Ever since the times of the royal doctor Diphilus the Sifnian (personal doctor of the King of Thrace, Lysimachus, and writer of “On the diet of the sick and healthy”) and of the poet and progressive musician Philoxenides or Theoxenides, who introduced in poetry and music the term “sifniazein” (meaning “very elaborate melodies with colour and expressiveness”), the tradition in Letters and Arts continues to our days.
After the middle ages, Sifnos experienced an early development of culture and education. The first known school on the island opened in Kastro, at the beginning of the 16th century. Ever since, elementary schools, Greek schools, secondary schools, girls’ schools, rhetoric and codicography schools, iconography schools, mutual instruction schools, etc, have been creating a rich tradition in the field of education.
The most important among them was the “School of the Holy Sepulchre” (since the middle of the 16th century) also known as “Educational facility of the Archipelago”, which was the first institution offering free higher education in Greece and which was highly acclaimed throughout Greece. Students from all over Greece studied there, among the Sifnians. Teachers, philologists, clerics, missionaries and patriarchs were among the many that graduated from the school (with more than fifty Sifnians rising to be patriarchs and metropolitan bishops).
Among the teachers of the School of the Holy Sepulchre was the Sifnian Nikolaos Chrissogelos, Great Teacher of the Nation, first Education Minister of the Modern Greek State, Senator and founder of Elementary Education and of the mutual instruction method (his bust is situated at the homonymous square of Artemonas).
This tradition continues with “a plethora of Sifnian teachers” who offered Illumination and Education to the Greek world, in the 19th and 20th centuries. Among their students were many distinguished journalists, editors and typographers, ethnologists, poets, songwriters, historians, painters, legists, artists…
- Ioannis Gryparis, poet, important translator and educator from Artemonas, who served as the first director of the National Theatre, and who was honored by the Academy of Athens with the Award of Excellence in Arts and Letters (a statue of Gryparis is located in the yard of the Elementary School at Artemonas).
- Apostolos Makrakis, polymath philosopher and theologian of noteworthy works. (His bust can be seen at the public square named after him in Katavati).
- Aristomenis Provelegios from Exabela, poet, translator, doctor of philology, Member of Parliament and Academician. (His bust, sculpted by Gianoulis Chalepas, can be seen at the yard of the High School of Sifnos).
- Cleanthes Triantafillos – Rampagas, militant journalist, editor and satirical poet (his bust can be seen at the public square named after him in Apollonia).
As well as (with a short anthology)
- The icon painters Athanasius the Sifnian (who later became the Metropolitan Bishop of Thebes), Nikolaos Melissos, the monk Agapios Prokos (who signs as “Secondary of Sifnos”), Apostolos Sgourdeos, and others.
- Karolos Ghion, educator, historian, primary worker of island Histories, who also wrote the “History of the Island of Sifnos” in 1876.
- Nikolaos Dekavallas, Doctor of the University of Athens and editor of the “Historical Lexicon” of the Academy of Athens.
- Nikos G. Stafylopatis, editor, writer, journalist, and poet that edited the “Anthology of Sifnian Poets” and the collection “Folk songs and carols of Sifnos” (1998), which has received an award by the Academy of Athens.
- Antonios Manganaris – Dekavalles, legalist, jurist, Doctor of Philosophy, university professor in the USA, and poet decorated by the Academy of Athens.
- Stelios Sperantzas, medical doctor, poet, and column writer, president of the Union of Greek Writers and the Union of Medical Doctor Writers, who has written textbooks for Primary and Secondary schools, with many awards and commendations, among which the Silver Medal of the Academy of Athens for excellence in the field of children’s literature.
- Giorgos Maridakis, professor with a seat in Private International Law at the Law School of the University of Athens, and Academician (favourite professor of the late Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis).
- Theodossis Sperantzas, philologist, editor, Grand Deputy of the Church of Greece, writer, and poet, awarded the Golden Award of the Academy of Athens.
- Manolis Korres, theatrical writer, whose works have been translated and played in many countries around the world, president of the Greek Company of Theatrical Writers and for over 20 years director of the Museum of Theatre.
- Antonis Prokos, writer, distinguished poet, judge, President of Judges of the Court of Appeal, and member of the Greek Company of Writers.
- The painters Ioannis Maroulis, Nikolaos Maroulis and Konstantinos Panorios (with many works of the latter being on display at the National Gallery.
- Konstantinos Dialismas, writer, poet, editor of the “Anaplasis” periodical and founder of the “Dialismas” schools.
- Antonios Zilimonas, judge, president of the judges and President of the Areios Pagos (Court of Cassation).
- Maria Chrysσogelou, first Greek lawyer at the Areios Pagos and Iakovos Dragatsis, leading pedagogue, archaeologist, and writer.
- Kostas Romanos, journalist, writer, poet, and editor of Greek, English, and Arabic newspapers in Cairo, and Emilios Dragatsis, philologist and theatrical writer.
- Nikolaos Kampanis, journalist and editor, Aristos Kampanis, poet, writer, translator, journalist, editor, and president of the Union of Editors of Athens Daily Newspapers, and Aristidis Prokos, lawyer, writer, and poet.
- Aggelos Kosmis, lawyer and ethnographer, and the poets G. B. Prokos, Ioannis Valis, Ismini Karaiosifidou – Politou, Leandros Polenakis, Giorgos Likos (of the first post-war generation of Greek poets), etc.
- Christos Koulouris, educator, writer, and multiple-award-winning poet.
- Lefteris Stavrianos, world renowned historian, professor of the History Department of the North-Western and California Universities, writer of the much talked-about book “History of the Human Race”, and whose books are still teaching material in the USA.
- Manos Fiilippakis, ethnologist and scholar.
- Nikos Kalamaris, educator and writer.
- The distinguished actors Mary Aroni, Evdoxia Stamatopoulou (Depasta), Irini Vasilaki, Lela Patrikiou, etc.
- Varvara Filippaki, archaeologist, who carried our excavations at the Citadel of Agios Andreas.
- Frangiski Psaharopoulou – Karori, musician and radio and television producer with the Greek national Radio and Television corporation (ERT), who in cooperation with the Association “Friends of the Greek Islands and Sea” created music workshops on islands, among which Sifnos Music School (which is situated in Kato Petali, and has been named “Frangiski Psacharopoulou – Karori Music Workshop” in her honour, and as a reward for her effort).
- Stamatis Polenakis, well known caricaturist and resistance sketch artist during the period of the German Occupation.
- Nikolaos Vernikos – Evgenidis, president of the Evgenidion Foundation, ship owner and benefactor of the island.
- Evangelos Th. Pantazoglou, aircraft engineer, who worked with Aristotelis Onassis, eupatrid and renowned photographer of the island.
- Stylianos Prokos, inventor and benefactor of the island.
- Antonios G. Troullos, educator, ethnologist and writer, who was honoured by the Academy of Athens for his educational and written work in 1988 and by the European Writers Union with a Golden Award in 2009.
- Nikos A. Stavrianos, writer and researcher.
And in our days…
- Mrs. Julieta Karori, poet and radio producer with Greek Radio’s 3rd Programme.
- Mr. Simos Milt. Symeonidis, historian and author of “History of Sifnos” and “Sifnian matters” (Historical yearbooks of Sifnos, so far there have been 18 annual volumes, printed by the Municipality of Sifnos).
- Mr. Titos Patrikios, jurist, sociologist, writer, translator, and great poet, with various awards in Italy, France, and Germany, as well as recipient of the Grand State Award in 1993, and honours from the Academy of Athens in 2008 for the whole of his work.
- Mr. Giorgos X. Matzouranis, journalist and writer, member of the Union of Editors of Athens Daily Newspapers and the Writers Company.
- Mr. Nikolaos G. Probonas, educator (Headmaster of High and Middle Schools in Sifnos for 25 years), acting president of the Apollonia Community of Sifnos (1974) and writer, who has served the local community from various honorary and unpaid posts.
- Mr. Mimis D. Lemonis, writer and poet.
- the reverent Archimandrite Mr. Filaretos Ap. Vitalis, writer, researcher, and preacher.
- Mrs. Ourania Ap. Kalogirou, editor and writer.
- Mr. George Brounias, poet, who has received an award by the Academy of Athens in 2010 for his poetry collection “Tent in the air” (2009).
- 10 Members of Greek Parliament, 2 Ministers and uncountable folk poets, scientists and artist, up to today.
Two local newspapers are published on the island, “Sifnian News” and “Sifnos”, which is the oldest in the Cyclades (published without interruption since 1880), as well as an internet newspaper, “Sifnaiko Fos”.
The “Sifnian Studies Association” organizes International Sifnian Symposia on the island, every four years (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), with hundreds of speakers and participants from all over the world, where important scientific announcements and speeches are made, concerning Sifnos (its Antiquity, Byzantine, Frangokratia, and Tourkokratia periods, as well as more modern times, Sifnian Architecture, Geology, Ethnology and Literature).
In 2007, the Swiss Tourism Organization in Lugano honoured Sifnos as “The Island of Poets and Civilization”.
There are dozens of cultural events every year in Sifnos, supported by the Municipality of Sifnos and organized primarily by the Cultural Association of Sifnos and other local institutions, primarily during the summer period: Visual arts exhibitions, theatrical shows, literature evenings, cinema screenings, all sorts of concerts for all tastes in music, book presentations, cooking festivals, and others.
Because… in Sifnos, art and local people go hand in hand!