A Cypriot Story about Love and Hatred
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The Middle Ages have their great love stories. We owe one of them to Peter I Lusignan, King of Cyprus. Married to Eleanor of Aragon, who bore him a son and a successor, he had a mistress pregnant with his child. The queen decided to eliminate this rival by inducing a premature delivery. The incident was recorded by Leontios Makhairas, a Cypriot chronicler, who described the cruelty of Eleanor and mourned the fate of the baby. But it is not his account which keeps this tragedy alive in Cyprus even today. There is a folk song about beautiful Arodaphnousa, who suffered because of the bad queen. The song is deprived of historical context, but it is a historical source nevertheless. Its remote counterpart is the Catalan story of Eleanor, who was expelled from Cyprus and lived in Aragon for a long time. This story creates an image of a benign, calm lady who was venerated after death by her subjects. The clash between these images makes one think about the black and white PR created in every epoch. But this is not the point of this story. The point is the fate of an innocent child, both the flower and the victim of love. This is a rare motif in medieval literature; children are seldom present on the pages of its manuscripts. The emotion connected with this story deserves the reader’s attention.