“The Heroine of Suli” (1838) is narrated by an English traveller to Greece during the Revolution, a self-proclaimed “dreamer” (206), who after being shipwrecked and saved by Suliots becomes fascinated, even obsessed, with the heroine of Suli, Iola, “a woman! celebrated in national songs as the champion of her desolated land” (210). He imagines her young and beautiful, but at the end of the story he finds out that she is a sixty-year-old woman with “wrinkled and disfigured features” (221).
“Suddenly the fierce tramps of hoofs were heard, even above the din of battle, and the shrill war-cry of a foreign tongue. In another instant the dreaded cavalry swept by me with unbroken ranks, and left a wide pathway, paved with human bodies, for those who could follow. Their course was towards the heroine of Suli. I saw their frantic career checked by the mass of men around her. I saw the gleaming of sabres and heard the rapid discharge of fire-arms; but the turban of Iola still retained its place, still served me as a land mark. For a moment it disappeared—madness gave me a new vigour. I gained ground and again saw the Suliote. Her back was towards me; I sprung forward, friends and foes seeming to make way for me. Another step, and I should have reached her side. ‘Iola—heroine of Suli!’ I shrieked frantically. She did not heed me.” (219)
Anon. (1838), “The heroine of Suli”, The Ladies’ Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance 14:4, pp. 205-221.
Featured Image: View of Suli and its surrounding scenery. From a window of the Great Fortress. Hughes, Thomas Smart. Travels in Sicily Greece and Albania, vol. II, London, For J. Mawman, 1820. Hellenic Library – Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation www.travelogues.gr