Weeping songs

Weeping songs are sad poems sung at funerals of beloved people. Weeping and generally songs of Haros are deeply rooted in the past and are known to us from the times of Homer. Though the ancient Greeks believed in the immortality of a human soul and the underground life still death was treated as a tragic thing.

The first weeping songs are known to us from the Homerís poems. We can remember the funeral songs of Andromache, Gekuba, Helen, Achilles and etc. The contents of these songs remarkably remind the modern Greek weeping songs.

Similar weeping songs were sung in the classical times. Women, "thrinoudis" (weepers as we call them nowadays) accompanied funeral processions.

Such well known poets as Pindaros and Simonid wrote funerals songs on the order of some rich families. This tradition continued after the adoption of Christianity and through the Byzantine period reached its peak in the post-Byzantine times. The lyrical versions of these funeral songs are still used nowadays.

There are two types of modern weeping songs: those that praise the deceased and those that are dedicated to Haron.

In Mani the weeping songs are so expressive and poetic that got the form of a real art. In a lyrical way they describe the whole life of the deceased. One can say that this kind of songs almost completely replaced any other songs in Mani. These songs represent the only form of the folk art passing from one generation to another. This tradition is very strong and Maniot women still now create new weeping songs.

When someone in a village dies all the women come to his/her house for "sitting". They take their seats round the coffin and start weeping songs in the form of a dialogue.

In the process of weeping there exists a strict hierarchy. Thus, when a man dies the weeping should start his mother who is followed then by his sister, daughter and a wife in the end. It is considered an honour when somebody outside of the family decides to weep over the deceased. It is not allowed to stop the woman who is weeping and if some other woman wants to join or to continue she should ask the permission for doing this.

The weeping ceremony that starts at the house of a deceased then continues during the procession to the church where it turns into load sobbing. The weeping strengthens on the way to the cemetery supported by the voices of the deceasedís relatives and reaches its peak at the grave.

Sometimes weepers make long trips to come to the funeral of some distant relative. They improvise their weeping songs, which include some set phrases that they constantly repeat.

The Maniot weeping songs are long funeral poems that include certain events from the life of a deceased, stages of his social and military career, his merits and so on.

Some funeral songs have clearly expressed didactic character and represent a certain historical and ethnical interest. It is only natural to expect that the most characteristic weeping songs are connected with the institute of vendetta.

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