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Vincenzo Kornaros (Siteia1553- Heraklion 1614) was a Cretan poet and is considered one of the main representatives of the Cretan literature. He was the author of the narrative poem Erotokritos. Kornaros came from a rich, aristocratic and Hellenized Venetian family. His brother Andreas was also a writer and the founder of a literary society, the Academy of the Strange People. Vicenzos moved to Heraklion after he got married and got an administrative position. He died in Heraklion and was buried in the monastery of Saint Francis.

Erotokritos is a lyrics novel and consists of 10,012 iambic fifteen-syllable rhyming lines. In the last 12 ones, the poet reveals his identity by stating his name, his family and his place of origin. The central topic is the love of Erotokritos and Aretousa, two young people who fell in love. Other concepts such as the friendship, the honor and the bravery revolve around these two young people. Erotokritos was written in the Cretan dialect and, in particular, in the idiom of Sitia. The music composition by Christodoulos Halaris in 1976 and the magical performance of the singer Nikos Xylouris made it an extremely popular classical work which passed onto popular tradition.

The story takes place in Athens where Erotokritos, son of the King's Councilor, falls in love with the King's daughter, Aretousa. Every night he sings under her balcony and when the King finds out, he ambushes him to find out who he is. In order not to be revealed, Erotokritos leaves for Chalkida. Aretousa finds out who he is and when he returns, she sends him a basket with apples to show him that she responds to his love.

 In order to amuse his daughter, the King organizes a fencing match. All the great young men of the world take part in it. Erotokritos wins and takes a golden crown as a prize. Then he convinces his father to ask the King to marry Aretousa but the King gets angry and sends Erotokritos into exile. Before leaving, Aretousa gives him a ring and the young couple become engaged.

The King now wants his daughter to marry a Byzantine royal. When Athens is threatened by the Vlachs and their King Vladistratus, Erotokritos returns and defeats the enemies. Badly wounded and unrecognizable, he asks to see Aretousa. He gives her the ring and makes up a story about a young man who died and gave him the ring. When she breaks down into tears, he reveals himself. The two young people marry and live happily ever after.

The story carries ideas, morals and ideas of the time, such as the power of royal violence, social difference as an obstacle to marriage but also paternal love that overcomes all difficulties, moral virtues that are timeless while wealth and power are temporary. Kornaros highlights the psychological state of the heroes and justifies the motives behind their actions. His work is considered one of the greatest Renaissance creations in Europe.

(More articles about Crete on www.gomega.gr)