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BYRON, George Gordon, Lord. The Poetical Works of Lord Byron. With notes, and a memoir of the author, London, George Henry and Co., [1849].

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was a British Romantic poet. Byron was an aristocrat with a restless character, tormented by existential anxieties. He longed for a more human world, and expressed this yearning in his poetry, in a narrative, lyrical and epical style.

Byron studied at Cambridge and travelled to Greece for the first time in 1809 with his friend J.C. Hobhouse. They visited Ioannina and met Ali Pasha in Tepeleni. He then reached Athens, stayed in that city for two months and left for Istanbul, from where he travelled to Smyrna, Ephesus and the Troad. When he returned to Athens, Byron socialized with several fellow European travellers and made a small tour of the Peloponnese. He returned to his country in 1811. However, as his turbulent personal life was commented upon in all aristocratic circles of the time, and he was forced to leave England. Byron lived in Switzerland for some time and later settled in Italy. After the outbreak of the Greek revolution he joined the Philhellenic Comitate and returned to Greece in 1823, as member of a mission aiming to help Greek revolutionaries. He died in Mesolonghi on April 7th 1824.

The present edition includes a detailed biography of Lord Byron, nearly his complete poems and “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. Byron's Greek experience is recorded in his correspondence and in the autobiographical poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimaga”. His poetic work circulated wildly, his personality was very much discussed and Byron himself walked the path of life maturing through his experience of Greece both before and during the revolution.

During his stay in Athens, in his first journey, Byron stayed in the home of Theodora Makris, widow of a former British viceconsul. He flirted with all three of her adolescent daughters. His poem “The maiden of Athens”, is dedicated to Teresa, the youngest of the three sisters, and immortalized her as a “sight” of Athens, in spite of her mortality.

Lord Byron in undoubtedly the most imposing figure among European travellers. He was a controversial but renowned personality in Britain, while he was still alive. He rejects the prejudices of his contemporaries and, neither hostile nor credulous, he tours and studies the country with poetic sensitivity, “this land of the sun”, and the people, which won him by their authenticity. His poetry as well as the dedication of his life to the Greek cause made him “a hero of modern Greece”.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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