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Henricus Aristippus


Scientist and translator; d. Palermo, Sicily, after 1162. A secular clerk of Norman origin, he became master of the palace school in sicily and tutor to the future King William I. He was made archdeacon of Catania in 1156, and for a time in 1160 was the principal officer at William's court. After a short while, however, he lost favor and died in prison at Palermo. While royal ambassador to Constantinople in 1158, he brought back to Sicily Greek manuscripts, including a copy of the Almagest of ptolemy, from the library of Manuel I Comnenus. In 1156 he was the first to translate into Latin plato's Meno and Phaedo, hence his nickname Aristippus (cf. Meno 70b; Phaedo 59c). His interest in natural sciences led to a hazardous investigation of Mt. Etna and a translation of book four of aristotle's Meteorologica. He may also have translated Diogenes Laértius De clarorum philosophorum vitis and the Opuscula of gregory of nazianzus, but his work is not extant. His translations are in a distinguished Latin style, showing marked influence of rhetoric and a fondness for alliteration, asyndeton, and parallelism. He has left also some interesting notes on books and libraries in Sicily.

Bibliography: Corpus Platonicum medii aevi. Plato Latinus, v.1 Meno interprete Henrico Aristippo, ed. v. kordeuter and c. labowsky (London 1940), v.2 Phaedo, ed. l. minio-paluello (1950). c. h. haskins, Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science (2d ed. Cambridge, Mass. 1927) 159172. l. minio-paluello, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:234; Revue philosophique de Louvain 45 (1947) 206235.

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