Four and Four
Τέσσερα τσαι τέσσερα
Four and four makes eight,
four young lads setting out to war.
Feeling hungry on their way,
they slopped to eat and drink.
They sought a spring upon the mount
and found a hole a hundred feet deep.
They drew lots to see who would climb down
and fate picked out the youngest.
Tie me up well, my brothers, and I'll go down
into the lonely hole to fetch water.
And his brothers bound him tight
And lowered him into the hole...
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
Τέσσερα τσαι τέσσερα
Τέσσερα τσαι τέσσερα γίνονται οκτώ,
τέσσερα παλικάρκα πάσι στον πόλεμο.
Στον δρόμον που πηαίνασι μα επεινάσασι
τσι εκάτσασιν να φάσιν τσαι εδιφάσασιν.
Γυρεύκουν να βρουν βρύσην απάνω στο βουνόν
τσι ήβρασιν έναν λάκκον των εκατόν οργιών.
Ερίξαν το λαχνίν τους ποιος έν' να κατεβεί
τσαι έπεσεν η μοίρα πα’ στο μικρόν παιδί.
Δέστε με αδέρφκια μου τσι εγιώ να κατεβώ
μες στο ερημολάτσιν να βγάλω το νερό.
Τσαι τότε τα αδέρφκια τον σφικτοδέσασι,
μες στο ερημολάτσιν τον κατεβάσασιν...
In most variations, the verses that follow (missing from this recording) refer to the death of the youngest brother, the victim of a spirit, lurking at the bottom of the well. The hatred of the youngest brother (reminiscent of the biblical story of Joseph whose brothers also threw him into a well), the descent into a deep hole, a symbol with dark psycho-sexual overtones, the sacrifice of a young man to a chthonic demon etc. arc all stereotypical motifs and symbolisms encountered in songs, folktales and legends all over the world.
The song is a Ballad, a rare and precious narrative genre that could be described as a folk tale in verse, with elements from primeval myths through which the people married the real to the supernatural and told stories -generally tragic- which may have happened once or which could happen, however far-fetched they might sound. Ballads were often recited rather than sung and were a kind of story-telling.
The listeners identified with the tragic heroes and often wept as they listened. The ballads’ often extreme fiction helped the listeners to accept the supernatural - and, by extension, the irrational aspect of the unconscious - into their rational worldview. And yet, everyone gradually accepted that threatening spirits were part and parcel of life, accepted that life also has an unpleasant side, unacceptable, unheard-of emotions which lead to clashes even within the safety' of the family environment, conflicts the family has to be able to deal with.
Miranda Terzopoulou (2018)