More from and about
Nikos Kazantzakis
(biographical info at bottom of page)


How simple and frugal a thing is happiness:  a glass of wine,
a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. . . .
All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness,
is a simple, frugal heart.


This is true happiness:  to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition.  To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them.  To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.
Once more I realized to what an extent earthly happiness is made to the measure of man. It is not a rare bird which we must pursue at one moment in heaven, at the next in our minds. Happiness is a domestic bird found in our own courtyards.

True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.
When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage! An invisible and all-powerful enemy— some call him God, others the Devil, seem to rush upon us to destroy us; but we are not destroyed.
What first truly stirred my soul was not fear or pain, nor was it pleasure or games; it was the yearning for freedom. I had to gain freedom - but from what, from whom? Little by little, in the course of time, I mounted freedom's rough unaccommodating ascent. To gain freedom first of all from the Turk, that was the initial step; after that, later, this new struggle began: to gain freedom from the inner Turk--from ignorance, malice and envy, from fear and laziness, from dazzling false ideas; and finally from idols, all of them, even the most revered and beloved.

I was happy, I knew that. While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize--sometimes with astonishment--how happy we had been.


Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it;
it looks at you and does not forgive.


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Let your youth have free reign, it won't come again, so be bold and no repenting.


When an almond tree became covered with blossoms in the heart
of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. "What vanity,"
they screamed, "what insolence! Just think, it believes it can bring
spring in this way!"  The flowers of the almond tree blushed for
shame. "Forgive me, my sisters," said the tree. "I swear I did not want
to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my heart.”


Discipline is the highest of all virtues. Only so may strength and
desire be counterbalanced and the endeavors of people bear fruit.

One of the most important Greek writers, poets and philosophers of the 20th century, Kazantzakis was born in Iraklion in 1883.  In 1906 he graduated from the Athens Law School and continued his studies in Paris.  During the Balkan Wars he fought as a volunteer in the Greek Army.  After the Wars he traveled to many European and Asian countries, publishing travelogues from his trips (Spain, Egypt-Sinai, China-Japan, Russia, England, etc.).

Kazantzakis, much more of a philosopher than a writer, was deeply influenced by the writings of Nietzsche and Bergson, and the philosophies of Christianity, Marxism and Buddhism.  In his work, he attempted to synthesize these different world views.

In 1927 he published the book "Askitiki", the main work of his philosophy.  In 1938, after constantly revising it for 13 years, he publishes his epic poet Odyssey: A modern sequel, continuing Ulysses' story from the point where Homer leaves off.  This huge poetical work is comprised of 33,333 verses.  He became famous, however, during the last years of his life, when he turned to writing novels.  During that time he published, among others, Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ, Freedom and Death, The Greek Passion, and his autobiography Report to Greco (Anafora ston Greco)The Last Temptation of Christ was considered quite controversial when first published in 1955, and prompted angry reactions from both the Roman Catholic Church which banned it, and from the Greek Orthodox Church which tried to excommunicate him!

On the 28th of June, 1956, in Vienna, he was awarded the International Peace Award.  He died in 1957 in Germany and is buried on one of the bastions of the Venetian fort surrounding Iraklion, Martinego.  In the Historical Museum of Crete there is a room devoted to Nikos Kazantzakis. His desk, library, some of his personal belongings as well as manuscripts of many of his works are displayed.  A complete picture of Nikos Kazantzakis life and work can also be acquired by a visit to the Nikos Kazantzakis Museum in Myrtia.

To honor the 40th anniversary of his death, a whole range of cultural events were scheduled in Greece and abroad for 1997.



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