The Elogia Doctorum Virorum of Paolo Giovio, while far from being incorrupta rerum gestarum monumenta, cannot be disregarded by any student of the history and literature of the Renaissance. So far as I know, the only translation into a modern language is the extremely inaccurate version of Hippolito Orio (Florence, 1552). It is these two facts that have led me to attempt an English translation.
The style of the Elogia is for the most part clear and direct, but a considerable sprinkling of rambling, loosely connected sentences and the constant use of words of wide general meaning without qualifying phrases add their own problems to those inherent in all translating. In the treatment of proper names consistency has seemed not only impossible but undesirable. In general, names of persons appear in the native language of the individual mentioned, unless the Latin form is that in familiar use (e.g. Callimachus, Platina), but "Pope Paolo" and "Pope Paulus" would sound equally unnatural and "in familiar use" is an elastic phrase. Places are given their modern names, unless there is some special point in retaining the Latin form.
I have been unable to find any manuscript of the Elogia and the Marchese Luigi Rovelli, a descendant of the Giovio family, to whom I am indebted for a very kind letter, thinks that none exists. The text followed in this translation is that of the edition of Antwerp, 1557. In that edition and in all subsequent editions each elogium is followed by a number of poems by various authors, which were not part of Giovio's work. I have not thought it worth while to include these.
It gives me pleasure to acknowledge assistance from Professor G. A. Borgese, visiting professor at Smith College, who put me in touch with the Marchese Luigi Rovelli, from Professor B. L. Ullman of the University of Chicago, to whom I am indebted for n.19. p.18., and from my colleagues, Professors Amy L. Barbour, Mary B. McElwain, Eleanor S. Duck8ett, and Emily L. Shields, who have read all or parts of the translation to its great advantage.
The notes are intended to give information necessary to an understanding of the text, but they do not pretend to be a full commentary.