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Crete's national epic

Greek artist, Theofilos - Erotokritos and Aretousa

Of all the gracious things upon this earth
It is fair words that have the greatest worth,
And he who uses them with charm and guile
Can cozen human eyes to weep or smile. Vincénzo Kornáros, Erotókritos

Sitia is famous for two great men, Myson, one of the ancient Seven Sages of Greece, and Vincénzo Kornáros, died 1677, the otherwise mysterious author of the Erotókritos, the island’s national epic, but a poem beloved across Greece.

First published in Venice in 1713 (although the oldest surviving manuscript dates from 1710), this 10,000-line romance in verse in Cretan dialect is still memorized and recited today; some shepherds can rattle off thousands of verses at the drop of a hat. Kornáros took his story from a mediocre medieval French play called Paris et Vienne, and re-set it in Byzantine times.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Ιωάννα Χατζηπανηγύρη