Antonio de Ferraris

Antonio de Ferraris

A portrait of Antonio de Ferraris.
Born Antonio de Ferraris
Galatone, Apulia, Kingdom of Naples, Southern Italy
Died 1517
Lecce, Apulia, Kingdom of Naples
Occupation Humanist, Philosopher, Doctor, Academic,
Ethnicity Greek[1]
Literary movement Italian Renaissance

Antonio de Ferraris (Latin: Antonius de Ferraris, Greek: Ἀντώνιος Φεράρις; c. 1444 12 November 1517),[2] also known by his epithet Galateo (Latin: Galateus, Greek: Γαλάτειος), was an Italian scholar, academic, doctor and humanist.[1]


Antonius De Ferraris was born in 1444 in Galatone, located in Salento, in the province of Lecce (Apulia, in southern Italy) to a family of Greek descent.[1][2][3] Both his great-grandfather and grandfather were priests in the Eastern Orthodox Church and were fluent in both Greek and Latin literature.[4] His father was also fluent in both Greek and Latin. His family was part of the historical Greek community of Southern Italy. He later wrote of his pride to be descended from Greek ancestors[1] and priests and of the Greek traditions of his province[5] proclaiming: "We are not ashamed of our race, Greeks we are, and we glory in it"[6][7]

He was commonly called “il Galateo", an epithet he took from the city of his origin Galatone. He used the nickname in almost every document, and the name was also inherited by his children and grandchildren, it ultimately replaced his original family name of “De Ferraris”.

After receiving his education from a maternal uncle who was abbot of the monastery of St. Nicola Pergoleto, Galateus was sent to study in the Gymnasium of Nardò, a center of theological culture where also taught the humanities. Here he learned Greek and Latin texts, and hereinafter guidelines on philosophical and medical matters which came to characterize his cultural journey.

At sixteen he went to Naples on Etiquette for the first time, in order to pursue studies in medicine and philosophy and then to practice as a doctor. In the following years he returned to Naples several times, and received medical training, and studies of humanism from some of the leading cultural representatives including Antonio Beccadelli, Giovanni Pontano and Giacomo Sannazaro.

Galateus first approached to the cultural environments of Catalan-Aragonese Naples in the 1460s and by 1471 was part of the Accademia Pontaniana, and during that period he became friends with the Venetian humanist Ermolao Barbaro. This student shared fully the method of investigation, the distrust of the sterile disputes of philosophers over the Alps, and he argued the need to read the classics in bare text, without the use of exegetical apparatus.

A print engraving of Antonio Ferrari Galateo.

On August 3, 1474 Galateus received his “Privilegium artibus et medicine” under the guidance of Girolamo Castelli in the Studio of Ferrara. Following this Galateus alternated his residence more or less between Naples, Gallipoli and Lecce. In the decade of 1470-1480 Galateus lived more permanently in Salento, where in 1478 he married Maria Lubelli dei baroni of Sanarica and together they had five children, Antonino, Betta, Galieno, Lucrezia and Francesca. In 1480-81, during the Ottoman invasion of Otranto, Lecce, Galateus took refuge in the countryside and spent long periods in the villa he had purchased near Trepuzzi where he could concentrate on his study and contemplation. Galateus observed how the inhabitants of Kallipoli (Gallipoli in Apulia) as still conversing in their original Greek mother tongue, he indicated that the Greek classical tradition had remained alive in this region of Italy and that the population is probably of Lacedaemonian (Spartan) stock.[5]

In 1490 he once again returned to Naples at the invitation of King Ferdinand of Aragon, who offered him a job as a court doctor, there he associated with Giovanni Pontano. It was during this time that the French invaded under king Charles VIII. The fall of the Catalan-Aragonese dynasty followed and King Ferdinand of Aragon, a friend of Galatues was exiled, accusations of malice were made against him thus motivating Galatues to farewell the Neapolitan academics and return permanently to Salento.

Galateus tried to revive him education lessons in the Accademia lupiensis in Lecce or Bari in the small court of Isabella of Aragon, daughter of Alfonso II of Naples, there he exchanged letters in later years with the latest generation of academics including Belisario Acquaviva, Pietro Summonte, Crisostomo.

In 1510 Galateus visited Pope Julius II, in Rome with a manuscript copy of the donation Constantine extracted from the library of San Nicola di Casole in Otranto. Galateus returned to Salento for the final time where he spent his last years between Gallipoli and Lecce. And in Lecce, in his home indicated epigraph “Apollini Aesculapio et Musis”. Antonio died in Lecce in his native province of Otranto on November 12, 1517.

Literary works

The most important of de Ferraris' works is the De situ Japigiae, written between 1506 and 1511 but first printed in 1558 in Basel at the expense of the Marquis of Oria Giovan Bernardino Bonifacio. Reprinted in Naples in 1624, it amended some critical steps toward the Catholic Church hierarchy. Other editions and translations into various languages followed.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Golino, Carlo Luigi; University of California, Los Angeles. Dept. of Italian; Dante Alighieri Society of Los Angeles; University of Massachusetts Boston (1989). Italian quarterly, Volume 30. Italian quarterly. p. 5. OCLC 1754054. (Antonio de Ferrariis detto Galateo) He was born in Galatone in 1448 and was himself of Greek extraction - a fact that he always brought to light with singular pride.
  2. 1 2 Zappala, Michael O. (1990). Lucian of Samosata in the Two Hesperias: an essay in literary and cultural translation. Scripta Humanistica. p. 74. ISBN 0-916379-71-X. Antonio De Ferrariis (II Galateo) and "Eremita" By virtue of his Italo-Greek background and his connections with the Spanish court. Antonio de Ferraris (1444 - 1517) is a particularly interesting figure.
  3. Maunder, Samuel (1842). The biographical treasury: a dictionary of universal biography. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans. p. 307. OCLC 6562236. GALATEO, Antonio, a learned physician, was descended from a Greek family, and born, in 1444, at Galatino, in the territory of Otranto. He was appointed physician to the king of Naples, and died at Lecce, in his native province, in 1516.
  4. Rabil, Albert (1991). Knowledge, goodness, and power: the debate over nobility among quattrocento Italian humanists. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies. p. 316. ISBN 0-86698-100-4. Antonio de Ferrariis, called Galateo, was born at Galatone (Lecce) in Terra d'Otranto (on the extreme southeast coast of Italy).1 He was descended, as he says in both of the two letters translated here, from a great-grandfather and a grandfather who were Greek Orthodox priests and learned in both Greek and Latin literature and from a father who also knew both Greek and Latin.
  5. 1 2 Rawson, Elizabeth (1991). The Spartan tradition in European thought. Oxford University Press. p. 174. ISBN 0-19-814733-3. Antonio de Ferraris, known as Il Galateo, spent his last years in the little Apulian town of Gallipoli, not far from what every reader of Latin poetry knew as “Lacedaemonian’ Tarentum, now Taranto. Il Galateo was a humanist, proud of the Greek traditions of his province and his own family. In the endearing description he gives of his life at Gallipoli he claims to feel himself there in Sparta or Plato’s Republic: ‘sentio enim hic aliquid Graecanicum.’…After all, he reflects, the population is probably of Lacedaemonian stock.
  6. Smith, George (1881). The Cornhill magazine, Volume 44. Smith, Elder. p. 726. We are not ashamed of our race, Greeks we are, and we glory in it," wrote De Ferraris, a Greek born at Galatone in 1444, and the words would be warmly endorsed by the enlightened citizens of Bova and Ammendolea, who quarrel as to which of the two places gave birth to Praxiteles.
  7. Martinengo-Cesaresco, Countess Evelyn (2006). Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs. Kessinger Publishing. p. 154. ISBN 1-4286-2639-5. The Greeks of Southern Italy have always had their share of a like feeling. "We are not ashamed of our race, Greeks we are and we glory in it," wrote De Ferraris, a Greek born at Galatone in 1444

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