Lorentzos Mavilis: Greece’s greatest sonnet writer and martyr in the First Balkan War

Lorentzos Mavilis

Born on the island of Ithaca, Lorentzos Mavilis (September 6, 1860 – November 28, 1912) was a poet, chess composer, lyricist, politician and soldier.

Of half Spanish origin through his grandfather who was a former consul of Spain to Corfu, he studied literature and philosophy.

It was at this time he discovered his love for and began writing poems.

Mavilis is known as the greatest sonnet writer in Greece.

A firm patriot, he was a supporter of the Megali Idea, and dropped everything to fight in the mountains of Crete during the Cretan Revolt (1895-98) and in Epirus, with a group of volunteers from Corfu during the Greco-Turkish War (1897), where he was wounded.

In 1910 he was elected to Greek Parliament representing Corfu, he took an active part in the debates of the time on whether Greece should use Dimotiki or Katharevousa, with Mavilis preferring Dimotiki.

At 52, he once again joined the Greek Army at the outbreak of the Balkan Wars (1912-13), losing his life at the Battle of Driskos near Ioannina on November 28, 1912.

Lorentzos Mavilis: Greece's greatest sonnet writer and martyr in the First Balkan War 1
Bust of Lorentzos Mavilis in Ioannina.

According to fellow poet Nikolaos Karvounis, his last words were: “I was expecting honours from this war, but not the honour to sacrifice myself for Greece!”

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