Monday, April 15, 2024

Αδαμάντιος Κοραής

Born in Smyrni (Izmir) in 1748, Adamantios Koraes was the son of Ioannis Koraes, a merchant from Chios, and Thomais Rysiou. When he graduated from High School, his family sent him to Amsterdam to enter the world of business.

In Amsterdam, Adamantios kept himself busy both as a businessman and an assiduous student of foreign languages. He devoured all kinds of scientific and philosophical books and was particularly interested in the literary achievements of his contemporaries. After his stay in Amsterdam, Koraes returned to Smyrni, but in 1782 he immigrated to Montpellier to study medicine.

Adamantios Koraes was an exceptional student and a brilliant mind. In 1778, he decided to go to Paris to further his studies and to expand his professional activity and literary horizons. In Paris, he worked as a philologist and, most particularly, as a researcher and a editor

His work falls into three main categories:

  • The historical work, consisting mainly of translations of the Classics and of original research work;
  • The literary work, consisting primarily in editing the Classics and in commenting their writings (Prolegomena to the Classics);
  • The nation-awaking work, consisting mostly of treatises which aimed at providing an inspiration to all Greeks who lived under the Ottoman yoke and at familiarizing foreigners with major Greek issues. His work was widely recognized in Greece, in Europe and the United States.

Koraes’ literary work was made possible thanks to the financial, practical and moral support he received from the Zosimades brothers and his blood brothers from Chios as well as from numerous merchants, intellectuals and friends. From a purely historical point of view, Koraes’ nation-awaking work is of great value: Koreas was fully acquainted with all Greek issues and was interested in providing an enlightening answer and a feasible solution. A true liberal and a dedicated democrat, he mastered all the political trends of his time and would not shy away from excoriating power abuse or political conservatism leading to regression.

Most importantly though, Koreas was a fervent supporter of education; hence his interest in Greece’s educational system. Part of his mission consisted in supporting, promoting and guiding the creation of schools. Despite his meager income, Koraes succeded in building an important book collection. His wish was for his this collection and the collection of his manuscripts to be transferred to his beloved island of Chios after his death. Despite various problems and delays, Koraes’ dream finally materialized: some 3,000 volumes out of his 3,500-volume collection arrived in Chios after his death in Paris in 1833. Koraes was fortunate to witness his country’s partial liberation from the Ottoman yoke, but was not blessed enough to experience the liberation of Chios, which would come much later.