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Greeks in Italy
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Ancient period > Greeks in Italy

The attention of Scholars, in the first instance, was chiefly directed towards tine classical languages and the languages of the Bible. The Greek scholars who were driven to the West by the Moslem occupation of Constantinople brought their language, in its best and most attractive form, to the Universities of Italy. In the Council of Florence, in 1438, more than one Italian divine, especially Ambrogio Traversari, was found capable of holding discussions with the Greek representatives in their native tongue. In like manner, the Jews and Moors, who were exiled from Spain by the harsh and impolitic measures of Ferdinand and Isabella, deposited through all the schools of Europe the seeds of a solid and critical knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic and their cognate languages. The fruits of their teaching may be discerned at a comparatively early period in the biblical studies of the time. Antonio de Lebrixa published, in 1481, a grammar of the Latin, Castilian and Hebrew languages : and I need only allude to the mature and various oriental learning which Cardinal Ximenes found ready to his hand, in the very first years of the sixteenth century, for the compilation of the Complutensian Polyglot. Although some of the scholars whom he engaged, as for instance, Demetrius Ducas, were Greeks; and others, as Alfonzo Zamora or Pablo Coronell, were converted Jews; yet, the names of Lopez de Zuniga, Nunez de Guzman, and Ver-gara are a sufficient evidence of the success with which the co-operation of native scholars was enlisted in the undertak- ing From this period the number of scholars eminent in the department of languages becomes so great, and the history of many among them presents so frequent points of resemblance, that it may conduce to the greater distinctness of the narrative to classify separately the most distinguished linguists of each among the principal nations.

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