Due to his immersion in the poetic work of Dionysios Solomos until today, neo-Hellenist Professor Louis Coutelle from the University Aix-en-Provence in France will be awarded on Wednesday, February 29, an Honorary Doctorate from the Department of Philology of the Philosophical School in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
The awarding ceremony will be hosted in a venue of the old building of the Philosophical School at 19:00.
Louis Coutelle has taught Greek History, Language and Culture in the French university for years, and has conducted important dissertations and studies on the work of Greece’s national poet, Dionysios Solomos.
Mr. Coutelle’s interest in Greek culture and literature emerged by chance during a journey he made to the country back in 1959. “Greece was not very developed back then in the tourist industry and very few people could speak English. I decided, therefore, to learn Greek. I bought books and lexicons and started learning the Modern Greek language” said Mr. Coutelle.
In the same random manner, the French Professor discovered Solomos’ work, while the then director of the French Institute of Athens was lecturing in the Aix-en-Provence University. Mr. Coutelle was asked to study the work of the Greek poet. “I could not understand Solomos’ poems, so I started my research on him” commented Mr. Coutelle.
To him, the work of Solomos holds tremendous national importance to the Greek people and has formed the backbone of the Modern Greek language. “With his work, Solomos introduced the modern vernacular form of Greek, the Demotic. In this way, he expressed the Hellenism inside every Greek person” said Mr. Coutelle.
Solomos is best known for writing the Hymn to Liberty, of which the first two stanzas were set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros and became the Greek national anthem in 1865. He was the central figure of the Heptanese School of poetry, and is considered the national poet of Greece – not only because he wrote the national anthem, but also because he contributed to the preservation of earlier poetic tradition and highlighted its usefulness to modern literature.
The French Professor also claims to be a big fan of Constantine Kavafis’ work, who is a completely different literary persona from Solomos. From Modern Greek literature, Mr. Coutelle speaks in favor of Petros Markaris’ work.
Mr. Coutelle has also said that he feels very sad that Greece is being used as a guinea pig by the current status quo, which only aims at breaking the weakest countries’ economies.
Mr. Coutelle was born in Marseille in 1921. He studied English at the Aix-en-Provence University and studied in Marseille High School for 18 years. His dissertation was entitled “Formation poetique de Dionysios Solomos (1815-1833)” (On the poetic formation of Solomos) and was first published in 1977 by Hermes Publications. In 2009 the acclaimed dissertation was also published in Greek by the Benaki Museum.