Famous Italian humanist and collector of Greek manuscripts (1369-1459)
Aurispa, GIOVANNI, a famous Italian humanist and collector of Greek manuscripts, b. about 1369 at Noto, in Sicily; d. at Ferrara in 1459. It is not known where he first studied. In 1418 he went to Constantinople to learn Greek and to collect codices. So industrious was he that he was accused to the Greek emperor of despoiling the city of books. He returned to Venice in 1423 with 238 volumes of classical authors, purchased at Constantinople. Among his treasures were the celebrated “Codex Laurentianus” (seven plays of Sophocles, six of .Eschylus, Apollonius’s “Argonautica”) of the tenth century, the Iliad, Demosthenes, Plato, Xenophon, etc. The next year Aurispa went to Bologna, where he became professor of Greek at the university. As a teacher he was not very successful. Thence he was invited to Florence, where he also held the chair of Greek. Later he went to Ferrara. In 1441 he was appointed secretary to Pope Eugene IV. Six years later Pope Nicholas V reappointed him to the same post. Besides being a tireless collector of manuscripts, Aurispa was a poet of some merit. His published works include letters, epigrams, and an elegy.