While Greek and Latin were strictly differentiated, at the level of the elite a degree of assimilation and acculturation occurred. Greek increasingly became the language of literature and social intercourse at Levantine courts. At a dynastic level the imperial family of Palaiologos was connected by marriage to the Lusignans of Cyprus and the Gattelusio of Mytilene. In Epiros the Orsini and Tocco were entwined in a bewildering way with local families as well as with the Palaiologoi. The ties of kinship ensured Byzantine aristocrats of a warm welcome at these courts. The best-documented example is that of John Laskaris Kalopheros. Disgraced by John V Palaiologos he sought service with Peter I of Cyprus (1359-69) who rewarded him with a rich Latin heiress. Such favouritism earned the king the hatred of the Cypriot nobles. After his assassination in 1369 their anger turned against his intimates. John Kalopheros was obliged to leave Cyprus, but it was not long before he married another Latin heiress. He also acquired both Genoese and Venetian citizenship. Though he never returned to Constantinople, he maintained his contacts among the Byzantine elite. The ease with which he moved about the Mediterranean reflects the creation of a Levantine society to which many Byzantines gravitated, even if the price was conversion to Rome.43

Among these was Demetrios Kydones. Resentful at the failure of his unionist policies he requested that he be allowed to visit Rome to pursue his studies and to perfect his Latin. This was refused, and initially he had to decline Gattelusio hospitality on the island of Mytilene. This did not prevent Kydones devoting his retirement to his studies and to the cultivation of a circle of disciples. Some of the most distinguished ofthe next generation of Byzantine scholars - Maximos Chrysoberges, Manuel Chrysoloras and Manuel Kalekas - claimed him as their teacher. They followed their master on the path to Rome. There was no question of Kydones having any formal teaching post. His students were at least in their twenties, sometimes older. In typical Byzantine fashion Kydones was regarded as a sage and attracted those interested in the wisdom he offered. That wisdom consisted in initiation into Latin scholasticism through the study of his translations of the works of Thomas Aquinas. Kydones was passionate in his devotion to Aquinas, whom he considered Plato's intellectual equal, but with the advantage that he did not have to express his thought through myths. He jested that, if Plato had had the good fortune to peruse the works of Aquinas, he would have preferred the Christian Church to the Academy. He

43 D. Jacoby, 'Jean Lascaris Calophéros, Chypre et la Morée', REB 26 (1968), 189-228; A. K. Eszer, Das abenteuerliche Leben des Johannes Laskaris Kalopheros: Forschungen zur Geschichte des ost-westlichenBeziehungenim i4.Jh.(Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1969); R.-J. Loenertz, 'Pour la biographie de Jean Lascaris Calophéros', REB 28 (1970), 129-39.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment