Boris Johnson to recite Olympic Ode in Greek

Monday July 23, 2012

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is to personally recite an Olympic Ode for the International Olympic Committee on Monday.

The Ode has been created specifically for the Olympic Games by Dr Armand D’Angour. The Oxford academic wrote the poem in Ancient Greek with modern lyrics and then translated the six verses into rhyming couplets.

The Mayor, who studied classics at Oxford University, will recite the poem in both Greek and English.

Including puns on the names of athletes such as ‘lightning bolt’ for world record holder Usain Bolt, the poem also references diver Tom Daley, volleyball captain Ben Pipes and Lord Coe the London 2012 chairman.

Among these puns Mr Johnson himself gets a mention:

‘Now welcome to this seagirt land,
with London’s Mayor and co. at hand
good luck to all who strive to win:
applaud and let the Games begin!’

Speaking about his role Mr Johnson said : “I am delighted to have the opportunity to declaim Dr D’Angour’s glorious Olympic Ode, a work that breathes new life into the ancient custom of celebrating the greatness of the Games through poetry.

“I have no doubt that the members of the International Olympic Committee are fully versed in ancient Greek, but to ensure the elaborate puns can be fully appreciated I shall have the pleasure of vocalising the Ode twice, once in Greek and then again in English.”

Dr D’Angour, who also created an Olympic Ode for Athens 2004, wrote the poem in the style of Pindar, saying that: “I hope that these Odes will help to raise the profile of the Classics, which is an endlessly fascinating and inspiring subject.

He added “Of course the puns may make people groan, but Pindar's audiences may have done so too!”

The Ode tradition has long been linked to the Games as the academic stated “Writing an Ode for the Games revives a musical and poetic tradition from ancient Greece, where Odes were commissioned to celebrate athletic winners at the Games.

Pindar was the greatest poet of his time, and sponsors paid a great deal of money for athletic victors to be honoured with an Ode by him.

The Ode will be engraved on a bronze plaque and placed permanetly in the Olympic Park

Dr D’Angour added: "It will certainly be fun to hear the Ode read by the Mayor in his inimitable style, and I hope people will enjoy seeing the plaque when visiting the area in years to come.”

Photo: Rex

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