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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1834 to 1836 > Armenian

Indeed there is hardly any circumstance connected with this extraordinary gift more calculated to excite wonder than the extent and accuracy of his acquaintance with the various literatures of the languages to which he had applied himself. The fact is attested by so many witnesses that it is impossible to doubt it. Numerous instances have been already cited ; but I cannot pass from this period of his life without adding a few others, chiefly regarding oriental languages, taken almost at random from many independent testimonies which have been communicated to me by persons who enjoyed his intimacy during the early years of his residence at Rome.
In a commission for the revision of the liturgical books of the Armenian rite appointed by Pope Gregory XVI., he was associated with a native Armenian scholar, Father Arsenius Angiarakian, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Gregory the Illuminator. This learned ecclesiastic, in a letter dated August 15, 1855, assures me that during the frequent opportunities of observation which a literary inquiry of such exceeding delicacy afforded, he was astonished (ho dovuto stupire) at the profound knowledge of the ancient language of Armenia, exhibited by his associate. He adds that Mezzofanti " spoke the vulgar Armenian with perfect freedom, and in all its dialects." Mgr Hurmuz, the Armenian Archbishop of Sirace, in a letter of May 24th, in the same year, attests that Mezzofanti's Armenian scholarship " was not confined to the knowledge of the language, ancient and modern ; he also knew the history of the Armenian nation, and of science and art among them, together with their periods of progress and decay."

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