Erotokritos by Nikos Xilouris

Erotokritos (“Tried by Love”) is an adventurous love poem of 10.010 lines composed about four centuries ago (early 17th century), written by Vitsentzos Kornaros during Venetian rule and the pre-Ottoman burst that came to be known as “Cretan Renaissance”. Erotokritos and Erophili by Georgios Hortatzis constitute the classic examples of Greek Renaissance literature.

Its themes are love, honour, friendship and courage. It is written in the Cretan variety of Greek language. A particular type of rhyming used in the traditional mantinades was also the one used in Erotokritos.

It remains a popular work until today, largely due to the music that accompanies it when it is publicly recited. Several groups of renowned Cretan musicians have added selected parts of the poem to their music, often exploring the boundaries of their local musical tradition.

Vitsentzos Kornaros is considered to be the greatest of all the Cretan poets and one of the most significant and influential figures in the entire course of Greek poetry. He was the son of a Venetian-Cretan aristocrat and was born near Sitia in 1553.

Later, when he got married, he came to live in Candia (now Heraklion) where he joined the Academia dei Stravaganti. Kornaros died in 1617, thus he is an exact contemporary of William Shakespeare.

Erotokritos sets great store by true love, friendship, courage, and patriotism, and this is the reason for its later popularity all over Greece. It was a source of inspiration for Dionysios Solomos and influenced Greek poets as diverse as Kostis Palamas, Kostas Krystallis, and George Seferis.

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