Ambrogio, Theseus

, a learned Italian orientalist, was born in 1469, a descendant of the noble family of the counts of Albanese. At fifteen months he is said to have spoken his native language with facility, | and at fifteen years, to have spoken and written Greek and Latin with a promptitude equal to the best scholars of his time. He entered young into the order of regular canons of St. John of Lateran, but did not come to Rome until 1512, at the opening of the fifth session of the Lateran council. The great number of ecclesiastics from Syria, Ethiopia, and other parts of the East, who attended that council, afforded him an opportunity of prosecuting his studies with advantage: and at the request of the cardinal Santa Croce, he was employed as the person best qualified to translate from the Chaldean into Latin the liturgy of the eastern clergy, previously to the use of it being expressly sanctioned by the pope. After having been employed by Leo X. for two years in giving instructions in Latin to the subdeacon Elias, a legate from Syria to the council, whom the pope wished to retain in his court, and from whom Ambrogio received in return instructions in the Syrian tongue, he was appointed by the pontiff to a professor’s chair in the university of Bologna, where he delivered instructions in the Syriac and Chaldaic languages for the first time that they had been publicly taught in Italy. He is said to have understood no less than eighteen languages, many of which he spoke with the ease and fluency of a native; but from the letter quoted by Mazzuchelli, it appears more probable that he was master of at least ten languages, and understood many others partially. In the commotions which devastated Italy after the death of Leo X. he was despoiled in 1527 of the numerous and valuable eastern manuscripts, Chaldean, Hebrew, and Greek, which he had collected by the industry of many years, and of the types and apparatus which he had prepared for an edition of the Psalter in the Chaldean, accompanied with a dissertation on that language. He afterwards, however, came to Venice, in the prosecution of this object; and, in 15.39, published at Pavia, his “Introduction to the Chaldean, Syrian, Armenian, and ten other tongues, with the alphabetical characters of about forty different languages,” 4to, which is considered by the Italians themselves as the earliest attempt made in Italy towards a systematic acquaintance with the literature of the East. He died the year following. 1


Biog, Universelle. Roscoc’s Leo.