Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Priest Grigoris

Priest Grigoris, the priest of Lycovrissi. He is a cruel man who compromises God and the gospels for his own ends. He vents his rage at unexpected times and in inappropriate settings. He indulges his gluttony at his parishioners’ expense. He jealously protects his position as sole Christian leader. Without compassion, he orders Fotis, a priest and leader of refugees fleeing Turkish cruelty, to take his people elsewhere. To frighten them, he announces an outbreak of cholera. Grigoris tries every trick to advance his own interests. He accuses Michelis and Manolios of stealing food from Archon Patriarcheas’ cellar to feed refugees. His approval of his daughter’s marriage to the archon’s son is a political move to enhance his political power.


Manolios, the most interesting character in this novel. He is betrothed to the chief magistrate’s illegitimate daughter Lenio. He is a handsome, well-liked, and good-hearted shepherd chosen to play Christ in the forthcoming Easter Passion Play. He tries all manner of purification to become worthy of the role. The young shepherd casts away all worldly things and appears saintlike to villagers. Eventually, Manolios takes his role even more seriously, trying to engage in Christ-like projects, one of which is to help Fotis’ desperate people. Manolios leads them to the top of Mount Sarakina, where they can settle in caves protected from wind and cold. He camps there and begins his purification process. He remains alone, fighting the desires of the flesh. He is successful in fighting his weaknesses, but his dreams are full of sinful imagery involving the village harlot, Katerina. His face breaks out in putrid sores. He tells his friends that the sores are given by God as punishment for his lewd dreams. He believes he must suffer martyrdom. He offers to give his life to save the elders of the village from being killed by Agha. He...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Bien, Peter. Nicos Kazantzakis, Novelist. Bristol, England: Bristol Classical Press, 1989. Gives personal and philosophical background for Kazantzakis’ novels. Helpful for tracing the historical and social motivations for most of his works, including The Greek Passion.

Dombrowski, Daniel. “Kazantzakis and the New Middle Ages.” Religion & Literature 26, no. 3 (Fall, 1994): 19-32. Helpful background on Kazantzakis’ basic sources and the motivations for creating his elaborately rich novels and characterizations. Describes his varied interests and studies to explain his ability to create an epic such as The Greek Passion, with more than forty diverse and colorful characters.

Levitt, Morton. The Cretan Glance: The World and Art of Nikos Kazantzakis. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1980. One chapter explains the historical, social, and political contexts for the novel. Describes Kazantzakis’ own history as it relates to the creation of many characters. Identifies the locations where he worked as minister of public welfare.

Levitt, Morton. “Homer, Joyce, Kazantzakis: Modernism and the Epic Tradition.” Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 10, no. 4 (Winter, 1983): 41-45. A thorough comparison of the works of Homer, James Joyce, and Kazantzakis. Shows many of the subtleties of Kazantzakis’ works, and his indebtedness to both the modern and ancient authors.

Raizis, M. Byron. “Symbolism and Meaning in Kazantzakis’ The Greek Passion.” Ball State University Forum 11, no. 3 (Summer, 1970): 57-66. Clear, thorough analysis of the varied symbols and motifs found in the novel from both Christian and ancient Greek mythological perspectives.