KEPHALAS, Nikolaos

KEPHALAS, Nikolaos (Nicola Chiefala; Νικόλαος Κεφαλᾶς). Zakynthos 1763 or 1770 — Constaninople 1847 or Thessaloniki 1850. Greek Traveller in India. Born in a noble, but poor family in Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, then Venetian domain. Captain, participated in the Greek revolution from its very beginning (but also said to have been a pirate). In 1813 he visited Napoleon in Dresden in order to speak on behalf of Greece. In 1821 he visited Russia and Portugal, speaking on behalf of Greece, then Iran, where he persuaded the Shah to begin a war with Turkey. In 1823 he came to India sent by the provisional government of Peloponnesus in order to win sympathies for the Greek revolution. In 1824 in Varanasi he met Demetrios Galanos, who gave him one of his translations, to be brought to the National Assembly of Greece, which Kephalas, however, kept and then published under his own name. See, however, Burgi-Kyriazi, who claims that Galanos’ manuscript is a different one and the published version was actually prepared in collaboration by Galanos and Kephalas. He also wrote a description of Benares, where he told of his meeting with Galanos. Back in Europe, he spent time in Naples and Rome, again working on behalf of Greece. But when he offered the Pope a unification of Roman and Greek churches, the government dismissed his services.

Publications: Published in his own name the Greek translation by Galanos, with an Italian rendering and without mentioning Galanos: Σύνοψις Γνωμῶν Ἠθικῶν τοῦ Ἰνδοῦ φολοσόφου Σανακέα… Sommario di sentenze morali del filosofo Indiano Sanakea Rome 1825; French transl. Sentences morales du philosophe indien Sanakea mises en français par Bezout. 1826 (full titles in Gildemeister; Galanos’ Sanskrit text of the Laghucāṇakya ed. by Teza in 1879).

Descrizione della città de Benares nell’ India, dell’ indiano politeismo, suo culto e costumi di quei popoli. Livorno 1826.

Several travel books in Greek.

Sources: M. Burgi-Kyriazi, Démétrios Galanos. P. 1984, 47ff.; Λ.ΧΖωηςΜεγαλη Ἑλληνικη ἐγκυκλοπαιδεια 14, 1930, 297; French Wikipédia (more details in *Russian version).

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