One of Lord Byron's most famous poems appears, in the earliest editions of his works, under the simple title of 'Song', but is now more widely know by its first line, 'Maid of Athens, ere we part'. The poem has a pretty hair-raising backstory; the object of Byron's affections was his Athenian landlady's 12-year-old daughter, and he actually tried to purchase her for £500. (Her mother, thankfully, refused.) But for this question, I am only interested in the correctness - or otherwise - of Lord Byron's Greek.
To make matters more confusing, the poem's Greek is actually printed slightly differently, depending on which edition of Byron's works one consults. However, the earliest editions - I have the honour of owning a very early edition of Byron's poetical works, which I compared to an edition available online - seem to agree on the printing given in the image below, and which I would render in Unicode as:
Ζώη μοῦ, σάς ἀγαπῶ.
According this article, 'Byron's repeated address to Teresa, "My life, I love you [i.e. Ζώη μοῦ, σάς ἀγαπῶ]," is sweet but written incorrectly in Greek.' On the other hand, this article claims 'My Modern Greek language professor and his American wife, when breathless young wooers, English literature students both, had Ζώη μου, σας αγαπώ engraved on the inside of their wedding bands.' I am having difficulty reconciling the alleged incorrectness of the Greek with the story of a professor of the Greek language inscribing that same phrase on his such emotionally-charged jewellery.
I happen to have a Greek-born friend. When I confronted him with this riddle, he said the letters themselves seemed to be in order - σας is a bit old-fashioned, but the poem is over 200 years old - but there was something fishy going on with the diacritics. That first word - according to my friend - should be Ζωή and not Ζώη, and he could not swear to the correctness of the other diacritics. When that first article claimed that Lord Byron fluffed his Greek, are the alleged errors in the diacritics?
Of course, in 21st century Greek, as opposed to both Ancient Greek and 19th century Greek, the system of diacritics has been simplified drastically, such that the song's refrain would be rendered as:
Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ.
But could Byron's phrase, with its original diacritics, be considered correct with respect to the orthography of any century, or any Greek-speaking region?