Scattered off the west coast of mainland Greece are the seven Ionian Islands, celebrated for their spectacular landscapes, olive groves and classical associations. Together with the mountainous mainland region of Epirus, the combined populations of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira constitute less than a twentieth of the population of Greece, yet they have made a huge contribution to the culture of the country, before and since becoming part of the Greek state. The unsurpassed beauty of the islands and of the Pindus Mountains has stimulated the imagination of countless writers and artists from Homer to Byron, Edward Lear and the Durrells, Louis de Berniéres and Nicholas Gage, as well as scores of nineteenth-century travellers.
Drawing a mosaic portrait of the Ionian Islands and special places of interest in Epirus, Corfu resident Jim Potts focuses on the landscapes, legends, traditions, and historical events that have appealed most strongly to the imaginations of writers, residents and travellers. Ranging from the mythical leap of Sappho and the mystery of Calypso's island to the impact of tourism on modern-day Corfu, this book reveals the extraordinary cultural legacy of this beautiful part of the world.
ODYSSEUS AND SAPPHO: the landscapes of the poets; Homer's Ithaca and Scheria; Sappho's leap; the identification of Dodona; classic ground; King Pyrrhus.
THE SEVEN ISLANDS: Strategic issues; Corfu v. Kefalonia; Byron and Casanova; Empress Elizabeth of Austria; Greek writers, Solomos, Laskaratos, Theotokis and Valaoritis.
TURKEY, VENICE, BRITAIN, GREECE: conflict and occupation; union and liberation; the Second World War and civil war; nationalism and identity; cultural differences.