The summer of 1958 my family moved from the suburb Peristeri of Athens to Hagios Fanourios where we settled for a few years until my father managed to build our first family home in the north part of the suburb Ilion. During that summer my father brought home a copy of the most famous poem Erotokritos. I don’t remember where my father found the book, yet I remember he said I could read it and then he would return it to its owner. Knowing the difficult financial situation of those days and knowing it was almost impossible for us to buy such a book not only I read it but I sat and day after day page after page I copied it. All its ten thousand and twelve fifteen syllable verses in fact I used two different colors of pen Bic, for those of us who remember those days. Least I knew back then that my longhand book would appear in the form you see it today almost sixty years later: one of the rarest ever handwritten books on Earth.
– Manolis Aligizakis
Erotokritos is a romantic-epic poem composed by Vitzentzos Kornaros of Crete. It consists of ten thousand and twelve fifteen syllable verses, the last twelve referring to the poet himself. It is written in the Cretan dialect of the Greek language. Its central theme is the love between Erotokritos (referred to as Rotokritos or Rokritos) and Aretousa (referred to as Arete). Around this theme, revolve other themes such as honour, friendship, bravery and courage. Erotokritos by Vitzentzos Kornaros and Erophile (Eρωϕίλη) by Georgios Hortatzis, written around the same period constitute the Renaissance of Greek literature. They are also considered the most important works of Cretan literature. In fact, these two poems constitute the backbone of Cretan literature and are the poems upon which future poets relied, referred to and drew images from.
about the poet
about the transcriber
Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author who has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. His translation book George Seferis-Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece.
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