The Music of Epirus In Northwestern Greece

The Music of Epirus In Northwestern Greece
NYReview of Books

…The word mirologi typically refers to vocal laments; there are versions of them in Homer and on ancient epitaphs. In some parts of rural Greece, women sing mirologia beside the graves of family members every day for years, until the bones of the deceased are exhumed and put in the village ossuary. Epirus is the only place where mirologia are performed instrumentally, and musicians preserve the lugubrious mood of the sung versions found elsewhere in Greece:

For the world is a tree, and we are its fruit,
And [Charon], who is the vintager, gathers its fruit.

The second-most-mountainous region in Europe, Epirus has harsh weather and little arable land. As one Epirote told King, “Life has always been hard in the mountains, everything has always been uncertain.” Ancient Greeks believed the entrance to Hades was here: the Acheron River that Odysseus—and later Dante—crossed to reach the underworld flows, in reality, west from Epirus’s mountains toward the Ionian Sea. Pilgrims hoping to summon the ghosts of departed loved ones visited the Nekromanteion, a temple located in a cave near the Acheron.


Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe’s Oldest Surviving Folk Music
by Christopher C. King… Norton, 304 pp., $29.95

Kitsos Harisiadis: Lament in a Deep Style, 1929–1931
an album produced by Christopher King with Vassilis Georganos
Third Man Records, $15.00

While You Live, Shine
a documentary film directed by Paul Duane


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