The island of Lefkada is not only a stunning place where you can enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family and friends. Lefkada is also the homeland, or the adopted homeland, of some important people such as for example the German archeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld or the Greek poet Aristotelis Valaoritis. In this article we will discover some important facts about the life and the actions of the latter. In fact Aristotelis Valaoritis was an important poet and statesman who lived for many years on the island of Madouri, Lefkada.
Aristotelis Valaoritis was born in Lefkada in 1824. His father was a senator and his mother a noblewoman of the Kefallinian Tipaldus-Forrest family. He lived in Lefkada until his childhood in 1838. Then he studied in Corfu, Paris and at the University of Pisa where in 1848. Here he studied and became Doctor in Law. He never worked as a lawyer though, but completely devoted himself to poetry and for an important part of his life also to politics.
At the age of 25 he married the daughter of the venetian Emilio De Tibaldo. Since 1853 the couple has settled permanently in Lefkada, on the Island of Madouri where Valaoritis had grown up. Valaoritis had a total of seven children from this marriage. Unfortunately some of his children did not survive to their father. In particular, one daughter, Maria, died when she was only two in 1856. Valaoriti’s son Emilios died in Madeira from tubercolosis. In 1869 Olga, another daughter died. Finally in 1875 Natahlia passed away in Venice.
Aristotelis Valaoritis died in 1879 due to heart failure. However he is still famous in Lefkada. In Lefkada Town, close to the wood bridge, you can admire a statue representing this man who is considered, at national level. a passionate patriot and a talented poet.
Aristotelis Valaoritis Political Life
The engagement of Valaoritis in politics started when he was a student. In Venice, in 1847, he was arrested for anti-Austrian activity, released by intervention of K. Tipaldos and deported to Naples. In Pisa as a student he participated in the student movement in favor of the Italian liberation. Valaoritis was an ardent patriot. In 1857 he was elected for the first time a Member of the Parliament of the United States of the Ionian Islands. Valaoritis fought firmly for the right of the Ionian Islands and in particular for their annexation to Greece.
This happened in 1863. Valaoritis became also a member of the Greek Parliament for a few years. His poetic language heavily influenced his speeches. That is why he was famous for his rhetorical skills. Valaoritis retired from the political life of Athens in 1869, after the failure of the Cretan revolution. The last years of his life, he developed action towards the integration of Epirus to Greece, a goal which was fully achieved only at the time of the Balkan Wars.
Aristotelis Valaoritis The Poet
Indeed we can call Aritotelis Valaoritis a patriot-poet. He is also known as the Natural Poet. His works commemorate the acts of valor of the Greeks. He has always expressed a strong opposition against any foreign or domestic form of imposition to Greece. Through his poems and his public speeches, Valaoritis called for a renaissance of the democratic values of freedom. He is regarded as one of the most significant poets of the post-Greek War of Independence era.
Valaorítis was a fluent and gifted versifier. He admired Victor Hugo and in all his poetry work one can find an ardent vein of patriotism.
In 1847 the first collection of verses of Valaoritis Stichourgemata (“Versifications”) appeared. His longer poems, Kyra Phrosini (1859) as well as Athanases Diakos and Astrapoyiannos (1867), deal with recent events in Greek history.
A popular poem by Aristotelis Valaoritis is The Rock and the Wave, where the poet expresses clearly his desire for union and freedom from foreign impositions. In fact the rock represents the “arrogant, tyrannical British” and the wave symbolizes the “passionate, freedom loving Greeks”, who will crash down and destroy the rock.
Other important works of Valaoritis are: Thanasis Bagias (1867) Astrapogiannos, (1867), O andrias tou aidimou Grigoriou tou E, (1872). Among the important work of this poet there is also a unfinished poem relating to the so-called Voukentra revolution of 1357 in Lefkada against the Venetian (Italian) occupation.
The island of Madouri
Among the small islands that form the so called Prince’s Arcipelago, there is a small green islet. It is just opposite the Port of Nidri. It is the Island of Madouri, where Aristotelis Valaoritis lived with his wife and family for many years. The Island is about 400 metres (1,312 feet) in diameter. Nowday it is still private. Madouri in fact belongs to the discendents of Aristotelis Valaoritis and the distinguished writer Nanos Valaoritis. Only some people had the fortune put their feet on this small natural jewel.
On the island there is the main house of the Valaoritis Family. The villa was the principal location in Billy Wilder’s 1978 film, Fedora, with William Holden, Michael York, Jane Fonda and Marthe Keller. On Madouri there is also a little church in Venetian style. Moreover a lush green mediterranean forest covers all around.
The only way you can admire this small angle of paradise is to go on a boat cruise or pass in front of the island with a motorboat. In fact many of the boat cruises which depart from Nidri pass in front of Madouri. Boat cruises are a fantastic way to spend a day at sea discovering the beauties of the Prince’s Arcipelago Islands. These include Meganisi and Skorpios , the island which belonged for many years to Aristotelis Onassis.