1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gaza, Theodorus
GAZA, THEODORUS (c. 1400–1475) , one of the Greek scholars who were the leaders of the revival of learning in the 15th century, was born at Thessalonica. On the capture of his native city by the Turks in 1430 he fled to Italy. During a three years' residence in Mantua he rapidly acquired a competent knowledge of Latin under the teaching of Vittorino da Feltre, supporting himself meanwhile by' giving lessons in Greek, and by copying manuscripts of the ancient classics. In 1447 he became professor of Greek in the newly founded university of Ferrara, to which students in great numbers from all parts of Italy were soon attracted by his fame as a teacher. He had taker some part in the councils which were held in Siena (1423), Ferrara (1438), and Florence (1439), with the object of bringing about a reconciliation between the Greek and Latin Churches; and in 1450, at the invitation of Pope Nicholas V., he went to Rome, where he was for some years employed by his patron in making Latin translations from Aristotle and other Greek authors. After the death of Nicholas (1455), being unable to make a living at Rome, Gaza removed to Naples, where he enjoyed the patronage of Alphonso the Magnanimous for two years (1456–1458). Shortly afterwards he was appointed by Cardinal Bessarion to a benefice in Calabria, where the later years of his life were spent, and where he died about 1475. Gaza stood high in the opinion of most of his learned contemporaries but still higher in that of the scholars of the succeeding generation. His Greek grammar (in four books), written in Greek, first printed at Venice in 1495, and afterwards partially translated by Erasmus in 1521, although in many respects defective, especially in its syntax; was for a long time the leading text-book. His translations into Latin were very numerous, including the Problemata, De partibus animalium and De generatione animalium of Aristotle; the Historia plantarum of Theophrastus; the Problemata of Alexander Aphrodisias; the De instruendis aciebus of Aelian; the De compositione verborum of Dionysius of Halicarnassus; and some of the Homilies of John Chrysostom. He also turned into Greek Cicero's De senectute and Somnium Scipionis—with much success, in the opinion of Erasmus; with more elegance than exactitude, according to the colder judgment of modern scholars. He was the author also of two small treatises entitled De meniscus and De origine Turcarum.
See G. Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des klassischen Altertums (1893), and article by C. F. Bähr in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklopädie. For a complete list of his works, see Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca (ed. Harles), x.
- According to Voigt, Gaza came to Italy some ten years later from Constantinople, where he had been a teacher or held some clerical office.