Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/579

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led Cosmo de' Medici to found the Platonic Academy of Florence. Another fruit of his visit was the Latin translation of Plato by Marsilio Ficino (printed in 1482). Among the Greek teachers specially associated with Florence none, perhaps, is more worthy of a place next to Chrysoloras than John Argyropoulos, who held the Greek chair for fifteen years (1456-71), afterwards going to Rome, where one of his best pupils was Reuchlin. Somewhat later the Florentine professorship was held by Andronicus Callistus, who had Politian among his hearers. It was about 1447 that Demetrius Chalcondylas came from Constantinople to Rome. He obtained the chair of Greek at Perugia, where he taught with great success. Other names of high merit might be cited, but perhaps only one remains which is of quite the same rank as those above mentioned. John Lascaris, much of whose work as a teacher was done in Paris, was invited by Leo X to Rome, where he helped to promote Greek studies. After another visit to France, he died at Rome in 1535. These Greek restorers of Greek letters in the West were happy in the season of their labours. The temper of the age is reflected in Bruni's enthusiasm for Chrysoloras, and in the words which a young student at Perugia wrote concerning the lectures of Chalcondylas:-" A Greek has just come, and has begun to teach me with great diligence, while I listen to him with indescribable pleasure, because he is a Greek...It seems to me as if in him were mirrored the wisdom, the refined intelligence, and the elegance of those famous men of old."

Meanwhile the revival of Latin scholarship was following the course on which it had been started by Petrarch. Giovanni di Conversino da Ravenna, who had lived as a pupil in Petrarch's house, became the most eminent Latinist of his time. He was the earliest example of a teacher who went from city to city, communicating his own ardour to successive groups of students; but the chief scene of his labours was Padua, where he was professor of rhetoric from 1392 to about 1405. Among his pupils were two who were destined to become famous as humanist educators, Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino da Verona. Conversino's favourite author was Cicero, but he lectured also on the Roman poets. Though not distinguished as a writer, he contributed by his teaching to that zealous study of Latin style which was a characteristic feature of the Italian Renaissance.

The "imitation of the ancients" was more than a literary fashion or a pedantic exercise. It sprang from the desire of Italians, for whom Latin literature was being opened anew, to recover the tongue of their Roman ancestors,—that language, barbarised in the course of centuries, which bore witness to the ancient glories of the land in which they lived, and to the civilisation whose monuments were around them. Italy had many dialects, and Tuscan, even in the fifteenth century, had only a limited currency, while Latin was an universal language. Practical