Demetrios Chalkokondyles


Demetrios Chalkokondyles (Greek: Δημήτριος Χαλκοκονδύλης Dēmḗtrios Chalkokondýlēs), Latinized as Demetrius Chalcocondyles and found variously as Demetricocondyles, Chalcocondylas or Chalcondyles (1423 – 9 January 1511)[7] was one of the most eminent Greek scholars in the West. He taught in Italy for over forty years; his colleagues included Marsilio Ficino, Poliziano, and Theodorus Gaza in the revival of letters in the Western world, and Chalkokondyles was the last of the Greek humanists who taught Greek literature at the great universities of the Italian Renaissance (Padua, Florence, Milan). One of his pupils at Florence was the famous Johann Reuchlin. Chalkokondyles published the first printed publications of Homer (in 1488), of Isocrates (in 1493), and of the Suda lexicon (in 1499).[8]

Demetrios Chalkokondyles
Δημήτριος Χαλκοκονδύλης
Demetrios Chalkokondyles,[1][2][3][4][5] detail of Zachariah in the Temple by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Fresco. Santa Maria Novella, Cappella Tornabuoni, Florence, Italy. 1486–1490.
Demetrios Chalkokondyles,[1][2][3][4][5] detail of Zachariah in the Temple by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Fresco. Santa Maria Novella, Cappella Tornabuoni, Florence, Italy. 1486–1490.
BornAugust 1423
Athens, Duchy of Athens
Died9 January 1511(1511-01-09) (aged 87)
Milan, Duchy of Milan
OccupationScholar, politician, diplomat, philosopher
Literary movementRenaissance


Demetrios Chalkokondyles was born in Athens in 1423[6][9][10][11] to one of the noblest Athenian families and was the cousin of the chronicler of the fall of Constantinople, Laonicus Chalcocondyles. He soon moved to the Peloponnese, with his Athenian family who had migrated after its persecution by the Florentine dukes. He migrated to Italy in 1447[12] and arrived at Rome in 1449 where Cardinal Bessarion became his patron.[13] He became the student of Theodorus Gaza and later gained the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici, serving as a tutor to his sons. Afterwards Chalkokondyles lived the rest of his life in Italy, as a teacher of Greek and philosophy. One of Chalkokondyles' Italian pupils described his lectures at Perugia, where he taught in 1450:

A Greek has just arrived, who has begun to teach me with great pains, and I to listen to his precepts with incredible pleasure, because he is Greek, because he is an Athenian, and because he is Demetrius. It seems to me that in him is figured all the wisdom, the civility, and the elegance of those so famous and illustrious ancients. Merely seeing him you fancy you are looking on Plato; far more when you hear him speak.[12]

Among his pupils were Janus Lascaris, Poliziano, Leo X, Castiglione, Giglio Gregorio Giraldi, Stefano Negri, and Giovanni Maria Cattaneo.[9]

In 1463 Chalkokondyles was made professor at Padua, and later, at Francesco Philelpho's suggestion, in 1479 he took over the place of Ioannis Argyropoulos, as the head of the Greek Literature department and was summoned by Lorenzo de Medici to Florence.[13] Chalkokondyles composed several orations and treatises calling for the liberation of his homeland Greece[14] from what he called “the abominable, monstrous, and impious barbarian Turks.”[15] In 1463 Chalkokondyles called on Venice and "all of the Latins" to aid the Greeks against the Ottomans, he identified this as an overdue debt[15] and reminded the Latins how the Byzantine Greeks once came to Italy's aid against the Goths in the Gothic Wars (535-554 AD)

Gravestone in Milan.

"Just as she [Greece] had empended in their behalf [the Latins] all of her most precious and outstanding possessions liberally and without any parsimony, and had restored with her hand and force of arms the state of Italy, long ago oppressed by the Goths, they [the Latins] should in the same way now be willing to raise up prostrate and afflicted Greece and liberate it by arms from the hands of the barbarians."[15]

It was during his tenure at the Studium in Florence that Chalkokondyles edited Homer for publication, which, dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, is his major accomplishment. He assisted Marsilio Ficino with his Latin translation of Plato. During his tenure at Florence, the German classical scholar Johannes Reuchlin was one of his pupils.[13] He also taught Alessandra Scala, the Florentine Greek and Latin poet.[16]

Chalkokondyles married in 1484 at the age of sixty-one and fathered ten children.[9] Finally, invited by Ludovico Sforza, he moved to Milan (1491/1492), where he taught until he died.


He wrote in Ancient Greek the grammar handbook "Summarized Questions on the Eight Parts of Speech With Some Rules" (Ἐρωτήματα συνοπτικὰ τῶν ὀκτὼ τοῦ λόγου μερῶν μετὰ τινῶν κανόνων).[17] He translated Galen's Anatomy into Latin.[18]

As a scholar, Chalkokondyles published the editio princeps of Homer (Florence 1488), Isocrates (Milan 1493) and the Byzantine Suda lexicon (1499).

  • Greek Grammar, edited 1546 by Melchior Volmar in Basel
  • Latin translation of the Anatomical Procedures of Galen, edited and published in 1529 by Jacopo Berengario da Carpi
  • Ἡ τοῦ Ὁμήρου ποίησις ἅπασα, 1488, editio princeps of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, edited by Bernardus Nerlius and Chalkokondyles, appeared in Florence, not before 13 January 1489, in two folio volumes. It was the first Greek book to be printed in Florence.[19] The Greek type used to print the 1488–1489 Homer is believed to have been cast by the Cretan Demetrius Damilas from the type that he had used to print Constantine LascarisErotemata (Milan 1476), the first book to be printed entirely in Greek, based upon the hand of Damilas’s fellow scribe Michael Apostolis.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sandys, John Edwin (1908). A History of Classical Scholarship ...: From the revival of learning to the end of the eighteenth century (in Italy, France, England, and the Netherlands). Cambridge : Univ. Pr. pp. 62–64. OCLC 312685884. MARSILIO FICINO, CRISTOFORO LANDINO, ANGELO POLIZIANO, and DEMETRIUS CHALCOCONDYLES. Reproduced (by permission) from part of Alinari’s photograph of Ghirlandaio’s fresco on the south wall of the choir in Santa Maria Novella, Florence (ep. p.64 n.6)… A fresco in Santa Maria Novella painted by Ghirlandaio (d.1498) represents an apparently friendly group of scholars who have been identified as Ficino, Landino, Politian and Demetrius.
  2. ^ Festa, Nicola (1935). Umanesimo: Ventisette tavole fuouri testo. U. Hoepli. p. 108. OCLC 3983429.
  3. ^ Riccardi, Palazzo Medici (1939). Mostra Medicea: Palazzo Medici, Firenze, 1939-XVII. Casa Editrice Marzocco. p. 109. OCLC 7123855. DEMETRIO CALCONDILA Ritratto: copia dall'originale di Domenico Ghirlandaio negli affreschi della cappella Tornabuoni in SM Novella (1490)
  4. ^ Geanakoplos, Deno John (1979). Medieval Western civilization and the Byzantine and Islamic worlds: interaction of three cultures. D. C. Heath. p. 463. ISBN 978-0-669-00868-5. This detail of a fresco by the painter Ghirlandaio in Santa Maria Novella, Florence.... Poliziano and Landino, and the Byzantine Demetrius Chalcocondyles, at the extreme right. The latter explained difficult passages in Plato to Ficino.
  5. ^ Belloni, Gino; Fantoni, Marcello; Drusi, Riccardo (2007). Il Rinascimento italiano e l'Europa, Volume 2. Fondazione Cassamarca. p. 596. ISBN 978-88-89527-17-7. Demetrio Calcondila in un particolare dell'Apparizione dell'angelo a Zaccaria di Domenico Ghirlandaio, Firenze
  6. ^ a b Bisaha, Nancy (1997). Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks. Cornell University. p. 125. OCLC 44529765.
  7. ^ Petrucci, Armando (1973). "CALCONDILA (Calcocondila, Χαλκονδύλης Χαλκοκανδύλης), Demetrio". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). Vol. 16.
  8. ^ "Demetrius Chalcocondyles". Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Valeriano, Pierio; Gaisser, Julia Haig (1999). Pierio Valeriano on the ill fortune of learned men: a Renaissance humanist and his world. University of Michigan Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-472-11055-1.
  10. ^ Stanford University; Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections; Carolan, James M.; Watson, Robert (1984). Scholars, texts, traditions: the influence of classical antiquity in Western culture. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries. p. 31. OCLC 11666932.
  11. ^ Hulme, Edward Maslin (2004). The Renaissance, the Protestant Revolution and the Catholic Reformation in Continental Europe. Kessinger Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4179-4223-7.
  12. ^ a b Cubberley, Ellwood Patterson (2008). The History of Education Volume 1. BiblioBazaar, LLC. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-554-22523-4. Another Greek of importance was Demetrius Chalcocondyles of Athens (1424–1511), who reached Italy in 1447. In 1450 he became professor of Greek at Perugia.
  13. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chalcondyles, Laonicus s.v. Demetrios Chalcondyles" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 804.
  14. ^ Bisaha, Nancy (1997). Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks. Cornell University. p. 29. OCLC 44529765.
  15. ^ a b c Bisaha, Nancy (2006). Creating East and West: Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 113–115. ISBN 978-0-8122-1976-0.
  16. ^ Robin, Diana (2007). Robin, Diana; Larsen, Anne R.; Levin, Carole (eds.). Encyclopedia of women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 332–333. ISBN 978-1-85109-772-2.
  17. ^ "All Scholars: Chalkokondyles, Demetrius". Database of Classical Scholars. Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences.
  18. ^ Park, Katharine (2006). Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection. Zone Books. p. 300. ISBN 978-1-890951-67-2.
  19. ^ "Homer Editio Princeps". Chetham's Library. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  20. ^ Pache, Corinne Ondine, ed. (February 2020). "Homer in Renaissance Europe (1488‒1649)". The Cambridge Guide to Homer. Cambridge University Press. pp. 490–504. doi:10.1017/9781139225649. ISBN 9781139225649. S2CID 212932139.


  • Nancy Bisaha, Creating East and West: Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, pp. 113–15. ISBN 978-0-8122-1976-0
  • Deno J. Geanakoplos, "The discourse of Demetrius Chalcocondyles on the inauguration of Greek studies at the University of Padua", Studies in the Renaissance, 21 (1974), 118–44 and in Deno J. Geanakoplos, Interaction of the ‘Sibling’ Byzantine and Western Cultures in the Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance (330–1600), New Haven and London, 1976, pp. 296–304
  • Jonathan Harris, Greek Émigrés in the West, 1400–1520, Camberley: Porphyrogenitus, 1995. ISBN 978-1-871328-11-0
  • Robert Proctor, The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth-Century, London, 1930, pp. 66–9.
  • Fotis Vassileiou & Barbara Saribalidou, Short Biographical Lexicon of Byzantine Academics Immigrants to Western Europe, 2007.
  • N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy. Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance, London, 1992. ISBN 978-0-7156-2418-0

External linksEdit