Janus Lascaris (Greek: Ἰᾶνoς Λάσκαρις, Ianos Laskaris; born about 1445 in Constantinople; died in Rome on 7 December 1535), also called John Rhyndacenus (from Rhyndacus, a country town in Asia Minor), was a noted Greek scholar in the Renaissance.
After the Fall of Constantinople Lascaris was taken to the Peloponnese and to Crete. When still quite young he came to Venice, where Bessarion became his patron, and sent him to learn Latin at the University of Padua.
On the death of Bessarion, Lorenzo de' Medici welcomed him to Florence, where Lascaris gave Greek lectures on Thucydides, Demosthenes, Sophocles, and the Greek Anthology. Lorenzo sent him twice to Greece in quest of manuscripts. When he returned the second time (1492) he brought back about two hundred from Mount Athos.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo had died. Lascaris entered the service of France and was ambassador at Venice from 1503 to 1508, at which time he became a member of the Greek Academy of Aldus Manutius; but if the printer had the benefit of his advice, no Aldine work bears his name. He resided at Rome under Leo X, the first pope of the Medici family, from 1513 to 1518, returned under Clement VII in 1523, and Paul III in 1534.
We owe to him a number of editiones principes, among them the Anthologia Graeca (1494), four plays of Euripides, Callimachus (about 1495), Apollonius Rhodius, Lucian (1496), printed in Florence in Greek capitals with accents, the scholia of Didymas (Rome 1517) and of Porphyrius (1518) on Homer (Rome 1518), and the scholia vetera on Sophocles (Rome 1518).
He was buried in the gothic church of Sant' Agata dei Goti. On his memorial the following epigram is inscribed, composed by himself:
- ΛΑΣΚΑΡΙΣ ΑΛΛΟΔΑΠΗ ΓΑΙΗ ΕΝΙΚΑΤΘΕΤΟ ΓΑΙΗΝ, ΟΥΤΙ ΛΙΗΝ ΞΕΙΝΗΝ, Ω ΞΕΝΕ, ΜΕΜΦΟΜΕΝΟΣ. ΕΥΡΕΤΟ ΜΕΙΛΙΧΙΗΝ. ΑΛΛ' ΑΧΘΕΤΑΙ ΕΙΠΕΡ ΑΧΑΙΟΙΣ. ΟΥΔ' ΕΤΙ ΧΟΥΝ ΧΕΥΕΙ ΠΑΤΡΙΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΝ.
i.e., Lascaris in foreign land deposided his earth [his body], and he does not blame her [the land] that she is very foreign, oh stranger. He found her sweet. But he is worried about the Achaeans [the Greeks], because their country does not cover them with free soil.
- Lejay 1913.
- Jonathan Woolfson, Padua and the Tudors: English Students in Italy, 1485-1603', James Clarke & Co, 1998, p. 4.
- John P.A. Ioannidis (MD, DSc), Η φυγή των Ελλήνων επιστημόνων. Μια μετα-ανάλυση [The leaving of the Greek scientists. A meta-analysis], Αρχεία Ελλην. Ιατρικής, [Archives of Greek Medicin] 33 (3), 2016, p. 305. In Greek language.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lejay, Paul (1910). "Janus Lascaris". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lascaris, Joannes". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Jonathan Harris, Greek Émigrés in the West, 1400-1520 (Camberley: Porphyrogenitus, 1995). ISBN 1-871328-11-X
- Graham Speake, ‘Janus Lascaris’ visit to Mount Athos in 1491’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 34 (1993), 325-30.
- Francis Walton, ‘Janus Laskaris’, The Griffon 10 (1984), 8-35
- J. Whittaker, ‘Janus Laskaris at the court of Charles V’, Thesaurismata 14 (1977), 76-109
- N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy. Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance (London, 1992). ISBN 0-7156-2418-0
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