pastiche: a mock-kleftic refrain

It must be something of an unusual –and quite thrilling– pleasure, I imagine (it certainly was for me), to be asked to contribute verses to be included in a 'thriller'.
In my case, it was for a novel relating the adventures of a “reluctant spy” in mid-18th century Venice. In The Four Horsemen (Polygon Books, 2017), the novel’s author (who is also Associate Professor of American Literature at Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Venice), Gregory Dowling, has his previous novel’s, Ascension (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), protagonist, Alvise Marangon, meet Komnenos, a Phanariot Greek who, among other things, recites pseudo-kleftic songs.
My ‘assignment’ (a challenge kindly relayed by Alicia E Stallings) was therefore for “a couple of lines in Greek, which would be the refrain, something along the lines "We must keep our knives sharp for we will need them soon"”. To concoct such a pastiche of 18th c. patriotic, mock-folksong in Greek, I turned for inspiration to the style used, for example, by Rigas Ferraios (1757-1798). And, after spending a fascinating time double-checking some words and grammatical forms with poems of, and dictionaries for that period, I proposed the lines:
Αδέλφια, το μαχαίρι βαστάτε κοπτερόν,
Ναν' έτοιμο να κόψη τυράννου τον λαιμόν.
Thus, the novel’s narrator, on p. 121, has the following dialogue with Komnenos – subtly condensing not a little historical and philological knowledge:
”So you recite poems about bandits”, I said.
“Songs composed by bandits but rearranged by me into more formal poetry for a more sophisticated audience. […] Here I am, clearly a man from an educated background, who has worked for the Ottomans, pretending to be a wild rebel ready to cut their throats.”
“Is that what was happening in your poem?”
“The refrain said ‘Adelfia to maheri vastate kopteron / Nan’ etimo na kopsi tyrannou ton lemon’, which is to say, ‘Brothers, keep your knife sharp, so that it may be ready to cut the tyrant’s throat.”
– hardly a spoiler; and there are another 181 pages in this historical mystery!

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