Friday, March 28, 2014

What Byron really did for Greece and why it still matters?

This year the Peloponnesian Association of Great Britain had the honour of inviting Professor Roderick Beaton to give a talk entitled “What Byron really did for Greece and why it still matters”, on the occasion of the celebration of the 25th March, Independence Day for Greece. It was a brilliant event, attended by over 150 people, giving us all the opportunity to further understand the politics of the time of the Greek Independence struggle and Lord Byron’s contribution to this effort.

 Lord Byron’s death on 19 April 1824, in Greece, and for Greece, created a legend that is still with us. This talk traced the real story behind Byron’s mission to help the Greeks in their revolution against Ottoman Turkish rule and shows that its effects are still with us today.
The Greek uprising against the Ottoman empire, which broke out in 1821, brought together one of the oddest coalitions in history: from the sophisticates of the Hellenic diaspora to warlords from the wild Peloponnesian mountains and an array of well-bred and classically educated romantics from the Western world, including one of the pre-eminent poets in the English language. Lord Byron is very much respected in Modern Greece; that is why there are many statues of Byron around the country, whilst one area in Athens is named after him (Byronas). He is remembered for his support and the fact that he gave his own life for the Greek struggle, making him the most known and respected philhellene. 
The speaker, Professor Roderick Beaton, is Koraes professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King’s College London, a post he has held since 1988. He is currently the Director of the Centre of Hellenic Studies.

He has written widely on Greek literature and culture from the twelfth century to the present. His books include An Introduction to Modern Greek Literature, also published in Greek Εισαγωγή στη νεότερη ελληνική λογοτεχνία, the award-winning biography George Seferis: Waiting for the Angel, and the novel Ariadne’s Children, both also translated into Greek. He has published translations from Modern Greek verse and fiction, including works by Embirikos, Seferis, Solomos, and the novel Fool’s Gold by Maro Douka. His edition and translation of A Levant Journal by George Seferis was awarded the Hellenic Foundation for Culture Prize for Translation in 2008. His most recent books are Ο Καζαντζάκης μοντερνιστής και μεταμοντέρνος and (co-edited with David Ricks) The Making of Modern Greece: Romanticism, Nationalism and the Uses of the Past.
From October 2009 to September 2012 he was appointed to a Major Leverhulme Fellowship, and during autumn 2010 to the Visiting Fellowship of the British School at Athens. During this period he carried out research for his book, Byron’s War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution, published in 2013.

In this book Roderick Beaton re-examines Lord Byron's life and writing through the long trajectory of his relationship with Greece. Beginning with the poet's youthful travels in 1809–1811, Byron's War traces his years of fame in London and self-imposed exile in Italy, that culminated in the decision to devote himself to the cause of Greek independence. Then comes Byron's dramatic self-transformation, while in Cephalonia, from Romantic rebel to 'new statesman', subordinating himself for the first time to a defined, political cause, in order to begin laying the foundations, during his 'hundred days' at Missolonghi, for a new kind of polity in Europe – that of the nation-state as we know it today. Byron's War draws extensively on Greek historical sources and other unpublished documents to tell an individual story that also offers a new understanding of the significance that Greece had for Byron, and of Byron's contribution to the origin of the present-day Greek state.
For more information (in Greek) of this talk and event, organised by the Peloponnesian Association of Great Britain please see the following link:

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