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Dimitrios Makris, a Greek klepht chief of the 19th century.[1]

Klephts (/klɛfts/; Greek κλέφτης, kléftis, pl. κλέφτες, kléftes) were Greek warrior-outlaws who lived in the mountains when Greece was a part of the Ottoman Empire.[2][3]

The word klepht means "brigand" or "thief".[2][4] It is from the Greek word κλέπτειν (kléptein) meaning "to steal".[2][5]

The klephts were offspring of Greek people who went into the mountains during the 15th century to avoid Ottoman rule.[6] They fought continuously against the Ottomans and were active outlaws until the 19th century.[6][7] During the Greek Revolution of 1821, the klephts and the armatoles formed the core of the Greek military (Yannis Makriyannis, a Greek revolutionary, called them the "yeast of liberty").[8]

Klephtic songs (κλέφτικα τραγούδια), or klephtic ballads, were made in mainland Greece.[9] They are part of the Greek folk music genre that also has folk poetry.[9] Klephtic songs either focus on the deeds and death of a single klepht or on the general life of the klephts as a group.[9] The most famous klephtic song is The Battle of Mount Olympus and Mount Kisavos.[9] The song is based on a motif from ancient Greece (specifically the song made by Corinna about a contest between Mount Helicon and Mount Cithaeron).[9]

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  1. Dontas 1966, p. 24: "Born in 1800, Demetrios Makris, a kleftis, had succeeded his father to the kapetaniliki in the district of Zyghos. A simple yet very stubborn man, like Dimo - Tselios he was a great patriot."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc 1995, p. 564: "Other Greeks, taking to the mountains, became unofficial, self-appointed armatoles and were known as klephts (from the Greek kleptes, "brigand")."
  3. Sowards 1989, p. 75: "Greek irregulars had operated as bandit klephts and anti-Ottoman insurgents since before the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s."
  4. Encyclopedia Americana 1919, "KLEPTOMANIA", p. 472.
  5. Encyclopedia Americana 1919, "KLEPTOMANIA", p. 472.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cavendish 2009, p. 1478: "The klephts were descendants of Greeks who fled into the mountains to avoid the Turks in the fifteenth century and who remained active as brigands into the nineteenth century."
  7. Encyclopedia Americana 1919, p. 472: "KLEPTHS, klēfts (Greek, "thieves"). Greek bandits who, after the conquest of Greece by the Turks in the 15th century, kept themselves free in the mountains of northern Greece and Macedonia, and carried on a perpetual war against Turkish rule, considering everything belonging to a Turk a lawful prize."
  8. Vacalopoulos 1961, p. 333: "Οί πυρήνες τών μαχητικών του δυνάμεων είναι οί άρματολοί καΐ οί κλέφτες...ν'άποτελέσουν τήν «μαγιά της λευτεριάς», όπως παραστατικά λέγει ό άγωνιστής τοϋ 21 Γιάννης Μακρυγιάννης."
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Trypanis 1981, "The Klephtic ballads", pp. 592–594: "The Klephtic ballads developed in mainland Greece, and in the eighteenth century represented the final and supreme stage in the evolution of modern Greek folk poetry. They can be separated into two groups, one dealing with the achievements or the death of an individual Klepht and the second with the life of the Klephts in general...Among them is a notable series of songs that deal with battles between mountains, a motif that goes back to antiquity, as we know from a fragment of Corinna found on a second-century papyrus in which Mount Helicon and Mount Cithaeron are fighting. Such battles of mountains in Greek folk songs have survived in Crete and in Karpathos, but the most famous of all is the Pan-Hellenic ballad of The Battle between Mount Olympus and Mount Kisavos."
  • Cavendish, Marshall (2009). World and Its Peoples. Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 978-0-7614-7902-4.
  • Encyclopedia Americana (1919). The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 16. New York and Chicago: Encyclopedia Americana Corporation.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc (1995). The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1. Encyclopædia Britannica. ISBN 0-85229-605-3.
  • Dontas, Domna N. (1966). The Last Phase of the War of Independence in Western Greece (December 1827 to May 1829). Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies.
  • Sowards, Steven W. (1989). Austria's Policy of Macedonian Reform. East European Monographs. ISBN 0-88033-157-7.
  • Trypanis, Constantine Athanasius (1981). Greek Poetry: From Homer to Seferis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-81316-9.
  • Vacalopoulos, Apostolis (1961). Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού [History of Neo-Hellenism]. Vol. 2. A.E. Vakalopoulos.

Further reading

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