The play takes place in ancient Athens, but the world displayed is a complex construct which does not correspond to any particular historical period. Alongside references to classical Greece there are anachronisms and many elements particular to Western Europe, such as the jousting competition. The work is divided in the following five parts:
I. After several years of marriage, a daughter (Aretousa) is born to the King of Athens (Heracles) and his wife. The son of the faithful adviser to the king (Erotokritos) falls in love with the princess. Because he cannot reveal his love, he sings under her window in the evenings. The girl gradually falls in love with the unknown singer. Heracles, when he learns about the singer, organizes an ambush to arrest him, but Erotokritos with his beloved friend kills the soldiers of the king. Erotokritos, realising that his love cannot have a happy ending travels to Chalkida to forget. During his absence, his father falls ill and when Aretousa visits him, she finds in the room of Erotokritos a painting of hers and the lyrics he sang. When he returns, he discovers the absence of his drawing and songs and learns that the only person that visited them was Aretousa. Realizing that his identity was revealed and that he may be at risk, he stays at home pretending to be ill. Aretousa sends him a basket of apples to wish him well and as an indication she shares his feelings.
II. The king organizes a jousting competition for the entertainment of his daughter. Many noblemen from around the known world participate and Erotokritos is the winner.
III. The couple begins to secretly meets under the window of Aretousa. The girl pleads with Erotokritos to ask her father to allow them to marry. Naturally, the king is angry with the audacity of the young man and has him exiled. Simultaneously a marriage proposal for Arethusa arrives by the king of Byzantium. The girl immediately gets engaged secretly to Erotokritos before he leaves the city.