Manuel Chrysoloras

Manuel Chrysoloras

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Manuel Chrysoloras was a pioneer in the introduction of Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 literature to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 during the late middle ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

.

He was born in Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 to a distinguished family. In 1390, he led an embassy sent to Venice by the emperor Manuel II Palaeologus to implore the aid of the Christian princes against the Muslim Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Roberto de' Rossi
Roberto de' Rossi
Roberto de' Rossi was an early humanist in Florence, a follower of Coluccio Salutati and, as the first pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras, one of the first Florentines to read Greek. Roberto de' Rossi was a wealthy patrician who never married and avoided public office but devoted his life to books and his...

 of Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 met him in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, and, in 1395, Rossi's acquaintance Giacomo da Scarperia
Giacomo da Scarperia
Giacomo d'Angelo da Scarperia or Scarparia was a Renaissance humanist, born in Florence. He hastened to Venice, when Manuel Chrysoloras had arrived as an envoy of Manuel Paleologus in 1393 and had stayed to teach Greek in Italy for the first time in seven centuries...

 set off for Constantinople to study Greek with Chrysoloras. In 1396, Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati was an Italian Humanist and man of letters, and one of the most important political and cultural leaders of Renaissance Florence.-Birth and Early Career:...

, the chancellor of the University of Florence, invited him to come and teach Greek grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 and literature, quoting Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

:
"The verdict of our own Cicero confirms that we Romans either made wiser innovations than theirs by ourselves or improved on what we took from them, but of course, as he himself says elsewhere with reference to his own day: "Italy is invincible in war, Greece in culture." For our part, and we mean no offence, we firmly believe that both Greeks and Latins have always taken learning to a higher level by extending it to each other's literature."


Chrysoloras arrived in the winter of 1397, an event remembered by one his most famous pupils, the humanist scholar Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman. He has been called the first modern historian.-Biography:...

, as a great new opportunity: there were many teachers of law, but no one had studied Greek in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 for 700 years. Another very famous pupil of Chrysoloras was Ambrogio Traversari, who became general of the Camaldolese order
Camaldolese
The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

. Chrysoloras remained only a few years in Florence, from 1397 to 1400, teaching Greek, starting with the rudiments. He moved on to teach in Bologna and later in Venice and Rome. Though he taught widely, a handful of his chosen students remained a close-knit group, among the first humanists of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Among his pupils were numbered some of the foremost figures of the revival of Greek studies in Renaissance Italy. Aside from Bruni and Ambrogio Traversari
Ambrose the Camaldulian
Saint Ambrose Traversari, O.S.B. Cam., also referred to as Ambrose of Camaldoli, was an Italian monk and theologian, who was a prime supporter of the papal cause in the 15th century.-Biography:...

, they included Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona was an early figure in the Italian Renaissance.He was born in Verona, Italy and later studied Greek at Constantinople, where for five years he was the pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras. When he set out to return home, he had with him two cases of precious Greek manuscripts which he had...

 and Pallas Strozzi.

Having visited Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 and Pavia
Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

, and having resided for several years at Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, he went to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 on the invitation of Bruni, who was then secretary to Pope Gregory XII
Pope Gregory XII
Pope Gregory XII , born Angelo Correr or Corraro, Pope from 1406 to 1415, succeeded Pope Innocent VII on 30 November 1406....

. In 1408, he was sent to Paris on an important mission from the emperor Manuel Palaeologus
Manuel II Palaiologos
Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus was Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425.-Life:...

. In 1413, he went to Germany on an embassy to the emperor Sigismund
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

, the object of which was to fix a place for the church council that later assembled at Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

. Chrysoloras was on his way there, having been chosen to represent the Greek Church, when he died suddenly. His death gave rise to commemorative essays of which Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona was an early figure in the Italian Renaissance.He was born in Verona, Italy and later studied Greek at Constantinople, where for five years he was the pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras. When he set out to return home, he had with him two cases of precious Greek manuscripts which he had...

 made a collection in Chrysolorina.

Chrysoloras translated the works of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Republic into Latin. His own works, which circulated in manuscript in his lifetime, include brief works on the Procession of the Holy Ghost, and letters to his brothers, to L. Bruni, Guauni, Traversari, and to Pallas Strozzi, as well as two which were eventually printed, his Erotemata Civas Questiones
Erotemata Civas Questiones
The Erotemata are the first printed basic Greek grammar in use in Western Europe, written by Manuel Chrysoloras who was a pioneer is spreading Greek literature in Western Europe....

which was the first basic Greek grammar in use in Western Europe, first published in 1484 and widely reprinted, and which enjoyed considerable success not only among his pupils in Florence, but also among later leading humanists, being immediately studied by Thomas Linacre
Thomas Linacre
Thomas Linacre was a humanist scholar and physician, after whom Linacre College, Oxford and Linacre House The King's School, Canterbury are named....

 at Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 and by Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

 at Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

; and Epistolæ tres de comparatione veteris et novæ Romæ (Three Letters Comparing Ancient and Modern Rome). Many of his treatises on morals and ethics and other philosophical subjects came into print in the 17th and 18th centuries, because of their antiquarian interest. He was chiefly influential through his teaching in familiarizing men such as Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman. He has been called the first modern historian.-Biography:...

, Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati was an Italian Humanist and man of letters, and one of the most important political and cultural leaders of Renaissance Florence.-Birth and Early Career:...

, Giacomo da Scarperia
Giacomo da Scarperia
Giacomo d'Angelo da Scarperia or Scarparia was a Renaissance humanist, born in Florence. He hastened to Venice, when Manuel Chrysoloras had arrived as an envoy of Manuel Paleologus in 1393 and had stayed to teach Greek in Italy for the first time in seven centuries...

, Roberto de' Rossi
Roberto de' Rossi
Roberto de' Rossi was an early humanist in Florence, a follower of Coluccio Salutati and, as the first pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras, one of the first Florentines to read Greek. Roberto de' Rossi was a wealthy patrician who never married and avoided public office but devoted his life to books and his...

, Carlo Marsuppini
Carlo Marsuppini
Carlo Marsuppini , also known as Carlo Aretino and Carolus Arretinus, was an Italian Renaissance humanist and chancellor of the Florentine Republic....

, Pietro Candido Decembrio
Pietro Candido Decembrio
Pietro Candido Decembrio was a well-known Italian humanist and author of the Renaissance, and one of those involved in the rediscovery of ancient literature.The son of the humanist Uberto Decembrio, he was born in Pavia, and named after his father's employer Peter of Candia...

, Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona
Guarino da Verona was an early figure in the Italian Renaissance.He was born in Verona, Italy and later studied Greek at Constantinople, where for five years he was the pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras. When he set out to return home, he had with him two cases of precious Greek manuscripts which he had...

, Poggio Bracciolini
Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini
Poggio Bracciolini was an Italian scholar, writer and humanist. He recovered a great number of classical Latin texts, mostly lying forgotten in German and French monastic libraries, and disseminated manuscript copies among the educated world.- Biography :Poggio di Duccio was...

, with the masterpieces of Greek literature.

Literature

  • Chrysoloras's letters can be found in Patrologia Graeca, ed. J.-P. Migne, vol, 156, Paris 1866.

  • M. Baxandall, ‘Guarino, Pisanello and Manuel Chrysoloras’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 28 (1965), 183-204.
  • Émile Legrand: Notice biographique sur Manuel Chrysoloras, Paris 1894.
  • Jonathan Harris, Greek Émigrés in the West, 1400-1520, Camberley UK: Porphyrogenitus, 1995. ISBN 1 871328 11 X
  • S. Mergiali-Sahas, S., ‘Manuel Chrysoloras: an ideal model of a scholar ambassador’, Byzantine Studies/Etudes Byzantines, 3 (1998), 1-12
  • I. Thompson, `Manuel Chrysoloras and the early Italian Renaissance', Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 7 (1966), 63-82
  • Lydia Thorn-Wikkert, Manuel Chrysoloras (ca. 1350-1415): Eine Biographie des byzantinischen Intellektuellen vor dem Hintergrund der hellenistischen Studien in der italienischen Renaissance, Frankfurt am Main, 2006.
  • N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy. Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance, London, 1992. ISBN 0 7156 24180

External links