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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/475

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INTRODUCTION TO THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.

In a note to the "Advertisement" to the Siege of Corinth ivide post^ p. 447), Byron puts it on record that during the years 1809-10 he had crossed the Isthmus of Corinth eight times, and in a letter to his mother, dated Patras, July 30, 1 8 10, he alludes to a recent visit to the town of Corinth, in company with his friend Lord Sligo. (See, too, his letter to Coleridge, dated October 27, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 228.) It is probable that he revisited Corinth more than once in the autumn of 1810; and we may infer that, just as the place and its surroundings — the temple with its "two or three columns " (line 497), and the view across the bay from Aero- Corinth — are sketched from memory, so the story of the siege which took place in 17 15 is based upon tales and legends which were preserved and repeated by the grand- children of the besieged, and were taken down from their lips. There is point and meaning in the apparently insigni- ficant line (stanza xxiv. line 765), " We have heard the hearers say" (see variant i. p. 483), which is slipped into the description of the final catastrophe. It bears witness to the fact that the Siege of Corinth is not a poetical expan- sion of a chapter in history, but a heightened reminiscence of local tradition. History has, indeed, very little to say on the subject. The anonymous Co?npleat History of the Tiirks (London, 1719), which Byron quotes as an authority, is meagre and inaccurate. Hammer-Purgstall {Histoire de VEvipire Otto- man, 1839, X"'- -^9)> ^^° gives as his authorities Girolamo Ferrari and Raschid, dismisses the siege in a few lines ; and

it was not till the publication of Finlay's Histo?y of Greece