Gregory Palamas 1363

This stuff blows my mind.

Gregory Palamas (1296–135), spelled Γρηγόριος Παλαμάς in greek, was a monk on Mount Athos, a place I’ve visited with my father two times. It is a beautiful peninsula in northern Greece, scattered with old monasteries, the entire half-island being the sole domain of men.

Simonopetra, Mount Athos.
Simonopetra, Mount Athos.

Palamas eventually became the Archbishop of Thessaloniki, which is a city I incidentally happened to live in from 1995-1996. Below is a picture of Gregory Palamas, in the form of an icon.

Gregorio Palamas
Gregorio Palamas

In his early youth, My father (Georgios Kefaloukos) was also a monk on Mount Athos. There he learned the art of icon painting, and could have painted one of Palamas, although I don’t think he did. Below is a picture of my father taken on Mount Athos.

My Father, Georgios Kefaloukos on Mount Athos.
My Father on Mount Athos in 1966

When I first heard about the Math in Genealogy project, I was thrilled to find out that a Gregory Palamas, who lived long ago and was the Archbishop of Thessaloniki, apparently had a transitive relationship with people in science through an unbroken chain of mentoring (112861 “descendants” in total). I became curious, and wanted to find out which famous people he might be connected to.

While Palamas was the Archbishop of Thessaloniki he mentored Nilos Kabasilas (1298-1363), who later replaced him as Archbishop. Nilos in turn mentored Demetrios Kydones (1333-1397) and this lineage of mentoring continues in an unbroken line, through many scholars and countries, until we eventually arrive in Germany and at the famous mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauß in 1799.

Gauß himself mentored a few students, one of whom was Christian Ludwig Gerling (1788-1864), who went on to mentor Julius Plücker (1801-1868) and so forth. Again the chain of mentoring continues until we reach Marcos Vaz Salles, a Brazilian Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen, which is the city I was born in… And here comes the surprising part, for me at least, because Marcos is now mentoring me, together with Professor Martin Zachariasen!

An unbroken line of guys mentoring guys:

  1. Gregory Palamas
  2. Nilos Kabasilas, 1363
  3. Demetrios Kydones
  4. Manuel Chrysoloras
  5. Guarino da Verona, 1408
  6. Vittorino da Feltre, Università di Padova, 1416
  7. Ognibene (Omnibonus Leonicenus) Bonisoli da Lonigo, Università di Mantova
  8. Niccolò Leoniceno, Medicinae Dr., Università di Padova, 1453
  9. Antonio Musa Brasavola, Medicinae Dr., Università degli Studi di Ferrara, 1520
  10. Gabriele Falloppio, Medicinae Dr., Università di Padova / Università degli Studi di Ferrara, 1547
  11. Hieronymus (Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente) Fabricius, Medicinae Dr., Università di Padova, 1559
  12. Adriaan van den Spieghel, Medicinae Dr., Université Catholique de Louvain / Università di Padova, 1603
  13. Adolph Vorstius, Philosophiae Dr., Medicinae Dr., Universiteit Leiden / Università di Padova, 1619, 1622
  14. Franciscus de le Boë Sylvius, Medicinae Dr., Universiteit Leiden / Universität Basel, 1634, 1637
  15. Rudolf Wilhelm Krause, Medicinae Dr., Universiteit Leiden, 1671
  16. Simon Paul Hilscher, Medicinae Dr., Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, 1704
  17. Johann Andreas Segner, Magister artium, Medicinae Dr. Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, 1726, 1734
  18. Johann Georg Büsch, Magister, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 1752
  19. Johann Elert Bode, Handelsakademie Hamburg
  20. Johann Friedrich Pfaff, Dr. phil. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen 1786
  21. Carl Friedrich Gauß, Ph.D., Universität Helmstedt, 1799
  22. Christian Ludwig Gerling, Dr. phil., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 1812
  23. Julius Plücker, Ph.D., Philipps-Universität Marburg, 1823
  24. C. Felix (Christian) Klein, Dr. phil., Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, 1868
  25. Philipp Furtwängler, Ph.D., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 1896
  26. Nikolaus Hofreiter, Dr. phil., Universität Wien, 1927
  27. Edmund Hlawka, Dr. phil., Universität Wien, 1938
  28. Hermann Adolf Maurer, Ph.D., Technische Universität Wien, 1965
  29. Hans-Peter Kriegel, Dr. rer. nat., Universität Fridericiana zu Karlsruhe, 1976
  30. Bernhard Seeger, Dr.-Ing., Universität Bremen, 1989
  31. Jens-Peter Dittrich, Dr. rer. nat., Philipps-Universität Marburg, 2002
  32. Marcos Antonio Vaz Salles, Ph.D., Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, 2008
  33. Me, getting mentored in 2013

Daniel Grosu, an Associate Professor at Wayne State University has managed to track the mentor lineage through Palamas and even further back to John Mauropous (990-1092), who was a scholar at the University of Constantinople. He was a Byzantine Greek poet, hymnographer and author of letters and orations, living in the 11th century AD. And that is where the tale ends. For now.

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