Kapetan Michalis was none other than the author's father, Michalis Kazantzakis, who originally hailed from Myrtia (Varvari). He was a landowner and dealer in agricultural produce, and had a shop in the area called Kamaraki in Heraklion. In 1882 he married Maria Christodoulaki, with whom he had Nikos, Anastasia, Eleni and Yiorgos, the last of whom died in infancy.
As a father, his personality had a decisive influence on Nikos Kazantzakis, marking many aspects of his life, and subsequently becoming the central figure in a late novel as Kapetan Michalis. A man of ebullient personality with all the hallmarks of the Cretan mindset and an indomitable spirit - he took part in the final Cretan revolutions - his influence on the author ran deep, stirring up conflicting emotions.
In writings of an autobiographical nature, Kapetan Michalis appears as the archetypal austere, intrepid Cretan rebel leader, and a paternal figure who left an indelible imprint on the great author's character and thought.