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Neophytos Rodinos

Neofytos Rodinos, a significant scholar and author of Hellenism during the 17th century, was born in the village of Potamiou in about 1579 and died in approximately 1660. So, let’s find out more about the life of Neofytos Rodinos:

1592-1599: He lived in Nicosia where he attended the school of Scholar Leontios Efstratiou.

1599-1602: He was a monk at the Sinai Monastery Branch (Metochi) of Agia Aekaterini in Chania, but possibly also at the Monastery itself, in Sinai. In fact, his stay at the Monastery is linked to the surname Sinai, with which he signed his works later on. Next, with the help of the Abbot of the Sinai Monastery in Chania Ioannis Mourtzinos, Rodinos went to Venice to become an assistant and student of Margunios. Apart from that he was also a student of Gabriel Seviros, from whom he learnt a lot about ecclesiastical order. In 1602, Margunios, who was both his teacher and protector, died and Rodinos edited the postmortem publication of his work before returning to Cyprus.

1603-1606: He founded a school in Cyprus to literate his compatriots who lived under Turkish occupation. However, his efforts were not successful and as a result he was disappointed and left his country once again. 

1606-1611: Next, he went to the island of Patmos and with the help of the Monastery Abbot, Nikiforos Chartofylakas, he returned to Italy after a short stay in Thrace to continue his studies at the college of Agios Athanasios in Rome (1607). In fact, it was there where he converted from being Orthodox to Catholic. In 1611, he completed his studies in Rome and went to Spain. 

1611-1655:  In 1611 he attended the University of Salamanca in Spain where he studied philosophy, while at the same time he worked at the University as a Greek Language teacher. He also toured around Spain and did research in libraries and monastery archives. Next, he travelled a lot and lived in many different places. Presented below are the places he visited and lived in:

  • France: For a long time he lived in the area of the Delfinato of Santo Spirito, near Lyon.   
  • Tours around southern Europe: During the tours he met several scholars, priests and men of wisdom.
  • Portugal:  He mainly lived in Coimbra and attended lessons at its historical university.
  • Poland, Greece and other Balkan areas:  The Latin Church, aiming to convert Orthodox Christians and others to Catholics, sent Rodinos to Poland, Greece and other Balkan areas. In Poland he was ordained a priest, while his contribution to the occupied by the Turks Greece was significant. In particular, as the Great Cyprus Encyclopedia states, he “mostly worked towards enlightening the subjected Greek rather than as a promoter of the Catholic religion, dreaming at the time of the liberation and this is what his teaching focused on. Therefore, his work was soon noticed by the Turks who started prosecuting him, ending up being arrested and sold as a slave”. However, after the intervention of the Democracy of Venice, he was released and sent back to Italy.
  • Naples, in the area of Cheimara: He settled in Naples and was appointed priest in the Greek Church and teacher at the primary school. The time when he lived in Naples is unknown, but what is known is that in 1630 he participated in a propaganda and enlightening expedition in the area of Cheimara, before returning to Naples in 1645.  
  • Epirus and Albania: For an unspecified duration he toured around Epirus and Albania to enlighten people. In fact, he tried to establish a school to contribute to the education of Greek children. He stayed in Ioannina, Cheimara and Pogoniatis. It was in Ioannina where he met his compatriot prelate, scholar and enlightener Ilarionas Kigalas, who later became Archbishop of Cyprus.  

1655-1660: In 1655, at a very old age, he was in Naples, while he spent the last years of his life in his home country, Cyprus, and more specifically at the Kykkos Monastery.

Enlightening Work for the subjected Greeks  

Regarding the Enlightening work of Rodinos, the Great Cyprus Encyclopedia states the following:

“The Enlightening work of Neofytos Rodinos in various areas of Greece has been so important that he was considered to be a pioneer and enlightened teacher. His efforts to promote education in Greece and Cyprus reveals his broadened perception, given the fact that he considered education as a necessary element for the future of the Greek nation. What is more, his love for his country, Cyprus, was so great that apart from visiting several places, he also did research and found manuscripts containing historical and ecclesiastical material related to Cyprus or people of Cypriot origin. After all, his most important work, a significant study at the time which was also important for the enlightening of his compatriots, is directly related to Cyprus. The title which Neofytos Rodinos gave to this work, which was written towards the end of his life, reveals his effort to inform his compatriots and generally every visitor that Cyprus had a bright history and that it was the home country of important people, therefore deserving something better than being occupied and wretched” (Great Cyprus Encyclopedia, Vol 2, p98-99).     

Literary work

An important aspect of the literary work of Neofytos Rodinos was that he wrote using the simple demotic language of his time, following his teacher Margunios.   

The works of Neofytos Rodinos are mainly divided in three categories namely ecclesiastical, translational and folk. Also preserved are some colophons by Rodinos which can be found at the Vatican’s Library.

 

Source:

Great Cyprus Encyclopedia, vol. 8, Philokypros Publications, 1988