Once upon a time there was a king in old Athens, Iercales. After many years of marriage he and his wife had a daughter, Aretousa. And there was Erotokritos, the son of the king’s faithful adviser, who fell in love with the princess but could not reveal his love, as he belonged to a lower rank of society. So he went under her window at night and sang. Aretousa fell in love with the unknown singer, and once she incidentally revealed his identity, she sent him a basket of apples to show her response to his emotions, and they began to secretly meet.
The time had come and Aretousa urged Erotokritos to ask the king for her hand. But the king was incensed by the audacity of the young plebeian, and so he sent him to exile instead. The young lovers were secretly engaged just before Erotokritos left. When Aretousa refused a match to the king of Byzantium, her father imprisoned her together with her loyal nanny.
Three years later, Erotokritos returned to Athens in disguise, to save the king’s life in battle. The king promised his daughter to the unknown brave young man, and as it was revealed that he was no other than Erotokritos, the king accepted the marriage, and reconciled with Erotokritus, who ascended to the throne of Athens.
“Erotokritos” is an old and famous Cretan story. It was written in the early 17th century by Vitsentzos Kornaros and consists of 10012 verses. The story of true love and courage became popular and beloved through the generations, as did the music that had been set to parts of the story by unknown composers.
Vasilis Papakonstantinou and Georgia Dagaki with her touching Cretan lyre sing an Erotokritos monologue, as he is about to leave for exile:
My Aretousa did you hear the sad news
your Father banished me to the road of exile
Only four days he gave me to stay
and then expatriate, far away to go
And how I will separate from you and how I will get far from you
and how will I live without you, there in isolation
I know that your Father soon will wed you
a prince, a person fit to your class he seeks
And you cannot resist to what your parents wish
they overcome your mind and your mood changes too
One favor, I am asking of you, Mistress, and that is all I want
and after that overjoyed I will finish my life
The moment you will be engaged, you will sigh deeply
and when as a bride you are adorned, appear as married
Shed a tear and say, “Poor Erotokritos
forget what I promised you , what you desired most is not anymore”
Vassilis and Georgia on the lyre conclude the scene with a beautiful song, from our modern era…continuity of strong emotions and love throughout generations…
And if your eyes are not crying
they have a way to tell me
of the pain that hurts them.
with a sad look
about the spring they ask…
(Akos Daskalopoulos, Manos Loizos)
In the far days of the creation of “Erotokritos”, the world was still fresh, streams and rivers flew unspoiled, the skies were clear and you could breathe clean air and walk on pure land… Through the generations, the words and the music have wandered on so many different people’s lips, like a silk thread from the old days to our own, as it inspired 77 singers to make a video clip – “We are playing ecology” – for the sake of our earth:Thanks to Reuven for introducing me to this video