LAURENT, Peter Edmund
Peter Edmund Laurent (1796-837) was a French classic scholar. He studied at the Polytechnic school of Paris and left France for Britain at a young age. He taught at Oxford University for many years. In spite of being a mathematician, Laurent had excellent command of almost all Western European languages, and also knew Arab, Classical Greek and Latin. Together with two university friends, Laurent started out on his journey to Italy and Greece early in the summer of 1818, a voyage they had been planning for a long time.
The company reached Venice and then crossed the Adriatic and the Ionian sea. They stopped over at Kea, Chios and the Troad before reaching Istanbul. Due to the plague epidemic, they abandoned the project to visit Northern Greece and instead directed themselves to Athens first, and subsequently toured the Peloponnese (Epidaurus, Tiryns, Argos, Mycenae, Corinth, Nemea, Tripoli, Tegea, Mystras, Amyclae, Megalopolis, Messene, Figaleia, Olympia and Patras). The travellers sailed back to Italy by way of Lefkada and Corfu and returned to England in 1819.
Laurent published the chronicle of the journey in 1821. The appendix to the edition includes the Ionian Islands' Constitution of 1817. Besides the account of this voyage, the author also published a Grammar of the French and of the German language, a translation of Herodotus and an introduction to Ancient Geography. Laurent’s journal is one of the most vivid accounts of the pre-revolutionary period, as the author, who is neither an archaeologist nor a topographer, takes note of small events during the journey and other curiosities, conversations, makes diverse observations and records details of everyday life.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou