From Byzantium to Italy: Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance

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Which famous poet treasured his copy of Homer, but could never learn Greek? What prompted diplomats to circulate a speech by Demosthenes - in Latin translation - when the Turks threatened to invade Europe? Why would enthusiastic Florentines crowd a lecture on the Roman Neoplatonist Plotinus, but underestimate the importance of Plato himself? Having all but disappeared from western literacy during the Middle Ages, classical Greek would recover a position of importance - eventually equal to that of classical Latin ...
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Overview

Which famous poet treasured his copy of Homer, but could never learn Greek? What prompted diplomats to circulate a speech by Demosthenes - in Latin translation - when the Turks threatened to invade Europe? Why would enthusiastic Florentines crowd a lecture on the Roman Neoplatonist Plotinus, but underestimate the importance of Plato himself? Having all but disappeared from western literacy during the Middle Ages, classical Greek would recover a position of importance - eventually equal to that of classical Latin - only after a series of surprising failures, chance encounters, and false starts. From Byzantium to Italy offers a detailed account of the rediscovery and growing influence of classical Greek scholarship in Italy from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. Continuing the story he began in his acclaimed study, Scholars of Byzantium, N.G. Wilson describes how the classical heritage preserved by the Byzantines was transmitted to a vigorous culture, first in fourteenth-century Florence and then throughout Italy. Wilson recounts the early attempts of Petrarch and Boccaccio to master Greek and the efforts of the Byzantine diplomat Chrysoloras to simplify the teaching of the language. He chronicles the work of Bruni and other translators as well as important teachers such as Vittorino, Guarino, Filelfo, and Politian. He also follows the spread of Greek studies to cities throughout Italy, including Padua, Bologna, Ferrara, Messina, Rome and Venice. Wilson concludes with the death of Aldus Manutius, the great publisher of Greek texts. From a leading authority on Greek palaeography in the English-speaking world, here is a complete account of the historic rediscovery of Greek philosophy, language, and literature during the Renaissance.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Wilson (classics, Oxford U.) continues the chronicle of Greek studies in Renaissance Italy that he began in Scholars of Byzantium. He describes how the classical heritage preserved by the Byzantines was transmitted to 14th-century Florence, and spread slowly to other centers of learning in Italy by the 16th century; the difficulty of Petrarch, Boccaccio, and others in learning Greek; attempts to simplify the language and its teaching; and others aspects. Not illustrated. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801845635
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1993
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
1 The beginnings 1
(i) Precursors 1
(ii) Petrarch, Boccaccio and Pilato 2
2 Chrysoloras: methods of learning the language 8
3 Bruni and other early translators 13
4 Consolidation 23
(i) A first glance at Venice 23
(ii) The significance of the year 1423: Aurispa 25
(iii) The second half of Bruni's career 29
(iv) Traversari 31
5 Vittorino da Feltre 34
6 Guarino 42
7 Filelfo 48
8 Greek prelates in Italy 54
(i) The Council of Florence and its consequences 54
(ii) The Greek cardinal 57
9 Valla 68
10 Rome under Nicholas V and his successors 76
11 Florence in the second half of the century 86
(i) Argyropoulos 86
(ii) Ficino 90
(iii) Scholar-printers: Chalcondyles and Janus Lascaris 95
12 Politian 101
13 Padua, Bologna, Ferrara and Messina 114
14 Venice 124
(i) Ermolao Barbaro and Pietro Bembo 124
(ii) The Aldine publishing house, the Neakademia and Forteguerri's manifesto 127
(iii) The publications of the first ten years 133
(iv) Interruptions 145
(v) Musurus 148
15 Conclusion 157
Notes 163
Indexes 191
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