Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Lord Byron and Armenia

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 16, 2013

Lord Byron in Albanian dress painted by Thomas Phillips in 1813

This painting can be viewed at the Venizelos Mansion,

which is the British Ambassador’s residence in Athens.

Lord Byron lived in Italy, spending time in Venice, Rome, Pisa, and Genoa, from 1816 to 1823. He became romantically involved with Contessa Guiccioli, who left her husband for him. Lord Byron continued to publish poetry, focusing much of his attention on a second epic work, Don Juan. He also became interested in the culture of the Armenians he encountered on the Venetian island of Saint Lazarus in 1816,  where he acquainted himself with Armenian culture with the help of the abbots belonging to the Mechitarist Order.

With the help of Father H. Avgerian, he learned the Armenian language, and attended many seminars about language and history. He wrote English Grammar and Armenian (Kerakanutyun angğiakan yev hayeren) in 1817, and Armenian Grammar and English (Kerakanutyun hayeren yev angğiakan) in 1819, where he included quotations from classical and modern Armenian.

Intrigued by the language and its efficacy as a spoken tongue, Byron affirmed in his memoirs that “God spoke to the world in Armenian.” Byron also participated in the compilation of the English Armenian dictionary (Barraran angghieren yev hayeren, 1821) and wrote the preface in which he explained the relationship of the Armenians with and the oppression of the Turkish “pashas” and the Persian satraps, and their struggle of liberation. His two main translations are the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, two chapters of Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia and sections of Nerses of Lambron’s Orations.

His fascination was so great that he even considered a replacement of the Cain story of the Bible with that of the legend of Armenian patriarch Haik. He may be credited with the birth of Armenology and its propagation. His profound lyricism and ideological courage has inspired many Armenian poets, the likes of Ghevond Alishan, Smbat Shahaziz, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Ruben Vorberian and others.

Lord Byron moved to Greece to participate in the fight for independence from the Ottomans in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero, in 1823. He invested a large amount of his own money in the Greek troops and planned to command part of a military expedition, but became ill before it began. On 19 April 1824, at age 36, Lord Byron died of fever while in Missolonghi in Greece. His poetry remains among the best loved in the English language, and he is fondly remembered as a hero by the Greeks.

About Armenia: “It would be difficult, perhaps, to find the annals of a nation less stained with crimes than those of the Armenians, whose virtues have been those of peace, and their vices those of compulsion. But whatever may have been their destiny — and it has been bitter — whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe.”

The Greek Revolution of 1821

Lord Byron – Wikipedia

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