “but also on environmental issues, on art, on the territory at large, e senò ce facimu? (Salentine)—“Otherwise, what is the point?” As was our custom, we switched freely between Italian and Salentine in our discussions. Francesco started learning Griko as an adult; his mother from Corigliano understands it but is not a confident speaker, though her father was.
He noticed I was looking around at the copies of the Nuova Messapia newspaper: “Have a look at the Soleto map! It is an extraordinary find,” he said, showing me the article they published. Francesco was referring to the discovery of a fragment of a black-glazed terracotta vase (5 cm by 2.8 cm), which is believed to represent southern Salento. It lists the names of twelve Messapian cities (including Otranto, Ugento, and Leuca) and the name of Taranto. He continued, “Here there were Messapians. They were most likely of Illyrian origins, but they had absorbed the Greek influence to the point that they used the Greek alphabet. But they spoke another language ... You see, there is so little information about these people, we still do not know their cultural contribution.” [5]
Francesco always speaks rather quickly and very confidently; from time to time he demands the listener’s attention, interjecting an emphatic “Attenzione” (Italian: Listen up!”) at the beginning of an important point he wants to make, or a rhetorical “OK?” at the end of a point he has just made. He continued, “Official historiography is a joke! History is not taught well, and Byzantine history is unfortunately not taught at all at school ... I taught Griko for five years in local schools, but I didn’t teach the language. I only taught children about local history and traditions. I did that on purpose, OK? You see, all this talk about Grecìa Salentina, Griko and the rest of it, there has been a lot of focus on language, but not on history.” The cultural wealth of the Byzantine period highlights a specific temporal texture of Griko, as it were—which is recurrently referred to by cultural activists in order to vehemently reject the discourse of Griko as a “language of backward peasants.”
Francesco went on to talk about how important the Byzantine chorion of Soleto once was, and how there had been a flourishing Italo-Greek community. He explained that Nuova Messapia intends to create a center of Byzantine culture in Soleto, and to recover Byzantine manuscripts copied in Salento and now dispersed throughout Europe. He went on to argue that the official late Byzantine historiography, which goes from the Norman Conquest of Salento in the eleventh century to the end of the Byzantine rite in the Terra d’Otranto in the second half of the eighteenth century, perpetuates some major “historical mistakes.” [6]
“Greek tourists, for instance, are convinced we were Orthodox and I will never stop repeating it: We have never been Orthodox! Attenzione, many people mistakenly believe and keep saying this; but it was a mixture of the two traditions, from the Norman Conquest onwards we were Catholics who followed the Byzantine rite, while that lasted ... And I always stress it when tourists come to visit La Chiesa di Santa Sofia e Stefano.” I have indeed seen him spending hours explaining in great detail the frescoes of the church, painted in the mid-fourteenth century (see Figures 10 and 11). [7] “There must be a reason if we call ourselves Salentine-Greeks, right? Salento has always been a bridge between the East and the West, and that’s our beauty. People do not … [and here he sighs] We do not know our own history well, Manu.” At that point I knew another “Listen up!” was coming: “Attenzione: the past will haunt us until we acknowledge all of it!”
Figure 10: The church of Santa Sofia and Stefano (outside). Credit: Daniele Coricciati
Figure 11: The church of Santa Sofia and Stefano (inside). Credit: Daniele Coricciati
The historical sketch I presented at the beginning of the chapter may seem clear and comprehensive, but the sources available have not thus far provided all the factual evidence expected by historicism—and knowledgeable locals such as Francesco, as we have just seen. The origins of the Messapians are still debated—according to Herodotus they descended from Cretans who had been driven ashore on their voyage homewards from Sicily, to which they had traveled to avenge the death of Minos; it remains uncertain whether they were of Cretan-Mycenaean or Cretan-Illyrian origins, and whether they were Hellenized thanks to contact with Taranto or Greece. It is also debated whether today’s Griko-speaking villages were even an integral part of the Magna Grecia Empire. Local history is indeed still immersed in mystery. Such lack of ‘factual/historical data’ may at times lead to confusion, at times speculation, Francesco argued; he is emphatic that “the past haunts us,” and he is very clear about the need to search for it, to get to know it. He defines himself as a local historian and relies on the power of historiography to reveal to us the past of Griko and the past of the place. [8]
As you would expect, not everyone looks for the evidence Francesco is after. For others ‘evidence’ may lose its centrality, and may become less important if the past is based on a belief, or on the interpretation of historical facts. At times it is exactly this lack of factuality, whether real of perceived—these being uncertainties about the past and of the language itself—that keep locals engaged in it and/or in speculating about it. What I indeed witnessed in the field was locals’ recurrent practice of ‘evoking the past’, and how they might select a specific chapter of the history of Griko and establish a cultural but also affective relationship with that particular past. For Francesco, for instance, it is particularly important to correct the ‘historical mistakes’ of the Byzantine period, which constitutes a central component of his discursive act of evoking the past.
If historicism fails to provide ‘factuality,’ as it were, so does philology, to which I turn next. Both of these approaches leave room for the persuasive power of ideologies about language, and for cultural perceptions of the past to emerge. This becomes apparent when considering the ideological debate about the origins of Griko and its first ideological revival promoted by local admirers of Ancient Greece—the philhellenists from Calimera.
The Language Debate
Ti ene e glòssama? Pedàimmu! …
'En i' lloja tze chartì, …
E glòssama e' ffonì manechò. …
Me rotà pos entzìgnase, pos èttase 's emà,
is tin èfer' etturtea, is tin èmase pronò.
Is to tzeri, pedàimmu!
E’ ssu ndiàzzete n'o tzeri.
E’ ffonì pu vizzàsamo atti’ mmana …
fonì pu mas èmase a traùdia,
ce a pràmata teù, ce in agapi,
ce o kkosmo.
What is our language? My child!
It is not words on paper
Our language is voice only …
You ask me how it began, how it reached us,
who brought it here, who learned it first.
Who knows, my child!
It does not matter.
It is the voice we sucked from our mother’s
breast, that taught us songs,
prayers, love
and the world.
We do not know anything about the origins of the Greek villages[;] no authoritative document, no chronicle, no local or popular tradition allows us to establish … even approximately the epoch to which these villages date. The same mystery blurs the origins of the Greek minorities that still exist today … in Calabria.
Rohlfs 1980:53
The origins of these villages is a mystery that has engaged historians, historical linguists, and dialectologists ever since they were rediscovered in the nineteenth century by the German philologist Karl Witte. In the absence of authoritative and uncontested historical sources dating the origins of the Southern-Italian Greek dialect enclaves, the question became philological as scholars have tried to establish them, looking for linguistic proof to relate them either to the Magna Graecia colonies or to Byzantine times. Yet they have failed to resolve what we could call ‘the Griko and Greko language question’; the origins remain immersed in a mysterious aura, as it were. [9] My aim here is not to contribute to this issue in linguistic terms but to point to the climate of Romanticism and nationalist bias in which the debate was long articulated; indeed, establishing when these areas were first Hellenized and whether the Greek language survived the seven centuries of Roman occupation was never simply a philological or historical question.
The German philologist Gerhard Rohlfs first visited these areas in the early 1920s, and provides the richest study on this topic. The retention of some Doric traits (the long /a/; the geminate consonants; and the infinitive after verbs of volition, seeing, and hearing, which have completely disappeared in MG) led him to argue for the Magna Graecia hypothesis. He also pointed to a long cohabitation in a situation of bilingual symbiosis between the Greeks and the Latins since early times, and to the influence of the Greek substratum on the local Italo-Romance dialects—in which following Greek the infinitive is replaced by the use of finite structures, for instance. The topic soon attracted the interest and attention of Greek scholars, who considered Griko and Calabrian Greek to be a continuation of the Hellenism of Magna Graecia. Non-Greek and non-Italian scholars instead consider them as continuations of the Hellenistic Koine, and therefore as participating until the late Middle Ages in the same linguistic evolution as the rest of the Greek language. However, the presence in their structure and vocabulary of a few archaic traits points to the survival of Doric elements, and to an uninterrupted Greek presence in Italy since ancient times. [10]
Yet the Magna Graecia thesis was met with strong opposition by Italian linguists—among them the local linguist Oronzo Parlangeli. They supported instead the Byzantine origin of Griko and Greko, which was first argued by the Italian linguist Giuseppe Morosi (1870) on the basis of their similarities with MG. [11] Among more recent contributions, the Italian scholar Franco Fanciullo defines the controversy between Rohlfs and Italian linguists as mainly ideological, and the debate as a “false problem,” arguing that it was constructed on the premise of a strict Greek/Latin antithesis (2001:69). Instead, Fanciullo suggests an extensive symbiosis and millennia of linguistic exchange (the fact that there was Greek does not mean that Latin had not reached Southern Italy) and talks of a historical Greek/Italo-Romance bilingualism in the South of Italy since Byzantine times (proven by documents that refer to mixed marriages). Bilingualism indeed may have been the tool through which the Greek language managed to resist over time (Montinaro 1994:28).
The debate over the origins of the language, together with all its intricacies, ultimately hides more than it reveals. Indeed, Rohlfs’s proposal came during the Fascist period, at a time in which, from the Italian standpoint, his argument put in danger the very ‘Italianness’ of its speakers (Fanciullo 2001:70). To accept the possibility that entire Italian regions (Sicily, Calabria, and Salento in Apulia) may have resisted a ‘complete’ Latinization, and that they continued speaking Greek for centuries after the end of the Roman Empire, would have been in opposition to this nationalist ideology, which regarded the Italian nation as the ‘daughter’ of the Roman conquest. Likewise, the tendency of Greek scholars to support the Magna Graecia origins reflects Romantic Hellenism, which supported the very emergence of Greece as a nation-state. It crucially points to the legacy of the discipline of classical philology that had been instrumental in constructing a continuous past that would link Modern to Ancient Greece; the presence of a unique language from Homer to the present time, despite its evolution, was to become proof of such continuity. The legacy of this historically produced language ideology therefore also manifested itself in the way that Greek philologists continued to treat the debate about the origins of Griko and Calabrian Greek.
The story of Griko I recount here is somehow still connected with what represents the first ‘language ideological debate’ (Blommaert 1999)—in which linguistic facts were adduced only to confirm the underlying ideologies. Not incidentally, Italian scholars have tended to support the Byzantine thesis, whereas Greek scholars, influenced by a Romantic Hellenism, have argued for the Magna Graecia thesis. The debate over the origins of these Greek varieties ultimately shows how contested language ideologies are appropriated differently, at different historical times, and by different people with different aims. Yet the sociocultural effects of the different positions are ongoing, regardless of the fact that the philological debate per se seems to have moved further to the margins lately, as the scholarly attention given to these languages has fostered the circulation of specific language ideologies. With reference to the Calabrian case, Christina Petropoulou (1997) comments that speakers at large started to appropriate the discourse about the ancient origins of the language in the 1960s, when a Greek Orthodox priest told them that they spoke “like Homer.” What I witnessed in Grecìa Salentina is that alternative and at times opposing language ideologies are reproduced locally, and their multifaceted effects persist in many of the current ideological debates about Griko.

A Diachronic Sketch: Historical Bilingualism

Today it has become accepted fact that premodern European countries were essentially multilingual, and that national languages are not a given; they are instead the result of historical processes of linguistic unification and standardization, and this is particularly true of Italy. Moreover, Standard Italian derives from Florentine, which became a model for a pan-Italian literary language thanks to Dante’s Divina Commedia; in other words, it was not the language of a community but of a cultural tradition dating to the early fourteenth century that was selected as the ‘national language’ when Italy emerged as a modern nation-state in 1861, five-and-a-half centuries later. At that time, only 2.5 percent of the total population could speak ‘Italian,’ while 97.5 percent of the population—peasants and aristocrats alike—spoke other regional languages, and Italian was a foreign language to them (De Mauro 1970). After the political unification, national statesman Massimo d’Azeglio notably said, “We have made Italy, now we have to make Italians.” [12]
The Italian philologist Morosi visited the Griko-speaking villages of Salento in 1867, and his work provides a picture of the local languagescape immediately after the Unification of Italy. The story of Griko I recount in this book starts with his prediction of ‘Griko’s death foretold’; Morosi indeed referred to the process of forced linguistic unification and to the destructive power of Italian, which informed his prediction that Griko would disappear within the following two generations. He even commented at the time that it was difficult to find monoglot Griko speakers, and observed that particularly men, because of their trading activities, “know and use both Greek and Italian … and are, therefore, called ‘uomini di due lingue’” (Morosi 1870:182). His reference to “Italian” is, however, misleading: these ‘people with two languages’ spoke Griko and Salentine—the local Italo-Romance variety used around the Griko-speaking area of Salento. The centuries-long contact between Griko and the surrounding Salentine-speaking environment intensified in the nineteenth century, when communications with nearby villages improved and when, due to commerce and trade, Griko speakers were brought to learn and increasingly use Salentine; this led to varying degrees of bilingualism, and to further language ‘interference.’
The contact zone had definitely been shifting for centuries. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, the Griko-speaking area included the entire Salentine peninsula to the Taranto-Brindisi line, even though it remains uncertain whether it was inhabited by a Griko/Italo-Romance mixed population (Rohlfs 1980:76). The shifting boundaries of the Griko-speaking area therefore shed light on the issue of the identity, as it were, of the Griko-speaking community. Rohlfs himself had in fact argued that Griko speakers were not ‘foreign bodies’—cultural outsiders who shared nothing with the nearby villages; this was in contrast to, for example, the Albanian community of Taranto province and the Franco-Provençal people of Foggia province, both of whom had a strong ethnic and cultural identity separate from the majority. This fact points to a much longer period of coexistence, and to the exemplary integration of cultures and languages. Ultimately it shows how Griko speakers held and are holding onto their language, but also how they always shared and share much of their culture with speakers of Salentine. As far back as our information goes, they in fact did not consider themselves to be ethnically different (in the modern sense of the term) from Salentine speakers.
When I say that Greek and Salentine coexisted in symbiosis, I do not mean to infer that all locals were bilingual, nor that the penetration of bilingualism was either uniform or simultaneous across the villages; neither do I imply that it was internally equally distributed. Bilingualism here should not be taken to mean a widespread and undifferentiated use of both languages, but refers instead to the historical co-presence of Griko and Salentine in the area; in short, it is a case of “historical bilingualism” (Fanciullo 2001). Parlangeli (1952) argued that in the villages of Martano and Zollino, for instance, this co-presence is attested since the sixteenth century, while the villagers of Sternatia and Soleto were still monolinguals. This highlights the heterogeneity of this phenomenon within the very Griko-speaking area, with bilingual villages adjacent to Griko monolingual villages. Bilingualism, moreover, is often characterized by varying degrees of competence in the two languages—including passive competence—and depends on a number of variables, including occupation and gender. The educated bourgeoisie would have been closer to bilingualism, whereas peasants and the ‘lower’ strata of the populations would have been Griko monolinguals, or would have used the two languages in different contexts (Griko within the family and Salentine in more formal situations—what is known as diglossia). [13] Morosi’s reference to ‘people with two languages’ therefore needs to be read in light of these observations.
The influence of Salentine on Griko is a common outcome of language contact, where languages influence each other to varying degrees; on the one hand, the Greek ‘character’ of South Italian dialects is due to the influence/interference of the Greek substrata on them; on the other, the Romance ‘character’ of Griko is the result of vocabulary and structural borrowings from Salentine. Recall Adriana’s comment in the previous chapter that Griko and Salentine are mixed. Indeed, this process gives rise to many ‘mixed forms’ such as pensèo (first-person singular); this is an adaptation of the Salentine/Italian infinitive pensare (to think), and such forms were already attested towards the end of the nineteenth century. [14]
Because of its mixed character, Griko started being referred to as a ‘bastard language’—its very speakers had internalized this (mis)belief. Although when this label started being used cannot be established with certainty, it is fair to assume that it dates back to the nineteenth century, for this is when the progressive influence of Salentine on Griko reached an extensive phase. Not coincidently, I found its first written reference in the writings of local intellectuals from Calimera in the early twenty-first century; locals continued to refer to Griko as a ‘bastard language’ throughout this time, and it is only recently that this pejorative label has lost its currency. In discussion of plants and animals, the term ‘bastard’ indicates mixed species; when extended from flora and fauna to people, it means ‘illegitimate.’ Likewise, a bastard language is the outcome of the mixture of two languages—a ‘hybrid,’ in neutral terms; the negative connotation of the term ‘bastard’ is, in turn, based on a belief in a presupposed purity of the two forms if isolated; a bastard language like a bastard animal or person therefore lacks ‘purity.’ Symbolically, Griko would therefore appear to be polluting.
The debate over the ‘purity’ and, by contrast, the ‘pollution’ of Griko emerges in the writings of local philhellenic intellectuals from Calimera, who set out to prove the noble origins of Griko and so strived to give it the same symbolic capital as Greek. As the Lecce Group argued, this ideological approach developed at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century in response to the social changes in post-unification Italy, which broke a perceived sense of continuity. Yet these local intellectuals were not simply concerned with the ‘purity’ of the language. The unification of Italy had caused a rift between the high and the low strata of Italian society in general, which the intellectuals perceived as endangering their social role; to them, the past seemed ‘pure’ and in contrast to the changing social environment. Moreover, Palumbo and the philhellenists from Calimera were educated in the most active centers of the Italian culture of the end of the nineteenth century; they represented the link between the periphery and the center of the national culture, and participated in the Italian classical and humanistic tradition (The Lecce Group 1979). [15]
In what follows, I take the Lecce Group’s argument a step further, showing how the underlying ideological orientation of the circle of Calimera was also informed by what was happening at the same time in Greece. The moral panic about the disappearance of Griko led to the ‘first ideological revival of Griko’; this also represents the first instance of the interplay between the local, national, and transnational language ideologies of Griko.

Vito Domenico Palumbo and the First Ideological Revival of Griko

Vito Domenico Palumbo (1854–1918) of Calimera is considered the most illustrious Hellenist. Palumbo was a major local scholar and the father of the circle of local intellectuals that emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century. Gathering around him, they followed his attempt to give Griko a renewed prestige and prove its nobility and purity. Palumbo was an eclectic personality—a journalist, philologist, folklorist, and Griko poet. He was born into an affluent family; he studied Social Sciences in Florence, and then law and literature in Naples (although he largely remained an autodidact). Among his many activities, Palumbo translated into Griko works by Dante, Goethe, Shelley, Poe, and Carducci, along with works from MG by Paparrigopulos, Bernardakis, and Drosinis, to mention but a few. Although he never completed his degree in Literature, he taught at various middle schools in Sicily and Apulia. [16]
A specific episode of Palumbo’s life was to have a great impact not only on his personal story, but on the ‘story of Griko’ that was to follow. Because Palumbo had distinguished himself in medieval studies, the Italian Ministry of Public Education granted him a scholarship to improve his knowledge of MG in Greece. He spent one year in Athens (1882–1883), and there he got in contact with various Greek poets (such as Baby Anninos and Demetrios Bikelas) and intellectuals, with whom he subsequently maintained regular communication. His stay in Athens was, indeed, to have long-lasting effects: that year he was nominated as a correspondent member of the Parnassòs Literary Society (established in 1865), and managed to gain the esteem and admiration of Hellenists beyond Greece, including in Istanbul and Alexandria. His work on local folklore was also well-known among foreign philologists (such as Dawkins, director of the archeological Institute of Athens, and Pernot at the University of Paris) who respected him, and with whom he remained in regular contact. Some even visited him in Calimera. [17]
The contacts that Palumbo maintained with Greek intellectuals and Hellenists had a profound impact on him. Yet, equally crucial for his formation must have been his friendship with Nikolaos Politis, the father of Modern Greek folklore studies, who was “the dearest of his Greek friends for the long and reciprocal esteem and brotherly affection” (Stomeo 1958). They shared a common interest in and commitment to folklore studies through the collection of popular songs and poems, and their mutual correspondence shows their intellectual affinities. Palumbo dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the collection of love and religious songs, lullabies, proverbs, and morolòja, which until then had only been transmitted orally, and which he transcribed into his ‘notebooks.’ It seems that part of his collection was lost after his death, for only fourteen of these many notebooks have survived. [18] It is not surprising, therefore, that Palumbo—but also what I call ‘the philhellenic circle of Calimera’—was also influenced both by the nation-building process in which Greek folklorists such as Politis participated, and by the national logos of sovereignty and nation-building that was developing in Greece at the time thanks to influential scholars.
On the other shore of the sea, Greece had recently emerged as a nation-state, thanks to the support of Western European philhellenism. A strong admiration of the Greek classical aesthetic and philosophy had developed in France, Germany, and England in the nineteenth century, providing Greece with the ideological foundations of its raison d’être, as it were. Together with philology, historiography, and archaeology, Greek folklore contributed to constructing a linear and continuous timeline linking Modern to Ancient Greece, which would in turn prove the continuity of the ‘Greek identity’ in all its manifestations and expressions (see Herzfeld 1986). Language was soon elevated as the purest ‘substance’ of Greek identity, and a central concern of Greek folklore studies was the collection of ‘monuments of the word’ (MG: mnimía logou). Thanks to Politis, these came to mean traditional narrations, songs, proverbs, and customs, which “are transmitted only [by] word of mouth from parent to child, from old to young” (Politis 1871:vix, cited in Herzfeld 1986:100); crucially they were to prove, as it were, a “partial but unbroken continuation of an earlier life” (Politis 1909:6, cited in Herzfeld 1986:104). [19]
Not coincidentally, Palumbo defined his ambitious project as the collection of “Literary and popular Salentine-Greek monuments.” [20] This reference highlights how he shared the romantic vision that fascinated philhellenists. Palumbo followed in the modus operandi of Greek folklorists, collecting folklore and ‘monuments of the word’ with the intention of building a body of evidence that would prove Griko’s prestige. He similarly engaged in reestablishing a written tradition, having internalized the belief that for a language to be recognized as ‘real’ it needed to be written down: folklore and language were thus turned into proof of the link with Greece. The philhellenists’ gaze upon Greece, however, also guided Palumbo in following Greek folklorists’ aims. To prove Griko’s noble origins and to give it more prestige, he tried to link it to a remote and glorious past. Evidence of this emerges in the lecture that Palumbo gave to the Parnassòs Literary Society in Athens in 1896. In his talk, entitled Le colonie Greco-salentine (The Salentine-Greek Colonies), he refers to the origins of the language and its people, arguing for the presence in Southern Italy of “traces of Italic Hellenism, or of Byzantium; in some places one can find both together and in abundance” (in Stomeo 1958:59). He mentions a number of Byzantine migrations from various places occurring at different times, and suggests that they might have found in Salento the remains of Magna Graecia populations. He then proudly refers to Salentine-Greek as “the living monument of the ancient Hellenism of Southern Italy.”
Palumbo’s words attempt to defend the noble origins of Griko, tracing them back to Hellenism. Accordingly, Griko not only was not a ‘bastard language’ but ideologically became about the “extreme survival of the Greek/classical civilization, rendering the myth of Hellenism alive and eternal” (The Lecce Group, 1979:358). He concluded his talk by asking “mother Greece” to help him establish a school in Calimera in order to keep Griko alive. He also reassured the audience that Italy would not have any objections, as the Salentine-Greek colony would render “mother Italy” even more beautiful (in Stomeo 1958:84). [21] Italy had recently emerged as a nation-state, and certainly the Italian language—as well as the social—question was in its early stages. Palumbo’s double reference to mothers Greece and Italy also demonstrates how he skillfully moved between a Greek and Italian folklore modus operandi. Italian folklorists, in fact, emphasized Italy’s local and regional character, whereas Greek folklorists engaged in incorporating local differences in the discourse of national homogeneity (Herzfeld 2003:287). At the same time, Palumbo deliberately sees Greece as the ‘agent of recognition’ of Griko’s deserved prestige, and equally as an agent of support to avoid the danger that the language would ultimately be abandoned through the Italian post-unification process.
Yet in his ideological representation, Palumbo selectively ignores the linguistic complexities that had historically affected Griko, as well as the social complexities—past and present—affecting the community. He makes no mention of Griko’s hybrid character—of the already widespread influence of Salentine on Griko. What is at play here is the semiotic process of ‘erasure’:
the process in which ideology, in simplifying the field of linguistic practices, renders some persons or activities or sociolinguistic phenomena invisible ... elements that do not fit its interpretive structure—that cannot be seen to fit—must either be ignored or be transformed.
Irvine and Gal 1995:974
This semiotic and equally ideological process becomes even more evident when one closely examines one of his notebooks, the ‘Collection of Salentine-Greek poems of Corigliano d’Otranto’ (Raccolta di poesie greche di Corigliano d’Otranto). In reality these were not directly collected by Palumbo; as he clarifies in a footnote, he copied them from a notebook by someone identified simply as Mr. Fiorentino, a notebook that N. Marti gave Palumbo. This collection includes eight religious poems, forty love poems, and twenty-two funerary songs. Salvatore Sicuro (1922–2014), another distinguished Griko scholar from Martano, edited this notebook, which was published relatively recently (1978); in his introduction, he explains his editorial decision to “bring back the text to the local form commonly understood by Griko-speakers” (Sicuro 1978:12). He writes,
Palumbo, being concerned by the idea to embellish the text, had purified it from phonetic characteristics specific of Corigliano in order to render it an ideal Salentine-Greek, valid for the entire Grecìa, and he had introduced, or transcribed from the manuscript he received by Mr. Fiorentino, some variants which are not attested in Corigliano, nor in any other Griko-speaking village of Salento.
Sicuro 1978:11
What Sicuro says here refers to the introduction of MG words into Griko. He also notes that only the section of the collection dedicated to love poems represents an oral heritage, one shared by the rest of the villages of GS. He argues that, in light of their linguistic and stylistic characteristics, the first and particularly the third section, dedicated to “funerary songs,” should be ascribed to the same author and, crucially, to someone familiar with classical studies. In particular, funerary songs included in this collection distinguish themselves “for a great purity of the language. The assimilation of terms foreign to Griko appears to be almost intentionally avoided” (Sicuro 1978:18). This intentional ‘erasure’ of the linguistic influence of Salentine on Griko—a practice that other cultori del Griko were also to follow—resembles what had recently happened in Greece; there katharévousa was crafted as the national language, and, in response to philhellenic ideals, the morphology of ancient Greek was adopted, and it was purified of all foreign loanwords (mainly Turkish, but also of Italian, Slavic, and Albanian origin). This was ideology in action. [22]
This linguistic type of erasure is by its very nature also an erasure of the historical and social ‘hybridity’ of Griko and its community. The extensive Greek-Italo-Romance symbiosis and linguistic exchanges also meant that Griko cultural identity could not/cannot be compartmentalized and totally differentiated from the surrounding Salentine-speaking area, much as the Greek linguistic and cultural ‘flavor’ cannot be denied to the surrounding areas, even if over time they did not retain Griko. We see how, on the one hand, Hellenism is selectively highlighted from the available temporal repertoire; on the other hand, the linguistic, social, and cultural specificities of Griko that do not fit into this language ideology are selectively ‘ignored or transformed.’ The legacy of Palumbo was to live with the philhellenic circle of Calimera.

The Legacy of Palumbo: The Philhellenic Circle of Calimera

Various intellectuals from Calimera gathered around Palumbo to continue his mission. As was true of Palumbo, they were from Calimera, but were not ‘local’ scholars. They were educated in the most active centers of Italian culture at the end of the nineteenth century, centers such as Florence, Rome, and Naples. The most well-known among them are Giuseppe Gabrieli (1872–1942), brothers Pasquale (d. 1925) and Antonio Lefons (1882–1952), and Brizio de Sanctis (1863–1951).
Giuseppe Gabrieli attended the seminary of Lecce and Otranto; he then moved to Naples to study Oriental languages and civilizations, and then to Florence, where he graduated. He moved to Rome in 1902, where he worked first as librarian of the Royal Academy of the Lincei, and from 1915 at the University of Rome, teaching Arabic language and literature. He published several articles about Palumbo and Grecìa Salentina, mainly in scholarly journals dedicated to Byzantine and Oriental studies. Brizio de Sanctis contributed a biography of Gabrieli in which he stressed that Gabrieli “illustrated the traditions, customs, voices and soul of the past, and by now poor and small but still singing, Greek intellectual heritage” (cited in Aprile 1972:378). Brizio de Sanctis attended the seminary of Otranto and Lecce; he graduated in philosophy and letters from the University of Naples in 1888, and subsequently worked as a teacher and schoolmaster in Lecce.
Of the ‘philhellenic circle of Calimera,’ only Antonio and his brother Pasquale Lefons came from a humble family; however, thanks to their generous and educated uncle, Don Vito Lefons, a priest, they managed to get a formal education. Antonio studied in Florence, where he spent his life working as a lawyer of the Florence Forum; an author of poems in Griko, he returned to Calimera in the last years of his life. His brother Pasquale, by contrast, studied philology in Florence under the guidance of Hellenists such as Domenico Comparetti. He was a poet, polyglot, and translator; he continued to collect linguistic data and traditions of Calimera, as well as of its contacts with Athens, where in 1912 he gave a talk about Griko at an Orientalist congress. [23]
The intellectuals of the ‘philhellenic circle of Calimera’ inspired by Palumbo both engaged in the collection of folklore and contributed to the literary repertoire in Griko with their own productions as poets. Following his path, they faithfully reproduced his ideological orientation, the same tropes and references to Hellenism, and a sort of idealization of the relationship to Greece. Their writings are, indeed, permeated by a romantic connection to Greece—ancient and modern—which becomes a spiritual connection. We hear it in their writing; referring to Palumbo, Stomeo—another philhellenist from Martano—writes, “He felt himself spiritually reunited with our noble ancestors and felt recalled with invincible impetus towards the soil of neighboring Greece, from a deep nostalgic feeling of brotherhood” (Stomeo 1971:xxi, my emphasis). Palumbo and his disciples perceived and depicted Greece as a second motherland. This language ideology led to them promoting the Magna Graecia origins of the language—although, as paradoxical as it may seem, the same authors elsewhere historically sustain the language’s Byzantine origins (The Lecce Group 1979:358).
While I was looking for more information about them in order to analyze their own contribution, I noticed not only how they kept affectionately citing each other, but also how they abundantly produced linguistic, philological, and literary contributions about Griko. I repeatedly encountered sentences like, “In the name of the old master, local Hellenists engaged in battles, published magazines, held demonstrations, gathered anthologies” (G. De Santis 1960, cited in Aprile 1972:73). In other words, they represented what one might call the first metalinguistic Griko community, and did so consciously. Responding to the ‘moral panic’ about Griko’s imminent death, as it were, and following Palumbo, their aim was “to save, divulge, impart scientific and artistic dignity to the Salentine-Greek heritage of language, poetry and folklore already in the process of rapid decline” (F. Gabrieli 1957, cited in Aprile 1972:77). [24]
Through this ideological orientation and their very activities, the ‘philhellenic circle of Calimera’ enacted ‘a performative contradiction’ (see Tsitsipis 1998, who follows Eagleton 1991): what these philhellenists argued and proposed explicitly, their acts and practices contradicted. These intellectuals belonged to the well-educated class; most of them spoke Italian and MG—at least—and participated in the thriving national and transnational intellectual philhellenic community. The issue, however, is not only that they did not live in Calimera, that they did not use Griko daily, or that they wrote more about Griko than in Griko, as we have seen. Rather, the issue is that what they said contradicted the very genre through which they said it; they did so through philological and linguistic contributions while urging the bearers of the language—who still used the language, and who belonged to a lower social class—“to keep jealously these historical-linguistic monuments” (Giuseppe Gabrieli, cited in Stomeo 1972:xix). Thus, they also enacted a performative contradiction through their rhetoric, which strived to carve out a space for Griko in the glorious Hellenic past. Their rhetoric contrasted strongly with their experience: it had no currency for the majority of them, nor did it imply any moral or material reward. It is indeed not coincidental that the reevaluation of Griko originated mainly from the educated strata of the population, who ‘upgraded’ the language as a form of cultural capital, while the language’s real bearers would instead discard it to climb the social ladder. Interestingly, their writings not only celebrate the glorious Hellenic past, but are also permeated by an idyllic representation of the local past. These intellectuals’ own fear of the destabilizing effects that the post-unification process would cause to the social order in fact led them to project a romanticized image of a ‘pure’ local past in contrast with what they perceived as a ‘hybrid’ present. This image, which permeates their writings, equally ignored the social complexities (both past and contemporary) in the environment, as well as the real preoccupations of Griko speakers. The failure of the ‘revival,’ I argue, lies in this ‘exclusionary’ logic in essentializing blended subjectivities. Through this ideological but also interest-laden orientation, the intellectuals of the ‘philhellenic circle of Calimera’ simplified the past and ignored the then present of the Griko speakers themselves.
The first ideological revival did not reach the ‘people,’ ultimately because it was not directed to them. It therefore could not affect their linguistic practice and, indeed, it did not prevent the subsequent shift to Salentine and Italian. What delayed the shift was the isolation in which the majority of the ‘bearers of the language’ kept living, and this was linked to the underdevelopment of agriculture that persisted until the agrarian reforms of 1950–1951. Until then, by and large peasant ‘sharecroppers’ (contadini), ‘tenant farmers’ (coloni), and ‘shepherds’ (pastori), they continued to live a virtually self-sufficient existence in a semi-feudalistic regime, growing the ‘huge properties’ (masserie) of the ‘landlord' (massaro) scattered around the territory, or his fazzoletti di terra (handkerchiefs of land), situated closer to inhabited centers.
The distance between this intellectual discourse and the preoccupation of the lower strata of the population continued indeed to grow in the twenty-first century, as Griko speakers were more directly affected by the changing social environment, and were faced with uncertainties and struggles. This is what I call ‘language displacement’—an existential displacement that led them to stop transmitting Griko to their own children. I turn to discuss this in the next chapter.


[ back ] 1. All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.
[ back ] 2. People from Zollino still remember the remains of Stiso’s house, which was demolished in the late 1960s. The two inscriptions on the architraves of the windows of his house are reported as the work of Francesco Lo Parco (1919). One inscription was in Latin: “CHAOS NON CAPIT LUCEM” (Darkness does not exclude light), and the other was in Greek: “ΕΥΛΟΓΙΣΩ ΤΟΝ ΚΥΡΙΟΝ ΕΝ ΠΑΝΤΙ ΚΑΙΡΩ ΑΜΕΝ” (I will bless God in every moment).
[ back ] 3. In the Italian literature and common parlance it is often referred to as rito Greco (Greek rite). See for instance Cassoni (2000) Il tramonto del rito greco in Terra d’Otranto (The End of the Greek Rite in the Land of Otranto).
[ back ] 4. The Church was in reality commissioned by Raimondello Orsini, Prince of Taranto and Duke of Soleto, in 1397.
[ back ] 5. The Messapi were familiar with literacy, and adapted the Ionic/Tarentine Greek alphabet as shown in the fifty inscriptions found in the area. Despite its use of Greek characters, their language is only partially decipherable. The map Francesco refers to here was found in 2003 during a dig carried out in Soleto by Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle of Montpellier University. It is now kept in the Archaeological National Museum of Taranto. Its authenticity has been—and still is—debated, but if confirmed, the Soleto Map would represent the oldest map of anywhere in the Western world, dating from about 500 BCE (see Lombardo 2011, 2014, among others).
[ back ] 6. To address them he recently published an article (Manni 2017) in which he questions that migrations from Greece were due to the iconoclastic wars as per the official historiography—such wars followed Pope Leon III’s order (in 727) to suppress and destroy all holy images and icons. To escape from the massacres, thousands of monks would have left the eastern provinces of the Empire and moved to the Southern regions of Italy, in particular to Salento, where they established various monasteries. Manni suggests that what brought priests and entire populations to the westernmost province of the Empire was the threat of the Ottomans and the fact that in Southern Italy they found the same political administration, religion, and culture.
[ back ] 7. In the same article Manni argues that the church apse basin depicts the Latin version of the Filioque—the most important theological controversy between Orthodox and Catholics. He also argues that, since the schism between the Orthodox Eastern and Latin Western Churches occurred in 1054, and until then there had been a formal union between the two religious confessions, the Greek churches of Southern Italy could not have been Orthodox. The council of Melfi in 1098 imposed on Greek churches to recognize the Roman Pope as religious authority and not the Patriarch of Constantinople, as had been the case for the previous five centuries (Manni 2017). It is only fair to assume that over the centuries and until the end of the Byzantine rite, a highly local and syncretic religiosity developed.
[ back ] 8. Another episode of local history ‘rectified’ by locals, as it were, refers to the so-called martyrs of Otranto—eight-hundred men executed on the Hill of Minerva (reportedly because they refused to give up their Christian faith)—who were canonized by Pope Francis in 2013. Daniele Palma, whom you met in the previous chapter, recently published a book with the evocative title The Authentic History of Otranto in the War Against the Turks (2013). In it, by decoding diplomatic letters that he found in the state archive of Modena, he demonstrates that the ‘martiri di Otranto’ were men who were killed because their families lacked the financial means to save them from becoming slaves—as per the Ottomans’ practice in the area.
[ back ] 9. Byzantine historiography mentions only three massive migrations to Southern Italy, and this contributes to the ‘Ancient’ argument. There are, on the other hand, few inscriptions in the Greek language during late Antiquity, which is taken to contribute to the ‘Byzantine’ argument (Manolessou 2005).
[ back ] 10. Among Greek scholars supporting the ‘ancient’ origins of Griko and Greko, see Caratzas 1958, Kapsomenos 1977, and Tsopanakis 1968. Among non-Greek and non-Italian scholars who consider them as continuations of the Hellenistic Koine, see Browning 1983, Horrocks 1997, and Sanguin 1993. For a discussion of the arguments supporting the ‘ancient’ origins, see Manolessou 2005. According to her, the infinitive usage shows only that communication with the rest of the Greek-speaking world was interrupted in the Middle Ages. She calls for an in-depth reevaluation of the debate, taking into account the extant scholarly knowledge of bilingualism and the language shift of Medieval Greek and Italian. See also Ralli 2006.
[ back ] 11. Among Italian scholars supporting the Byzantine thesis, see Battisti 1959, Spano 1965. More recently, Karanastasis (1992) suggested merging Morosi’s and Rohlfs’s theories by arguing that some Greek-language communities could have survived the end of the Magna Graecia period and later formed hellenophonic areas during Medieval times. Local intellectuals have also participated in this debate, supporting one or the other hypothesis over time, although they have mainly focused on its folkloristic aspects through the collection of songs and poems.
[ back ] 12. While regional characterization of the national language is frequent in major European languages, Italy’s linguistic diversity is considered unique also because ‘national languages’ had generally been more widespread socially and geographically for centuries before the emergence of their respective nation-states (De Mauro and Lodi 1979:9; see also Telmon 1993).
[ back ] 13. This term was introduced by Ferguson (1959) and developed by Fishman (1965) to refer to a specific type of societal bilingualism that involves two varieties of the same language; these are hierarchically ranked into a High language (H) associated with certain high-status and formal domains of social activity, and a Low language (L) associated with low-status domains, such as family life and solidarity functions (a typical example being the distinction in Greek between katharévousa and demotic). Griko and Salentine are not varieties of the same language, but in this phase they were connected to mutually exclusive domains of use and value, as the notion of diglossia entails.
[ back ] 14. Sobrero (1979) builds on Morosi’s study, and argues for an extensive phase of grammatical interference at all levels (lexical, morpho-syntactic, phonological) toward the end of the nineteenth century. When speakers combine two languages by grafting the grammar of one onto the vocabulary of another, this gives rise to a particular type of language contact, called ‘language mixing or intertwining’ (Sebba 1997:16, cited in Garret 2004:62). Needless to say, it is not straightforward where to draw the line between borrowing, interference, and other processes of language contact. See Garrett 2004; Woolard 2004.
[ back ] 15. Il Gruppo di Lecce (The Lecce Group hereafter) was constituted by six professors from the University of Lecce who published an article in 1979 analyzing the workings of the circle of Calimera. Sobrero had previously argued that the failure of their attempts was due to the “intellectualistic nature, which dramatically contrasted with the linguistic behavior of the social classes” (Sobrero 1974:77).
[ back ] 16. Palumbo was also the founder and editor of magazines such as KAΛHMEPA (Good Morning), Cultura Salentina (Salentine Culture), and Helios; he also collaborated with the quarterly magazine Apulia, where he published articles about Griko.
[ back ] 17. For Palumbo’s merits, King George of Greece conferred upon him a knightly order.
[ back ] 18. The material collected by Palumbo in his notebooks has been published relatively recently by the Cultural Association Ghetonìa, Calimera, and curated by local cultori del Griko. According to Silvano Palamà, current president of the cultural association Ghetonìa, these three works (edited in four volumes) constitute the most important and comprehensive collection of the popular literature of a linguistic minority in Italy.
[ back ] 19. See Herzfeld 1986 for an analysis of the establishment and history of Modern Greek folklore; see also his reference to 'ethnoarcheology' and 'verbal archeology.’ The inscribed orality of the peasantry was conceptualized as a nonmaterial artifact, which in turn points to the archaeological nature of folklore studies (Herzfeld 1986:100).
[ back ] 20. “Monumenti greco-salentini letterari e popolari,” from the preface to Canti Grecanici di Corigliano d’Otranto, edited by the local Griko scholar, Salvatore Sicuro (1978). The phrase ‘the monument of the word’ is attributed to the German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder (see Herzfeld 1986:10–11).
[ back ] 21. When Palumbo approached the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1896 to find support for his Greek school of Calimera his aim was to receive ‘help’ from Greece to preserve the variety of Greek spoken in Salento. He saw the school institution as the only locus which could give life to the languishing Hellenism of Terra d’Otranto (Stomeo 1958).
[ back ] 22. The notebook of 484 pages is entitled “Collection of Salentine-Greek and Latin Popular Songs of the Salentine-Greek Colony Compiled by VDP” (Raccolta di canti popolari greco-salentini e latini della colonia greco-salentina fatta da VDP). Sicuro (1978) writes, “The presence of common characteristics in this section of the collections of songs from Corigliano, the limited infiltration of terms from the romance dialect, the presence of terms not used by the people (such as “vìvlio,” “luturghìa,” “anàstiema,” “dromos,” etc.)[,] the use of specific constructs (such as, for instance, the genitive appearing before the nominative) leads me to attribute these songs to the same author and to someone familiar with classic studies” (Sicuro 1978:19).
[ back ] 23. The genealogy of philhellenic intellectuals from Calimera can be traced even further back to Don Vito Lefons (born 1834), a priest who had guided Palumbo himself, and Brizio de Sanctis and the Lefons brothers.
[ back ] 24. From Calimera e i suoi Traudia, an anthology edited by Giannino Aprile and published in 1972. These are the words of Gino De Santis and of Francesco Gabrieli, respectively the sons of Brizio and Giuseppe (introduced above). Digging into their own biographies, I also noticed that this philhellenic tradition was continued by a second generation related to the first, offering a kind of ‘genealogy’ of local philhellenism.