Chalcondyles, Demetrius

, a native of Athens, of the fifteenth century, and the scholar of Theodore Gaza, was one of those Greeks who about the time of the taking of Constantinople went into the west. At the invitation of Lorenzo de Medici, he became professor of the Greek language at Florence in 1479; where he had for his rival Angelus Politianus, to whom Laurence had committed the tuition of one of his sons. After the death of Laurence, Chalcondyles was invited to Milan by Lewis Sfortia; which invitation he accepted, either because he was tired of contending with Politian, or because he was hurt with Politian’s acknowledged superiority in Latin learning. Such is the usually-received account, which rests only on the authority of Paul Jovius, who was always hostile to the character of Politian; but Mr. Roscoe in his life of Lorenzo has proved that the story is without foundation. At Milan, however, Chalcondyles taught Greek a long time with great reputation; and did not die before 1510, when there is reason to think he was above 80 years of age. Among the learned Greeks whom pope Nicolas V. sent to Rome to translate the Greek authors into Latin, Chalcondyles was one; from which we may collect, that he probably travelled into the west before the taking of Constantinople in 1453, since Nicolas died in 1455. He published a grammar, of which we shall presently take notice; and under his inspection and care was first published at Florence, in 1499, the Greek Lexicon of Suidas. Pierius Valerianus, in his book “De infelicitate literatorum,” says, that Chalcondyles, though a deserving man in his moral as well as literary character, led nevertheless a very unhappy life; and reckons perpetual banishment from his country among the chief of his misfortunes. Others have mentioned domestic evils that have attended him. The particulars of his life are very imperfectly given. Dr. Hody has probably collected all that now can be found, but he has merely given the notices from various authors, without attempting a regular narrative. Some have thought that he was at one time a printer, and that he printed the folio Homer of Florence, which goes by his name, and which was executed in 1488; but this report | no doubt arose from the care he took in correcting the press, as the printers’ names are given in that rare edition. The “domestic evils” above alluded to have a better foundation, as he was unhappy in his wife, whose chastity was suspected, and in his sons: Theophilus, the eldest, who taught Greek at Paris, was assassinated in the streets in a riotous squabble; and two others, Saleucus and Basil, both of promising talents, died young.

The “Erotema, sive Institutiones Grammaticoe,” of Demetrius Chalcondyles, is supposed to have been printed at Milan about the end of the fifteenth century. It is a quarto, of great rarity, without date. The second edition of this “Greek Grammar” is that of Paris, 1525, 4to. 1


Hodius de Græcis illustribus.—Fabric. Bibl. Græc.—Roscoe’s Lorenzo.— Moreri.—Saxii Onomasticon.