Korais’ two great friendships in Amsterdam: Daniel and Jeanne Wyttenbach
The intellectual Οdyssey of the Greek intellectual Adamantios Korais (Smyrna 1748-Paris 1833) - a major figure of the Greek Enlightenment and commonly referred to as “Teacher of the Nation” - began in Amsterdam, where he spent six years (1771-1777) taking excellent care of his father’s business in Smyrna. Having been introduced to the philology of ancient texts by Daniel Wyttenbach (1746-1820), professor of Greek in Amsterdam, Korais’ life in this cosmopolitan city symbolises what defined Greece throughout the ages, namely the combination of business with scholarship. In the 1820s, Jeanne Wyttenbach (1773-1830), who corresponded with him in Paris, involved in the Dutch philhellenic movements, regularly sent financial support to the wounded enlisted men of the Greek War of Independence. Overall, Korais’ interaction with Amsterdam, revealing on a micro level the triptych of “business-scholarship-independence”, constituted a fruitful political promise: that the country can achieve economic supremacy, that the long history of the Greek language is still alive, and that a new Greek state is to come.
Vivi Perraky, PhD in Economic History, (EHESS), is affiliated to the Foundation Maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSH) and associated researcher at the ANHIMA Laboratory (CRS-EHESS-EPHE-Université de Paris I, Sorbonne). Her research focuses primarily on nineteenth-century French academic history, as seen from the perspective of 1) mapping the attempts at the institutionalisation of Greek and 2) the social prosopography of their protagonists.
Program in Modern Greek Language and Culture of the University of Amsterdam & the Dutch Society for Modern Greek Studies (NGNS); contact: Prof. Dr. Maria Boletsi (email@example.com) (no registration needed)