like the rest of the Ionian Islands, never fell into the hands of Turks.
Ionian Islands, instead, remained for centuries under Venetian, French
and English rule and for a short period of time under Russian rule. (History
Thus, their population had the chance to live according to a European and especially to an Italian culture and develop a pioneering cultural activity, which became apparent in painting, in music, in literature and in theater. The literary evolution of Ionian Islands during 19th century is known in the History of Literature as "Ionian School".
Already in 17th century we come across the first dramas in Zakynthos as "Omilies", a sort of folk theater, while at the beginning of the 18th century the "Comedy of Pseudo-Doctors" written by Savojia Rousmeli, which is the oldest work of dramaturgy. Heroes are simple, ordinary bourgeois people, which the playwrights wanted to depict. In 1830 A. Matesis writes "Vasilikos", which is the first drama with social content written after the Liberation of Greece (it delineates the social conflicts at the beginning of 18th century in the Ionian Islands).
This theatrical tradition culminates with Grigorios Xenopoulos, at the first half of 20th century. At this period prose and theater transcend the bounds of ethnographic narrative to touch the multifaceted description of bourgeois both in the capital and in the province. "mundane and modern theater without extremities". (Among his best novels were: The secret of the Countess Valeraina", "The Red Rock", "Rich and Poor" etc.)
It is true that whenever we are referring to the literary physiognomy of the island, we have Solomos and Calvos in mind.
Dionysios Solomos is perhaps the most important not only among the poets of Ionian Islands but also among the poets of modern Greece. He was born in Zakynthos in 1798 when French were ruling the islands. His father was a rich aristocrat, while his mother of humble origins. He was raised and studied in Italy. He returned to Zakynthos in 1818 and immediately started to compose poems.
In May 1823, devastated by the outburst of the Greek Revolution, he wrote the "Hymn to Liberty" which later became the National Hymn of the country -set to music by N. Mantzaro, also from the Ionian Islands. The Hymn found prolific ground and was immediately translated into several languages and its lyrics reinforced the philhellenist movement. Other important poetic compositions of him, all of them fragmentary, are "Cretan" "The Free Besieged", "The Porphyras". Solomos belongs to the same category with the great modern European lyrics. He died in Corfu in 1857.
His relics was transferred to Zakynthos and remained repose with the remains of the other great poet of Zakynthos, Andreas Calvos, in the "Mausoleum of Solomos and Kalvos".
Andreas Kalvos was born in Zakynthos in 1792 from aristocrat mother and poor father. Significant moment of his life was his meeting with the great Italian poet Ugo Foscolo.
He spent most of his lifetime in London working as teacher, while for a short period he taught philosophy at the Ionian Academy of Corfu. His poetic production amounts to 20 odes inspired mainly from the Struggle for Independence. He constructs his own language, where behind the exterior classical body a restless soul of a pure romantic is concealed. Andreas Kalvos died in 1869 in England, from where his relics were transferred with celebration in Zakynthos.