TYPE: Book (Set)
COMPONENTS: Six volumes; original green leather covers; 800 pages with some illustrations
CONDITION: All six volumes in perfect condition
NOTES: Davtian 249, 250, 251, 276, 277, 278
ITEM ID: 62
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Storia Romana (Volumes 1-6)

DATE
Year: 1816
Decade: 1810s
Century: 19th (1801-1900)

The Storia Romana (Volumes I-VI).

A history of the Roman Empire translated into Armenian at St. Lazarus Armenian Catholic monastery in Venice, Italy in 1816-17. The original writer was Charles Rollin (1661-1741), a French academic and educationalist, who in 1699 was appointed principal of the Collège de Beauvais. His Jansenist principles led to limits on his progression, and Rollin’s literary work dates chiefly from the later years of his life, when he had been forbidden to teach. His Roman history was in much part a compilation, and was a generally uncritical study. Each of these volumes in Armenian has about 800 pages and the original green binding and they are in near perfect condition.

According to scholar Sebouh Aslanian at UCLA, “This is the Classical Armenian translation of Charles Rollin’s Histoire romaine depuis la fondation de Rome jusqu’à la bataille d’Actium, c’est à dire jusqu’à la fin de la République (Roman history from the foundation of Rome to the battle of Actium, that is, until the end of the Republic).

This sixteen-volume work began to first appear in Paris in the 1739 and was immensely influential not only in France, but also in other places where the Enlightenment had cast its intellectual shadow. It was an important inspiration for Gibbon’s own classic account of Roman history, had a decisive place in the “enlightened libraries” of the New World, and influenced both the development of Republican thinking in America and prior to the French Revolution.

Rollin was, in short, a kind of “bestseller” judging from the numerous editions of his work and its translation into all the major languages of Enlightened Europe: English, Italian, Spanish, and German.

The work had apparently also left an indelible impression on the young Catholic Armenian merchant and tycoon in Pondicherry and Madras, Edward Raphael Gharameants‘ who commissioned Mkhitarist monks from the splinter faction of Trieste (not San Lazzaro in Venice) visiting Madras in 1785. The monks took the money and only published the title page in Armenian which enraged the erudite merchant.

In 1792, Edward Raphael wrote a will in which he added a special ‘Head of Funds for Charity,” where he stipulated the following: “Whatever Sum is to be found in the Credit of the said Head is to be lodged in the Company’s Treasury upon their Interest Fund and the Interest therein should be appropriated for the Translation and Print of the Roman History of 16 volumes in Octavo and also for the Antient [sic] History of 13 Volumes in Octavo, the both works by Mons[ieur] De Rolin [sic] into the Armenian Language.’

The work was translated from the Italian translation by Father Vrtanes Askerian (the same monk who translated a philosophical treatise in 4 volumes in 1750 relating to the teachings of Saint Thomas Acquinas published in Venice in 1750. (The Melikian Collection owns this work as well). Father Askerian’s translation from the Italian was corroborated by an examination of the French original by Father Manuel Jakhjakhian and finally published in 6 or 7 volumes in 1816. The expenses were paid for by Edward Raphael’s eldest son, Alexander Raphael who was educated in classical Armenian, English, French, and Latin in London and had become a sherrif of London in 1819 and the first Catholic member of the British parliament in 1829. As a result of the translation, the Mkhitarist’s in Venice were able to inherit a small fortune (as stipulated in the will of 1792) to be used to open Venice’s celebrated Collegio Armeno Moorat-Raphael. Rollin, in the words of one Mkhitarist commentator, ‘iterally opened the doors for the Armenian Enlightenment.'”

According to scholar Minas Lourian, “The stamp certifies that the series of volumes belonged to the library of the Antonian Armenian Catholic Congregation.”

ARTISTS
Name: Rollin
Type: Author
Artists Dates: 1661-1741
Artist Information: A French academic and educationalist, who in 1699 was appointed principal of the Collège de Beauvais. His Jansenist principles led to limits on his progression, and Rollin's literary work dates chiefly from the later years of his life, when he had been forbidden to teach. His Roman history was in much part a compilation, and was a generally uncritical study.