Leo Allatius, portrait in the Collegio Greco of Rome, Italy.
|Born||Leo Allatius (Λέων Αλλάτιος)
Chios (Sanjak of Sakız), Ottoman Empire
|Died||January 19, 1669
Rome, Papal States
|Occupation||Greek literature, Theology, Philosophy and Medicine|
|Literary movement||Italian Renaissance|
Leo Allatius (c. 1586 – January 19, 1669) (Greek: Λέων Αλλάτιος, Leon Allatios, Λιωνής Αλάτζης, Lionis Allatzis; Italian: Leone Allacci, Allacio; Latin: Leo Allatius, Allacius) was a Greek scholar, theologian and keeper of the Vatican library.
Leo Allatius was a Greek, born on the island of Chios (then part of the Ottoman Empire and known as Sakız) in 1586. His father was Niccolas Allatzes and his mother was Sebaste Neurides, both of Greek extraction. He was taken by his maternal uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated at the age of nine, first in Calabria and then in Rome where he was admitted into the Greek college. A graduate of the Pontifical Greek College of St. Athanasius in Rome, he spent his career in Rome as teacher of Greek at the Greek college, devoting himself to the study of classics and theology. He found a patron in Pope Gregory XV.
In 1622, after the capture of Heidelberg by Tilly, when the Protestant Elector of Bavaria Frederick V was supplanted by a Catholic one, the victorious elector Maximilian of Bavaria presented the Palatinate library composed of 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts to Pope Gregory. Allatius supervised its transport by a caravan of 200 mules across the Alps to Rome, where it was incorporated in the Vatican library. All but 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts, which had been sent to Paris in 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VII of 852 others in 1816, remain in the Vatican Library to this day.
Allatius was "passed over" for the position of Vatican librarian and instead became librarian to Cardinal Lelio Biscia who had an extensive private library. On the Cardinal's death, Allatius became librarian to Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Pope Alexander VII appointed him custodian of the Vatican Library in 1661, a post he held until his death.
His cultural background, embracing the Greek and Roman worlds, afforded him a unique view of the age-old question of union to heal the Great Schism. Better than any western scholar of his day he knew the religious, historical and artistic traditions of the Orthodox world, struggling under Ottoman domination. More passionately than any other 17th century theologian, he believed that familiarity with these traditions would enable the two churches to bridge their theological and ecclesiastical divide.
Thus in 1651, when he published the first printed edition of the works of George Acropolites, the 13th century emissary of the Byzantine Emperor who acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman pontiff and thus had become something of a celebrity, at least in the West, the Latin essay that formed the preface to this volume, De Georgiis eorumque Scriptis, gained fame itself as a learned plea for the commonalities between the two churches.
Allatius was a natural apologist for the Eastern communions in Eastern Europe, convinced as he was in himself that in the acts of union neither reasons of faith nor of doctrine were fundamental to the succession of the bishops, only a transfer of jurisdictions, and he seems really to have believed that the "Latin faith" and the "Greek faith" were identical and that under "Roman obedience" they could still be Orthodox. So he argued in his contribution to the mid-17th century Uniate pamphlet De Ecclesiae occidentalis atque orientalis perpetua consensione libri tres ("The Western and Eastern Churches in perpetual Agreement, in Three Books") (1648). Such notions led to the final stipulations that the Eastern Churches were not to be merged with the Catholic Church but would retain their own hierarchical independence and traditional rituals.
Allatius was trained as a physician. In 1645 he included the first methodical discussion of vampires, in De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus ("On certain modern opinions among the Greeks"). In his later years he collected Greek and Syrian manuscripts to add to the late Pope Gregory XV's Eastern Library at the Vatican.
His Drammaturgia (1666), a catalogue of Italian musical dramas produced up to that year, is indispensable for the early history of opera. A new edition, carried down to 1755, appeared at Venice in that year.
His works are listed by Johann Albert Fabricius, in Bibliotheca Graeca (xi. 437), where they are divided into four classes:
- editions, translations and commentaries on ancient authors
- works relating to the dogmas and institutions of the Greek and Roman Churches
- historical works
- miscellaneous works.
His manuscripts (about 150 volumes) and his voluminous scholarly correspondence are held in the Biblioteca Vallicelliana (referred to by some sources as the "Library of the Oratorians") in Rome. The number of his unpublished writings is very large; the majority of them are included in the manuscripts of the Vallicellian Library.
Allatius died in Rome on 18 (or 19) January 1669.
- (1629) S.P.N. Eustathii Archiepiscopi Antiocheni et martyris in Hexahemeron commentarius, ac de Engastrimytho dissertatio adversus Origenem; item Origenis de eadem Engastrimytho an videlicet anima ipsa Samuelis fuerit vere evocata incantationibus Pythonissae (de qua I. Reg. cap. 28). Lyon: Laurent Durand, 1629
- (1634) De psellis, et eorum scriptis diatriba at Google Books, Rome
- (1640) De patria Homeri, p. PP5, at Google Books. Lyon: Laurent Durand
- (1645) De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus
- (1648) De Ecclesiæ occidentalis et orientalis perpetua consensione, p. PR1, at Google Books, Cologne: Kalckhoven
- Complete title : Leonis Allatii De ecclesiae occidentalis atque orientalis perpetua consensione libri tres, ejusdem dissertationes De dominicis et hebdomadibus Graecorum, et De missa praesanctificatorum, cum Bartholdi Nihusii ad hanc annotationibus de communione orientali
- (1655) De utriusquae ecclesiae occidentalis atque orientalis perpetua in dogmate de purgatorio consensione, p. PP5, at Google Books. Rome
- (1666) Drammaturgia. Rome, 1666
- Expanded edition to 1755 by Ioanne Cardoni, Venice: Giambattista Pasquali, 1755
- (1882) Relazione sul trasporto della Biblioteca Palatina da Heidelberg a Roma pubblicati per la prima volta da Giovanni Beltrani. Florence: Bencini, 1882
In popular culture
Outside scholarly circles Allatius is perhaps best known today for his De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba (A Discussion of the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ), a minor essay mentioned in Fabricius's Bibliotheca Graeca (xiv. 17) as an unpublished work. According to an unconfirmed nineteenth-century source, its thesis - which to many modern readers appears unintentionally humorous - is that the rings of Saturn (then-recently observed by telescope) are the prepuce of Jesus.
- Ecclesiastical History Society (1976). Studies in church history, Volume 13. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 0-631-17180-0. "Allatius, a Greek from Chios"
- Hutton, James (1935). The Greek anthology in Italy to the year 1800. Cornell University Press. p. 263. OCLC 1018945. "LEONE ALLACCI (1586-1669) Allacci was a Greek, born in the island of Chios. He was taken by his uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated, first to Calabria and later (1500) to Rome."
- Chisholm, Hugh (1910). The encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 1. University press. p. 686. OCLC 429075347. "ALLACCI, LEONE [LEO ALLATIUS](1586-1669), Greek scholar and theologian, was born in the island of Chios. His early years were passed in Calabria and at Rome, where he finally settled as teacher of Greek at the Greek college… It is noteworthy that, although a Greek by birth, he became an ardent Roman Catholic"
- Doucette, Léonard E. (1970). Emery Bigot; seventeenth-century French humanist. University of Toronto Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-8020-5239-8. "(Leone Allacci, 1586-1669), Greek scholar and critic"
- Hartnup, Karen (2004). On the beliefs of the Greeks: Leo Allatios and popular Orthodoxy Volume 54 of Medieval Mediterranean. BRILL. p. 53. ISBN 90-04-13180-9. "Leo Allatios was born c. 1586 in Chios Town to Niccolas Allatzes and Sebaste Neurides. Both parents were Greek, but although his father was from an Orthodox family it is unclear whether his mother was Orthodox or Catholic. Certainly his Brother Michael Neurides became a Jesuit but we cannot tell whether he was born into a Catholic family or converted later in life."
- Darling, James (1854). Cyclopaedia bibliographica: a library manual of theological and general literature and guide to books for authors, preachers, students, and literary men : analytical, bibliographical, and biographical. J. Darling. pp. 48–49. OCLC 197431963. "ALLATIUS, Leo (continual). Chios of Greek parents, 1586. Having been admitted into the Greek college at Rome, he embraced the Roman Catholic religion, and was eventually appointed keeper of Vatican Library by Pope Alexander VII. Died 1669."
- Chalmers, Alexander (1812). The General biographical dictionary: containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation: particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts to the present time, Volume 1. Nichols. pp. 472–473. OCLC 311534276. "ALLATIUS, or ALLACCI, (LEO), keeper of the Vatican library, and a celebrated popish writer of the 17th century, was born in the isle of Chios, of Greek parents, 1586."
- Hutton, James (1935). The Greek anthology in Italy to the year 1800. Cornell University Press. p. 263. OCLC 1018945. "LEONE ALLACCI …He was taken by his uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated, first to Calabria and later (1500) to Rome."
- Chalmers, Alexander (1812). The General biographical dictionary: containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation: particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts to the present time, Volume 1. Nichols. pp. 472–473. OCLC 311534276. "ALLATIUS, or ALLACCI, (LEO)… At nine years of age he was removed from his native country to Calabria ; but some time after sent to Rome, and admitted into the Greek college, where he applied himself to the study of polite learning, philosophy, and divinity, and embraced the Roman Catholic religion."
- Hartnup, Karen (2004). On the beliefs of the Greeks: Leo Allatios and Popular Orthodoxy (Volume 54 of Medieval Mediterranean). BRILL. p. 60. ISBN 90-04-13180-9.
- Berthelot, André (1887). "Rapport sur les Manuscrits Alchimiques De Rome". Archives des Missions Scientifiques et Littéraires. 3 (in French) (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale) 13: 850. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- The book may instead have been published in Amsterdam.
- Fabricius, Johann Albert (1728). Bibliotheca Graeca (Vol. 14) (in Latin). Hamburg. p. 17. "Adhuc ineditis praefixus Astericus [Unpublished works prefixed with an asterisk]."
- Foote, G.W.; Wheeler, J.M. (1887). Crimes of Christianity. London: Progressive Publishing Company. p. 94. Archived from the original on 27 August 2013. "[Allatius] devoted a treatise to the Savior's foreskin, asserting that it ascended, like Jesus himself, and expanded into one of the rings of Saturn."
- Palazzo, Robert P. (2005). "The Veneration of the Sacred Foreskin(s) of Baby Jesus - A Documented Analysis". In James P. Helfers. Multicultural Europe and Cultural Exchange in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Turnhout: Brepols. p. 157. ISBN 2503514707. "I [Palazzo] have not been able to locate a copy of De Praeputio to confirm or deny [Foote and Wheeler's] quotation."
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition
- Frazee, Charles A., "Leon Allatios: a Greek scholar of the seventeenth century" in Modern Greek Studies Yearbook vol. 1 (1985)
- Gradić Stjepan, "Leonis Allatii vita" in Angelo Mai (ed.), Nova Bibliotheca Patrum vol. 6 part 2 chapter 2 (Incomplete biography)
- Hartnup, Karen, On the beliefs of the Greeks: Leo Allatios and popular orthodoxy Excerpts
- Jacono, Carmela, Bibliografica di Leone Allacci (1588–1669): in appendice una nota biografica e una notizia sull' Epistolario Allacciano, 1962 (Bibliography and biographical notice)
- Lämmer, Hugo, De Leonis Allatii codicibus qui Romae in Bibliotheca Vallicellana asservantur schediasma, Herder: 1864.
- Legrand, Émile, Bibliographie hellénique du XVIIe siècle, vol. 3, Paris, 1895, pp. 435–471 (List of works)
- Mazzi, Curzio, Leone Allacci e la Palatina di Heidelberg, Bologne, 1893 (His share in the foundation of the Vatican Library)
- Petit, L., Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (ed. Vacant, Alfred), vol. 1, Paris: 1900, cols. 830–833 (Theological aspect)
- Petit, L., Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (ed. Cabrol, Fernand), vol. 1, Paris: 1924, p. 1220-1226.
The accounts of Konstantinos Sathas in Neoelliniki filologia (Athens, 1868), and of the pseudo-prince Demetrios Rhodokanakis, Leonis Allatii Hellas (Athens, 1872), are inaccurate and untrustworthy.
- Biography of Allatius, on the website of the School of Classical Studies
- Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908: Leon Allatius