Donati Graeci: Learning Greek in the Renaissance


The starting point generally acknowledged for the revival of Greek studies in the West is 1397, when the Byzantine Manuel Chrysoloras began to teach Greek in Florence. With his Erotemata, Chrysoloras gave to Westerners a tool to learn Greek; the search for the ideal Greek textbook, however, continued even after the publication of the best Byzantine-humanist grammars. The four Greek Donati edited in this book—“Latinate” Greek grammars, based on the Latin schoolbook entitled Ianua or Donatus—belong to the many pedagogical experiments documented in manuscripts. They attest to a tradition of Greek studies that probably originated in Venice and/or Crete: a tradition certainly inferior to the Florentine scholarship in quality and circulation, but still important in the cultural history of the Renaissance.

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Biographical Note

Federica Ciccolella, Dottorato (1991) in Classics, Università di Torino and Ph.D. (2004) in Classical Studies, Columbia University, is Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. She has published on Byzantine poetry (Cinque poeti bizantini, Alessandria 2000) and the reception of antiquity in the Renaissance.

Review Quotes

The book provides thorough and accurate accounts of a complex area in the history of comparative grammar. [...] this examination of a neglected strand of Renaiscance Greek pedagogy is an important contribution to its field. Paul Botly in Renaissance Quarterly 62-3 (2009)


All those interested in Renaissance studies, reception of antiquity, Byzantium and the West, pedagogy of the ancient languages as well as Greek and Latin grammar.

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