- Leo Allatius
Leo Allatius (Leone Allacci), (c.
1586- January 19, 1669) was an energetic Greek Catholic scholar and theologian.
Allatius was born in
Chiosaround 1586, a distinctly Eastern Orthodoxenvironment. His early years were passed in Calabriaand at Rome. A graduate of the Greek College of St. Athanasiusin Rome, he spent his career in Rome as teacher of Greek at the Greek college, and devoting himself to the study of classics and theology. He found a patron in Pope Gregory XV.
In 1622, after the capture of
Heidelbergby Tilly, when the Protestant Elector of BavariaFrederick V was supplanted by a Catholic one, the victorious elector Maximilian of Bavaria presented the splendid Palatinate library composed of 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts to Pope Gregory. Allacci supervised its transport by a caravan of 200 mules across the Alps to Rome, where it was incorporated in the Vatican library. All but 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts, which had been sent to Parisin 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VIIof 852 others in 1816, remain in the Vatican Library to this day.
Allacci became librarian to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, and
Pope Alexander VIIappointed him custodian of the Vatican Libraryin 1661, which post he held until his death.
His cultural background, embracing the Greek and Roman worlds, afforded him a unique view of the age-old question of union to heal the Great Schism. Better than any western scholar of his day he knew the religious, historical and artistic traditions of the Orthodox world, struggling under Ottoman domination. More passionately than any other 17th century theologian, he believed that familiarity with these traditions would enable the two churches to bridge their theological and ecclesiastical divide.
Thus in 1651, when he published the first printed edition of the works of
George Acropolites, the 13th century emissary of the Byzantine Emperorwho acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman pontiffand thus had become something of a celebrity, at least in the West, the Latin essay that formed the preface to this volume," De Georgiis eorumque Scriptis" gained fame itself as a learned plea for the commonalities between the two churches.
Allatius was a natural apologist for the Eastern communions in
Eastern Europe, convinced as he was in himself that in the acts of union neither reasons of faith nor of doctrine were fundamental to the succession of the bishops, only a transfer of jurisdictions, and he seems really to have believed that the "Latin faith" and the "Greek faith" were identical and that under "Roman obedience" they could still be Orthodox. So he argued in his contribution to the mid-17th century Uniatepamphlet "De Ecclesiae occidentalis atque orientalis perpetua consensione libri tres" ("The Western and Eastern Churches in perpetual Agreement, in Three Books") (Cologne, 1648). Such notions led to the final stipulations that the Eastern Churches were not to be merged with the Catholic Church but would retain their own hierarchical independence and traditional rituals.
Allatius was trained as a
physician. In 1645 he included the first methodical discussion of vampires, in "De Graecorum hodie quirundam opinationibus" ("On certain modern opinions among the Greeks"). In his later years he collected Greek and Syrian manuscripts to add to the late Pope Gregory XV's Eastern Library at the Vatican.
His "Drammaturgia" (Rome, 1666), a catalogue of Italian musical dramas produced up to that year, is indispensable for the early history of opera. A new edition, carried down to 1755, appeared at Venice in that year.
His works are listed by
Johann Albert Fabricius, in "Bibliotheca Graeca" (xi. 437), where they are divided into four classes:
*editions, translations and commentaries on ancient authors
*works relating to the dogmas and institutions of the Greek and Roman Churches
His manuscripts (about 150 volumes) and his voluminous scholarly correspondence are in the library of the Oratorians in Rome. The number of his unpublished writings is also very large; the majority of them are included in the manuscripts of the
Allatius died in
Romeon the 18th (or 19th) of January 1669.
Byzantine scholars in Renaissance
The main source of our knowledge of Allatius is the incomplete life by
Stephanus Gradi, "Leonis Allatii vita", published by Cardinal Mai, in "Nova Bibliotheca Patrum." A complete enumeration of his works is contained in E. Legrand, "Bibliographie hellenique du XVIième siècle" (Paris, 1895, iii. 435-471). The accounts of Konstantinos Sathasin "Neoellenvike filologia" (Athens, 1868), and of the pseudo-prince Demetrius Rhodokanakis, "Leonis Allatii Hellas" (Athens, 1872), are inaccurate and untrustworthy.
For a special account of his share in the foundation of the Vatican Library, see
Curzio Mazzi, "Leone Allacci e la Palatina di Heidelberg" (Bologna, 1893). The theological aspect of his works is best treated by the Assumptionist Father L. Petitin Alfred Vacant's "Dictionnaire de theologie" (Paris, 1900, cols. 830-833).
Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition
* [http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/gennadius/English/Allatius.htm American School of Classical Studies website:] biography of Allatius
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01317b.htm "Catholic Encyclopedia"] , 1908: Leon Allatius
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