PILATUS, LEO, or LEONTIUS [LEONZIO PILATO] (d. 1366), one of the earliest promoters of Greek studies in western Europe, was a native of Thessalonica. According to Petrarch, he was a Calabrian, who posed as a Greek in Italy and as an Italian abroad. In 1360 he went to Florence at the invitation of Boccaccio, by whose influence he was appointed to a lectureship in Greek at the Studio, the first appointment of the kind in the west. After three years he accompanied Boccaccio to Venice on a visit to Petrarch, whom he had already met at Padua. Petrarch, disgusted with his manners and habits, despatched him to Constantinople to purchase MSS. of classical authors. Pilatus soon tired of his mission and, although Petrarch refused to receive him again, set sail for Venice. Just outside the Adriatic Gulf he was struck dead by lightning. His chief importance lies in his connexion with Petrarch and Boccaccio. He made a bald and almost word for word translation of Homer into Latin prose for Boccaccio, subsequently sent to Petrarch, who owed his introduction to the poet to Pilatus and was anxious to obtain a complete translation. Pilatus also furnished Boccaccio with the material for his genealogy of the gods, in which he made an ostentatious display of Greek learning.
See Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. 66; G. Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des dassischen Alterthums (1893); H. Hody, De Graecis illustribus (1742); G. Tiraboschi, Storia della letteratura italiana, v. 691.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)