Byron has been a Greek national hero ever since he became involved in the country’s struggle for independence. Almost every town in the country has a street – Výronos – named after him; not a few men still answer to “Vyron” as a first name. He first passed through in 1809 when tyrannical local ruler Ali Pasha was at the height of his power, and the poet’s tales of intrigue sent a shiver down romantic Western spines.

Later, in January 1824, Byron made his way to Mesolóngi, a squalid, inhospitable southwestern port amid lagoons – but also the western centre of resistance against the Ottomans. The poet, who had by then contributed his personal fame and fortune to the war effort, was enthusiastically greeted with a 21-gun salute, and made commander of the five-thousand-strong garrison, a role as much political as military. The Greek forces were divided into factions whose brigand-chieftains separately and persistently petitioned him for money. Occasionally Byron despaired: “Here we sit in this realm of mud and discord”, read one of his journal entries. But while other Philhellenes returned home, disillusioned by the fractious, larcenous Greeks, or worn out by quasi-tropical Mesolóngi, he stayed.

On February 15 Byron caught a fever, possibly malaria, and two months later died; ironically, he became more valuable to the Greek cause dead than alive. News of the poet’s demise, embellished to heroic proportions, reverberated across northern Europe; arguably it changed the course of the war in Greece. When Mesolóngi fell again to the Ottomans in spring 1826, there was outcry in the European press, and French and English forces were finally galvanized into sending a naval force that unintentionally engaged an Egyptian fleet at Navarino, striking a fatal blow against the Ottoman navy.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
11 tips for travelling in Greece

11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many r…

02 May 2017 • Nick Edwards insert_drive_file Article
A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs