Philosopher, Theologist, Scholar, Teacher of the Greek Nation (1716 – 1806)
Evgenios Voulgaris was one of the greatest Teachers of the Greek Nation. He was one of the pioneers of the Greek Enlightenment movement, a polyglot and polymath who played a pivotal role in the dissemination of the sciences from the West back to Greece and struggled for the awakening of the subjugated Greek Nation. His actions, together with the rest of the Teachers of the Greek Nation, led to the events of the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
He originated from Corfu. Among his first teachers was Methodios Anthrakites, who influenced him significantly during his life. He continued his studies in Padua where he became acquainted with the works of ancient Greek and modern philosophers, such as John Locke and Gottfried von Leibnitz. In addition, he studied Greek, Latin and theology. By the end of his studies, Voulgaris spoke 10 different languages: Greek, Latin, Italian, German, French, Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, Russian and Chaldean.
In 1742 he returned to Greece where he became headmaster of the School of Maroutsis Bros in Ioannina. There, he taught philosophy, mathematics, geometry, logic, physics, cosmology and theology from his own textbooks, influenced by the Western European philosophy. He introduced the works of John Locke and Voltaire to Greece based on his own translations of their work. He continued his pedagogic work as headmaster in the School of Kozani and in the Athonite Ecclesiastical School, where he attracted hundreds of students, some of the most notable ones being St. Cosmas of Aetolia, Sergios Macraios and Josephus Mοisiodax. In 1761, he was called up by the Patriarchy of Constantinople, where he taught philosophy and mathematics in the Patriarchic School and was later appointed palatine.
Later, he settled in Leipzig, Germany for 8 years, where he published his original treatises on theology and philosophy. He befriended Catherine the Great and with her help, they published pamphlets to reawaken the Greeks during the Orlov Revolt. Voulgaris was appointed librarian of the Library of St. Petersburg, member of the Academy of St. Petersburg and Archbishop of Kherson.
Evgenios Voulgaris was a multifarious personality and represented one of the greatest intellectuals of Greece of his era. Philosopher, pedagogue and theologist, with profound knowledge in the natural sciences, he was recognized as a sage both inside and outside of Greece. He combated religious superstition and preached for freedom of religion. His massive bibliography includes valuable books on logic, mathematics, metaphysics, philosophy, ethics, music and Homer. Except these, he translated important works of European philosophers and poets, most notably Vergil’s Aeneid.
Like most representatives of the Greek Enlightenment, Voulgaris faced great opposition from the Church. He was accused of introducing dangerous ideas from the West, which forced him to constantly change schools. Nevertheless, his impact on the subjugated Greeks was enormous. He died at the age of 90, having opened the way to the Greek Enlightenment and the spiritual renaissance of the Greek Nation.
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- “Evgenios Voulgaris”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
- Papathanasopoulos, Georgios. Ευγένιος Βούλγαρης: Μέγας Διδάσκαλος του Γένους. Ινφογνώμων Πολιτικά. Infognomonpolitics.blogspot.bg. Web. November 16, 2016. Retrieved on March 30, 2017.