Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

University hosts Lord Byron exhibition

Portrait of Lord Byron
Sunday 28th November 2021 15.59

The University of Edinburgh is currently displaying an invaluable collection of Lord Byron’s personal effects as part of their ongoing exhibition titled ‘Edina/Athena: The Greek Revolution and the Athens of the North, 1821-2021’, which is being hosted by the university’s School of History, Classics and Archaeology. 

The exhibition is being held in remembrance of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire that occurred in 1821, as it is the bicentenary of this colossal event. 

The university has been privy to an incredible selection of archival material including the effects of the enlightenment poet Lord Byron amongst other important figures such as: George Finlay and John Stuart.

Lord Byron, as one of the greatest poets of his time, brought a lot of celebrity to the cause of the revolution. He has become, for many, the representative face of ‘philhellenism’ or ‘love of Greece’, the (classically-inspired) movement to support the cause of Greek independence. 

The poet was only one among a number of Scots or people associated with Scotland who became involved in the philhellenic movement. These links allow students to visit the exhibition and engage with the history of the city and country in which they study.

Dr Alasdair Grant has been responsible for curating the exhibition alongside teaching a related honours course titled ‘From Athena to Edina: Antiquity in Revolution between Greece and Scotland’. 

In an interview, Dr Grant told The Student

“The effects of Lord Byron that are on display in the exhibition really highlight the amazing collection of archival material that is held in the National Library of Scotland and having his personal journals brings us closer to his life, his involvement in the revolution and even his methodology in learning modern Greek”. 

His items are from his final trip to Greece, a country that he had a lot of links with. The exhibit aims to incite interest in and explore the historical relationship between Scotland and Greece. 

Some of his personal effects that are on display include a handwritten phrasebook (translations from Greek to English), the poet’s final journal, letters from the Ottoman leader as well as a certificate granting him the freedom of Missolonghi.

In terms of engagement with the exhibit, the effects are on display for all (including the public). The department is also conducting events and workshops in tandem with the exhibit in order to create a more interactive and engaging environment; these include concerts and lectures. 

Charlotte Berry, a third year Classical Studies student, has told The Student: 

“I really appreciate the university’s effort to make learning and appreciating history a more engaging experience. I believe that university should not only be about classroom learning and as a Classical Studies student myself I found the exhibit and the items there very interesting. I was really impressed by the collection.”

Image via Flickr