DANTE AND ARMENIA
At the time of Dante modern Armenia was dominated by the Saljuq Turks, but there was an Armenian kingdom of Cilicia (also known as Little Armenia) created by Armenian refugees and located on the gulf of Alessandretta (Iskenderun) in modern Turkey. There is, however, no indication that Dante had any notion of Armenia and its people.
Knowledge of the works of Dante was introduced into Armenian literature by the Mechitarist monks of the monastery of the same name, founded in 1715 in Venice on the island of San Lazzaro by the Armenian monk, Mekhitar. From the second half of the 19th century onwards there were the first attempts at translating Dante’s verses into Armenian, both by the Mechitarist monks and by their pupils from the Venetian college, Moorat-Raphael, founded by the same monks in 1850.
The first translator of the entire Comedy into Armenian verses was the Mechitarist monk Arsenio Ghazikian (1870-1932) who, in 1902, published Hell and subsequently, in 1905 and 1924 respectively, Purgatory and Paradise.
A complete translation of the poem in tercets is owed to Arpun Dayan, a former pupil of the Moorat-Raphael college; it was published in Erevan respectively in 1947 (Hell), 1952 (Purgatory) and 1959 (Paradise).