Academics discover 550-year-old Italian epic poem of Sultan Mehmed

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History is filled with lost artwork, but sometimes luck provides an undiscovered gem. This is how Associate Professor Feliz Barin Akman, Professor of Social Sciences at Ankara University, her wife and academic Beyazit Akman discovered an epic 5,000-line Renaissance poem written by an Italian poet in honor of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

The work, titled “Amyris, de vita et gestis Mahometi Turcorum imperatoris” (“Prince: The Life and Conquests of Mehmed, the Turkish Emperor”), was written by the poet and historian Gian Mario Filelfo in 1475.

The Akman couple, in an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), talked about the discovery of the work and the features of the work. The work has not been translated into Turkish or English in its nearly 550 years of history and has not been the subject of any academic study.

Beyazit Akman said he and his wife were working on the conception of the Turks and Islam in the West. “We were constantly trying to find new resources. In our research, we saw many references to this work and the author, but we never saw the work itself. Quotations from this work were also cited by citations. We did not encounter a study that reads and interprets the work from beginning to end” .



“Amyris, de vita et gestis Mahometi Turcorum imperatoris” (Prince: The Life and Conquests of Mehmed the Turkish Emperor), a 5,000-line Latin epic poem written by Gian Mario Filelvo in honor of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1475. (AA Photo)

Ackmann said they had a replica of the work printed in Italy in 1978, and confirmed that they would try to access the original Latin manuscript from the Library of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland.

He explained that their first step would be to complete the translation of the poem.

Until now, it should have been translated into many languages, not just Turkish, and should have been the subject of many studies. Can you imagine that an Italian wrote a work of 5,000 lines in Sultan Mohammed in the fifteenth century and has not yet been translated into any language.

“If this work had been written about a Christian emperor and not about a Turkish Muslim ruler, I am sure it would have been mentioned among the classic epics such as Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Obstinate. They imprisoned him in the archives of their libraries.”

“There is no doubt that Orientalist historiography has a great influence on the fact that the work was hitherto so unknown. We first want to translate this work into Turkish and English, and then analyze it. I don’t know why it hasn’t caught anyone’s attention for five centuries.”

Bellini of literature

Ackman pointed out that Filvo’s poem bears the same historical significance as the poem of the Venetian artist Gentile Bellini A famous portrait of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

“There is no doubt that this work is no different from Bellini’s portrait of Muhammad. What one did with the art of painting, the other did with literature. It is important that the work is presented to our people and other cultures with the latest translations. Through this project, we aim to bridge this gap.”

Meanwhile, Feliz Ackman provided insight into the poem’s background and story.



“Amyris, de vita et gestis Mahometi Turcorum imperatoris” (Prince: The Life and Conquests of Mehmed the Turkish Emperor), a 5,000-line Latin epic poem written by Gian Mario Filelvo in honor of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1475. (AA Photo)

After Sultan Mehmet’s conquest of Istanbul, among those imprisoned was the son-in-law of a Venetian merchant named Osman Lilo Ferducci of Ancona. Ferducci sent a letter to the Sultan requesting the release of his brother-in-law, and the Sultan released him without asking for any ransom.

Influenced by the power of the Sultan, Ferduchi added the name “Osman” to his name as an expression of gratitude, because “Osman” is the name of Sultan Mehmed’s predecessor and founder of the Ottoman Empire. He also asked his friend, the Renaissance poet Gian Mario Filelfo, born in Beira in 1426, to write an epic poem about Sultan Mehmed describing his achievements and conquests.

“It was aimed at thanking the Sultan and expressing his thanks to him,” she said.

Ackman noted that the work will be translated from the Latin original into Turkish and English, accompanied by detailed literary readings and explanations of the historical context. She stated that they aim to have the book on shelves within a few months.

The Copernican House publishes the book under the title “Prince: The Epic of the Conqueror of Five Centuries”.

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