Vitsentzos Kornaros

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vincenzo Cornaro , later Vitsentzos Kornaros ( Greek Βιτσέντζος Κορνάρος ) (* 1553 near Sitia ; † 1613 or 1614 in Candia ) was a Greek poet of Venetian descent. He is one of the most important representatives of Cretan literature and was the author of the narrative poem Erotokritos . This work inspired Dionysios Solomos (1798–1857) much later and influenced Greek poets such as Kostis Palamas (1859–1943), Kostas Krystallis (1868–1894) and Giorgos Seferis (* 1971).

The attribution of the religious drama Η Θυσία του Αβραάμ (German: The Sacrifice of Abraham ) to him is not upheld by recent research in favor of an anonymous author.


Only on the basis of the statements made by the poet himself at the end of his work can it be proven that he came from a Venetian family and was baptized as Vincenzo Cornaro. He names the first name Vitsentzos, the family name Kornaros, the place of birth Sitia and the city of Kastro ( Heraklion ), where he got married. He is said to have been born on March 26, 1553 as the son of Iacopo Cornaro (Iakovos Kornaros) and Zambeta Demetzo. He came from a wealthy, Hellenized Venetian noble family (cf. Cornaro ). His brother Andrea Cornaro (Andreas Kornaros, † around 1613) had written a history of Crete , but it was never published. It wasn't until the early 1980s that Nik. Panagiotakis prove that Vincenzo was his brother, which in turn allowed more accurate dating.

Cornaro went to Candia (today Heraklion ) (after March 20, 1585 ). There he married Marieta Zeno on September 8, 1590, with whom he had two daughters: Eleni and Katerina. He held administrative offices until 1591, and during the plague of 1591–1593 he took over the office of health officer. He was also a member of a literary association, the Accademia degli Stravaganti , which his brother Andrea had founded.

He died in Heraklion in 1613 or 1614 and was buried in the monastery of St. Francis, the exact cause of death is not known.


The most important work of Kornaros was Erotokritos ( Greek Ερωτόκριτος ), a rhyming novel of about ten thousand fifteen-syllable verses. Its language is the Cretan dialect, but in such a way that it is a particular literary tool and with a verse form based on folk songs, although at the same time the work is very different from them. His language is heavily interspersed with Venetian sprinkles.

The work is based on Paris et Vienne by Pierre de la Cypede , which was very popular in the 15th century . However, the Erotokritos is not just a simple copy, but a creative modification with a better internal structure, so it has a more solid structure and fewer repetitions than the French original. Kornaros obviously knew the French work as an Italian translation, because it seems very unlikely that he could speak French .


The story takes place in ancient Athens , but the description of the epoch fits better with Western chivalry. The content can be divided into the following five sections:

  1. After many years of marriage, the Athenian King Heracles and his wife have a daughter, Aretousa. The son of the king's loyal adviser, Erotokritos, falls in love with her. Because he cannot openly show his love, he goes to her balcony at night and sings for her. The girl, in turn, falls in love with the unknown singer over time. When Heracles found out about the singer, he set up a trap to arrest him. But Erotokritos and a friend manage to kill the king's soldiers. He realizes that his love is hopeless and travels to Chalkis to forget what happened. During this time his father fell ill and Erotokritos traveled back to Athens to visit him. When Aretousa goes to his home, she finds a painting in his room that depicts her and the verses he sang to her. When he returns, Erotokritos finds that the painting and the verses are missing and he learns that only Aretousa was in the house. Realizing that his identity is now revealed, he locks himself in his house and pretends to be sick; However, Aretousa sends him a basket of apples to help him recover, with which she shows him her feelings for him.
  2. The king organized a lance tournament to entertain his daughter, from which Erotokritos emerged victorious.
  3. The couple secretly meet on Aretousa's balcony. She tries to convince him to ask her father for her hand. The king, however, is furious about the young man's “cheek” and banishes him. At the same time, bride suitors for Aretousa arrive from the King of Byzantium. However, she secretly becomes engaged to Erotokritos before he leaves the city.
  4. Aretousa refuses to accept the applicants, and the king locks her up with her faithful wet nurse. After three years, when the guards besieged Athens, Erotokritos appears in a new identity. In a battle he saves the king's life and is wounded.
  5. To thank the stranger, the king offers him his daughter's hand. Aretousa still refuses and remains in conversation with the camouflaged Erotokritos. Ultimately, however, this reveals itself. The king acknowledges the marriage, makes peace with Erotokritus and his father, and Erotokritus ascends to the Athens throne.

Handwritten and printed version

The work was very popular and was distributed as handwriting in the 17th century. It was printed in Venice in 1713 by a Cretan who had collected many manuscripts on which he relied in order to create a faithful version that was true to the original. None of the manuscripts have survived, except for a fragment from 1710, which, however, differs greatly from the Venetian edition. The writing was probably canceled after the printed version appeared in 1713.

Diffusion and echo

The first thing to notice are its effects in the Cretan “mandinades” ( modern Greek μαντινάδες ). In Crete it has also created an almost mythical tradition: the names of the heroes have lived on as baptismal names to this day and in popular fantasy the name “Palace of Heracles” stands for the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. Its widespread use can be traced back to intellectual travelers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries who claimed that the people of Crete knew the entire work by heart. Also Giorgos Seferis noted that in Smyrna early 20th century understanding of the text, despite the highly idiomatic language just was.

But the greatest evidence of its influence is the impact it had on modern Greek poetry. Examples of poems that were influenced by verse art are The Cretan by Dionysios Solomos , Mother of God by Angelos Sikelianos , the Epitaphios by Giannis Ritsos and the New Erotokritos by Pantelis Prevelakis .

On the other hand, many scholars of the 18th century considered the work to be of inferior reading because of its popular language, especially Dionysios Fotinos had converted the work into a learned, higher, as he believed, language form. Andreas Kalvos saw it as monotonous and Iakovos Polylas rejected it because of its idiomatic language.

In 1929 D. Synadinos staged a play based on Erotokritos. In 1966 Nikos Koundouros filmed the work. The poem was often set to music and is very popular in this form in Crete. The Cretan composer Nikos Mamangakis wrote the opera Erotokritos and Aretousa in 1985 .


  • Stylianos Alexiou (ed.): Βιτσέντζος Κορνάρος , Ερωτόκριτος . Επιμέλεια Στυλιανού Αλεξίου. Εστία, Αθήνα 1995 (Νέα Ελληνική Βιβλιοθήκη).
    • First: Βιτσέντζος Κορνάρος : Ερωτόκριτος . Κριτική έκδοση, εισαγωγή, σημειώσεις, γλωσσάριο. Μεγάλη έκδοση: Ερμής, Athens 1980.
    • Μικρή έκδοση: Ερμής, Athens 1985.
  • Stefanos Xanthoudidis (Ed.): Βιτζέντζου Κορνάρου Ερωτόκριτος. Έκδοσις κριτική γενομένη επί τη βάσει των πρώτων πηγών μετ 'εισαγωγής, σημειώσεων & γλωσσαρίου υπάν. Ξανθουδίδου, η επισυνάπτονται πραγματεία του καθηγητού της γλωσσολογίας Γεωργίου Ν. Χατζιδάκι περί της γλώσσης και γραμματικής του Ερωτόκριτου και οκτώ φωτοτυπικοί πίίεακες εκφ του. Herakleion 1915 ( digitized version ).
  • Francesco Maspero: Erotocrito: Introduzione, traduzione e note , Milan 1975.


  • Stylianos Alexiou: Ο χαρακτήρ του 'Ερωτοκρίτου'. In: Κρητικά Χρονικά 1952, pp. 351-422, ZDB -ID 412478-9 (“The character of 'Erotokritos'”).
  • Rosemary E. Bancroft-Marcus : The Cretan Academies and the Imprese of Erotokritos, in: Cretan Studies 3, 1992, pp. 21-45.
  • David Holton : Μελέτες για τον Ερωτόκριτο και άλλα νεοελληνικά κείμενα. Kastaniotis, Athens 2001, ISBN 960-03-2920-6 ("Studies on" Erotokritos "and other modern Greek texts").
  • John Mavrogordato : The Erotokritos. Oxford University Press et al. a., London 1929.
  • Michael Paschalis : Ο γραμματολογικός χαρακτήρας του Ερωτόκριτου. In: Πρακτικά του διεθνούς συνεδρίου Neograeca Medii Aevi VI (Ιωάννινα 29 Σεπτεμβρίου-2 Οκτωβρίου 2005). Επιμέλεια: Γιάννης Κ. Μαυρομάτης & Ν. Αγιώτης. Ηράκλειο 2012, pp. 451–472 ("The literary character of Erotokritos")
  • Panagiotis Roilos : Orality and Performativity in Erotokritos. In: Cretan Studies , 7, 2002, pp. 213-230, ZDB -ID 95116-x .

Web links

Wikisource: Vitsentzos Kornaros  - Sources and full texts (Greek)


  1. Ioannis Zelepos: Small history of Greece. From the founding of the state until today , Beck, 2014, p. 24.
  2. Doubt expressed about Walter Puchner: Historical drama and socially critical comedy in the countries of Southeast Europe in the 19th century. From the theater of nationalism to the national theater , Lang, 1994, p. 49.
  3. Zeitschrift für Balkanologie 20.2 (1984) 231 f. For a long time, uncertainties meant that drafting dates for the Erotokritos were also asserted around 1650, or that Cornaro was born at the beginning of the 17th century. This was in turn related to a funerary inscription in the church of Sitia that bears the name "Vincenzo Cornaro", a man who died in 1677 (Bruno Lavagnini: Storia della letteratura neoellenica . In: Nuova Accademia Editrice , 1959, p. 77) .
  4. ^ Byzantine Journal , 92, 1999, p. 197.