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Hyempsal, In corruptores Latinitatis and Bartolomeo Sozzini giurista e politico (1436-1506). (Reviews).

Leonardo Dad, Hyempsal.

Ed. Aldo Onorato. (Quaderni di filologia medievale e umanistica, 3.) Messina: Universita degli studi di Messina- Centro interdipartimentale di studi umanistici, 2000. 4 pls. + 181 pp. IL 40,000. ISBN: 8-87541-08-6.

Martini Philetici, In corruptores Latinitatis

Ed. Maria Agata Pincelli. (Edizione nazionale di testi umanistici, 4.) Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2000. xlvi + 131 pp. IL 44,000. ISBN: 88-87114-45-5.

Roberta Bargagli, Bartolomeo Sozzini giurista e politico (1436-1506)

(Quaderni di "Studi Senesi," 92.) Milano: Dott. A. Giuffre Editore, 2000. xiv + 255 pp. IL 40,000. ISBN: 88-14-08218-9.

Aldo Onorato's edition of Leonardo Dati's tragedy Hyempsal reconstructs with rigorous philological method and sharp critical acumen a fifteenth-century text that is based on (but with several significant cases of poetic license) Sallust's account of the Bellum lugurthinum.

To scholars of the Renaissance, Hyempsal is well known especially because of important public events and humanist issues connected with the genesis and destination of this tragedy: Leonardo Dati, the largely recognized -- and yet unrewarded -- winner of the famous 1441 poetic competition in the vernacular organized by L.B. Alberti, the Certame Coronario (on the topic of friendship), composed Hyempsal in view of the second certame (on envy) which never took place.

The text of Dan's tragedy, on the devastating power of envy that caused bloodshed among the heirs of the king of Numidia, Massinissa, and the ruin of their kingdom, was published for the first time, in a critical edition with an English translation by J. R. Berrigan, in a 1976 issue of Humanistica Lovaniensia. Of the four extant manuscripts containing variant readings of Dati's tragedy, Berrigan's edition relied on one, the Vanicanus Chisianus I.V. 194, which belonged to Dati and bears his autograph notations.

Onorato, the editor of this new edition, totally disagrees with the criteria Berrigan used in his edition and harshly criticizes his method. In his opinion, Berrigan failed to examine properly the relationship among the various manuscripts and ignored the distinction between variants of transmission and the author's own variants. As one can see from the pages propaedeutic to the restored text of Dati's tragedy, Aldo Onorato has a different textual approach from Berrigan, and shows meticulous attention and consummate philological expertise in his collatio and recensio of the manuscripts transmitting Hyempsal. His restoration of Dad's text is, therefore, a meritorious enterprise.

It has also the merit of providing extensive explanatory and critical notes about Dati's metrical and stylistic choices, his borrowings and departures from Sallust's historical account, debts to or mutual influences with Alberti's Intercenales and Mom us, and numerous other sources and traditions -- classical as well as medieval -- which inspired Dati in his quite original contribution to the emergent Renaissance tragic theatre. In his notes, Onorato especially signals interesting parallels with and echoes from Seneca's tragedies in Dan's Hyempsal, while with equal precision he indicates the distance from the Senecan model: the dark, horrific, macabre descriptions and scenes so characteristic of the Latin dramatist are absent in Hyempsal; mythological elements are very few in number and significance if compared with Seneca's; there are formal differences as well, and even contrasting outlooks between the ancient and the "modern" author, since Dati's didactic-moral ends somehow turn the dark vision of this fif teenth-century tragedy into something positive (whereas Seneca's latest plays remained gloomy and dismal).

Attention to Seneca's theatre in relation to the humanists' interest in it, is also paid in the Introduction that Onorato has written for his edition of Hyempsal. Here the scholar offers a detailed picture of the circulation, exegesis, commentaries, and imitation/emulation of Seneca's tragedies in late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy, while providing an exhaustive bibliography on the subject. Onorato reconstructs atmosphere and circumstances surrounding the first dramatic experiments on the part of the humanists and evaluates their limited but innovative production.

This initial section of the book appears more like an abridged history of Italian Renaissance tragedy than -- as I believe it was meant to be -- a contextualization of Dati's Hyempsal, because it fails to connect with some frequency to the specific object of this publication; only toward the end of the fifty-seven introductory pages does Onorato actually focus on Dati's life and work. Despite this lopsidedness, the Introduction serves useful purposes, elucidating, among other things, the primary role that the schools of Guarino, Vittorino, and -- most prominently -- the Roman Academy of Pomponio Leto played in fostering knowledge of and appreciation for the tragic theatre of Seneca, beside the comedies of Plautus and Terence.

The Roman milieu of Leto's Academy is at the center of Maria Agata Pincelli's analysis and interpretation of Filetico's teaching career at the Studium Urbis and his two invectives against the "corruptores Latinitatis." Martinus Phileticus (1430-9Oca.), "Eques, Poeta, Comes Palatinus," as recorded on his tombstone, was a pupil of Guarino's and Theodore Gaza's, a scholar of Greek, a translator of Isocrates and Theocritus, and an author of poetic works, commentaries (on Cicero, Persius, Juvenal, Horace) and dialogues. Before his appointment as teacher of Greek and, later, rhetoric at the Roman Studium, he was also a praeceptor for the Montefeltro and the Sforza children in Urbino and Pesaro.

Filetico's invectives, which Pincelli offers us in her edition based on a 1490 Roman incunabulum (lacking all quotations in Greek, which she conjecturally replaces), record a philological-exegetical polemic, mostly over a number of Virgilian and Homeric passages. This polemic took place between Filetico and some "corruprores" who -- although unnamed -- are clearly persons from among his colleagues at the Studium Urbis.

In the beginning attacks were made by Filerico against those who believed that "lavinia" (Aeneid 1, 2), not "lavina" was the correct lectio; then he had to defend himself from the accusation of having confused the three old Latian towns of Lavinium, Lanuvium and Lanivium, of denying the authenticity of vv. 29-30 of the 24th book of the Iliad, of ignoring what Diodorus Siculus wrote (regarding the succession of Aeolus to Liparus), and what Ovid first said about Hercules' abolition of human sacrifices to Saturn (when the hero arrived in Latium from Spain). As Pincelli vividly portrays in her excellent Introduction and Commentary, Filetico's adversaries were a belligerent bunch, ready to blame him even when the mistake was in the faulty lecture notes of some of Filetico's students.

To all these accusations, as Pincelli keenly observes in her valuable Commentary, Filetico responded by appealing to ratio and auctoritas, and going back to Greek sources (Strabo, in the mentioned case of Lavinium, Lanuvium and Lanivium; Aristarchus in the case of Iliad 24, 29-30, and so on), as he was an enthusiastic scholar and fervid promoter of Greek studies (while most of his opponents in Rome ignored that language). It is thanks to Pincelli's Commentary that the reader can also manage to orient herself/himself in the crowd of references and allusions to people, events, places and issues contained in Filetico's In corruptores Latinitatis.

Pincelli's attention to a lesser known Quattrocento humanist is no longer an isolated case: recently, a number of illustrious scholars have turned to Filetico's writings (Lucia Gualdo Rosa, Aulo Greco, and especially Guido Arbizzoni, who has also edited his defense of the study of Greek, Iocundissimae Disputationes), while a 1988 conference has explored and celebrated his exegetical, poetic, and pedagogic contributions (Martino Filetico umanista e maestro di vita, ed. Biancamaria and Maria Teresa Valeri. Casamari, 1990). To a more remote past belongs the profile that B. Pecci drew in his L'Umanesimo e la "Cioceria" (Trani, 1912), a more circumscribed study by G. Mercati (a 1938 article on Filetico's commentaries on Persio, Juvenal and Horace), and a substantial 1958 article by C. Dionisotti, focusing specifically on Filetico's invectives, to which Pincelli refers extensively while taking issue with some of Dionisotti's opinions. And here I must point to another important contribution of Pincelli's work: while like Dionisotti, Pincelli believes that Filetico's adversaries are more than one, and belonging to the Pomponian circle, Pincelli is inclined to identify, on good grounds, Pomponio Leto himself (rather than Antonio Volsco) as the primary polemical interlocutor of Filetico during his Roman years. Pomponio's frequent references in his lectures -- and above all in his commentaries to Varro -- to issues that stand at the center of the controversy recorded in Filetico's In corruptores Latinitatis, indeed point in that direction and extend the argued subject, as Pincelli underlines, to what can be called a Varronian polemic. Her argument in favor of a later than previously proposed date of composition of the two invectives is also very convincing.

We are carried into a different world, but one equally tarnished by academic jealousies and competitiveness, by Roberta Bargagli's book. Bargagli offers an exhaustive and well written biography of Bartolomeo di Mariano Sozzini, one of the most restless and better compensated Sienese lawyers and teachers of law (canon and civil). Her book contains eight chapters, each devoted to the various stages of Sozzini's professional and political life: his family background; his education (which was both classical and legal); his first teaching post in Sienese Studium; his move to Ferrara Studium; then his long teaching career at the Studium of Pisa, which began in 1473 with the support and protection of Lorenzo de' Medici himself; his brief teaching experience in Bologna and, subsequently Padua; his Roman sojourn as consistorial advocate; and his final return to Siena; and his scientific contribution as author of responsa, consilia, commentaria. Bargagli also follows Bartolomeo in his political ascent from Capitano del popolo and Ufficiale di Balia in his native Siena, to a whole range of diplomatic and mediating roles and missions on behalf of the Sienese and Florentine governments, and finally to his involvement in the politics of Lodovico Sforza whom he served as Consigliere di giustizia. A friend of popes and powerful rulers, close to literati of the caliber of Poliziano, Sozzini participated in times of political turmoil for his native Siena, Florence, and the Italian peninsula in general (particularly in the Pazzi conspiracy, territorial disputes between Siena and Florence, the intervention of Charles VIII and, subsequently, of Louis XII).

Of this much sought-after lawyer, whom the most prestigious universities competed to attract, and whom Siena never stopped fighting to get back, we previously had only some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century biographies, such as the one in G. Pancirolus, De claris legum iurisconsultis (Lipsiae, 1721) or in G. Tiraboschi, Storia della lettertura italiana (Venice, 1795), and a few contemporary publications conveying some of Sozzini's biographical data and documents. Basing her research on extensive archival work as well as a substantial number of published studies that deal with the historical, political and legal context, Bargagli offers a richer picture of this famous and influential lawyer, meticulously assembling data and facts, without failing to analyze them.

The fascinating image of Bartolomeo Sozzini that emerges from her pages is one of an astute negotiator who, on the political scene, was always able to place himself in the midst of momentous events and end up on the winning side, while on the academic scene he knew how to use to the fullest the leverage power that came from his competing job offers and his popularity among students (this is the long forgotten student golden age, when, in the peninsula, the reputation and the salary of a university teacher rested on students' satisfaction).

Last, but not least, Bargagli's work reveals another aspect of the complex personality of this remarkable civil lawyer: although not a humanist in any rigorous sense of the word, Sozzini showed a philological attention in his approach to legal texts which gained him the appreciation of Filippo Beroaldo the Younger.
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Author:Frank, Maria Esposito
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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