Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 16 >> Plague to Polybius >> Poliziano

Poliziano

latin, life, italy, florence and medici

POLIZIANO, ANarr.o (Latin ized form, Polilianns (1454-1494). An Italian seholar and poet. Ile was the son of a doctor of civil law, and was born at Aiontepuleiano, in Tus cany. duly 14, 1454. The family name was Am brogini, but Poliziano took his name from his native town—in Latin, Mons Politianus. He studied Latin at Florence under Cristoforo Lan dia, Greek under Andronieus of Thessaloniea, the Platonic philosophy under Marsilio Ficino, and the Aristotelian under Argyropulos. When scarce ly fifteettyears of age he published a poem of 1400 lines in honor of Giulio de' Medici, who had carried off the palm at a tournament. Lorenzo de' Medici took notice of the brilliant lad, and to afford him the means of continuing his studies appointed him tutor to his two sons. and subsequently gave him a residence in his charming villa near Fiesole. where Poliziano, who was passionately fond of country life, resumed his studies with fresh ardor. In 1484 he accom panied the Florentine ambassadors to Rome, and was received in a flattering manner by the Pope, at whose request he translated into Latin the Greek historian Herodianus, for which he re ceived 200 gold crowns. He also made Latin versions of the Enchiridion of Epictetus. the ('harmides of Plato, and other works. with such elegance that Erasmus him a master in translation. After having tilled for some years a chair of Latin literature in Florence, he com menced the teaehing of Greek. His popularity was so great that pupils came to study under him from all the great cities of Italy. and even from

distant parts of Europe: the principal were Fran cesco Pucci. Fortiguerra, Maffei da Volterra, (1.rocyn. Thomas Linacre, and Michelangelo. In 1489 appeared his Miscellanea, a collection of critical and other observations on the ancient authors. Toward the close of his life he entered into orders. and was made canon of the Cathedral of Florence. lie died September 24. 1494. Among the brilliant scholars of the Italian Renaissance, Poliziano occupies a fore most place in virtue of his vigor and originality. While he admired the chaste and noble literature of antiquity. there was nothing servile in his imitations: he reproduced without difficulty the strength of Tacitus, the elegance of Livy, and the conciseness of Sallust : his Latin poems. especially his elegies, display the beauty and ardor of his imagination. Among his vernacular pieces may be mentioned his Conti carnaseialeschi (Carnival Ballads), remarkable for their felicity of style, sweetness of pathos. and abundance of imagery. Another proof of his varied poetical power was his Orfeo, one of the earliest dramatic composi tions produced in Italy. Consult: Serassi. Vita di Angelo (Milan, 1808) ; Bona fons. De A. Politiani Vita et Operibu.s, ( Pa ris, 1845) ; Gresswell. Life of Po/ition (London, 1805) ; Roscoe. Life of Lorenz-o de' Medici (10th ed., ill., 1851) ; and the two works of Symonds. The Renaissance in Italy Ob.. 1875-861, and Sketches and Studies in Italy (ib.. 1S79).