The Ancient Library

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ferred on him (Dec. 1439) a cardinal's hat. This honour, following so close upon his embracing the side of the Latins, and the fact that the pope had previously granted him an annuity, gave colour to the report that his change had not been wholly disinterested. Hody rejects the story of his elec­tion to the patriarchate, but his arguments are not convincing: the facts urged by him only show that the patriarchate was vacant at the dissolution of the council, which it would be in consequence of Bes-sarion's declining it.

From this time he resided ordinarily at Rome, where his house became the resort and asylum of men of letters. Filelfo (Philelphus), Poggio Fio-rentino, Lorenzo or Laurentius Valla, Platina, and others, were among his intimate friends, and he was the patron of the Greek exiles, Theodore Gaza, George of Trebizond, Argyropulus, and others. In A. d. 1449 he was appointed by Nicolas V. bishop of Savina, and shortly after­wards of Frascati, the ancient Tusculum. About the same time he was appointed legate of Bo­logna : he retained this office about five years, and succeeded, by his prudence and moderation, in re­storing the tranquillity of the district. He exerted himself also to revive the former splendour of the university, which had much decayed. On the death of Nicolas V. (a.d. 1455), he returned to Rome, to the great grief of the Bolognese ; and would probably have been chosen to the vacant papacy but for jealousy of his Greek origin enter­tained by a few of the cardinals. Cardinal Alfonso Borgia was therefore chosen, and assumed the name of Callistus or Calixtus III. During the papacy of Callistus, and of his successor, Pius II., Bessarion was very earnest in rousing the princes and states of Italy to defend what remained of the Greek empire after the fall of Constantinople. He visited Naples, where he was honourably received by the king, Alfonso; and attended the congress of Mantua, held A. d. 1458 or 1459, soon after the election of pope Pius II., for the purpose of forming a league against the Turks. He shortly after visited Germany as papal legate, to unite, if pos­sible, the Germans and Hungarians in a league against the same enemy; but his efforts on all these occasions failed of their purpose, and he returned to Rome before the end of 1461. In 1463 he was appointed by the pope bishop of Chalcis, in Negro-ponte (Euboea), and soon after titular patriarch of Constantinople, in which character he addressed an encyclical letter to the clergy of his patriarchate, in which he exhorted them to union with the Latin church, and submission to the papal authority. It is remarkable that in this letter, according to the version of Arcudio, he styled himself " oecumenical patriarch," notwithstanding the umbrage which that ambitious title had formerly given (See Nos. 27, 28, joannes cappadox, 1, 2) to the Roman see, under subjection to which he was now living. During the pontificate of Pius he was made dean of the College of Cardinals. In the same year, 1463, Bessarion was sent as legate to Venice, to prevail on the Venetians to unite in a league with the pope against the Turks. His efforts on this bccasion were successful, and he induced the Vene­tians to fit out a fleet, in which he returned to Ancona, just in time to attend the dying bed of the pope, Pius II., and the election of his successor, Paul II., a.d. 1464. During the papacy of the latter (1464—1471) Bessarion mingled little in


public affairs, and devoted himself to literary pur* suits. About the end of 1468 he took part in the solemn reception of the emperor Frederic III. at Rome.

On the death of Paul II., A. d. 1471, Bessarion was again near being elected pope, but jealousy or accident prevented it, and Francesco della Rovere was chosen, and took the title of Sixtus IV. Six-tus, anxious to remove Bessarion from Rome, en­trusted to him the legation to Louis XI. of France, that he might effect a^ reconciliation between Louis and the Duke of Burgundy, and induce them to join the league against the Turks. Bessarion, who was now far advanced in age, and afflicted with a disease of the bladder, was anxious to decline the appointment, but the pope was pressing; and early in the spring of 1472 he set out for the Nether­lands, to confer with the Duke of Burgundy. His making the first application to the Duke excited the jealousy of Louis, and Bessarion failed in his ob­ject. Bessarion died at Ravenna 18th Nov. 1472, in the 77th year of his age, on his return from France. His body was conveyed to Rome, and buried there in a tomb which he had prepared in his lifetime, in a chapel of the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, the pope himself attending his funeral obsequies. The year of Bessarion's death has been variously stated, but the date given above is correct.

Bessarion was held in great respect by his con­temporaries, and deservedly so. With the excep­tion of his opportune conversion at Florence, in which, after all, nothing can be urged against him but the suspiciousness which attaches to every con­version occurring at a convenient time, his career was exempt from reproach. He supported, by every exertion that his position allowed, the cause of his falling country, and was a generous patron to his exiled fellow-countrymen. His literary labours and his important services in the revival of clas­sical literature, entitle him to the gratitude of sub­sequent ages. His valuable library he gave in his lifetime (a.d. 1468) to the library of St. Mark, belonging to the republic of Venice; and it was deposited first in the ducal palace, and then in a building erected for the library, of which the Latin and Greek MSS. of Bessarion are among the most precious treasures.

The works of Bessarion are numerous: they comprehend original works and translations from Greek into Latin. Of the original works several exist only in MS. in various libraries, especially in that of St. Mark at Venice. We give only his published works: the others are enumerated by Bandini, Hody, Cave, and Fabricius. I. theolo­gical works: 1. Aoyos, Sermo; a discourse in honour of the Council of Ferrara, delivered at the opening of the council, A. d. 1438, and printed in the Concilia (vol. xiii. col. 35, &c., ed. Labbe ; vol. ix. col. 27, ed. Hardouin ; vol. 31, col. 495, &c., ed. Mansi). 2. Aoy^ariKos $ irfpl evc&fftws Aoyoy, Oratio Dogmatica, sive de Unione; called also De Compunctione (Panzer, vol. viii. p. 271) ; delivered at the same council (col. 391,&c., Labbe ; col. 983, &c., Mansi). 3. Declaratio aliquorum quae in dicta, Oratione Dogmatica continentur, quae Graecis no-tissima, Latinis ignoia sunt, written in Latin and subjoined to the preceding oration. 4. AdAlexium Lascarim Epistola, de Successu Synodi Florentinae et de Processione Spiritus Sancti. The Greek original, with two Latin versions, one by Bessarion himself, and one by Pietro Arcudio, was published

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