Leontius Pilatus

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Leontius Pilatus
Born Leontius Pilatus (Leonzio Pilato)
Seminara, Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy.
Died 1366
Gulf of Venice
Occupation Greek literature, Latin literature, Theology and Philosophy
Ethnicity disputed, Italian or Greek
Literary movement Italian Renaissance

Leontius Pilatus, or Leontius (Leonzio Pilato; died 1366) (Latin: Leontius Pilatus, Greek: Λεόντιος Πιλάτος, Leontios Pilatos, Italian: Leonzio Pilato), was a Calabrian scholar and was one of the earliest promoters of Greek studies in Western Europe. Leontius translated and commented upon works of Euripides, Aristotle and Homer[1] including the Odyssey and the Iliad[2] into Latin and was the first professor of Greek in western Europe.[3]

Biography[edit]

Calabria still had at this time, several centuries after the Norman conquest of the territory from the Byzantine Empire, a large if not majority Greek-speaking and Eastern Orthodox population. The process of "Latinization" — conversion to Roman Catholicism, adoption of Latin for legal documents, and adoption of Romance-language dialects in popular speech — was only definitively completed in the 1500s with the suppression of the Greek Basilian monasteries by Rome.

Thus Pilatus is assumed by most scholars to have been an ethnic-Greek Calabrian.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] But the situation is confused by a famous letter from Petrarch to Boccaccio, in which he complains:

Leo noster vere Calaber, sed ut ipse vult Thesalus, quasi nobilius sit grecum esse quam italum (Sen. III, 6)

Our Leontius is really a Calabrian, but would have us to consider him a Thessalian as though it were nobler to be Greek than Italian[11]

It is unclear from this whether Pilatus was holding himself out as being from Greece proper, or Petrarch was unaware of the ethno-linguistic situation in Calabria.

It is through this connection with Petrarch and Boccaccio, that the important contribution of Pilatus to the revival of Greek in Western scholarship was effected. He made a bald and almost word for word translation of Homer into Latin prose for Boccaccio, subsequently sent to Petrarch, who owed his introduction to the poet to Pilatus and was anxious to obtain a complete translation. Pilatus also furnished Boccaccio with some of the material for his genealogy of the gods (Genealogia deorum gentilium libri)[citation needed] which was, according to Edward Gibbon: "a work, in that age, of stupendous erudition, and which he ostentatiously sprinkled with Greek characters and passages, to excite the wonder and applause of his more ignorant readers." [12]

Pilatus was killed when lightning struck a ship's mast while he standing against it, on a voyage from Constantinople. [13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Larner, John (1971). Culture and society in Italy, 1290-1420. Scribner. p. 247. ISBN 0-684-12367-3. "His pupil, Leonzio Pilato, another Calabrian Greek, was persuaded by Boccaccio to go to Florence between 1360 and 1362, and there in the university he translated and commented upon Homer, Euripides, and Aristotle." 
  2. ^ Manguel, Alberto (2007). Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey: Books That Shook the World. Allen & Unwin. p. 94. ISBN 1-74114-900-2. "Leonzio Pilato, a Calabrian monk of Greek origin, translated the Odyssey and the Iliad into Latin" 
  3. ^ Highet, Gilbert (1985). The classical tradition: Greek and Roman influences on western literature. Oxford University Press US. p. 16. ISBN 0-19-500206-7. "Leontius Pilatus, made the first professor of Greek in western Europe— at Florence, which long remained the centre of this activity." 
  4. ^ Holton David, (1991). Literature and society in Renaissance Crete. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-521-32579-X. "Most significant is the information that around 1350 a Greek from Calabria by the name of Leontius Pilatus spent several years in Crete" 
  5. ^ Grendler, Paul F. (2004). The universities of the Italian Renaissance. JHU Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-8018-8055-6. "Boccaccio persuaded the commune to appoint Leonzio Pilato, a Greek from Calabria, to teach Greek, the first such professorship in western Europe." 
  6. ^ Larner, John (1971). Culture and society in Italy, 1290-1420. Scribner. p. 247. ISBN 0-684-12367-3. "His pupil, Leonzio Pilato, another Calabrian Greek, was persuaded by Boccaccio to go to Florence between 1360 and 1362, and there in the university he translated and commented upon Homer, Euripides, and Aristotle." 
  7. ^ Witt, Ronald G. (2001). Italian humanism and medieval rhetoric. Ashgate. p. 99. ISBN 0-86078-875-X. "Much has recently been learned of the scope of the work of Leonzio Pilato, the unpleasant Calabrian Greek, who held the first chair of Greek in the Florentine Studio in 1360/2." 
  8. ^ Foley, John Miles (2005). A companion to ancient epic. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 185. ISBN 1-4051-0524-0. "interlinear translation by a highly disagreeable Calabrian Greek, Leonzio Pilato, who later died after being struck by lightning (the precedent did not inhibit later translators)." 
  9. ^ Jayne, Sears Reynolds (1995). Plato in Renaissance England. Springer. pp. 3–4. ISBN 0-7923-3060-9. "Like Petrarch, Boccaccio did not read Greek; the translator whom he planned to use was a visiting Greek named Leonzio Pilato whom he had hired out of his own pocket to teach Greek and to translate Homer." 
  10. ^ Manguel, Alberto (2007). Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey: Books That Shook the World. Allen & Unwin. p. 94. ISBN 1-74114-900-2. "Leonzio Pilato, a Calabrian monk of Greek origin, translated the Odyssey and the Iliad into Latin" 
  11. ^ Nancy Bisaha, Creating East and West: Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, p. 119.
  12. ^ Part 4, Ch. 66 online text
  13. ^ Cronin, Vincent (1967). The Florentine Renaissance. Random House. ISBN 0-7126-9874-4.