1. Studies and educational activity
The philologist and distinguished teacher Konstantinos Xanthopoulos was born in Trebizond in 1815. We have no information about his family. We know he was one of the students of the "Frontistirion" of Trebizond for some years. In 1840 the community financed his gymnasium studies in Athens, where he remained for four years. After his return in 1844 he was assigned with the direction of the Frontistirion, which was about to function in the building recently built at the expenses of the community. In 1849 he went to Germany to complete his studies. When he returned to Trebizond three years later, he was again appointed as the director of the Frontistirion. In the middle of the school year, however, he was forced to resign due to the intra-communal quarrels which divided the inhabitants of Trebizond during that period into two parties1 and caused malfunctions to the Frontistirion, due to the factionalism inside its board. Xanthopoulos was hired as a teacher in the Merchant School of Chalki, the director of which he replaced during the school year 1855-1856. In the next year he left for Athens once again, where along with C. Vaphas and Th. Ioannidis they founded a lyceum, in which he taught until 1860. Then he was hired by the Greek community of Smyrna as the director of the "Evangeliki" School. He maintained this position in alteration with the direction of the Merchant School of Chalki, until 1883, when he assumed the direction of the Frontistirion of Trebizond for the third time, aiming in upgrading it into a complete gymnasium. Two years later he finally settled in Athens, where during the school year of 1885-1886 he taught at the Arsakeion School for Girls. He died in Athens in 1887.
The value of his educational activity was recognized even by his opponent, Periklis Triantafyllidis, who admitted that Xanthopoulos “changed the method and the order in the school [the Frontistirion of Trebizond] in the most modern and upgraded manner”2. Epameinondas Kyriakidis underlined with emphasis his great and generally recognized value.3 He particularly focused on the elements of Xanthopoulos’ activity which approached the model of the era for a nationally oriented scholar activity: pedagogic offer, scientific formation, concern for the promotion of a national intelligentsia.
Apart from the study Songs of the lands around Trebizond and a few words about Trebizond, which he published in 1849 in the Philologikos Synekdimos inaugurating the collection of Pontic folkloric and linguistic material, the rich written work of Xanthopoulos had mostly a instructive and pedagogic character. In the instructive circle belong the following: Chronology of ancient history (Athens 1857), Krüger’s simple book of syntax of the Athenian dialect (Athens 1857) and Greek thematography (Athens 1858), Greek chrestomathy (3 volumes, Athens 1859), Greek history (3 volumes) and Greek history for everyone (Smyrna 1863), as well as a versed and analysis of Prometheus bound.4 The earliest work of the pedagogic circle, a field in which Xanthopoulos was distinguished, is the Pedagogic teaching (Chalki 1854), which attracted the attention of the educational community and caused many discussions. Thinking that he did not become clear enough, he tried to make his views plainer in a second work under the title Epistles about the teaching of the Greek language (1885). In these works Xanthopoulos developed new pedagogic principles for the teaching of the ancient Greek language, based on the opinion that “the Greek language has a great and a prevalent pedagogic power, since it excels all other languages”.5 The author also believed that the “prevailing teaching of the Greek language and in general the contemporary school does not create citizens for the fatherland, but in the best case it forms and educates people to be useful to society. But a state and a good government and a Greek future do not exist without men citizens, without a single nation formed among the many”.6 In 1873 he published in Athens the work About elementary and middle education and about raising and educating the girls. His most famous work was the Teaching of the Greek language in the elementary and high schools and gymnasiums of Greece, which was awarded and published in 1875 by the “Society for the diffusion of Greek literature” (Syllogos pros diadosin ton ellinikon grammaton). Furthermore, since 1861 Xanthopoulos published along with S. Koumanoudis and D. Mavrofrydis the magazine Philistor, through which he expressed his views on pedagogic teaching. Finally, in 1880 he published in Constantinople (Istanbul) the Summarized account for the intellectual development of the modern Greeks from their renaissance until today, where he wrote about language and education, whereas he also presented catalogues of libraries, printing houses, museums, clubs, books etc. of that age “inside and outside free Greece”.
1. The first party (which apparently Xanthopoulos supported) was organized around D. Karvonides, who did not want to have the councilors of the communal treasury elected by all the members of the community and asked for greater authority for the members of the board. The other party (in which Triantafyllidis belonged) was formed around Chatzi Konstantinos Parigoris, who was of the opposite opinion. Χατζησαββίδης, Σ.Α., Ελληνική εκπαίδευση και πνευματική ζωή στην Τραπεζούντα του Πόντου, 1461-1922 (Thessaloniki 1993), p. 80.
2. Τριανταφυλλίδης, Π., Η εν Πόντω Ελληνική Φυλή ήτοι τα Ποντικά (Athens 1866), p. 144.
3. Κυριακίδης, Ε. Θ., Βιογραφίαι των εκ Τραπεζούντος και της περί αυτήν χώρας […] λογίων (Athens, 1985), p. 178.
4. The information about the place and the date of the publication of this work vary: Epameinondas Th. Kyriakidis in his work Βιογραφίαι των εκ Τραπεζούντος και της περί αυτήν χώρας […] λογίων mentions that it was published in Athens in 1888, while in Μεγάλη Ελληνική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια, vol. 18, entry «Ξανθόπουλος Κωνσταντίνος» (Ά.Α. Παπαδόπουλος) it is mentioned that it was published in the the journal Omiros of Smyrna in 1874.
5. Ξανθόπουλος, Κ., Επιστολαί περί διδασκαλίας της ελληνικής γλώσσης (Constantinople 1855), introduction, p. 8.
6. Ξανθόπουλος, Κ., Επιστολαί περί διδασκαλίας της ελληνικής γλώσσης (Constantinople 1855), introduction, p. 8.