Dimitris Spathis has passed away (1925-2014)

  •  Published on: 27/03/2015

Emeritus professor of the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Athens, Dimitris Spathis was an extremely influential figure in the field of Greek theatre studies, one of the pioneer researchers of Greek theatre with rich scientific work and, in many different ways, an educator for many new theatrologists. Throughout his long career and journey that started from Cairo, where he was born, to a Civil war Greece, to Tashkent and Moscow, and again back to Greece and later in Paris, he presented a vast and significant number of scientific works and studies. When he ultimately returned to Greece in 1974, he taught in several drama schools, at the Universities of Thessaloniki and Crete and completed his teaching career at the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Athens.

Dimitris Spathis was involved with a wide range of issues in Greek Theatre history with an unmatched sobriety and sense of moderation, an admirable clarity and systematic documentation but yet never failing to provide an original, youthful view on anything he wrote. Among the various issues that he dealt with during his career, one can distinguish his study on Gregorios Xenopoulos and the origins of realism in modern Greek drama, that was also the topic of his doctoral thesis which was presented in 1959 at the Institute of the History of Arts in Moscow, as well as numerous papers on the 18th century, the Enlightenment and Greek Theatre, the themes he was mostly interested in during his stay in Paris, along K. Th. Dimaras.

Several of these studies are included in the volume Enlightenment and Modern Greek Theatre (1986) while his exemplary publication of A. Soutsos’ comedy Alexandrovodas the Unscrupulous (1995) falls under the same thematic research area. He frequently dealt with 19th century issues with a particular emphasis on comedy, especially with authors such as Hourmouzis, Ragavis and Kapetanakis, while issues regarding the 20th century were never absent from his research. Apart from writing articles as a critic for the Journal of Art (1965-1967), some of the themes that he was also involved with were the establishment of the role of the director in Greece as well as the works of authors such as Vasilis Rotas, Dimitris Rodiris and especially Karolos Koun and his dear friend Yorgos Sevastikoglou.

The brief history of Greek Theatre, which was the main theme of the volume Greece Civilization History (1983), has been ever since an excellent tool for theatre students and scholars. His carefully formed observations and apt remarks constitute a fundamental text that is still referred to, to this day, by contemporary theatre scholars.

Anyone who was lucky enough to attend classes, lectures, or speeches of him in conferences or had the privilege to work with him and listen to any comments on any topic, will never forget his always careful opinion or his reflective stance and direct judgment, his committed respect to any opposing view and will remember his prompt, surprising sense of humor, the subtle and always present self sarcastic disposition and his undeniable modesty, that made any dialogue with him special. Greek Theatre studies owe a lot to him, yet the students and professors of the Department of Theatre Studies even more, not only for his extraordinary scientific presence and contribution but for being an excellent example of scientific integrity that he so unselfishly offered, in the many years that he was close to us. 

Platon Mavromoustakos,

President of the Faculty of Theatre Studies, University of Athens

(From the website of the Department of Theatre Studies)

Translation: Katerina Gournaropoulou