Dance of Zalongo

The Dance of Zalongo refers to the mass suicide of women from Souli and their children that occurred in the aftermath of the invasion of Ottoman troops on December 16, 1803. The event is commemorated in Greece in the context of the Greek War of Independence. A number of 60 women were trapped near the village of Zalongo in Epirus, modern Greece, then Ottoman Empire and decided to turn towards the cliff's edge and die with their infants and children rather than to submit to the Ottoman troops chasing them. According to tradition they did this one after the other while dancing and singing.[1][2][3] The name also refers a number of Greek theatrical dramas and a song in folk style, commemorating the event, named "Dance of Zalongo" (Greek: Χορός του Ζαλόγγου, Horos tou Zalongou).[4]

Les Femmes souliotes by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858).


The rocks of Zalongo where the Souliote women threw themselves off in 1803. The monument on the top was unveiled in 1961

During the Souliote War in December 1803, the Souliotes began evacuating Souli after their defeat by the forces of the local Ottoman-Albanian ruler, Ali Pasha.[5] During the evacuation, a group of Souliot women and their children were trapped by Ali's troops in the mountains of Zalongo in Epirus.[5] In order to avoid enslavement and rape, the women threw their children first and then themselves off a steep cliff, committing suicide.[6] The incident is also mentioned by Christoforos Perraivos in his 1815 edition of the History of Souli and Parga.[7] According to the legend, they jumped down the precipice one after the other while singing and dancing.[8] The incident soon became known across Europe. At the Paris Salon of 1827, the French artist Ary Scheffer exhibited two Romantic paintings, one of which was entitled Les Femmes souliotes ("The Souliot Women").[9] Today, the Zalongo Monument on Mount Zalongo in Kassope commemorates their sacrifice.[10]

Theatricals and SongsEdit

There is a popular Greek dance-song about the event, which is known and danced throughout Greece today.[11] It was part of popular drama, written by Sp. Peresiades, published in 1903 and staged first in 1904.[12] The Greek folk song "Dance of Zalongo" has the following lyrics:

English Greek

Farewell poor world,
Farewell sweet life,
and you, my wretched country,
Farewell for ever

Farewell springs,
Valleys, mountains and hills
Farewell springs
And you, women of Souli

The fish cannot live on the land
Nor the flower on the sand
And the women of Souli
Cannot live without freedom

Farewell springs,

The women of Souli
Have not only learnt how to survive
They also know how to die
Not to tolerate slavery

Farewell springs,

Έχε γεια καημένε κόσμε,
έχε γεια γλυκιά ζωή
Και ’συ δύστυχη πατρίδα
έχε γεια παντοτινή.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
λόγγοι, βουνά, ραχούλες
Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες
και σεις Σουλιωτοπούλες

Στη στεριά δε ζει το ψάρι
ούτ’ ανθός στην αμμουδιά
Κι οι Σουλιώτισσες δεν ζούνε
δίχως την ελευθεριά.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες

Οι Σουλιώτισσες δε μάθαν
για να ζούνε μοναχά
Ξέρουνε και να πεθαίνουν
να μη στέργουν στη σκλαβιά.

Έχετε γεια βρυσούλες

Peresiadis describes this part of his drama as a "chorus of women", which can be translated as "dance", but in that context it possibly means a "group of women", as that in ancient Greek drama.[13]

An Albanian dance-song called Vallja e Zallongut ("Dance of Zalongo") was developed with lyrics that refer to the same aforementioned mass suicide, published in 1961 by Sako Zihnni:[14]

Albanian English

Lamtumirë, o Sul, i shkretë,
se po ndahemi per jetë.
Lamtumirë, o Sul i shkretë,
se na do t’ikim për jetë.

Ne po vdesim për liri,
se nuk duam skllavëri.
Lamtumirë, ju male e fusha,
na e punoi Pilo Gusha,
I pabesi faqezi,
s’pati turp, as perëndi.

Lamtumirë, o fusha e male,
ne vdesim pa frikë fare.
Jemi bila shqipëtare,
vdesim duke hedhur valle.
Lamtumirë, o Sul i shkretë,
lamtumir’ për gjithë jetë.

Goodbye, oh desolate Souli,
for we part ways for life.
Goodbye, oh desolate Souli,
because we will leave forever.

But we will die for freedom,
because we do not want slavery.
Goodbye, oh mountains and valleys,
this was done by Pelios Gousis,
The wicked scoundrel,
had no shame, no god.

Goodbye, oh valleys and mountains,
We die without fear at all.
It’s because we are Albanians,
we die by dancing.
Goodbye, oh desolate Souli,
goodbye for all eternity.


  1. ^ Nikolopoulou, Kalliopi (2013). Tragically Speaking On the Use and Abuse of Theory for Life. Lincoln: UNP - Nebraska Paperback. p. 239. ISBN 9780803244870.
  2. ^ Karanikas, Dr. Alex. "The Dance of Zalongo". Hellenic Communication Service. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  3. ^ Tzanelli, Rodanthi (30 May 2011). Cosmopolitan Memory in Europe's 'Backwaters': Rethinking Civility. Routledge. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-136-74159-3.
  4. ^ Royal Society of Canada 1943, p. 100; International Folk Music Council 1954, p. 39.
  5. ^ a b Sakellariou 1997, pp. 250–251.
  6. ^ Royal Society of Canada 1943, p. 100; International Folk Music Council 1954, p. 39; Papaspyrou-Karadēmētriou, Lada-Minōtou & Ethniko Historiko Mouseio (Greece) 1994, p. 47; Pritchett 1996, p. 103.
  7. ^ Fenerli-Panagiotopoulou Aggeliki, "The theatrical play 'Souliotes' (1809-1827) ", Eranistis 15/16, p. 161 In Greek. The publication refers to a theatrical play, first staged in 1816 in Odessa.
  8. ^ International Folk Music Council 1954, p. 39; Mynatt & Kaiman 1968, p. 28.
  9. ^ Athanassoglou-Kallmyer 1989, p. 102.
  10. ^ Pritchett 1991, p. 219 (Footnote #326); Pritchett 1996, p. 103.
  11. ^ International Folk Music Council 1954, p. 39.
  12. ^ Spyridon Peresiadis, "The Dance of Zalongo", Athens, 1903 (Σπυρίδων Περεσιάδης, Ο χορός του Ζαλόγγου, εκδ. Γεώργιου Φέξη)
  13. ^ Irene Loutzaki, "The Dance of Zalongos: an invented tradition on canvas?" in Barbara Sparti et al. (eds.) "Imaging dance. Visual Representations of Dancers and Dancing", pre-edition version, 2011, p. 7
  14. ^ Mero Rrapaj, Fatos (1983). Këngë popullore nga Çamëria [Popular songs from Chameria]. Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë, Instituti i Kulturës Popullore. p. 451. "Kjo është «Vallja e Zallongut». Siç dihet, pjesa me e madhe e suljotëve (që s’mundi të hidhej në Korfuz me Foto Xhavellën), e nisur për në Pargë, ndeshet në fillimet e vitit 1804 me forcat e Ali Pashës. Mjaft prej tyre nuk pranojnë të dorëzohen dhe vazhdojnë luftën gjersa shfarosen, ndërsa një grup grash suljote për të mos renë në duar të armikut, në çastin e fundit, dredhin e këndojnë këtë valle lamtumirë, dhe njëra pas tjetrës me fëmijët në krahë hidhen në greminë nga shkëdmbenjt e Zallongut, duke u bërë copë-copë. [This is the «Dance of Zalongo». As is known, the majority of the Souliotes (who could not go across to Corfu with Photos Tzavella), started to go toward Parga, encountered at the beginning of 1804 the forces of Ali Pasha. Many of them refused to surrender and continued to fight until they were destroyed, while a group of Souliote women not fallen into the hands of the enemy, at the last minute, they sung this dance of goodbye, and one after the other children in their arms were thrown into the abyss upon the rocks of Zalongo, becoming pieces.]"


Coordinates: 39°8′59″N 20°40′57″E / 39.14972°N 20.68250°E / 39.14972; 20.68250