Barlaam of Calabria

   Monk, theologian, and chief opponent of Hesychasm (q.v.). Barlaam was a Greek from Calabria (q.v.) who taught in Constantinople (q.v.) and who had friends in high places. These included John Kantakouzenos, and Andronikos III (qq.v.), who sent him on a mission to the Avignon papacy in 1339 where he explained the Byzantine position on the union of the churches (q.v.). His sarcastic attacks on the Hesychast monks of Mount Athos (q.v.) as being superstitious drew a response from Gregory Palamas (q.v.), who engaged in a protracted theological argument with him. In 1341 Barlaam was condemned at a council in Hagia Sophia (q.v.), after which he returned to Italy. There, he taught Leontius Pilatus, who played an important role in the early phase of the Italian Renaissance. (Pilatus translated the Odyssey of Homer [q.v.] into Latin.) At Avignon, Barlaam met the great Italian humanist Petrarch, and he tried, rather unsuccessfully, to teach him Greek. Boccaccio, in his Genealogy of the Gods, refers to Barlaam as a man small in stature but enormous in breadth of knowledge.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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