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Cupids playing with a lyre_ Roman fresco from Herculaneum_edited_edited_edited_edited_edit

Βρέχει φωτιά στη στράτα μου


Βρέχει φωτιά στη στράτα μου
φωτιά που μ’ έχει κάψει
για τα φτωχά τα νιάτα μου
κανένας δε θα κλάψει

Η ζωή, η ζωή εδώ τελειώνει
σβήνει το καντήλι μου
κι η ψυχή, η ψυχή σαν χελιδόνι
φεύγει απ’ τα χείλη μου

Κύμα πικρό στην πλώρη μου
και τα πανιά σκισμένα
ούτε αδελφός, αγόρι μου,
δε νοιάστηκε για σένα


It’s raining fire upon my path –
fire that has burnt me
For my poor youth,
nobody will cry

Life ends here
my candle is burning out
And [my] soul, like a swallow,
is escaping through my lips

Bitter wave on my bow
and the sails [are] torn
Not even [a] brother, my boy,
[ever] cared about you


The noun στράτα ‘street’ comes from the Latin phrase strata via ‘paved street’, later shortened to strata which came to mean ‘street’, although originally an adjective. Greek στράτα was used more in previous decades, while nowadays it is falling out of use and bears more poetic nuances. However, the word στράτα has another, related meaning, in which it is still used in daily life: ‘baby walker’.

Although στράτα came into Greek through Latin, there are native Greek words that are etymologically related to Latin strata, with which they share a common ancestor. For example, στρατός ‘army’, and the name Στράτος, short for Ευστράτιος ‘good soldier’. The missing link is the shared meaning ‘to spread, to stretch’. Latin strata originally meant ‘stretched’ – later extended to ‘paved’ when describing a street – and words like στρατός possibly referred to troops being scattered over an area.


Always a neuter plural, unless referring to someone in a sarcastic ageist manner – το νιάτο. The word is either used in informal or poetic register.


Although occasionally used to mean ‘to escape’, φεύγω most times simply means ‘to depart, to leave’. However, one of the verbs for ‘to escape’ is derived directly from φεύγω, namely ξεφεύγω.


The most common meaning of ούτε is ‘neither’, ‘nor’, however it can also be used as ‘not even’. The difference lies in the use of δεν.


Ούτε νερό έχουν. – They don’t have water either. (…nor any other products)

Ούτε νερό δεν έχουν. – They don’t even have water.

Ούτε δεκάευρω έχω. – I don’t have a tenner either. (…nor any other notes)

Ούτε δεκάευρω δεν έχω. – I don’t even have a tenner.

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