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MODERN LITERATURE.

At the time of the fall of Constantinople, ancient Greek was still the vehicle of literature, and as such it has been preserved to our day. After the political changes of the present century, however, it was felt by the best Greek writers that the old forms were no longer fitted to express modern ideas, and hence it has become transfused with those better adapted to the clear and rapid expression of modern literature, though at the same time the body and substance, as well as the grammar, of the language have been retained.

From an early age, along with the literary language of Greece, there existed a conversational language, which varied in different localities, and out of this grew the Modern Greek or Neo-Hellenic.

After the fall of Constantinople, the Greeks were prominent in spreading a knowledge of their language through Europe, and but few works of importance were produced. During the eighteenth century a revival of enthusiasm for education and literature took place, and a period of great literary activity has since followed. Perhaps no nation now produces so much literature in proportion to its numbers, although the number of readers is small and there are great difficulties in publishing. In these circumstances, the Ralli and other distinguished Greeks have nobly come forward and published books at their own expense, and great activity prevails in every department of letters.

Since the establishment of Greek independence, three writers have secured for themselves a permanent place in literature as men of true genius: the two brothers Panagiotis and Alexander Santsos, and Alexander Rangabe. The brothers Santsos threw all their energies into the war for independence and sang of its glories. Panagiotis (d. 1868) was always lyrical, and Alexander (d. 1863) always satirical. Both were highly ideal in their conceptions, and both had a rich command of musical language. The other great poet of regenerated Greece is Alexander Rangabe, whose works range through almost every department of literature, though it is on his poems that his claim to remembrance will specially rest. They are distinguished by fine poetic feeling, rare command of exquisite and harmonious language, and singular beauty and purity of thought. His poetical works consist of hymns, odes, songs, narrative poems, ballads, tragedies, comedies, and translations. There is no department in prose literature which is not well represented in modern Greek, and many women have particularly distinguished themselves.