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  • The Poetic "Christology" of Manolis Anagnostakis
  • X.A Kokolis

In this article, the term Christology denotes the ways (original or even "heretical") in which Christ and the relevant tradition are represented in the poetry of Manolis Anagnostakis. Examples are the Last Supper and Judas's betrayal, the distribution of Jesus's clothes to the soldiers, Jesus's palms bearing the stigmata, and even passages of the Sermon on the Mount (the last with inverted meaning). These elements are artfully injected into the sociopolitical context of Greece from the civil war (1946-1949) to the colonels' dictatorship (1967-1974). Furthermore, in the poem «[inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="01i" /] . . .» it is each of the disciples, and not their master, who insists on the initial faith. In the poem «[inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="02i" /] . . . », Christ, appearing as eternal, timeless Being, fully and disturbingly knows not only the fate of his incarnated form but even the future exploitation of the religion to which his sacrifice will give rise.


Christology constitutes the special branch of Christian theology that deals with Christ's person, nature, and work. In this article the term is used to denote the ways in which Christ and the relevant tradition are represented in the poetry of Manolis Anagnostakis. It is beyond the scope of this essay to answer questions such as why a postwar poet of the Left utilized the Christian tradition in those moments and in those ways. After all, for each of us the answer is conditioned by our sociopolitical, religious, literary, and other areas of sensitivity.

There are eight (or perhaps seven) instances in which Anagnostakis employs Christian material: three whole poems and five (or perhaps four) extracts. In chronological order, these are:

  1. 1. line 3 of the first poem of the collection 2, composed in 1946-1948, published in 1948;1

  2. 2. one reference in lines 10-13—i.e., the closing lines—of the poem « . . . » from the collection 3, composed from 1945 to 1950, published in 1951 (as we shall see, however, this reference may or may not be part of the poetic Christology of Anagnostakis); [End Page 125]

  3. 3. lines 9-11 of the poem « . . . » from the same collection, 3;

  4. 4 & 5. the poem « . . .», and the poem « . . .» which immediately follows it, from the collection , composed in 1953-1954, published in 1954;

  5. 6. the penultimate verse of « . . . », the fourth and penultimate poem of the collection 2, composed in 1955, published in 1956;

  6. 7. the poem « . . . », fifth and last poem in 2;

  7. 8. the last line—or, more accurately, the last words—of «», the final poem of the final collection, , composed in 1967(?)—1970,2 published in 1971.

The following quite obvious conclusions may be drawn from the above tabulation: (1) The Christological references, although not very numerous, reach across almost the entire length of Anagnostakis's poetic career—that is, from 1946 to 1970. (2) The Christological references sometimes serve to close a cycle. This is clear in the last two instances and, as we shall see, also holds true for instances 3, 5, and, to some extent, 6.

The first Christological references, 1946-1950

The first oblique—but, to my mind, unambiguous—reference to the story of Christ in Anagnostakis's oeuvre is to be found in line 3 of the the opening poem of his second collection, 2:

Do not recall some day someone who was leaving with two wounded    palms

We will not examine here the function of this line in the context of the 19 lines that form the poem. However, we should point out that the word occurs only once again in Anagnostakis's poetry,3 and that it refers again to Christ's stigmata: «» ("and trembling he opened his palms with the marks of the nails"). The line belongs to the poem « . . . », which we will examine in its entirety below.

The next two Christological references occur in the collection 3. Before discussing them, we must notice this collection's tripartite structure. It is divided into three asymmetrical parts each separated by a blank page, as follows: (1) the first five poems, all...


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