| Laskaratos was the great satirical
poet, literary figure and social activist of Kefalonia. He was an enlightened spirit, who
fought a corrupt aristocratic society, that of the Ionian Islands from 1830 – 1860, but,
despite being hurt in the process, he never once recanted and was never beaten.
He was born in Lixouri in Kefalonia in 1811 to an aristocratic family, descendants of the Tipaldis. He was raised by two private teachers, the deacon Evgenios Diogenes and S.Treka, who took care of his education from a very early age. At the age of 12, he went to live with his uncle, Count Delladetsimas, at whose house he met Lord Byron. He later studied at the Ionian Academy in Corfu under Professor Andreas Kalvos. In Corfu he met our great poet, Dionysios Solomos, who gave him important advice. He studied law at the Ionian Academy, in Paris and in Pisa. When his father died in 1844 he took over the management of the estates.
He built a house in Pitsata in Palliki and tried to build up a relationship with the locals and suggest new farming methods, but was totally rejected by them. After that, he returned to Argostoli and devoted himself to his writing.
In 1845 his poetic work entitled “Lixouri in 1836” was published.Later, on his way to Athens, he met the woman of his life, Penelope, daughter of Dimitris Korgialenias, who was to spend a lifetime by his side.
In 1862 he published “My persecution because of the Lychnos” and “Kefalonia’s Mysteries” with which he hoped to present himself as a social activist for his homeland, lashing out against the representatives of the Clergy and politics who were exploiting the ignorance of the people. This led to his excommunication by the bishop, who demanded that he renounce his ideas, but despite the risk to his life Laskaratos did not give in. Kefalonians still remember many anecdotes from his lifetime, which show just how clever and quick-witted he really was.Here are two of them:
1.On his name day, a neighbour, wanting to have a joke at Laskaratos’s expense, sent his maid with a basket full of ram’s horns (implying he was a cuckold) and a note attached saying “For your Name Day”. When he saw this, Laskaratos went out into his garden and picked the most beautiful flowers that he could find, which he placed in the same basket with the message: “Whatever a person has, so he gives to others”, and gave it to the maid, saying: “Give this to your master, my girl.”
2. When the bishop excommunicated him, somebody visited him to tell him the news and gleefully said: “Have you heard, Senor Andreas that the bishop has excommunicated you?”
Laskaratos replied: “I’m grateful to the bishop for excommunicating me, but I’d like to ask him to excommunicate my children’s shoes, too, so that they will never wear out.” (He believed that whoever had been excommunicated, their body did not decay after death.)
He went to Zakynthos, where another excommunication awaited him, so decided to exile himself to London, where he wrote “Response to Excommunication” and published it in 1868.He returned to Zakynthos and edited the newspaper “Lychnos”, was sued for libel and sentenced to 4 months in prison.The foreclosure of the “Lychnos” occurred after the appearance of his satirical poem “Lullaby”, which referred to the cradle of the heir to the throne, Constantinos.
He also published “Behold the man or Human Characters” in 1886, “Reflections or a collection of wise opinions in Greek and Italian”, “Autobiography”, “Morals, Customs and Beliefs of Kefalonia” and others.In 1901 Andreas Laskaratos died at the great age of 90.
Laskaratos’s moral works were a true reflection of his totally moral life and he is still remembered in our hearts and in Literature as one of the most honest and intellectual of men.