Lord Byron was one of the most renowned English poets of the Romantic Era and he is the most celebrated philhellene volunteer of the War of Greek Independence.
Lord Byron travelled to the theatre of war in 1822, providing funds and supplies. His enchanting verse and vocal advocacy for the Hellenes stirred many to the Greek cause.
In Messolonghi in 1824, while preparing to lead patriots into battle, fell fatally ill. Upon his untimely death Greek poet Dionysios Solomos wrote Ode on the Death of Lord Byron in which the first verse reads:
For a moment, Liberty,
Let the war, the bloodshed sleep;
Hither come and silently
Over Byron’s body weep.
Lord Byron’s presence in Greece, and in particular his death, created an even stronger sympathy for the Greek cause across Europe. As a direct result of his passing, philhellenic committees sprang up in Europe and the United States to raise money for war efforts and further relief of the Greek people.
Lord Byron died a national hero and Hellenes to this day revere him. Here is a statue in his honour in Athens.
Byron often wrote of the beauty and majesty of Greece… and this is two stanzas from one of his poems evoking the glory of the Greeks’ past to deliver them a victory in the War of Greek Independence.
The Isles of Greece
The mountains look on Marathon —
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream’d that Greece might yet be free
For, standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
Must we but weep o’er days more blest?
Must we but blush? – Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae.
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