Greece's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that all rights to the work of celebrated Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis belong to Patroklos Stavrou, the adopted son of his second wife Eleni Samiou-Kazantzaki. The court's decision marks the end a seven-year legal battle between Stavrou and the two grand-daughters of the author's sister, Anastasia Saklabani, who disputed his claim.
Kazantzakis is considered one of the most important and influential Greek authors of the 20th century. The body of his work includes epic poetry and travel books, while he was the creator of the character Zorba the Greek, immortalised on film by Anthony Quinn and Michael Cacoyannis, and such novels as "The Greek Passion" or the controversial "The Last Temptation", which served as the inspiration for a film directed by Martin Scorsese.
Born on February 18, 1883 in Iraklio, Crete, he died on October 26, 1957 in Freiburg, Germany at the age of 74. He was married two times in his life, once to the writer Galateia Kazantzaki whom he divorced in 1926 and then to fellow-author and journalist Eleni Samiou, 20 years his junior, in 1945.
Following the author's death in 1957, Eleni lived in Geneva and also spent time on Cyprus, where she adopted Patroklos Stavrou as her son in 1982. Following a car accident in 1989 she moved back to Greece, living in the house owned by Patroklos and Mary Stavrou in an Athens suburb, and in 1995 she gave him the rights to Nikos Kazantzakis' work as a parental gift signed before a notary.
Stavrou has three times served as a deputy minister in the Cyprus government and has also been awarded for his work by the Athens Academy, while the University of Athens philosophy school has made him an honorary professor and the Greek State has awarded him a Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix Medal.
He now intends to take up legal action against a decision of the Greek culture ministry to translate and publish the entire body of Kazantzakis' work.