emetrios Kydones was one of the most eminent scholars and one of the most talented and prolific writers of the Palaiologan era. He is also seen as a typical representative of a writer and thinker heralding the Western Renaissance. He was born in Thessalonike after 1320 and lived until 1397/8. From a very early age he started studying the classical writers, especially Plato and Demosthenes. Later, as "prime minister" (mesazon), of
John VI Kantakouzenos,
an office he held from 1347 to 1354 in Constantinople, he sought to find a teacher who could teach him Latin. Having acquired this knowledge, he translated the Summa contra gentiles and Summa theologiae of
as well as works of other Latin writers, and visited Italy several times. His admiration of Western thought at a time when the Latins were considered "barbarians" led to his involvement in the ecclesiastical and political conflicts of the period: he was in favour of the religious and intellectual rapprochement between Byzantium and the West and he was an opponent of the hesychast movement. Besides translations of Latin works, his writings include preambles to imperial
and the treatise On scorning death, which reflect a way of thinking which is one of the most original and meaningful of his time.
See also: Hesychasm