John Italos



Famous Byzantine philosopher, disciple and successor of Michael Psellos at Constantinople’s School. He came from the province of Campania in southern Italy, where he was born, around 1025, by Norman father and a Greek mother. He received valuable education and philosophical education in Southern Italy, with particular emphasis on Aristotelianism. In about 1049 he went to Constantinople to pursue philosophical studies and learn about the land of his ancestors. Despite the imperfect knowledge of the Greek language, his presence in Constantinople was impressive, because fully apply the ideas and logic of Aristotelianism in a society with preferences in Platonism.

  John was impressed by the studies of Platonism and Neoplatonists and tried to their coupling, based on Aristotelian methodology and logic.

   After the sudden departure of Michael Psellos, in famous monastic center of Olympus in Bithynia, teaching of philosophy was assigned to John Italy, who won the high office of Consul of philosophers.

   His  teaching work, despite language difficulties, were positive, but the initiatives for a synthesis of Christianity with Platonism, based on Aristotelian logic, created serious problems in the circles of his monks students, because it led to a relativization of patristic tradition and the authority of the Church.

  His ideas recorded in the books, many of which have not survived, because Michael Kaspakis and other students complained publicly about the discount at heresy (1077). Relative procedure conciliar was initiated based on specific sites (capital) of his teaching. The conciliar process demonstrated the fallacies of (February- March 1083), their rebuttals recorded in specific conciliar positions, which were included in “Synodicon of Orthodoxy”. John condemned personally, but his validity reduced significantly, because forced to written statement of repentance for his positions. The overthrow of the established balance in relation Greek philosophy and Christian faith, as coded in the patristic tradition, it was not easy to Byzantium, because the authority of the church did not offer such possibilities.

   From the works of the Italian survived only few, because the condemnation of his positions in the Synod isn’t facilitating rescuing other systemic projects:

-         Expositiones in varias quas varii proposuerunt Quaestiones

-         Expositio Topicorum Aristotelis 

-         De Dialectica

-         Methodus Synoptica Rhetoricae

-         Epitome Aristotelis de Interpretatione

-         Orationes

     -  Synopsis quinque vocum Porphyrii


Other names - versions: 
Ἰωάννης ὁ Ἰταλός, John Italus, Johannes Italos, Ioannis Italos, Ioannes Italos
Date and Place of Birth: 
c. 1025 Southern Italy
Date and Place of Death: 
after 1082



C. Niarchos, «Κριτικές παρατηρήσεις του Ιωάννου του Ιταλού στην αριστοτελική θεωρία για τη φύση», (Critical comments of John the Italian in Aristotelian theory of nature) Parnassos 24   (1982) 10-40. 24 (1982) 10-4  

F. Lauritzen, "Psello discepolo di Stetato", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 101.2 (2008) 715-72.

  J. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Chigago 1977. 

K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur von Justinian bis zum Ende des oströmischen Reiches, 527-1453, Munchen 1897.

L. Clucas, The Trial of John Italos and the Crisis of Intellectual Values in Byzantium in the Eleventh Century, Michigan 1981.

    M.Angold, Church and society in Byzantium under the Comneni, 1081-1261,  Cambridge    2000.

    P. E Stephanou, Jean Italos, philosophe et humaniste, Rome 1949.