Feasting Lords Eating and Drinking
Andronikos and His Steed
Άρκοντες τρων και πίνουσι
Some lords are eating and drinking at a marble table,
a table of marble, silver and gold,
they are all eating and drinking without saying a word.
And young Kostantinos started singing quietly
about his comrade Andronikos, a much-praised young man.
- You're black, you wear black, you ride a black horse.
You teach your horse to walk, you teach him to run,
you teach him what to do on land and at sea,
you teach him to withstand the tests of battle,
and you forget the slender maid you loved.
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
Άρκοντες τρων και πίνουσι
Ο Ανδρόνικος κι ο μαύρος του
Άρχοντες τρων και πίνουσι σε μαρμαρέ- σε μαρμαρένιαν τάβλα,
σε μαρμαρέ- σε μαρμαρένιαν κι αργυρήν
και σε μαλα- και σε μαλαματένιαν
κι όλοι τρώσι και πίνουσι κι αθιολή δε φέρνου1.
Κι ο Κωσταντίνος ο μικρός άρ'σε2 λιανό τραγούδι
τ' ακράνη3 του τ' Ανδρόνικου, του νιου του παινεμένου.
- Μαύρος είσαι, μαύρα φορείς, μαύρο καβαλικεύγεις.
Μαθαίνεις τον να πορπατεί, μαθαίνεις τον να δρέμει4,
μαθαίνεις τον και της στεριάς μαζί και του πελάου,
μαθαίνεις τον να 'έχεται τον όχλιον τον πολέμου5,
ξεχάνεις και τη λυγερή τη γλυκοποθητή σου.
1αθιολή: ομιλία, κουβέντα· δεν κουβεντιάζουν
3ακράνης: σύντροφος, τουρκ. akran
5να 'έχεται τον όχλιον τον πολέμου: να αντέχει τις δυσκολίες, το ζόρι του πολέμου
There is an important group of heroic songs whose protagonist, Andronikos, older generations of researchers interpreted as referring to Andronikos Doukas, a general in the service of Byzantine emperor Leo VI (886-912). This Andronikos, who had won his name with victories over the Arabs in Cilicia, would later, slandered and disgraced, seek refuge with his former foes and - in all likelihood - convert to Islam. Although these hypotheses are entirely unsupported, the name itself bestows the validity of antiquity on the songs, and every Andronikos is assigned the stereotypical characteristics of a mythic hero (premature growth, for instance, or mental sharpness), even if he is only taking the lead role in a love story, as is the case in the song Andronikos and the princess.
The song Feasting lords eating and drinking conveys in great detail the mediaeval milieu of an aristocratic symposium, and in particular the special relationship between brave young warriors and their steeds. Horses feature in epics and heroic songs primarily as an emblem of nobility and those heroes bring the same zeal to training their horse as they do to improving their horsemanship. That the horse is endowed with human qualities - speaking with a human voice, passing judgement and giving advice - makes it the young man's closest comrade in times of peace as well as an awesome weapon in war, when it complements the rider's bravery with its own speed and strength.
The song has only been found on Karpathos1. Follow this link to hear a live version of the song performed at a saint's day celebration https://soundcloud.com/pericleskarpathos/daaogvpy6wdw
1Nikos Sarantakos has devoted an entry in his blog to Domna Samiou’s performance of the song https://sarantakos.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/akran/
Recorded at a concert in Saint Denis, Paris, in 1982.
No image available