CULTURE

Without the much-loved, notable rebel Alekos Panagoulis

On May 1, 1976, a man who lived on Vouliagmenis Avenue went onto his balcony to hang out the traditional May wreath of spring flowers, when he saw a green Fiat Mirafiori smash into a concrete wall at the end of a ramp in a car spray-painting workshop. At the wheel, dead, was Alekos Panagoulis, 38, an independent deputy since his departure from the Center Union-New Forces party. The unexplained crash put an end to the life of a notable rebel, the militant who was locked up in the military prison of Bogiati and tortured, and who never yielded, remaining faithful to his beliefs to the last. News of his death shocked Greece. «The Epitaphios,» written by Yiannis Ritsos and set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, could be heard across the country. His funeral turned into a mass rally. From the cathedral, where the service was held in the presence of Italian President Sandro Pertini and Panagoulis’s companion, the noted journalist Oriana Fallaci, a crowd stretched all the way to the First Cemetery of Athens and his white tomb, spread with red carnations, symbols of militancy. In prison, while in isolation, Panagoulis wrote poems on scraps of paper, in his own blood. The following lines come from his «Prostages» (Commands), written in his cell at Bogiati in 1971 and presented in his book «The Poems» (pub. Papazissis): «The shadows made by the bars / on the walls of my cell and the floor / Seem like visions of freedom in my eyes / And commands / To make a new start.»