The Death of Digenis
Ο Κωσταντής κι ο Κωσταντάς
Oh, Kostantis, oh, Kostantas, oh, young Kostantinos,
for three long years wandered looking for a good wife to wed,
[to find a tall maid, a slender maid with proud eyebrows.]
When he found a tall maid, a slender maid he liked,
a little bird went and perched upon Kostantis' knee.
[It didn't sing like a bird or like a swallow, either,
it spoke with the a human voice.]
- Kostantinos, my dear boy, don't marry and don't spend too freely,
for the day you marry, on the morrow you'll die.
Translated by Michael Eleftheriou
The verses in square brackets are not sung, but are included in virtually all the song’s published variations.
Ο Κωσταντής κι ο Κωσταντάς
Ο θάνατος του Διγενή
Αχ, ο Κωσταντής, αχ, κι ο Κωσταντάς
κι ο Μικροκωσταντίνος, Κωσταντάκη μου,
κι ο Μικροκωσταντίνος, λεβεντάκι μου,
τρεις χρόνους επερπάτησε να βρει καλή γυναίκα,
[να βρει ψηλή, να βρει λιγνή, να βρει καμαροφρύδα.]
Βρίσκει ψηλή, βρίσκει λιγνή, βρίσκει της αρεσιάς του.
Πουλάκι πήγε κι έκατσε στου Κωσταντή το γόνα,
[δεν κελαηδούσε σαν πουλί, μάιδε σαν χελιδόνι
μόν' κελαηδούσε κι έλεγε μ' ανθρώπινη λαλίτσα.]
- Κωστάκη μην παντρεύεσαι και μην πολλά ξοδιάζεις,
τι σήμερα θα παντρευτείς κι αύριο θα πεθάνεις.
Οι στίχοι σε αγκύλες δεν τραγουδιούνται, περιλαμβάνονται όμως σε όλες σχεδόν τις δημοσιευμένες παραλλαγές του τραγουδιού.
Songs on the death of Brave men
Of all the songs in the Digenis cycle, the best and most widely known - including the very few that researchers now recognize as properly ‘akritic’ - are those that relate to the death of the never-defeated hero. Βλ. τραγούδια Kostantis and Kostantas, Charon and the brave men, Last night I crossed rivers. Akritas goes hunting', Charon wore black, Digenis is dying.
In the popular imagination, it is unthinkable that such a hero should be subject to the common fate of common folk and be allowed to die. And, truth be told, there was little that was philosophical or meditative about the heroic mindset. A slave to his impulses and his strength, the hero will once again square up against an opponent and challenge him, even if he is Death himself. And the hero will throw himself into battle once again, the latest in an endless string of feats; this time, though, he will be defeated.
As a theme, Digenis’ death belongs to the older, rich oral narrative tradition which centred on the personality, life and achievements of the akritic heroes so beloved by the populace. However, the fact that the struggle with Charon is absent from all the variants of the written epic led a number of researchers to conclude that this theme is also absent from the popular imagination during the akritic era. It was also used to argue that the written epic pre-dated the songs.
The oldest and richest song-type, the one Nikolaos Politis considered a recap of Digenis Akritas’ feats and the type closest to the written epic, is represented in this collection by a Cypriot variation (see Charon wore black).
Some of the other songs included here are loosely linked to the traditions relating to the death of Digenis or with the epic cycle more generally (e.g. Kostantis and Kostantas). They include however names, verses and concepts linked to the Akritic cycle and besides the central theme of death, they also refer to other aspects of the hero’s everyday life, work, family and loves. Miranda Terzopoulou (2017)
The verses in square brackets are not sung, but are included in virtually all the song's published variations.
Studio recording, 2004.