Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

George of Trebizond

George of Trebizond (1395-1484), Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers of the revival of letters in the Western world, was born in the island of Crete, and derived his surname Trapezuntios from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.

At what period he came to Italy is not certain; according to some accounts he was summoned to Venice about 1430 to act as amanuensis to Francesco Barbaro, who appears to have already made his acquaintance; according to others he did not visit Italy till the time of the council of Florence (1438-1439).

He learned Latin from Vittorino da Feltre, and made such rapid progress that in three years he was able to teach Latin literature and rhetoric. His reputation as a teacher and a translator of Aristotle was very great, and he was selected as secretary by Pope Nicholas V, an ardent Aristotelian. The needless bitterness of his attacks upon Plato (in the Comparatio Aristotelis et Platonic), which drew forth a powerful response from 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. The indignation against him on account of his first-named work was so great that he would probably have been compelled to leave Italy had not Alfonso V given him protection at the court of Naples.

He subsequently returned to Rome, where he died in great poverty on August 12 1484. He had long outlived his reputation, and towards the end of his life his intellect failed him. From all accounts he was a man of very disagreeable character, conceited and quarrelsome.

See G Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des klassischen Altertums (1893), and article by CF Behr in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemine Encyklopadie. For a complete list of his numerous works, consisting of translations from Greek into Latin (Plato, Aristotle and the Fathers) and original essays in Greek (chiefly theological) and Latin (grammatical and rhetorical), see Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca (ed. Harles), xii.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.