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Encyclopedia > Constantine Lascaris

Constantine Lascaris (d. 1501), Greek scholar and grammarian, one of the promoters of the revival of Greek learning in Italy, was born at Constantinople.


He was a member of the noble Bithynian family, which had furnished three emperors of Nicaea during the 13th century. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, he took refuge first in Corfu and then in Italy, where Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan, appointed him Greek tutor to his daughter. Here was published his Grammatica Graeca, sive compendium octo orationis partium, remarkable as being the first book entirely in Greek issued from the printing press, in 1476.


After leaving Milan, Lascaris taught in Rome under the patronage of Johannes Bessarion, and in Naples, whither he had been summoned by Ferdinand I to deliver a course of lectures on Greece. Ultimately, on the invitation of the inhabitants, he settled in Messina, Sicily, where he continued to teach publicly until his death. Among his numerous pupils here was Pietro Bembo. Lascaris bequeathed his library of valuable manuscripts to the senate of Messina; the collection was afterwards carried to Spain and lodged in the Escorial.


The Grammatica, which has often been reprinted, is the only work of value produced by Lascaris. Some of his letters are given by J Iriarte in the Regiae Bibliothecae Matritensis codices Graeci manuscripti, i. (Madrid, 1769). His name was later known to readers in the romance of AF Villemain, Lascaris, ou les Grecs du quinzieme siècle (1825). See also JE Sandys, Hist. Class. Schol., ed. 2, vol. ii. (1908), pp. 76 foil.


This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.


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