Sunday, July 2, 2017

Death of Ghugas Injijian (July 2, 1833)

Father Ghugas Injijian, geographer and philologist, was a member of the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice and a prolific author of many valuable works in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

He was born in Constantinople in 1758. His mother was the sister of another famous Mekhitarist monk, historian Mikayel Chamchian (1738-1823). His father sent him to study in the monastery of San Lazzaro, the headquarters of the congregation. He embraced ecclesiastic life in 1774. After a four-year sojourn in Constantinople (1786-1790), he returned to Venice, where he started publishing his works.

His first publications were in verse: Brief Survey of Ancient and New Geography (1791), also translated into Italian, and partially into French; Byzantine Summerplace (1794), partly translated into Italian and French, which depicted the geography and geology of the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits. After the publication of Azdarar (1794-1796) in India, Injijian became the publisher of the second Armenian periodical in history, called Darekrutiun (“Annals,” 1799-1802), which was continued by Yeghanag Piuzantian (“Byzantine Times,” 1803-1820). Both were yearbooks, written in Modern Armenian, which contained information about world political affairs, religious, academic, and scientific issues, as well as weather information and predictions.

In 1805 Injijian moved back to Constantinople and continued his activities. In 1806 he contributed a volume on Asia to the Geography of the Four Parts of the World (picture), produced by his teacher Stepanos Agontz, the Abbot of the Venice branch of the congregation.

With the support of the Duzians, a wealthy family of amiras, in 1812 Injijian launched the Arsharouni Society with the goal of promoting books published in Modern Armenian. The Duzians fell in disgrace with the sultan in 1819, and Injijian, fearing for his life, escaped to Odessa, where he remained for a year. The Arsharouni Society was dissolved by the Turkish government, and Yeghanag Piuzantian, which the society sponsored, ceased publication.

After the danger had passed, Injijian returned to Constantinople in 1820, and two years later he published one of his most important works in Venice, Topography of Ancient Armenia, where he presented the historical and geographical picture of Greater Armenia on the basis of a wealth of data gathered from Greek, Roman, and Syriac sources. His work included the description of the geography of the fifteen provinces and hundreds of districts, etymology of place names, ethnographic information, and topographic amendments. This would be followed by the posthumous, three-volume Geographical Archaeology of the Armenian Land (1835), which was the first voluminous work after Chamchian’s History of Armenia to talk about the geography, administrative division, laws, science, arts, ethnography and other issues related to ancient Armenia.

Still, Injijian would produce an eight-volume work called Narration of the Century (Դարապատում), where he offered an abridged history of all countries from 1750-1800, which was published from 1824-1827. The last two volumes were devoted to the history of the development of science and art, as well as the life and work of great thinkers, artists and clergymen.

In early 1828, the Catholic Armenians of Ankara were deported, and Injijian considered it dangerous to remain in Constantinople. He returned to Venice, where he was elected deputy abbot of the Congregation and remained in that position until his death on July 2, 1833.