one of the latest of the scholars and writers of the Byzantine empire, was a native, not of Athens, as some have erroneously supposed, but of Thessalonica; and on the capture of that city by the Turks (A. D. 1430), he fled into Italy.
He appears to have gone first to Mantua, where he studied the Latin tongue, under Victorinus of Feltre, who was then teaching at Mantua. In A. D. 1439 he was at the council of Florence ; and in 1440 he was at Sienna.
He afterwards settled at Ferrara, where he was appointed rector and professor of Greek in the Gymnasium on its establishment (which took place under duke Lionel, who occupied the duchy from 1441 to 1450); and, by his talents and reputation, attracted students thither from all parts of Italy. At Ferrara he composed his elements of grammar.
It has been said that before this appointment he was reduced to the greatest destitution; but this is doubtful, though he has himself recorded that he gained his subsistence at one time by transcribing books; and a copy of the Politica
of Aristotle and of the Iliad
of Homer, transcribed by him, were, a century since, and perhaps still are, extant at Venice.
In 1450 he was, with several other Greeks, invited to Rome by Pope Nicholas V., and was employed in translating the works of Greek authors into Latin.
After the death of Nicholas, Theodore went (A. D. 1456) to Naples, where he obtained an honourable appointment from the king, Alfonso the Magnanimous, to whose favour he was recommended by Panonnita, the king's secretary. On the death of Alfonso (A. D. 1458), he returned to Rome, where he remained, under the patronage of Cardinal Bessarion, by whose recommendation he was provided with a benefice in the southern part of the kingdom of Naples; according to some statements, in Apulia, according to others in the country of the Bruttii, i. e.
The benefice was itself small; and the fraud or carelessness of those who received the in come for him (as he continued to reside at Rome), made it still less. Disappointed in the hope of a reward for his literary labours (especially for his translations of Aristotle's De Historia Animalium
) from the Pope (Sixtus IV.), whose niggardly recompense he is said to have thrown indignantly into the Tiber, he retired (according to the account most commonly received) to his benefice, and there ended his days.
He was certainly buried there. Hody has, however, shown reason to doubt the truth of the story of his indignation at the Pope's niggardliness (although this niggardliness is made the subject of an indignant remonstrance by Melancthon, and of some bitter verses by Jul. Caes. Scaliger); and several authorities of the period in which he lived state that he died at Rome.
It is remarkable that the place of the death of a man so eminent should be thus doubtful. Melchior Adam (Vitae Germanor. Philosoph.,
ed. 3d, p. 7) states that Rudolphus Agricola heard him (A. D. 1476 or 1477) " Aristotelis scripta enarrantem ;" an obscure expression, but which, if founded in fact, shows that he must have at least paid a visit to Ferrara during or after his second residence at Rome. His death occurred A. D. 1478, when he must have been far advanced in years.
The ability and learning of Theodore Gaza received the highest praise in his own and the succeeding age. His accurate acquaintance with the Latin language, and his ready and elegant employment of it, made it doubtful whether his Latin versions of Greek writers or his Greek versions of Latin writers were the more excellent. Hody has collected the eulogies passed upon him in prose and verse by many scholars, including Politian, Erasmus, Xylander, Jul. Caes., and Jos. Scaliger, Melancthon, and Huet.
He was, however, severely criticised in his own day by Georgius Trapezuntius and his son Andreas.
He had incurred the enmity of George by making new Latin versions of writings which George had already translated ; and Politian, though elsewhere the eulogist of Theodore, charges him with having concealed the obligations which he owed to the versions of his predecessor.
His works are as follows :--
This Greek grammar was first printed by Aldus Manutius at Venice A. D. 1495
: it long enjoyed a high reputation, and was repeatedly reprinted, entire or in separate portions. A Latin version was also made of the first and second books by Erasmus, and of the other parts by others.
A treatise on the months of the Athenian calendar, first printed, with the grammar, by Aldus, as above.
This also has been repeatedly reprinted, either by itself, or with a Latin version by Perellus
; the version has also been separately printed
, and is inserted in the Thesaurus of Gronovius. (Vol. ix. col. 977-1016.)
Published with a Latin version by Allatius, in his Σύμμικτα. 8vo. Colon. Ag. 1653. vol. ii. p. 381, &c. A Latin version by Castalio had been previously published with the version of the History of Laonicus Chalcocondyles, by Clauserus. Fol. Basil, 1556, p. 181, &c.
printed in the Giornale de' Lett. d' Italia, vol. xix. p. 337, 12mo. Ven. 1714
; and in the Dissertazioni Vossiane of Apostolo Zeno, 4to. Ven. 1753, vol. ii. p. 139.
Some other letters of his are mentioned by Allatius, Contra Creygthon.
p. 18 ; and a Commentarius ad Statuas Philostrati
is noticed by Nic. Comnenus, Praenotion Mystagog.
He also took part in the controversy on the comparative merits of the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy; but his Contradictorius Liber ad Bessarionem, pro Aristotele, in Plethonem,
has never been printed. Some other unpublished writings of his are noticed by Fabricius.
Translations from Greek into Latin
His principal translations from Greek into Latin were as follows:--
In the preface he calls himself " Theodorus Graecus Thessalonicensis." Fol. Venet. 1476.
These translations have been frequently reprinted among the works of Aristotle, with or without the original.
This version was made under the pontificate of Nicholas V., and revised under that of Sixtus IV.; and was printed at Rome A. D. 1475.
The earliest edition mentioned by Fabricius is that of Venice. Fol. A. D. 1493.
and De Causis Plantarum Libri VI.
This version, prepared during the pontificate of Nicholas V., was first printed at Treviso, A. D. 1483. (Panzer, Annal. Typog.
vol. iii. p. 40.)
It has been repriced, with corrections, by Heinsius and Bodaeus.
The little book, Theophrasti de Suffructibus, Theodoro Gaza Interprete,
published by H. Sybold, at Strasburg, is merely a reprint of the last four books of the Historia Plantarum.
printed at Venice (fol. A. D. 1501); and often reprinted. Gaza, in his preface to this translation, rejects the common opinion, that it was the work of Alexander Aphrodisiensis, and ascribes it to some later writer; but he does not name Alexander Trallianus. [ALEXANDER APHRODISIENSIS].
Fabricius does not mention any earlier edition of this version than that of Cologne, A. D. 1524; but it was printed at Rome as early as 1487, in 4to., by Eucherius Silberus. (Panzer, Ann. Typ.
vol. ii. p. 491.)
This version is found in several of the editions of Chrysostom's works. In Fabricius there is a notice of some other unpublished translations by Gaza, as of the Aphorismi
of Hippocrates, and the Libri de Re Militari
of the emperor Maurice.
Translations from Latin into Greek
His versions from Latin into Greek were:--
These were both printed by Aldus Manutius at Venice, A. D. 1519.
A letter of Pope Nicholas V. to Constantine Palaeologus, the last emperor of Constantinople.
Both the original and the version are given in the Opuscula Aurea Theologica of Arcudius, 4to. Rome, A. D. 1630, and again A. D. 1670.
Hody, De Graecis Illustribus Linguae Graecae, &c. Instauratoribus.
8vo. Lond. 1742. C. F. Boerneri, De Doctis Hominibus Graecis.
8vo. Lips. 1750; Fabric. Bibl. Gr.
vol. x. pp. 388-395.