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Cretan Poetry: What the famous Cretan poem Erotokritos is all about!

Cretan literature

Erotokritos is a romantic novel composed by Cretan poet Vincenzo Cornaros in the early 17th century. It is written in the Cretan dialect, and consists of 10.012 fifteen syllable rhymed verses that celebrate the love affair between Erotokritos and Aretousa. Other traits are praised as well; honor, friendship, bravery, courage and patriotism. The poem is considered one of the most popular and beloved classic Cretan literature pieces, and is still cited in many occasions, accompanied by music and the songs of famous Cretan artists.

The story of Erotokritos takes place in a fictional city similar to ancient Athens, but accompanied by many anachronisms and western elements that correspond to no specific place or time in particular.

Put in a few words, this is what the story is about: The king of Athens Herakles, after years of marriage to his queen finally sires a daughter, Aretousa, who he loves dearly. The son of his confidant, Erotokritos falls deeply in love with the princess, but, not being of royal descend, he cannot claim his love. Still, he secretly sings poems of love to Aretousa under her window every night, keeping his identity a secret, and Aretousa starts falling in love with her secret admirer. Eventually, her father finds out of the affair and sends an ambush to apprehend Erotokritos, who escapes by killing his captors. He runs away to another town, but in his absence the princess visits his father and accidentally finds out that Erotokritos is her secret love. Hence their love affair blossoms, but her father objects, exiling Erotokritos and trying to force Aretousa into marrying another prince. Aretousa of course strongly resists, resulting in her father imprisoning her. Later on, a war breaks and the city of Athens is in danger. Erotokritos, transformed by a magic spell, saves the kings life in a battle, and as a reward, he is offered the hand of Aretousa in marriage. Naturally she refuses, and Erotokritos, after putting her faith through many tests, reveals his true identity to both her and her father, and they get married, ascending to the throne of Athens as king and queen, a true “happily ever after”.

Ask the people of Galaxy Hotel Iraklio where to find the complete poem and the most famous piece of Cretan literature and indulge into this beautiful love story!

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