Basilios Bessarion on George of Trebizond’s translation of Plato’s Laws


George of Trebizond
Basilios Bessarion

How to Cite

Semikolennykh, M. (2021). Basilios Bessarion on George of Trebizond’s translation of Plato’s Laws. The European Journal of Humour Research, 9(2), 74–91.


George of Trebizond (1395-1472) has spent a significant part of his life translating Greek books into Latin. The bulk of his translations is impressive: from Ptolemy’s Almagest to John Chrysostom’s homilies and works by Cyril of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Aristotle. He was quite an experienced translator, who had worked out an elaborated method explained in several writings. At the height of his career, George rather hastily translated Plato’s Laws. The haste and, probably, George’s bias against Plato and Platonism resulted in numerous inaccuracies of translation. Several years later, Basilios Bessarion closely scrutinized these faults in the fifth book of his In Calumniatorem Platonis, a comprehensive work aiming to refute the arguments set out in George of Trebizond’s anti-Platonic treatise Comparatio Philosophorum Aristotelis et Platonis. The paper analyses the use of such rhetorical devices as sarcasm and irony in Bessarion’s In Calumniatorem Platonis and especially in his commentary on George’s translation of Laws; it also aims to demonstrate how Bessarion turns George of Trebizond into a comic figure, thus compromising both the opponent and his interpretation of Plato’s doctrine.


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