John the Italian (2)

John The Italian (Italus, Ι᾿ταλός) (2), a Greek philosopher and heretic who flourished in the time of Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), escaped to Italy after the revolt of Maniaces against Constantine, and there prosecuted his preparatory studies. He finally returned again to Constantinople, and became a disciple of Michael Psellus the younger. His learning and ability attracted general attention, and the emperor Michael Ducas (1071-1078), finding himself in need of a man acquainted with the Italian provinces to influence them to a return to the Byzantine empire, selected John Italus for this purpose, and dispatched him to Dyrrachium. He, however, proved unfaithful to the trust, and, his intrigues having become public, was obliged to flee to Rome to avoid persecution. He was subsequently allowed to return to Constantinople, and there entered the monastery of Pega. When Psellus was banished in 1077, John was made first professor of philosophy (ὕπατος τών φιλοσόφων), and filled this place with great success. Yet he was better acquainted with logic and Aristotle's philosophy than with the other branches of science, and was but little versed in grammar and rhetoric. He was very passionate and hasty in argument, and sometimes even resorted to bodily violence, but he was, fortunately, prompt in acknowledging his errors. He expounded to his pupils Proclus, Plato, Jamblichus, Porphyrius, and Aristotle, but often in a manner quite inconsistent with the position of Christian orthodoxy. Alexius, soon after ascending the throne, caused Italus's doctrines to be examined, and summoned him before an ecclesiastical court. Notwithstanding the protection of the patriarch Eustratius, John Italus was obliged publicly to recant and anathematize eleven heretical opinions advanced in his lectures. Among other things, he was accused of "ridiculing image-worship." Continuing, however, to teach the same doctrines, he was anathematized by the Church, and, fearing persecution, he forsook the rostrum. It is said that in his later years he publicly renounced his errors. His principal works (all in MSS.) are, ῎Εκδοσις εἰς διάφορα ζητήματα; ῎Εκδοσις εἰς τὰ τοπικά; Περὶ διαλεκτικῆς; Μέθοδος ῥητορικῆς ἐκδοθεῖσα κατὰ σύνοψιν; some discourses, etc. See Anna Comnenus, Alexius, 5, 8, 9; Fabricius, Bibl. Groeca, 3, 213-217; 6, 131; 11, 646-652; Cave, Hist. Litt. 2, 154; Oudin, Comment. de Scriptoribus et Scriptis Eccles. 2, col. 760; Lambece, Commentar. de Biblioth. Coesar. 3, col. 411, edit. Kollar; Le Beau, Hist. du Bas-Empire, 81, 49; Hase, Notices d. Manuscripts, vol. 9. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gen. 26, 557.

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