Սիամանթօ (Siamanto) – Writer

Siamanto was born in 1878, in the town of Agn on the shores of the river Euphrates. He lived in his native town until the age of 14. He studied at the Nersesian institute as a youth, where he developed an interest in poetry. The school’s director encouraged him to continue developing his poetic talents. The director, Garegin Srvandztiants, gave him the name Siamanto, after the hero of one of his stories. Atom would use this name for the rest of his days.

Siamanto came from a middle-upper-class family. They moved to Constantinople in 1891 where he continued his studies at the Berberian Institute. He graduated in 1896, during the bloody Hamidian massacres. Like many other Armenian intellectuals, he fled the country for fear of persecution. He ended up in Egypt where he became depressed because of the butchery that his fellow Armenians had to endure.

In 1897, he moved to Paris and enrolled in literature at the prestigious Sorbonne University. He was captivated by philosophy and Middle Eastern literature. He had to work various jobs while pursuing his studies because of his difficult financial situation. He developed many ties with well-known Armenian personalities in and outside Paris. He enjoyed reading in French and in Armenian, and read many of the best works of his time.

From Paris he moved to Geneva in Switzerland, and contributed to the newspaper Droshak, the organ of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. His first poetic works were published in this newspaper under the headlines of Heroically (Դիւցազնօրէն) and The Knight’s Song (Ասպետին Երգը). The paper detailed the destruction of his homeland, was highly critical of the Ottoman government, and demanded equal rights for Armenians and more autonomy. Siamanto joined the cause and truly believed in an Armenia free of Turkish oppression. Henceforth, many of his works and poems were highly nationalistic and preached Armenian struggle and national self-determination.

Siamanto fell ill in 1904, coming down with a case of pneumonia. He was treated at a hospital in Geneva and eventually fully recovered. For the next 4 years, he lived in various European cities such as Paris, Zurich, and Geneva. In 1908, along with many other Armenians, he returned to Constantinople after the proclamation of the Ottoman Constitution. However, in 1909, the Ottoman government made it clear that Armenians were not safe by perpetrating the Adana Massacre. Siamanto was once again deeply affected by the bloodshed. These events led him to write his famous Bloody News from my Friend (Կարմիր լուրեր բարեկամէս).

In 1910, he moved to the United States as an editor at the Hairenik newspaper. After a year, he returned to Constantinople. In 1913 he visited Tbilisi. On his way to his destination, he visited many famous Armenian landmarks such as Mount Ararat, Khor Virap and Echmiadzin. He was one of the Armenian intellectuals tortured and killed by the Ottomans in 1915 during the Armenian Genocide.

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