George of Trebizond
Overview
 
George of Trebizond was a Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers 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...

.
He was born on the island of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, and derived his surname Trapezuntius from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.

At what period he came to 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...

 is not certain; according to some accounts he was summoned to 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...

 about 1430 to act as amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

 to Francesco Barbaro
Francesco Barbaro
Francesco Barbaro was an Italian politician, diplomat, and humanist from Venice, a member of the patrician Barbaro family. He is interred in the Church of the Frari, Venice.- Family :...

, who appears to have already made his acquaintance; according to others he did not visit 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...

 till the time of the Council of Florence
Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...

 (1438–1439).

He learned Latin from Vittorino da Feltre
Vittorino da Feltre
Vittorino da Feltre was an Italian humanist and teacher. He was born in Feltre, Belluno, Republic of Venice and died in Mantua. His real name was Vittorino Ramboldini....

, and made such rapid progress that in three years he was able to teach Latin literature
Latin literature
Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings of the ancient Romans. In many ways, it seems to be a continuation of Greek literature, using many of the same forms...

 and rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
George of Trebizond was a Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers 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...

.

Life

He was born on the island of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, and derived his surname Trapezuntius from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.

At what period he came to 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...

 is not certain; according to some accounts he was summoned to 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...

 about 1430 to act as amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

 to Francesco Barbaro
Francesco Barbaro
Francesco Barbaro was an Italian politician, diplomat, and humanist from Venice, a member of the patrician Barbaro family. He is interred in the Church of the Frari, Venice.- Family :...

, who appears to have already made his acquaintance; according to others he did not visit 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...

 till the time of the Council of Florence
Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...

 (1438–1439).

He learned Latin from Vittorino da Feltre
Vittorino da Feltre
Vittorino da Feltre was an Italian humanist and teacher. He was born in Feltre, Belluno, Republic of Venice and died in Mantua. His real name was Vittorino Ramboldini....

, and made such rapid progress that in three years he was able to teach Latin literature
Latin literature
Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings of the ancient Romans. In many ways, it seems to be a continuation of Greek literature, using many of the same forms...

 and rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

. His reputation as a teacher and a translator of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 was very great, and he was selected as secretary by Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V , born Tommaso Parentucelli, was Pope from March 6, 1447 to his death in 1455.-Biography:He was born at Sarzana, Liguria, where his father was a physician...

, an ardent Aristotelian. The needless bitterness of his attacks upon 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...

 (in the Comparatio Aristotelis et Platonis), which drew forth a powerful response from Basilios Bessarion, and the manifestly hurried and inaccurate character of his translations of Plato, Aristotle and other classical authors, combined to ruin his fame as a scholar, and to endanger his position as a teacher of philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. (Pope Pius II was among the critics of George's translations.) The indignation against George on account of his first-named work was so great that he would probably have been compelled to leave Italy had not Alfonso V of Aragon
Alfonso V of Aragon
Alfonso the Magnanimous KG was the King of Aragon , Valencia , Majorca, Sardinia and Corsica , and Sicily and Count of Barcelona from 1416 and King of Naples from 1442 until his death...

 given him protection at the court of Naples.

He subsequently returned 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...

, where in 1471 he published a very successful Latin grammar based on the work of another Greek grammarian of Latin Priscian
Priscian
Priscianus Caesariensis , commonly known as Priscian, was a Latin grammarian. He wrote the Institutiones grammaticae on the subject...

. Additionally an earlier work on rhetoric Greek principles garnered him wide recognition, even from his former critics who admitted his brilliance and scholarship. He died in great poverty in 1486 in Rome.

Original Britannica references

  • G. Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des klassischen Altertums (1893);
  • article by C. F. Behr in Ersch and Gruber
    Gruber
    Gruber is a German surname, referring to a person from a pit, mine or depression. It is the most common surname in Austria .-People:People whose family name is or was Gruber:...

    's Allgemeine Enzyklopadie.


For a complete list of his numerous works, consisting of translations from Greek into Latin (Plato, Aristotle and the Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

) and original essays in Greek (chiefly theological) and Latin (grammatical and rhetorical), see Fabricius
Johann Albert Fabricius
Johann Albert Fabricius was a German classical scholar and bibliographer.-Biography:Fabricius was born at Leipzig, son of Werner Fabricius, director of music in the church of St. Paul at Leipzig, who was the author of several works, the most important being Deliciae Harmonicae...

, Bibliotheca Graeca (ed. Harles
Gottlieb Christoph Harless
Gottlieb Christoph Harless was a German classical scholar and bibliographer.-Biography:He was born at Culmbach in Bavaria. He studied at the universities of Halle, Erlangen and Jena...

), xii.

Further reading

  • C.J. Classen, 'The rhetorical works of George of Trebizond and their debt to Cicero', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 56 (1993), 75–84
  • Matthew DeCoursey, 'Continental European Rhetoricians, 1400–1600, and Their Influence in Renaissance England', British Rhetoricians and Logicians, 1500–1660, First Series, DLB 236, Detroit: Gale, 2001, pp.309–43.
  • Jonathan Harris, Greek Émigrés in the West, 1400–1520 (Camberley UK: Porphyrogenitus, 1995). ISBN 1 871328 11 X
  • John Monfasani, George of Trebizond. A biography and a study of his rhetoric and logic, Leiden, Brill, 1976.
  • John Monfasani, ed., Collectanea Trapezuntiana. Texts, Documents, and Bibliographies of George of Trebizond, Binghamton, NY: RSA, 1984.
  • Lucia Calboli Montefusco, "Ciceronian and Hermogenean Influences on George of Trebizond's Rhetoricorum Libri V," Rhetorica 26.2 (2008): 139–164.
  • N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy. Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance, London, 1992. ISBN 0 7156 24180
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