“The children of Aram, who created civilization and bestowed the wonderful gift of the alphabets to the world, lead and brought the entire creation out of illiteracy by means of their precious (alphabetical) characters and discoveries”
”Tugone” Denho Ghattas Makdisi Elias 1933

The great Aramean poet, writer and Aramaic nationalist Denho Ghattas Makdisi Elias has passed away on 2th may 2008 in São Paulo (Brazil).

Denho Ghattas Makdisi Elias is acknowledged as one of this century’s greatest aramaic poets. Denho Ghattas made very significant scholarly contributions to the Aramaic people through his books and poems.

Denho Ghattas became 98 years old when he entered into heavenly abode on May 2 , 2008 in São Paulo (Brazil). The late poet was later buried in São Paulo (Brazil) with hundred attendants. He did spend his last days in the local hospital praying and glorifying God at the same time his family and priest was present.

Denho Ghattas Makdisi Elias was born in Midyat in 1911. During the genocide against Syrians/Arameans in 1914 by Moslems, where about half a million peaceful Syrians were slaughtered, a great number of Syrian families fled and settled in Adana in Cilicia, among them was the family of the poet Denho-Ghattas Makdisi Elias. There, in Cilicia, the emigrant Syrians opened a school and an orphanage for the Syrian orphans and children whose parents were killed by butchers in the genocide. Denho joined the Syrian boarding orphanage-school where he studied Syriac and French.

When the French men left Cilicia most of the Syrians fled from Adana, some of them settled in Damascus among them was the family of Denho. In Damascus Denho joined the Syrian school. After sometime he moved to Beirut and there he joined the school of the Syrian Orphanage and studied Syriac, French and Arabic. Then he came back to Damascus and joined the French Institute. After that he became a teacher in the Syriac school in Damascus but only for a year. In the next year i.e. 1933 he was employed in the customs and stayed in this job until he was retired in 1962.

During his long time job in the customs he was promoted to the highest degree and became a General Director. Between 1937-1950 while he was in Aleppo he was appointed as the Supervisor of Syriac teaching in the Syriac school, in the same time he participated with the Syriac writers Malphono Mansur Shilazi and Malphono Shikri Trakji in establishing The Syriac Magazine of Aleppo, and he was the editor of the Syriac language in it where he wrote and published so many Syriac essays of a very high level.

In 1980 he emigrated to Sao Paolo in Brazil and still lives there with his family. Since the publishing of the thirst issue of this magazine Aram the poet Denho is the main editor of its Syriac section, writing poems and essays. His poetry is considered of the highest class, it is why he is considered by critics as the greatest and the first poet in Syriac-Aramaic in the whole world, besides he is even the first in the world who masters Syriac-Aramaic language.

His writings:

1.The Collection of his Essays which he published in “The Syriac Magazine” in Aleppo in the fourties and fifties of this century.
2.The Translation of the French novel Paul and Virginie by Bernadine St. Pierre into Syriac with the participation of the Syriac writer Paulus Gabriel, Beirut 1955.
3.The Syriac book “Tugone”, which is a collection of poems and essays, Holland 1989.
4.The Syriac book “Bugone”, which is a collection of Syriac poems and literary essays, Aleppo 1994.
5.The book “iloe” which is (Dreams)
6.The book “neshmet touro” which is (Mountain Breeze)

It is for his last book BUGONE that he was awarded the Aram Prize of the Syriac-Aramaic language and literature of 1994. He was also awarded Malke Assad Medal in 1996.

The poet Denho is a modernizer of the Syriac poetry, his great poetic talent is a mine of continuous sublime Syriac poetry of international features.

The medals and prizes that he got:

1.The Medal of the Costumehouse, Damascus1961.
2.The Medal of Honour, Damascus 1961.
3.The Medal of Mar Ephrem, Damascus 1992.
4.The Medal of the Syriac Language, Beirut 1994.
5.Aram Prize of the Syriac-Aramaic literature, Stockholm 1994.

Source: ARAM Magazine No. 8 – Winter 1994 P. 118

ARAM Magazine No. 8 – Winter 1994 P. 118