Irene Papadaki, “Love’s Labour and the Angelic Beloved: Voices from Cypriot Renaissance Poetry”
“Love’s Labour and the Angelic Beloved: Voices from Cypriot Renaissance Poetry”
University of Cyprus
on the occasion of National Poetry Month
April 13, 2024
The reception of Italian lyrical poetry in Cyprus during the time of Venetian rule (1489-1571) yielded rich fruits. The precious collection of Cypriot love poems, preserved in a unique manuscript at the Marciana Library in Venice, is a mature expression of Renaissance reflections and artistic sensitivity. Simultaneously, it reveals a convergence of the island’s intellectual milieu with the vibrant life of the Italian peninsula. Themes such as the superiority of the beloved and her parallelism with the sun, the lover’s attraction to the sublime, his obsession with her idealized image, communication through the gaze, conflicting feelings, melancholy, and the tendency for isolation, the experience of a endless death, the loss of self, or the exchange of souls if love is reciprocal—all reflect not only in poetry but also in the philosophy of the Italian Renaissance. The identity of the lyricist or lyricists who composed this high-quality poetry remains a mystery to this day, despite scholars’ interest since the late 19th century in the authorship of the collection. The recent discovery of a musical score of one of the Cypriot love poems and its Italian prototype, has opened new research horizons. The score is the work of the Calabrian composer Giandomenico Martoretta, who visited Cyprus in the mid-16th century and dedicated his works to members of noble families on the island. This event attests to the existence of a circle with literary and artistic interests, within which we could place, if not the composition itself, at least an aspect of the reception of Cypriot Renaissance love poems.
Eirini Papadaki studied Greek Philology at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Crete. She was a fellow researcher at the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice. In 2005 she submitted her doctoral dissertation at the Department of Philology at the University of Crete. She has taught courses in Modern Greek Literature at the University of Crete and at the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Cyprus, where she has been working since 2014. She has also taught at the Hellenic Open University. She participated in various research projects of the Hellenic Institute in Venice, the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the University of Cyprus.
This event is held under the auspices of the Embassy of Greece in the USA, the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in the USA, the Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles, and the Honorary Consul General of Cyprus in Los Angeles.