Alessandro Achillini of Bologna, the careful translator of Averroes, won a reputation for thorough and sound scholarship when he was professor of philosophy at Padua, though Pomponazzi himself, who was his bitter rival, used all the devices of ambition to rob him of his pupils. For Achillini 89 in his perfect honesty was completely innocent of the arts of wire pulling and flattery, so that the smart and pert young men, although they respected his learning, considered him ridiculous, and all the more because he walked with a rolling gait and wore an old-fashioned scarlet robe, edged with otter, with narrow sleeves and no fullness behind; and furthermore because his continual smile and his heavy way of speaking made him appear either silly or absentminded. But nevertheless by the sheer unconquerable force of his learning he surpassed his rival, who caught the crown by the ingenuity of his argument and too often raised a laugh by malicious wit. For some time before this Achillini had published books in accordance with the peripatetic philosophy on the Elements, the Intelligence, the Universe, based on the doctrines of Averroes, and on these works all his reputation for genius rested.
When the university of Padua was closed in the confusion of war, he went back to Bologna, where he died before he was fifty. His tomb with the following verses by Gian Vitale may be seen in the church of San Martino:
There is no reason why any scholar should despise and ridicule Bernardino Corio because he wrote a huge history in rude, uncultured language. For this man, who came of a noble family and was eager to win some slight glory, displayed the sincerest good will toward his fellow citizens by using to the best of his ability the vernacular of the common people; and his only object in writing was to be of the greatest possible assistance to investigators or to those who might compose in a more elevated style, and in this way to make his name and his labors known to posterity. For if, as Caecilius Pliny asserts, history, however written, gives pleasure,52 because it is regarded as the light of time, the herald of truth, 90 the instructor of life, the Lombards will certainly owe a heavy debt to this citizen of theirs, who, by his noble and conscientious work in seeking out and fitting together the records of most important events, which had been mutilated and actually buried, was able to set them forth to the very great advantage of after generations. For he was a devoted patriot who never engaged in party strife; so careful an investigator of details that, while he provides students of history with a pleasure at once highly edifying and delightful, he gives no offence to the critical and fastidious. In narrating events which he himself was a witness he is acknowledged to be extraordinarily trustworthy and accurate, since, as he held a distinguished position at court and enjoyed the advantage of using the private archives, there were no secrets from him.
He died after the French took Milan, before he was sixty broken hearted at the fate of Duke Lodovico and Cardinal Ascanio. Before he died he published his History at his own expense and thereby seriously impaired his fortune because, while he wished to seem to be striving after fame, he had, at the wily instigation of the printers, conceived the vain hope of recovering his money and making a profit besides.
On his tomb, the following verses are to be read:
The portrait of Marcantonio dalla Torre53 which you see dedicated in this place is not painted in colors but merely sketched in charcoal and lightly shaded, because this man of divine genius, who was surpassing professors of medicine of ripe age and established reputation in the keenness of his diagnoses, was snatched away from the universities by cruel Fate before he could finish the extraordinarily valuable and profoundly learned works which he had begun. While engaged in lecturing and also in dissecting the bodies of condemned criminals, he was working at a book on anatomy based on the principles of Galen, in which he utterly confuted Mondino, who wrote in an unenlightened age, and Zerbi, who babbled wildly on the same subject. (It was this Zerbi 91 who, being both ambitious and greedy, journeyed into Dalmatia at a large fee to cure of the dropsy Scanderbeg, the celebrated hero of a recent terrible invasion of the Venetians. When he proved unable to fulfill his extravagant promises to the dying man, he was murdered by the barbarian slaves, that they might offer him as an appropriate victim to the shades of their lord; so that dalla Torre, when he was checking up the mistakes in Zerbi's book, made a neat jest at his expense intimating that he deserved to be cut up, because, having done grave injury to his pupils by his mistakes in cutting up dead bodies, he thus suffered while he was yet alive a punishment to fit the crime.)
Dalla Torre was a member of that illustrious family which, two centuries earlier, had ruled the Lombards. His father was a keen and able professor of medicine, so that it is no wonder that the son, trained in the same profession from boyhood, should have been by far the youngest man who ever held a professorship at Padua and Pavia. His countenance was extremely winning, attracting everyone he met by its serene friendliness, but in his remarkable lectures and discussions he did not hesitate to point out, by citing Greek authorities, shameful and even fatal mistakes into which the doctors had fallen from ignorance of botany and anatomy.
This distinguished professor made a speech in praise of my labors before the assembly in the university of Pavia on the occasion when I was awarded the degree in belles-lettres and medicine together with a ring as decorations for proved ability. Not many months after this, when he was living in seclusion of the shores of Lake Garda, he was carried off by a malignant fever, a young man only thirty-three years old, at the time when Pope Julius was preparing to move his conquering arms against the pseudo-cardinals and their French supporters to fight the battle of Ravenna, which proved so tragic for both sides.
All the universities mourned dalla Torre with tears that were not soon dried, for no one had given clearer evidence of consummate ability in letters, no one had given surer promise of reaching the heights of fame. To the well deserved eulogies inscribed on his celebrated tomb at Verona Niccolò d'Arco added this graceful poem:92
Lancino Corti, who was born at Milan of a noble family, came to be the most accomplished Greek and Latin scholar of all Merula's pupils, but with volatile and unregulated fancy he roamed through all branches of knowledge and seems to have pursued none long enough to master it. His style, indeed, in both prose and verse was always rough and obscure and he dispersed too widely the light of his varied learning, preferring to appear to have read all books rather than to have striven for the reputation of a poet faultless within his limitations. For his Silvae, which have long been before the public, although they may please some with their dense and wild luxuriance of trees heavy with foliage and towering into the sky, yet are generally found to be so rough and unapproachable because of the tangled briars, that the cultivated reader is terrified by the strangeness of the spot and never gets beyond the entrance. In his books of epigrams, however, in the midst of much that is harsh you may sometimes find pleasant jests that are both witty and amusing; though he seems to have produced this effect with much more grace and charm in the merry verses which he composed with such skill and fluency in the rude Lombard tongue.
Verses that are called "serpentine", too, he could mould in strange forms and measures: for instance, starting with a square epigram which could be read both forward and backward, you could remove certain words from the middle and the remaining words read along the sides and the diagonals would form a different poem harmonizing remarkably with the sentiment of the first — an accomplishment empty and ridiculous enough, Heaven knows! since he taxed so heavily his misguided genius to make a reputation from a silly pleasure which was ruinous to his legitimate studies.
For the rest, contented with little, living, as he used to say, only to invite his soul, a bachelor without responsibilities, he grew old with unblemished reputation; and he never through all his life changed the fashion of his dress, though all his 93 fellow citizens, who at the coming of the French openly confessed their slavishness by putting on foreign garb and cutting their hair short to the ears, rudely made fun of him for his old-fashioned cloak and long locks.
When he was dying, he gave instructions about his tomb, which is to be seen in the church of San Marco outside the Porta Beatrice with a portrait of him and a poem by Stefano Dolcino of Cremona:
Battista, General of the Carmelite order, was born at Mantua, the illegitimate son of a noble Spanish family. He was naturally inclined to poetry, but he became so absorbed in his insatiable passion for Hebrew studies that, though he strove to be thought great and distinguished in all subjects, he was forced to relax his care and diligence in cultivating the Muses, through whom alone he might certainly have climbed to immortality, if he had rested content with assured fame and had scorned in time empty reputation from other sources. But, though he had fallen on an age which had no place for mediocre poets, he found in the author of a confused poem on the exploits of Gonsalvus the Great a rival whose dismal failure made him shine by comparison. This was Cantalicio, who was as generously rewarded as if he had been a good poet by an excellent prince who was a devoted admirer of even moderate talents. But both Cantalicio and the Carmelite himself were rudely dislodged from their ill-gotten glory by Gravina, when he had read the beginning of his noble poem on the same subject to Pontano and Sannazaro for their criticism.
But is was glory enough for Mantuanus that he drank of the health giving springs of Andes which had been neglected by its citizens for fifteen centuries, so that, at the prompting of Fate, he might point out the jets of clearer water to the brothers Lelio and Ippolitio Capilupi.
He died at Mantua when he was over eighty, not entirely happy, since, as the last act of his life, he was forced to de94fend himself against the critics who had (and not without reason) utterly riddled his poems with daggers. At his death the monks of his order paid extraordinary honors to their sacred bard and the Emperor Frederick set up a marble laureate statue, which may be seen on a stone arch beside the statue of Vergilius Maro, suggesting a comparison that would do credit to the monarch's loyalty, if it were not ridiculous.
When the people of Parma submitted to Pope Julius after the French had been driven from Italy, Mario Grapaldi, who, because of his conspicuous eloquence and his imposing stature, was their chief ambassador, delivered a brilliant speech in praise of the unconquered and most excellent Pope; and he also recited some very impressive verses on the same subject. Having performed this service for his country with propriety and grace, he received the honor of being crowned in the Vatican with laurel which the Pope himself placed on his learned brow with solemn rites. Thenceforth, encouraged by such a distinction and thinking that the Muses had openly shown themselves propitious, he importuned them more earnestly, as is clear from his published poems. But he attained much greater and more widespread fame by his book on the Parts of the House, in which he gave evidence of natural ability heightened by diligent application to the liberal arts.
He died of renal calculus in his native city when he was just past fifty.
Thomas Linacre, having come to Italy from the island of Britain to study Greek, attended the lectures of Demetrius and Poliziano at Florence and was so conspicuous for his charming manners and his modesty that the great Lorenzo made him the companion of his children in the intimacy of their studies, though he was somewhat older than they.
From Florence, after he had become accomplished in various branches of learning, he went to Rome, thinking that he ought to have a more intimate acquaintance with Roman scholars, 95 too, and see the more splendid libraries. Immediately on his arrival it happened that he made friends with Ermolao Barbaro. For, when he was in the Vatican library turning over Greek manuscripts, Ermolao came upon him and courteously going up to his desk, he said, "Surely, studious stranger, you cannot be, as I certainly am, a barbarian, seeing that you are poring so diligently over the choicest of Plato's works." (It was the Phaedrus.) Whereupon Linacre answered joyfully, "And you, most worshipful sir, can be no other than that celebrated patriarch who is the most Latin of all the Italians."
As a result of this friendship, which proved to have been most auspiciously begun, Linacre went back to Britain with a rich store of precious manuscripts and was appointed tutor to Prince Arthur, to whom (I have read) he dedicated his Sphere of Proclus. Another fruit of his labors was his translation of Galen's treatise on Preserving the Health; for in medicine his learning was regarded as equal to his success. But, because he thought that profession lucrative rather than sufficiently exalted to confer undying glory, he retired from it to the pursuit of the ancient classics, attracted by the prospect of association with Latimer and Grocyn. These three men formed a triumvirate and undertook to share the task of translating Aristotle, with a view to winning immortal fame. But Grocyn broke his part of the agreement to accept ecclesiastical preferment and Latimer was forced to abandon the project, so that Linacre alone had the credit for this noble ambition with Henry VIII.
He died of a rupture in his sixty-fourth year, leaving his fine house in London to the College of Physicians.
For more than a thousand years during the period of the Vandal and Moorish occupations Spain was without the splendor of Latin letters, though in other days the well known mildness of her climate had made her fruitful in great geniuses, if we call to mind Lucan, the Senecas, Silius, and Martial, not to mention Averroes, the most brilliant philosopher in the Arabic language. For the lords of Spain and all the nobility had conceived a perverted idea of letters, so that, when they 96 were fighting for their independence against foreign nations, the pursuit of them was universally condemned on the ground that they were inconsistent with and a hindrance to military valor, which was the one sure and glorious road to the salvation and freedom of the whole people. But, after the Moors were driven out of Spain by the courage of King Ferdinand, there flashed forth the genius of Antonio Lebrixa, who would have been the equal of the ancient scholars if he had been equally fortunate in living in an age in sympathy with his yearnings for the glory of antiquity.
He was born at Lebrixa, the ancient Veneria, on the Guadalquiver, and in his teaching and writing he admonished and reproved his elders and roused the youth to an eager desire for the ancient splendor of letters. For it is well known that, going into voluntary exile for love of learning, he visited almost all the Italian universities and collected treasures of Greek and Latin manuscripts that a king might covet, with which to enrich his native land. For he kept telling the nobles who were destined to be soldiers that even after long experience they would learn too late the lesson of perfect military science and training, if they were without the light of letters; for, if this one thing is stupidly dispensed with, all military glory quickly fades and dies. Thus in a few years it came about that no one who shrank from the study of literature was thought to be really noble, and Antonio himself triumphed no less gloriously in having restored letters to their former privileges than did Ferdinand when he took Granada and expelled the Moors.
He wrote a great series of many volumes which are still extant, in which, beginning with the rules of grammar, he ranged over almost the whole field of liberal arts and sacred letters. We are still looking for his highly useful dictionary containing examples of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which his son and heir has thus far undutifully suppressed, while his history of the Baetic war, which he had nearly finished, has not seen the light either.
When he was seventy-seven years old, he had a paralytic stroke, though up to that time he was so vigorous in mind and body that he had not relaxed his intellectual labors in the slightest degree and, being naturally fond of women, had 97 carried on intrigues till his last day. He died about the time when the people of further Spain, terrified into taking up arms, rose in fierce revolt against the extortionate and oppressive rule of their Flemish lords.
A man truly remarkable both in prosperity and adversity was Bernardo Dovizio, who was born high up among the Aretine Alps in the town of Bibbiena, from which he took his surname. From boyhood he held the foremost place among the adherents of the Medici for sagacity and energy and, when Leo was driven into exile from his native city, he was his devoted and loyal companion and indeed shared all his counsels. For in the course of frequent and varied changes of fortune and long experience in weighty affairs of state he had become keen, practical, and what is most useful of all at court, charming; so that, when Leo came to power, he made haste to honor him by choosing him together with his own kinsmen into the sacred college. It was indeed generally known that Bibbiena had been of the greatest assistance in getting Leo the goodwill of the voters at the election, since, by previously winning over to his patron the noblest of the cardinals, he had with a certain shrewd urbanity paved for him an easy road to the papal throne. For his banquets, which were triumphs of sophisticated luxury, he was wont to spice with brilliant wit, mingling jest with earnest, flattering his guests and settling difficult matters without seeming to, and with equal success in affairs and in leisure he displayed talents that never seemed despicable nor out of place.
He wrote an extraordinarily amusing comedy called La Calandria, which was performed by noble Roman youths at the Vatican during the Carnival to please Isabella, Duchess of Mantua, and such taste was shown in the production that it may justly be said that in all the history of dramatic art no play by a distinguished poet has been composed with greater cleverness and wit nor staged with greater magnificence. It is true that some of the cardinals blushed for the sacred purple, but the less strict thought that he had conferred distinction upon it. In this play he was the first to 98 give up writing in verse, so that the jests in the vernacular might be more amusing and intelligible to the ladies, and they might make merry with frequent bursts of laughter. For he used to assert that this should be the sole end and aim of a poet of sense, because he thought there was no charm even in the most finished play unless an enthusiastic audience mingled laughter with their applause, and, while the spectators could not sufficiently admire the wisdom and the sober wit of the Terentian stage, they certainly could not laugh at it.
He died before he was really old, when he had returned to Rome from an embassy to France, filled with unseasonable ambition to be pope, if Leo, as was indeed fated, should die: an ambition which was fostered by the general belief that King Francis would be ready to carry out his lavish promises of support. Leo, who was much Bibbiena's junior and much more vigorous, is said to have so resented this aspiration in a weak old man that Bibbiena suspected (though he had no evidence) that the Pope tried to murder him by slow poison contained in fried eggs which he passed him at table. This suspicion was certainly unfounded, for even repeated doses of the most powerful remedies known to distinguished physicians could have done nothing to save him.
In Giasone Maino of Milan, to quote the motto he himself was accustomed to write above his family crest, "Virtue was companioned by Good Fortune". For although, being an illegitimate son, he was not brought up in the same luxury as his kinsmen of his own age, yet he did have the same tutor, a man who was, as I have heard him say in conversation, harsh and cruel to him alone. After this schooling he was sent to Pavia to master civil law, but in his first year there he so perverted his talents by vices and especially by that most ruinous of all, gambling, that he had no money to pay his board and had to pawn his law book, a fine parchment copy for which he had paid a very high price. He presented, indeed, a ridiculous appearance going abut in a ragged gown with his head shaved because it was scurfy. But, having been sharply rebuked in time, he gathered himself together 99 and with virtue that was far from being assumed he applied himself so diligently to his studies and debates that his young companions and even his teachers marveled that he had made such progress in so short a time.
When he was ready for the platform, he expounded the Institutes and finally went to Padua where he was lecturing with great success when he was recalled to Pavia at the invitation of Lodovico Sforza. At that time he had the name of a consummate orator because of his extraordinary dignity and eloquence; for, having been trained in the classics to the point of becoming himself a poet, he could ornament most delightfully all that he said or wrote and, bringing to the platform a melodious voice, strong lungs, and an excellent delivery, he maintained the reputation of a clear, sound, and brilliant teacher. His consultation fees might have been thought excessive except that he made the generous arrangement that he would at once refund the money he had received if a client lost his case. Once, when he was asked in my hearing by King Louis of France why he had never married, he replied, "So that, when you, Sire, recommend me for the red hat, Pope Julius may know that I am a proper candidate." For that very day he had had the honor of lecturing in a gold-brocaded robe before the king himself, with five cardinals and a hundred nobles filling the benches. (This was just after the king had subdued Genoa and conquered the Ligurians.) In that address he laid down the principle that the rank of knighthood conferred by the king for distinguished service in the field should pass to a man's descendants as a spur to valor.
He died in extreme old age at Pavia, where he had built a fine house. He had also bought a country place near Piacenza. His tomb is shown in the church of San Paolo outside the city with these inscriptions:
Christophe de Longueil was born at Mechlin and was the son of a bishop. By practising strict economy he secured an education in the schools of Paris and, having amassed a wealth of learning in all branches, he came to Rome in the golden age of Leo. He tried to conceal any pretentions to genius by disguising himself in the red cap and scanty cloak of a Flemish soldier, because the purpose of his eager travels was to gaze on the relics of ancient splendor, to search out scholars, to ransack libraries, and, finally, to get with greater clearness and definiteness the criticism of the learned, which is sought in vain elsewhere than under the Roman sky. But when he entered the university and began to argue with subtlety, the professors of literature, who were no fools, quickly and courteously stripped off his mask, with the result that the most distinguished citizens of Rome, Flaminio, Tomarozzo, and Mario Castellano, soon received him into their houses, took turns for three years in entertaining him hospitably, and obtained for him in recognition of his talents the title and privileges of a Roman citizen.
Some time later, however, there came to light a book dripping with the venom of outrageous abuse, which he had writ101ten as a youthful exercise, in which the ancient glory of the Roman name was torn to pieces with barbarous malice. The entire population raised an uproar at this insult and a very brilliant young man named Celso Mellini delivered a noble speech on the Capitol, accusing Longueil of treason against the majesty of Rome. But Longueil, fortified by the indulgence of the whole court, avoided a trial before the people, defending himself in two published speeches on the ground that, with no malice but merely with a view to giving himself practice, he had, after the manner of the Sophists, chosen a subject difficult and unusual and therefore almost foredoomed to failure, so that he might make his comrades marvel at his boldness, unsuccessful though it should be, in rashly undertaking such a task.
Having made a great name, especially from these speeches, he went from Rome to Padua, where he attached himself to Pietro Bembo and then to the Englishman, Reginald Pole, both of whom are now cardinals revered for their great holiness and learning. While he was a member of Cardinal Pole's household, after he had published Letters in imitation of Cicero and while he was hard at work on books attacking Luther, in which he was displaying both eloquence and authority, he died of fever. His tomb was honored by Bembo with the following verses:
We need not marvel that a lofty genius shone forth in the puny body of that liveliest of men, Aurelio Augurello. For Nature often decrees that the spirit by its very concentration governs the little frame most perfectly and illumines the powers of invention with a fuller, stronger light. He was born at Rimini and spent eighty-three happy years learning and teaching literature. At Venice especially he was considered much more learned and much purer in his style than anyone else who held what we may call a private (and therefore more 102 lucrative) professorship of Latin and Greek. We have many odes by him and a few elegies composed with Roman simplicity, but it was in iambic verse, a form that few thus far have essayed with success, that he seemed to have most nearly attained the goal of ancient glory.
In his later years that ridiculous malady which is the companion of hopeless poverty and fruitless toil and the familiar friend of inquiring minds completely mastered the little man. He took to boiling down various metals and liquids in secret furnaces in the effort to make from quicksilver a firm and workable silver for striking coins and to produce pure gold by the fusion of a strange mass of mysterious elements. But this ambition, in which he was destined to be disappointed, turned out to be no great harm to him, since he transferred his talents from this vain hope to making verses, that by the authority of poetry he might prove the certainty of a delusive and derided art, though his very conscientiousness made him acknowledge himself an unsuccessful artificer. He dedicated his Chrysopoeia to Leo, who was no respecter of gold, so that the Pope, who spent money lavishly to foster genius and gave entertainments of truly royal extravagance, might be supplied with inexhaustible wealth without injury to the human race. He published also the Geruntica, dedicated to his pupil, Pietro Lipomani, whose virtues have made him today the revered bishop of Verona.
While he was arguing in a bookshop in the square at Trevigi, where he was canon, he had a stroke of apoplexy and died immediately. His portrait adorns his tomb and under it he had the following verses inscribed:
Guido Postumo of Pesaro, a poet of grace, charm, and wit, was conspicuous at Leo's court for his elegies and his poems in varied metres. For there was always free opportunity, 103 especially at noon when the lute players were resting, for anyone who was ready to contribute cultivated and delightful entertainment for the mirth of the company. But after he had often been rewarded by the generosity of the Pope and was aspiring not without reason to office, he fell ill of the jaundice, undoubtedly contracted from the unwholesome situation of his native city. His physicians urged him to retire to Capranica, a town of Sutrium, celebrated for its healthful climate, and through the kindness and generosity of Cardinal Ercole Rangone, on whose purse he was accustomed to draw freely, he was taken there. Soon, however, he was utterly wasted by a slow fever and, though still a young man, he was unable to resist the violence of the disease and of Fate.
He was buried in the church of San Francesco and his poet friends, Tibaldeo and Vitale, paid him the tribute of these verses:
No practising physician ever set forth with more crystal clearness the true principles of the healing art than Niccolò Leoniceno of Vicenza; no one confuted more eloquently and effectively the errors of the Sophists, who befoul every subject with their untimely chatter; and finally no one ever gave clear evidence of sounder practical knowledge by a longer or more healthy life. For in his Latin lectures on the Greek works of Galen he was the first to show that they ought to be thoroughly mastered by medical students, and the barkings of the ignorant he answered in published commentaries of great eloquence, since from his early youth he had been devoted to classical literature and had applied the rich resources of a great and never failing intellect to medical research.
He was exceedingly frugal in food and wine, took little 104 sleep, in love especially was most continent, and renounced so utterly the pleasures of a softer life that he scorned money as the tool of luxury (not even recognizing the denominations of coins) and ate whatever was set before him. Nor did he ever complain of Fortune, because there was only one glory, he said, that an intelligent man should consider, and he foresaw that through the generosity of the dukes of Ferrara, Ercole and his son Alfonso, he would never lack means sufficient for a modest livelihood. You would certainly have thought him the perfect Stoic except for the frank and merry expression on his handsome face.
He published a learned and very elegant book called The Antisophist Roman Physician and before that he had produced very useful treatises on The Order of the Three Sciences and Formative Virtue. His Italian translations of the History of Dio and the Dialogues of Lucian also delighted Ercole, who knew little Latin.
He lived to be ninety with unimpaired faculties and lively memory and he did not stoop, though he was very tall, and he walked without a cane. Once, when I asked him courteously to tell me frankly by what mysterious art he cheated the infirmities of age with such vigor of body and mind, he replied, "Giovio, I easily keep my mind alert by the integrity of my life, and my body healthy by the aid of a cheerful frugality.
His tomb is at the entrance of the church.55
Pietro Pomponazzi of Mantua, who was my teacher in philosophy, was the most eminent lecturer of all the distinguished Peripatetics. For he lectured on Aristotle and Averroes together in a melodious and clear voice with a delivery precise and smooth when expounding, rapid and impetuous when refuting, and, when closing and summing up, so composed and dignified that his pupils on the benches could by writing fast take down his well ordered periods. But in public gatherings and in assemblies of scholars, when they engaged in the very useful practice of argument in the Praetorian Portico, he showed himself so remarkable that, though he was often hard beset by the subtle sophisms of Achillini, he would extricate 105 himself from the toils and labyrinths by a shower of witty jests and so elude his adversary's attack.
He was very short of stature, but sturdy; his head was in no way disproportioned nor was his countenance dull, for his eyes were eager and extraordinarily expressive of every emotion.
On the outbreak of the Venetian war and after the death of Achillini he lectured at Bologna, where he brought down on himself and his reputation the violent attacks of the monks by publishing a book in which he tried to prove that, in accordance with the opinions of Aristotle, the soul would die after the death of the body, following in this the doctrines of Aphrodisius, a theory as noxious for corrupting the youth and relaxing the discipline of a Christian life as could be propounded. In this, however, Pomponazzi had for some time had the precedent of Cardinal Tommaso Gaetano, a most holy and learned man, who agreed with his writings.56 He also wrote on Fate and on The Occult Power of Incantations.
He died of strangury at Bologna in his seventy-third year. His body was taken to Mantua and honored with a splendid tomb through Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga's generous affection for his teacher and fellow citizen.
I could not paint the genius of Andrea Marone with clearer strokes nor a surer brush than by using those same colors with which, while he was still alive, I carefully portrayed it in my dialogue which I wrote on the island of Ischia, when the Pope was a prisoner and the troops of the Emperor were sacking Rome. For these are almost the very words with which I answered d'Avalos, when, in the course of a most interesting critical discussion about the distinguished men and women of our time, we naturally mentioned Marone, a native of Brescia, though on one side his family came from the Euganean Hills and Forlì. For that noble general and patron of the Muses was eager to save from the tragic ruin of the capital a poet endowed with rare talents, because he had learned from me that Marone, after being captured three times and undergoing long torture and being robbed of all 106 he possessed, was reduced to begging his bread in the pitiful and ridiculous garb of a starveling laborer in a city full of corpses.
"There is no reason, d'Avalos," I said, "why we should so marvel that the Tuscan poets win a name for facile eloquence when they sing to their tuneful lyres. For the custom of their country has led them to form that delightful and pleasant habit, because their listeners are quick to make allowances and are most indulgent to those who venture on song and think they are not to be criticized by so much as the slightest whisper if they falter and, losing the virtue of speed, trip on a harsh or unrhythmical syllable. But it is indeed a real pleasure to admire and applaud when we listen to our modern Maro; for he is wont to pour out extemporaneously a flood of Latin verses in various meters on any subject you may set him, to the great astonishment of scholars, — a bold business indeed and a performance most impudent and rash, were it not that Nature with an inspiration almost divine vouchsafes him marvelous success. With his lyre and his voice he invokes the Muses and when once he has thrown his soul into the music and quickened it with a livelier breath he sweeps along like a raging torrent so violently that verses which are extemporaneous and produced on the impulse of the moment seem to have been planned and composed long before. As he sings, his eyes are fixed and burning, sweat drips from him, the veins stand out on his forehead, and, wonderful to tell, his trained ear, as if it were that of an attentive listener, controls all the sweep of rushing numbers with the most perfect art."57
He was received with enthusiastic applause and on account of his virtuosity he was presented by Leo with a benefice, when, after a great banquet at which royal ambassadors and cardinals were present, on being asked for a poem on the subject of undertaking a crusade, he sang a lay enriched with a delightful variety of ornament beginning with this noble verse:
For at that time Soliman, the emperor of the Turks, having utterly routed in two battles and killed Kansuh al-Ghuri and 107 Tumanbey, the last sultans of Egypt, had excited greater terror in Europe, which was already ablaze with internal warfare.
In his fifty-third year the unhappy Marone lost all his poems and died deserted by everyone in a mean inn at the sign of the Stone Pig, in the Campo Marzio, when Fate had driven him back to the plague stricken city, because even Tivoli, where he had taken refuge, was raided by the barbarians.
No member of an illustrious family who in our time has won a glorious reputation in war was more brilliantly accomplished in the liberal arts than Andrea Matteo Aquaviva, Duke of Atri. This is abundantly evident from his Encyclopedia, a book as learned as it is celebrated, and from his longer work on the Moralia of Plutarch, which resembles a full and searching commentary.
This man, whose valor rivaled that of the heroes of old, as chance would have it was twice taken prisoner after receiving honorable wounds in defeats which ended unsuccessful wars; but his fortitude mitigated the hardships of a foul prison with the solace of study, so that from his noble meditations he reaped the fruits of a cultivated mind that cannot be snatched away by ruthless Fortune. But when the victorious Gonsalvo sent him to Spain to be led in the triumphal procession with the other prisoners, King Ferdinand, who was famed for his wisdom and clemency, restored him to liberty and to his former circumstances. Profiting, therefore, by such generosity, for twenty-four years he lived a life of pleasant leisure dedicated to the Muses, displaying such energy and brilliance that he incited to rivalry in the noble glory of letters his brother Belisario, Duke of Nardi,58 who, as we know, wrote on Hunting and on The Challenge to Single Combat.
But this great man, though he easily surpassed the Neapolitan nobles in sincerity, integrity, and liberality, seemed careless and negligent in protecting his property, since toward the end of his life his lofty scorn of riches led him into indiscriminate extravagance which cut short his habitual generosity. He died at Conversano near Bari in his seventy-sec108ond year, when Apulia was harried by the ill-starred armies of Lautrec of France.
52 Pliny, Ep. 5.8.4.
53 Usually called Turrianus.
54 Usually called Nebrissensis.
55 San Domenico at Ferrara.
56 This sentence is not in the Antwerp edition, but appears in that of Venice, 1516.
57 Only the passage beginning, "for he is wont" to the end of the paragraph is actually quoted from Giovio's Dialogus de Viris Litteris Illustribus.
58 Belisario instituted in his palace an Academy called del Lauro. Cf. Sannazaro, Epig. 38, De Lauro ad Neritinorum Ducem.