BARBARO Ermolao (Hermolaus)——philologist, philosopher, thinker of the era of humanism, b. 1453, Venetian patrician, d. 1493 in Rome.

Barbaro studied at the University of Padua. He directed the chair of philosophy from 1475 to 1476 at the University of Padua and interpreted Aristotle’s ethical works. In 1484 he opened a private school in Venice. The school was renowned for continuing Aristotelian investigations. Barbaro belonged more to the philological-literary stream of humanism than to its purely philosophical stream. As a philologist he began with translations of Themistius and slowly broadened his field of interests to undertake the great project of translating the complete works of Aristotle, but he was able only to translate works on rhetoric and dialectic. His most important contribution is thought to be his polemics against “barbarian philosophers” and those who interpreted Aristotle without concern for correctness in style (especially the Arab Aristotelians and the scholastics). The true significance of his critical attitude is not limited to the requirements of proper literary form. We should see in his critical attitude also an awareness of the unity of philosophy and philology, where the literary style represents and rhetorical counterpart of semantic clarity and, at the same time, of theoretical content.

Editions of Barbaro’s works: De coelibatu, De officio legati (ed. crit. V. Branca, Fi 1969); Hermolai Barbari Castigationes Plinianae et in Pomponium Melam (ed. G. Bozzi, I–IV, Patavii 1973–1979); Filosofia eloquenza? Ermolao Barbaro, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (ed. F. Bausi, Na 1998).

Anna M. Zalewska

T. Stickney, De Hermalao Barbaro, vita atque ingenio, P 1903; C. Carbonara, Il secolo XV, Mi 1943 (passim); B. Nardi, Ermolao Barbaro traduttore di Temistio, Giornale critico della filosofia italiana (1948); P. Paschini, Tre illustri prelati del Rinascimento: Ermolao Barbaro, Adriano Castellesi, Giovanni Grimani, R 1957; V. Branca, Ermolao Barbaro e l’Umanesimo veneziano, in: Umanesimo europeo e Umanesimo veneziano, Fi 1964; Una famiglia veneziana nella storia: i Barbaro: atti del Convegno di studi in occasione del quinto centenario della morte dell’umanista Ermolao, Venezia 4–6 nov. 1993, Ve 1996; B. Figliuolo, Diplomatico e il trattista: Ermolao Barbaro ambasciatore della serenissima e il “De Officio legati”, Na 1999.

Anna M. Zalewska, Reet Otsason

<--Go back