Printer Friendly

Musurus' homeric ode to Plato and his requests to Pope Leo X.

The year 1513 is probably most famous for the accession of the Medici pope Leo X. However, it also saw the publication of the first edition of the complete works of Plato in Greek. This edition, printed by the press of Aldus Manutius in Venice, was accompanied by a dedicatory poem, about which the contemporary historian Paolo Giovio made the flattering remark: (sc. poema) commendatione publica cum antiquis elegantia comparandum. (2) The poem, written by Marcus Musurus, is indeed a remarkable literary achievement. Although it is often referred to in modern scholarship in the context of the history of Greek humanism, it has never been treated in depth. (3)

Marcus Musurus (c. 1470-1517), originally from Crete, was a highly respected scholar of Greek and Latin literature who spent most of his life in the intellectual circles of Italy. At a young age, Musurus was a disciple of Janus Lascaris at the Studio in Florence. He became a successful teacher, attracting scholars from all over Europe, including Erasmus. From the start of the Aldine press onwards (1494-1495) Musurus was involved in editing Greek and Latin texts, supervising the editio princeps of Aristophanes, Sophocles, Euripides and Pindar among others. (4) His largest project was the edition of Plato's dialogues, which hitherto in the West were only accessible in the Latin translation of Ficino. This edition opens with a Latin preface by Aldus Manutius, followed by Musurus' poem.

At the beginning of the poem Musurus asks Plato to come to earth and offer the edition of his works to pope Leo X. After paraphrasing several Platonic dialogues, Musurus praises Leo X and two men of his inner circle, Pietro Bembo and Janus Lascaris. He then describes the cruelties of the War of the League of Cambrai, which had had a profound impact on Rome, Venice and Musurus' own life. (5) The poet calls for peace among the Christians and asks the pope to start a crusade against the Ottoman Empire in order to free the Greeks. In the last part of the poem, Musurus makes a second request: the pope is asked to found a Greek academy in Rome.

The poem consists of 100 elegiac distichs, which makes it difficult to categorize in terms of traditional genres. In the classical and Byzantine tradition elegiac distichs were normally not used for lengthy poems. (6) In the Byzantine tradition book epigrams were composed in this metre, but consisted mostly of only a small number of distichs. (7) In Musurus' time the Greek Anthology was widely read and studied in Italy: in the 1490's Janus Lascaris made its editio princeps and discussed it in his lectures at the Florentine Studio, which Musurus attended; in 1506 Musurus himself gave lectures on the Greek Anthology in Padua. (8) It is therefore plausible that Musurus was influenced by the Byzantine tradition of the Greek Anthology. (9) However, in this period elegiac distichs were being used for increasingly longer dedicatory epigrams in Latin literature; therefore, it seems also possible that Musurus used this Neo-Latin innovation for his own poem. (10)

The poem is written in what seems to be purely Homeric Greek, but closer scrutiny reveals that Musurus invented many Homericizing neologisms. His choice for using Homericizing Greek followed a millennia old tradition of exalting Homer as the greatest poet of Greek literature. Musurus might have intended to connect the prestige of this great poet with Plato, one of the greatest Greek philosophers. Furthermore, the poem can be considered part of a contemporary appreciation of Plato in intellectual circles. (11) The popularity of Plato at the papal court is reflected clearly by the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace, which were executed by Raphael just a few years before Musurus wrote his poem. (12) In the Stanza della Segnatura, which initially might have been used as a library, (13) one of the major frescoes is the so-called School of Athens, depicting Plato and Aristotle as the two central figures. The adjacent wall shows several poets on top of mount Parnassus, home of Apollo. Homer is one of them. Although there is no indication that Musurus visited Rome before 1516, his wide network among the intelligentsia makes it not unlikely that he was aware of the themes of the frescoes in the library of pope Leo X. (14) This knowledge might have been a factor in Musurus' choice for linking Homer and Plato. The primary reasons to dedicate the edition to the pope were of course the requests for starting a crusade against the Turks and founding a Greek academy in Rome. Whereas a literary analysis of the poem will be given in the commentary below, these two requests should be contextualized first.

Although the last actual military expedition to the Holy Land took place at the end of the thirteenth century, plans for a new crusade remained commonplace at the European courts and chanceries for centuries to come. (15) The rise of the Ottomans in Anatolia and the Balkans and the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 only increased the perceived threat of an Islamic invasion of Europe. Moreover, the fall of Byzantium caused several Greek refugees to plea for deliverance of Greece, often connected with a humanistic interest in classical scholarship. (16) Musurus' appeal for a crusade was therefore not unique. A Greek by birth and a classical scholar, he had interest in a liberated Greece. (17) He may also have been influenced by his former teacher Janus Lascaris who was perhaps the most fervent supporter of a crusade and also made a Latin translation of Musurus' poem. (18) However, the taeterrima procella Mahometica, the most dreadful Muhammadan assault, was feared by many people. (19) Finally, pope Leo X was no stranger to the rhetoric of crusades either. In June 1513 two monks offered him a Libellus ad Leonem Decimum in which they emphasized the need for peace in Europe to prepare a united crusade. (20) In September 1513 the pope addressed an encyclical letter to the kings and peoples of Hungary, Poland, Bohemia, Prussia and Russia, to incite them to march against the Turks. (21) He must also have known the Greek nationalist sentiment that aspired to liberation from the Turks. In other words, Musurus' request would not have surprised the pope nor changed his political stance.

Over the course of the fifteenth century several classical academies had been founded on the Italian peninsula. (22) The organisation of these academies was highly varied. Manutius and Musurus' ideas about the academy to be founded in Rome are in Manutius' preface and Musurus' poem (see commentary below). These documents, in the edition of Plato which was published in September 1513, suggest that the idea for an academy in Rome is conceived for the first time. (23) However, on the 6th of August 1513 Pietro Bembo, the secretary of pope Leo X, had written a letter to Musurus, in which he asked him to assist in the planning of such an academy under supervision of Janus Lascaris. (24) This seems to be problematic; even more so, since there is no trace of a response to the poem by the pope. (25) Foffano suggests that the poem was sent separately to the pope before the publication of the edition; Bembo's letter would then have been a reaction to the poem. (26) It is also possible that, by making a request which was already fulfilled, Musurus is following a rhetorical strategy. Knowing that the foundation of the academy was already in progress, Musurus was certain that the requests in his poem would not risk the disgrace of rejection. The poem would therefore enhance the future prestige of both Leo X and himself.

Translation and commentary

Following Legrand's edition of the Greek text, we will provide a literal translation of the Greek without any literary pretension. The aim of the commentary is to provide an interpretation of the Greek text, to show meaningful references to other literary texts and to place the poem in its historical context.

   Divine Plato, hero accompanying gods and demons, who follow the
   great Zeus swiftly, when he, sitting on his winged chariot, leads
   his wagon of storm-footed horses through the wide sky; come on,
   descend to the earth, leaving the company of the heaven dwellers,
   flapping your wings, nourished by your soul, and accept this work,
   which contains both the Socratic dialogue and the noble products of
   your own mind.

In these first lines Musurus invokes Plato as a divine being. Although the poem is directed to the pope, it opens with a purely pagan imagery. Within this imagery, Musurus depicts Plato as a hero (v. 1) who dwells not among the dead in the underworld, but among the gods and demons in heaven. The meaning and etymology of the concepts of gods, demons and heroes is described in Plato's Cratylus (397c-398e). These concepts are dealt with in the dialogue in the same sequence as in the first line of the poem. Plato is indirectly praised in Musurus' poem, since heroes are said to be semi-divine, wise and great rhetors and dialecticians in the Cratylus (398d).

Zeus is depicted in an unusual way, leading a chariot through the sky. This image is inspired by the Platonic dialogue Phaedrus (246e): [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Several words in Musurus' poem echo this passage: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 1), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 3), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 3), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 4) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 4). Plato's description of the charioteer in the Phaedrus gained considerable popularity during the Renaissance, especially after the publication of Ficino's translation and commentary. (27) Not only was the Phaedrus considered one of the most important works of Plato, it was also assumed to be one of the philosopher's earlier works, written when he was mainly inspired by the Muses. It seems therefore a suitable dialogue to refer to in the 27 opening passage of a poem in which Plato is the main figure. (28) Furthermore, the opening lines also connect the poem to the tradition of the cletic hymn, in which a god is invoked and asked to come to the speaker. (29)

In verse 5 Plato is asked to come down from heaven using his wings that are 'nourished by his soul'. The Greek word ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is not attested elsewhere in Greek literature, (30) but in Plato's Phaedrus the soul is said to set every part of its body in motion in 245c. In what follows, Musurus asks Plato to accept the edition of his complete works, which are described as both Socratic dialogues ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 7) and Plato's own thoughts ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 8).


   In this work the creator of the universe quickly built the eight
   layers of Olympus, drawing the archetype out of his own mind,
   decorating the highest layer which we call the 'not wandering one'
   with infinite lights. And below he placed in order the layers with
   one gleam which were moving from there in the opposite direction of
   the highest layer. This layer grabs and drags the other layers with
   force from the road which leads backwards; although they have been
   forced, the other layers follow not unwillingly, and yet, more
   slowly or more quickly, each completes its own course backwards.

The first passage of the poem (vv. 1-8) already contained references to Plato's Cratylus and Phaedrus; in the second passage (vv. 9-18) Musurus makes his enumeration of some of the dialogues included in the edition explicit by means of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 9), referring to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 7) and repeated in verses 19 and 21 (alternated with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in verse 23).

In verses 9-18 Musurus alludes to the cosmological concept described in the Timaeus. He first describes the eight spheres of the cosmos (the layers of the fixed stars, the planets Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Venus, the sun and the moon). The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is a mythological embellishment, here meaning cosmos. In the traditional geocentric model the whole cosmos was moving in one direction (from east to west) around the earth. Within this cosmos, the outer layer consisted of fixed stars ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 11) and Musurus refers to this layer as the fixed layer ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 11-12). The seven inner layers consisted of wandering planets ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 13), moving around the earth at a slower pace than the outer layer. Therefore, they seemed to move in an opposite direction (vv. 13-17). In the end all eight layers moved in the same direction around the earth (vv. 17-18). This description, combined with the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 9), calls Plato's Timaeus to mind. However, the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is not found in Plato, but only in two hymns of the Christian neo-Platonist Synesius (1.425; 5.30), whose work was well-known but not yet edited in Musurus' time. Rather than referring to a particular astronomical work or system, this passage in Musurus' poem seems to present a more general blend of Platonic and Aristotelian cosmological concepts. (31)


   In this work glorious Eros, lifting us upwards from the earth,
   inflames us with the desire for the beauty of heaven. In this work
   you have shown that the incorruptible nature of the soul does not
   perish, while its weak body perishes. Elsewhere you founded a city,
   which borders on heaven, of people sprung from Zeus. These people
   care for Lady Justice and the rule of law, which nourishes young
   men. Reverence and retribution do not turn their eyes away from
   this town. Who could ever tell each and every thing that you have
   put in these divinely inspired pages?

The description of love in verses 19-20 echoes Plato's Symposium. Verses 21-22 deal with the immortality of the soul, which refers to the Phaedo. The last dialogue mentioned in the first part of the poem is the Republic, in verses 23-27. The four dialogues referred to in verses 9-27 (Timaeus, Symposium, Phaedo, Republic) belong to the most widely read works of Plato at the time. (32) Although Musurus does not use verbal allusions, he describes the themes of these Platonic dialogues in a general and easily recognizable way. None of the remaining Platonic dialogues are mentioned; instead Musurus ends the passage with a recusatio (v. 27-28).




   When you have taken these pages, go to the city, the queen of all
   cities which the sun looks upon from the sky, Rome of the seven
   hills, always having power over the earth, through the midst of
   which the meandering horned Tiber goes, the ruler of the western
   rivers, fattening the most fertile land of Ausonia. Having come
   there, you will not find the deceitful tyrant of the Sicilians, the
   gluttonous foster child of wretched Scylla, Dionysius, violator of
   the Muses. Instead you will find a man equal to him whom you vainly
   longed to see, both a leader of wisdom and a shepherd of people,
   whosoever live in the whole of Europe: the shining star and son of
   his father Lorenzo, the beloved Florentine, and the blooming,
   beautiful, ever flourishing, shining fruit-bearing scion of the
   most illustrious Medici, formerly Giovanni, but now Leo, the king
   of the endless earth, most mighty key-bearer of Olympus, whose nod
   we honour as if it were Zeus': every ruler venerates him, kneeling,
   and none of the sceptre bearers dares to vie with him.

Having asked Plato to take his works to Rome, Musurus praises the papal city (vv. 29-34). In these lines Musurus uses several topoi of the tradition of panegyrics on Rome: the superiority of the city ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 29), the seven hills ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 31), the might of the city ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 31), and the river Tiber (vv. 32-33). (33) Although he mentions these traditional aspects, Musurus is not literally referring to any particular text.

The phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 34) is a good example of Musurus' literary technique. On a morphological and lexical level he consistently writes in Homeric Greek. On a formulaic level he sometimes uses literal Homeric formulas, such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 39). Most of the time, however, Musurus merely appears to quote Homeric verses, but actually creates his own formulas. The formula [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] cannot be found in Homer, but does allude to the Homeric phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 10.141; 283). Furthermore, the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (clod), which occurs in Greek literature in general, calls [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (with large clods, hence: very fertile) to mind, which is a Homeric epithet (applied, e.g. to Troy and Phthia). The specific meaning of the prefix [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (very) is transferred by Musurus to the verb rnalvra (v. 34, to fatten).

In the following passage (vv. 35-48) Musurus describes the person whom Plato should meet in Rome: pope Leo X. The pope is explicitly praised in verses 38-48, but verses 35-38 foreshadow these lines by denigrating the Sicilian king Dionysius, whom Plato visited during his own lifetime. Verse 36 can be seen as another (next vv. 35 and 37) pejorative literary description of one of the Sicilian kings: the Homeric monster Scylla was associated with the island of Sicily from classical times onwards. (34) It is unclear whether Dionysius I or his son Dionysius II is meant, since Plato spent time at both their courts, as an adviser of the former and a teacher of the latter. (35) However, verse 36 might indicate that Musurus had Dionysius II in mind. Two meanings of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] could be significant here. It either means 'foster-child' or 'pupil' (LSJ s.v.). These two meanings taken together could be indicative of Plato's relationship with Dionysius II, who was taught as a child by Plato. This reading is supported by the fact that the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] means 'pupil' in Plato's Republic 520d and Laws 804a.

Verse 43 displays Musurus' lexical approach well. Two pairs of adjectives enclose the main noun ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] has the appearance of a Homeric epithet, but is in fact a newly created adjective, derived from the Homeric verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (to bloom). A good example of Musurus' literary technique of combining pagan and Christian imagery is found in verses 45-46, where pope Leo X ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is called [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a clear reference to Matthew 16.19. However, the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is juxtaposed with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], by means of enjambment. Furthermore, the authority of Leo is likened to that of Zeus (v. 46), which is already announced by the rather rare Callimachean word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 45), used for the supreme god in Jov. 66. (36)





   Having arrived at the blessed ruler, you, Plato, will immediately
   see many admirers of you in the palace, concerned about various
   virtues, delightful and wise friends of earthly Zeus, whom he
   himself had sent for from everywhere and he rejoices in them,
   giving them precious and sumptuous gifts. Most of all, however, he
   loves two men in his heart: one of them is from holy Greece, not
   one of the people we are now, who are called Romans and Greeks, but
   equal to the ancient half gods of Attica and Sparta: the finest
   flower of the very famous race of the Laskarids and having the name
   of the seemingly three-faced god. When I was a child, he loved me
   in his heart, just like a father loves his most beloved son and
   showed me the narrow way which leads to the Achaean muse, which
   only he recognizes easily. The other one excelling in threefold
   eloquence and formed by the wise hands of the three Graces, the
   hero son of Bembo, and the great father made his ears conscious of
   all secret matters, revealing all the concerns of his purple soul
   to him, and unfolding his whole heart from within.

In this passage the poet tells Plato whom he will meet in the papal palace. Once again the pope is praised, this time by means of two Homeric references: in verse 49 Leo X is called [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which is a hapax in Homer. It occurs in Iliad 3.182 to describe Agamemnon who is praised by Priam from the walls of Troy. In verse 52 the supreme god Zeus is mentioned, but the accompanying epithet ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], on earth) is in Homer only used for human beings. This identifies the unnamed subject of the verses 53-54 as Leo X (cf vv. 45-46).

Musurus singles out two of the men the pope gathered around him, Janus Lascaris (1445-1535) and Pietro Bembo (1470-1547). Lascaris had been Musurus' student in the 1480's, but what connected these three men was the Greek academy of Aldus Manutius in Venice, of which they had become members in the years following its foundation in 1501. (37) Janus Lascaris is praised in verses 55-64. First he is presented as equal to the heroes of classical Greece (vv. 55-58), for which different words are used: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (vv. 55-6), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 57), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 58), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 58). Contemporary Greeks, on the other hand, are referred to as Romans and Greeks ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 57), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] being the standard noun the Byzantines used to refer to themselves and TpaiKoi being the designation used in Western Europe for the Byzantine Greeks (Latin: Graeci). Next, in verses 59-60, Lascaris' name is elaborated upon: the first verse celebrating the famous lineage of the Lascarids (the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] being emphatically positioned). (38) Verse 60 alludes to his first name, Janus, which was also the name of a Roman god. The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a newly created form of the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], is enigmatic at first sight: whereas both a Janus bifrons and quadrifrons were known in antiquity, a Janus trifrons did not exist. In Musurus' poem the word might be nothing more than a rather poor joke on the three-faced appearance of every four-faced object in frontal view: (39) therefore Musurus added the suffix -[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], indicating that a three-faced Janus actually never existed. Although three-faced Jani were depicted in the Middle Ages, Musurus probably took his inspiration from classical images or images of classical culture rather than from mediaeval art. (40) The last part of the praise (vv. 61-64) mentions the personal relationship the poet had with Lascaris: the latter had taught Musurus in Florence.

Pietro Bembo is praised in verses 65-70. His threefold eloquence ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 65) refers to his knowledge of Greek, Latin and Italian. (41) Subsequently, again three aspects are mentioned which mirror the praise of Lascaris (cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 60). The most important aspect of this eulogy concerns the fact that Bembo was a secretary of Leo X (vv. 67-70). (42) In addition, a mythological reference is made: the Graces (v. 66) equal the Muse (v. 63), both 37 38 39 40 41 42 emphasizing the artistic achievements of Bembo and Lascaris respectively. Finally, Bembo's lineage is referred to by a patronymic (BepPiaS^v v. 67), echoing verse 61.


   These men, once they have seen you, will lead you to the face of
   the father, and he will receive you gladly. But you must hold his
   immaculate foot, as far as it befits and tell him: 'Be merciful,
   father, shepherd, be merciful to your herds: accept willingly the
   gift--printed on the smoothly tanned skin of young goats--which
   noble Aldus sends eagerly to you, cherished by Zeus. But that man
   requests a recompense for this benefaction: not that you send him
   gold and silver, nor a chest full of purple garments.

In verse 73 the poem continues in direct speech (which lasts until verse 186): Plato is to address the pope with a speech provided by Musurus. Despite the author's explicit interference (v. 73), the fictive authority of the text switches to Plato. This perspective objectifies the praise of Aldus Manutius ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 75) which is now uttered by a third party and not by Manutius' co-editor Musurus. It can be contrasted with both Manutius' direct praise of Musurus in his preface and Musurus' praise of Lascaris and Bembo (vv. 55-70, supra). (43)

Verses 74-77 could be interpreted as a literal remark or a general embellishment--the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 74), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 74), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 76) are thematically connected. Since the edition was printed on paper, a literal interpretation of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 76) is only possible if 43 one assumes that Leo X received a special edition, printed on parchment. However, no such edition has been found. (44)

In return for his edition Manutius is said not to ask for material gifts (v. 79) or an honourable position at the papal court (v. 80). The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 79) are reminiscent of Plato's aversion to the private possession of gold and silver: Plato actually condemns it in Laws 5.742a. A Biblical reference may also be felt here: in several Bible verses gold and silver are mentioned as goods to be despised for Salvation: in Acts 20.33, Paul testifies not to have coveted other people's gold, silver or clothes. (45) In the following verse (v. 80), Musurus refers to Homer on a verbal level with the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Od. 4.297-298 and Il. 24. 644-645). The pope is addressed with the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 77), which is not only reminiscent of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 52, supra), but which is also an epithet used for rulers and nobles in particular in Homer (cf e.g. Il. 2,196).



   (But Aldus asks you) to extinguish the ravening fire of capricious
   Ares, because of whom all things are obliterated and perish. Do you
   not see that on the Eugeneian fields everything is full of gore,
   everything full of corpses? The Cyclops pitied the lamenting of
   children and the wailing of women, as did Antiphates. The lethal
   flame devours the sanctuaries of the gods and the houses of the
   civilians and the toils of the wretched farmers: the barbarian,
   having neither love nor mercy, destroys everything Hephaistos has
   spared. Lord, stop the civil war and inspire your sons with peace
   and love, father, which cruel Ares took and threw in a very deep
   cave and barred it with stones embedded in the earth. But you must
   remove the stone with levers, and let the servants of the divine
   word see that peace is unharmed, rich in fruit, favourable, giving
   grapes, the peace most desired by the whole world.

In a smooth transition Musurus now turns to his actual requests to the pope. Although the syntactical unit depending on [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 78) continues in verse 81, Musurus has completed the dedicatory part of this poem, including its standard elements: the praising of both the book that is offered and the person it is offered to. Plato now asks the pope to end the war and make peace among the Christians (vv. 81-98). In the first part of this passage the atrocities of war are described (vv. 81-90). The second part is devoted to peace (vv. 91-98). The war in question is the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1516), which is referred to by means of the phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 83). The Euganei were a tribe in North-Eastern Italy who were, allegedly, expelled by the Veneti in ancient times. (46) The Venetians and the Papal State were two of the most important belligerents in the War of the League of Cambrai. Musurus and Manutius, working in Venice, had a personal interest in ending the war. The war is called a civil war ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 91), since it divides the nations of Christendom who should unite themselves against the Turks, as becomes clear later in the poem (vv. 99-152).

There are several references to Greek mythology in this passage. In verse 82 Ares is evoked as the personification of war. The epithet [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 81) alludes to the fact that the belligerent parties in the war changed sides frequently. The figure of Polyphemus dominates the verses 85-98. Although he is not called by name, it is clear that this passage contains several references, both on a lexical and a thematic level, to the story of Polyphemus in Odyssey book 9 (vv. 105-542). (47) This story is evoked primarily by the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 86). At first sight, the meaning of verses 85-86 seems to be rather obscure. The Cyclops and Antiphates are mentioned as examples of good behaviour which is lacking among the belligerents of the War of the League of Cambrai. In Homer, neither Polyphemus, nor Antiphates, the king of the Laestrygones (Od. 10.80-132), are said to have any pity upon women or children and the two characters do not have that reputation in other authors either. (48) The only reason for Musurus to mention Antiphates seems to be the fact that Homer mentions his wife and daughter (Od. 10.105-115), although no further details about this Laestrygonian family are found in the Odyssey.

The explanation of the fact that the Cyclops is mentioned in verse 86 as someone who pities women and children can be found in the two following verses, which comprise of a thematic reference to the description of the Cyclopes in the Odyssey as a tribe without civilization--see Musurus' wording of the destruction of the houses of the civilians ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], vv. 87-8). In Od. 9.112-115 the Cyclopes are said to have no law but to judge their own wives and children. Other aspects of their uncivilized nature are echoed by Musurus in verses 87-88: the Cyclopes do not honour the gods (Od. 9.275-278)--see [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 87)--and they do not cultivate their land (Od. 9.108)--[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 88). Furthermore, Od. 9.112-115 is quoted by Plato in his Laws 3.680b, where Plato discusses primitive and lawless societies.

In verses 89-90 the pope is warned that the nations of Christendom are not only threatened by the current war, but also by the looming Turks, who are treated in more detail from verse 99 onwards. They are referred to by the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 90). This is the third instance where an echo of the abovementioned passage in Plato's Laws is discernable (see [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Laws 3.680b). The name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 89) seems to be a merely a personification of the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 88). (49)

The thematic allusion to the story of Polyphemus is continued in verses 93-95. Here Ares is said to have hidden peace in a cave and Leo X is asked to remove the stone which bars that cave. This is reminiscent of Polyphemus' cave. Several words used here also occur in the Odyssey: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 93, cf Od. 9.216, 235, 312), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 94, cf. Od. 9.185), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 94, cf. Od. 9.314). The word indicating the stake used by Odysseus to blind Polyphemus, thereby liberating himself and his friends ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Od. 9.375, 394, 396), describes in Musurus' poem (v. 95) the lever with which pope Leo has to remove the stone, liberate peace from the cave and save the nations of Christendom. (50)

Finally, the idea of peace being imprisoned in a cave is reminiscent of Aristophanes' Peace (see in particular vv. 221-226). (51) The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 93) echo Aristophanes' [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Peace 223). Moreover, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 97) is also in Aristophanes (Peace 520) used as an epithet of peace. (52) Musurus had edited the editio princeps of nine plays of Aristophanes--including the Peace--in 1498. (53) Moreover, the Suda explains [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (s.v.) as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], quoting the same line of Aristophanes' Peace.











   But send all the recruited men to the lawless tribes of cruel wolf
   like descendants of the Turks, who, having enslaved the Achaean
   land, are now eager to sail with their ships towards the Iapygian
   coast, threatening to put the servile yoke on our neck, and to
   destroy the name of the God-bearing mother. But first, you must
   prepare for them a horrible defeat, having sent endless nations to
   the plain of Asia, the impetuous Bellona of the bronze
   cuirass-wearing Celts, who spur on their horses, that look like
   cliffs: and after that the shield-wielding tribe of the fiery
   Iberians and the black cloud of the infantry of Helvetia, and the
   endless phalanxes of the Germanic giant-men, and, furthermore, the
   people of the Ares-loving Britons: and of all of Italy all that
   remains, which has escaped death and which has not been torn apart
   by the spears of foreigners.

   May other people--having travelled the long paths of the main land,
   be it through mountains or through valleys, and having traversed
   the ever foaming streams of rivers--bring the doom of my people to
   our enemies; other people who are strengthened by the Paionians
   with crooked bow, and who are often stained with the blood of the
   Turks. The throng of a thousand ships of the Venetians, rulers of
   the sea, fighting with their fast ships, and the ships with mighty
   hollows, resembling mountains, of the Spaniards, that have the tops
   of their masts in the clouds, must rush towards the Hellespont (and
   a cross, which fends off evil, must always be raised on the tops of
   their masts).

   Therefore, if the returning light of freedom enlightens Byzantion,
   the primary city, you could smash and crush the head itself of the
   strong monster: and may its other limbs become powerless easily:
   the Greek people--now exhausted by slavery--will remember their
   ancient virtue, because they will have increased their courage,
   striking the enemy from within, in order to behold the day of
   liberty. But when they will kill these criminals or chase them,
   fleeing, with mighty force beyond the Indians, then, on that same
   day, you will sing a hymn of victory to the gods; you will be
   rejoicing in the great reward of endurance; you will distribute
   among victorious men (man by man and in their trophy bearing
   hands), who have wreathed heads, the endless wealth of rich Asia
   and the richness, affluence and wealth of the Turks, which time has
   gathered in sixty years. And they, delighting in spoils, having
   remembered their father, will sing a paean on their way, and will
   dance a prulis with weapons, rejoicing in their entire soul. And
   then, Justice, the venerable daughter of Astraios will fly from
   heaven to the earth with broad roads, no longer being angry at the
   mortals: and then the whole race of ephemerals will no longer be
   sinful but of gold, while you will rule over the whole world: and
   after the downfall of the enemies, there will be rest everywhere.

In this lengthy passage Musurus asks the pope to muster the former belligerents for a campaign against the Ottoman Turks (vv. 99-127). Subsequently, the expected victory over the Turks is portrayed (vv. 127-152). In verse 99 Musurus not only turns from his first request of peace among the Christians to his second request of war against the Turks, but he also changes his stylistic register. Whereas verses 81-98 are characterized by their double entendre, the following verses are more straightforward and thematic or mythological echoes are lacking. This change is indicated by two words in particular: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 100) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 104). The former word indicates the first time the Turks are mentioned by name in the poem and this word is emphatically positioned as the first word of the middle verse of the poem. (54) It is also one of the rare non-classical words in the poem. (55) The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], referring to Mary, is not only a very significant word, but also the first specifically Christian word in the poem. (56) However, even this word is adapted to Homeric morphology.

The Turks are very negatively depicted. They are called cruel wolves with the rare word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (57) They are also characterized as lawless creatures by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 100), which echoes the uncivilized nature of the Cyclops and Antiphates (v. 86), as well as by the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 90). [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 102) seems to be a metonymy for Italy in general and not for southern Italy or Apulia in particular (which was the traditional meaning), since a progressing Ottoman incursion was thought to take place in the Balkans and not over sea from Albania to Apulia, as had happened in 1481 with the invasion of Otranto. (58)

Verses 105-114 form a catalogue of the nations the pope is supposed to unite in his army. This calls the Homeric catalogues to mind, e.g. the famous Catalogue of Ships (Il. 2.494-759), although direct references are lacking. (59) The nations mentioned are the principal participating parties of the War of the League of Cambrai: France ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 107), Spain ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. v. 109), Switzerland ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 110), the Holy Roman Empire ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 111), England ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 112), and the Italian states ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 113). The Germans are characterized by a particularly conspicuous word, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which in Greek literature only occurs in Callimachus' In Cererem 6.34. This hymn was included in the editio princeps of Janus Lascaris in 1496 and therefore might have been read by Musurus.

In verses 115-120 pope Leo is asked to summon other potential allies. The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are the only direct references to a Homeric catalogue. The phrase occurs twice in the Iliad when Trojan warriors are enumerated (2.848, 10.428). The choice of the name Paeonia seems odd: in ancient times this referred to modern Macedonia, but that area, including modern Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, had been conquered by the Ottomans before 1513. (60) Sifakis interprets [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as Hungarians, and although there is no exact historical precedent for this, it seems to be the most plausible meaning. (61) The fleet the pope will need for his expedition is described in verses 121-127. (62) The phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 126) is one of the rare references to the Christian faith found in the poem. (63)

The papal fleet is supposed to sail to the city of Constantinople and to defeat the Ottoman empire by conquering its capital city. The Ottoman Empire is portrayed as a powerful beast ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 129) and its capital as its head ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 130). Musurus predicts that after the conquest of Constantinople the Greeks who are living in the Ottoman empire will find courage to join the papal army. This strategy had been proposed by Janus Lascaris before. (64) Instead of referring to the Byzantine empire, Musurus emphasises the classical roots of the Greek speaking people. This is indicated by the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 127) instead of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 132) instead of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Finally the phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 133) also refers to ancient times (earlier referred to in verses 55-58).

The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 135) does not have a literal meaning, but simply indicates the farthest eastern part of the world. In a similar way, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 158) refers to the west and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 176) to the north.

The next intertextual reference is to Callimachus' Hymn to Zeus by means of the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 141), which is a hapax in Callimachus (In Iovem, v. 84). (65) In the same verse in Callimachus the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is also mentioned (also as the last word of the verse), which supports the idea that Musurus deliberately called the hymn to the mind of his readers. One of the few Greek authors before Musurus who uses the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 145) is Callimachus as well (In Dianam, v. 240; In Iovem, v. 52). This word means 'war dance'. (66) These references to Callimachus' Hymn to Zeus pick up the portrayal of pope Leo X as Zeus (vv. 45-46, 52).

In his description of the wealth of the Ottoman Empire, Musurus refers to the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453, sixty years earlier ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 142). Musurus ends his praise of the expected papal victory by claiming that the golden age will be restored once the Turks will have been defeated. His description of the Golden Era refers to both Hesiod and Aratus. Verse 147 ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is almost identical with Hesiod's Opera, v. 197 ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). In Hesiod this is said about [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Nepean;, who leave the iron race of men in despair and go to heaven. Afterwards Hesiod calls for the restoration of Justice (Op. 202-285). Musurus plays with this passage by reverting the meaning of this verse in his own poem. Here [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] returns to the earth from heaven because the age of the men of the golden race ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 150; Hesiod' Op. 109-126) has been restored. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is depicted as the daughter of Astraios ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 148), which is not found in Hesiod, but in Aratus Phaenomena 96-105, where the story of the ages of men is also dealt with. By means of this allusion to Hesiod and Aratus, Musurus claims that the return of the golden age is dependent on the defeat of the Turks by the pope.







   And may these things happen, but you, o lord, must now be satisfied
   with the lessons of the ancient Greeks, which are disappearing. And
   encourage the wakeful priests of the far-shooting god, soothing
   them with presents and gifts of the gods. Once you have gathered,
   father, the various sons of the Achaeans and the sons of the
   widespread westerners, in the prime of their youth and not lacking
   noble thoughts, nor stature or highborn blood, settle them in Rome,
   having placed with them men who preserve an ember of the ancient
   letters. May they live far from the far bounding din of battle in a
   dwelling close to the estuaries of the Naiads. May its name be that
   of the renowned Academy with the zeal of the previous one, which I
   once managed, discussing with noble youths the things that are
   known and reminding them of the things which they themselves had
   known before. But that one has perished; however, if you establish
   a new one, kindling its torch of docility from a small spark, then
   you will fill the hearts of a very large group of young men with an
   undefiled light. In Rome, Athens could rise again, changing the
   Tiber for the Ilissus. Once you will have done this, father, your
   fame will be high as heaven and it will reach the farthest lands of
   the Hyperboreans. Which tongue, which mouth of either rhetors or
   singers could not chant your fame? Which century will dim the
   far-shining radiance of such a matter? These things, lord, have
   made the name of your father and great-grandfathers famous among
   all people. But a bad rumour was poured out over the popes that
   preceded you, because they desired war very much, they loved
   grievous manslaughter, and they rejoiced in the plundering of

In the last part of Plato's speech, Musurus makes his second request to Leo X: he asks him to found a Greek academy in Rome (vv. 153-186). The imperative mode of the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 154), combined with the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 153), seems to be used in contrast to the optative [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 153), which describes the first request. It seems to reflect the feasibility of founding an academy compared to starting a crusade. The study of ancient Greek literature is not only referred to with the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (...) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (vv. 153-154), but also by referring to poets as the priests of the pagan god Apollo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 155).

More concretely, Musurus asks the pope to gather talented men from Greece and the Western countries to study in the new academy. The requirements of the students described by Musurus in verses 159-160 echo those mentioned by the papal letter in which Musurus was invited to bring young men to the academy: liberalis ingenii bonaeque indolis pueros. (67) In this letter he was asked to gather men from Greece and not from other countries, which seems logical since Greek --i.e. the language spoken by men from classical Greece (cf. vv. 55-58 about Roman Greeks and 'the half gods of Attica and Sparta')--was the language to be studied. (68) The addition of students from western countries ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 158) seems to serve the mere rhetorical purpose of enhancing the status of the academy. (69) In his inaugural address in 1518, Pierre Mosellanus, professor of Greek in Leipzig, refers to the academy in Rome and mentions that the young men also brought their teachers from Greece. (70) Another mythological embellishment can be found in verse 164: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; indicates the Tiber as a symbol of Rome. The house in verse 164 seems to refer to the house of Angelo Colocci on the Quirinal, where the academy was founded. (71)

In the next passage (vv. 165-174), Plato compares the new Greek academy in Rome with his former academy in Athens, most explicitly in verses 165-166 and 173-174. (72) The original name of the academy was '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], according to Diogenes Laertius' Vitae 3.8. Laertius' biography of Plato was printed in Manutius' and Musurus' edition before the platonic dialogues. (73) The idea of bringing Athens to Rome (vv. 173-174) by founding a place of learning was used before in a sermon addressed to pope Julius II by Battista Casali in 1508. (74) It is unknown if Musurus knew this text. Plato's primary method of teaching through anamnesis is mentioned in verses 167-168. (75)

The last passage of Plato's speech consists of the praise pope Leo X deserves, if he fulfils Musurus' wish of founding a Greek academy in Rome (vv. 175-186). In verses 177-179, the poem's second recusatio motive can be found. The first one, verses 27-28, was a traditional recusatio, but here the motive is reversed. Instead of claiming that he cannot praise the glory of the pope, Musurus states that it is impossible not to praise this glory. The poet employs a classicizing reference by means of the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which also occur in Homer's famous recusatio before the Catalogue of Ships (Il. 2. 484-493, especially 489).

In verses 181-186 Leo X's noble lineage is contrasted with his disreputable papal predecessors. Leo's father ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 181) Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492) was an important patron of arts and sciences in Florence. The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 181) means lineage or, more particularly, great-grandfather. The plural form may therefore indicate Leo's lineage of the Medici family. However, there seems to be a more specific reference to Cosimo di Medici (1389-1464), Leo's great-grandfather, who founded a Greek academy in Florence. The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 183) refer to the popes Alexander VI (1492-1503) and Julius II (1503-1513), who were known for their bellicose politics. Musurus' negative depiction of these popes (vv. 183-186) can be explained as part of his praise of the current pope Leo X, but also by the poet's desire for peace among Christians (cf vv. 91-98).



   Saying such things, you, divine Plato, will, by means of your
   exhortations, persuade him to hasten, since it is a paternal virtue
   for him to love peace, to swiftly chase the doughty barbaric
   sounding Ares from the land of Auson, and to bless the Hellenic
   grove of the daughters of the Helicon with the young trees of newly
   conceived sprouts. He will certainly be amazed at the extraordinary
   appearance of your very large stature and at your nature,
   resembling the immortal gods, and your reverent shoulders, and the
   orderly and thick haircut of your all-white head, respecting the
   majesty of your grey hairs, and your noble beard. He will not
   disobey your inducements, enchanted by your heart-charming
   persuasiveness. But it is time for you, leaving the chariot of the
   gods, to fly down.

The speaker in this last passage of the poem is Musurus again. Verses 187-192 summarize what Plato is supposed to ask the pope. The words 0eie [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 188) refer back to the first two words of the poem and this indicates that through a cyclical structure the poem is coming to an end. Musurus first repeats his request to hold back a Turkish attack ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 190) is reminiscent of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 90)) from Italy ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 189) is reminiscent of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 102)). Next (vv. 191-192), he orders Plato again, this time in a metaphorical way, to ask the pope to found the academy (cf vv. 157-74). [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 191) may refer to Diogenes Laertius' description of Plato's academy which was located in a grove (Vitae 3.7) and contained an altar to the Muses (Vitae 4.1). The young trees ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v. 192) refer to the new students of the future Greek academy.

It is surprising to encounter a first reference to Plato's outer appearance at the very end of the poem (vv. 193-197). The relatively long description is detailed enough to assume a model. As has been indicated above, the most famous portrait of Plato in Musurus' time was probably the recently painted figure on the painting later called 'the school of Athens'. However, several aspects of the description seem not to correspond with the painting, especially the very large stature, the reverent shoulders and the orderly haircut. A direct reference is therefore unlikely. Probably Musurus based his description of Plato on general ideas about the appearance of learned men from antiquity onwards (especially the beard and white hair suggest this): he probably had ancient depictions of Plato in mind. (76)

Musurus closes the poem with the expectation that the pope will fulfil Plato's requests (vv. 198-199). The last sentence picks up the imagery of the opening passage (the words nx^vo^ and appa are mentioned in verses 4 and 3 respectively): Plato is summoned to leave the chariot of the gods in heaven behind and descend to earth.


Allen, M J B 1981. Marsilio Ficino and the Phaedran charioteer. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Austin, J 1965. Catalogues and the Catalogue of ships in the Iliad. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Binner, R 1980. Griechische Gelehrte in Italien (1453-1535) und der Turkenkrieg. Munich (diss.).

Cataldi Palau, A 2004. La vita di Marco Musuro alia luce di documenti e manoscritti. ItaliaMedioevale e Umanistica 45:295-369.

Chambers, D 1995. The earlier 'academies' in Italy. In Chambers, D & Quiviger, F (eds.), Italian academies of the sixteenth century, 1-14. London: The Warburg Institute, University of London.

Enenkel, K 2009. Introduction: The Neo Latin epigram. In De Beer, S, Enenkel, K & Rijser, D (eds.), The Neo-Latin epigram: A learned and witty genre, 1-25. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Fanelli, V 1961. Il ginnasio greco di Leone X a Roma. Studi Romani 9:379-393.

Ferreri, L 2014. L 'Italia degli umanisti 1: Marco Musuro. Turnhout: Brepols.

Firmin-Didot, A 1875. AldeManuce et l'Hellenisme a Venise. Paris: s.n.

Foster, J 1763. An essay on the different nature of accent and quantity. Eton: J Pote.

Foffano, F 1892. Marco Musuro professore di Greco a Padova ed a Venezia.

Nuovo Archivio Veneto IIL453-473.

Geanakoplos, D J 1962. Greek scholars in Venice. Studies in the dissemination of Greek learning from Byzantium to Western Europe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Gordon, O K 1963. Two unusual calendar cycles of the fourteenth century. The Art Bulletin 45.3:245-253.

Grant, E 1994. Planets, stars, & orbs. The Medieval cosmos, 1200-1687. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Hall, M 1997. Raphael's school of Athens. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Hankins, J 1990. Plato in the Italian Renaissance. Leiden: Brill.

Hutton, J 1935. The Greek anthology in Italy to the year 1800. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

IJsewijn, J & Sacre, D 1998. Companion to neo-Latin studies. Part II: Literary, linguistic, philological and editorial questions. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Kidwell, C 2004. Pietro Bembo. Lover, linguist, cardinal. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Knos, B 1945. Un ambassadeur de l'hellenisme : Janus Lascaris et la tradition greco-byzantine dans l'humanisme frangais. Uppsala: Almqvist-Les Belles lettres.

Laskaris, G 1976. Epigrammi Greci. Anna Meschini (ed). Padua: Liviana Scolastica.

Lauxtermann, M D 2003. Byzantine poetry from Pisides to Geometres. Vienna: Verlag der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

--Janus Lascaris and the Greek Anthology. In De Beer, S, Enenkel, K &

Rijser, D (eds.), The Neo-Latin epigram: A learned and witty genre, 41-65. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Legrand, E 1885. Bibliographie hellenique des XVe et XVIe siecles I-II. Paris: G.-P. Maisonneuve & Larose.


Meregazzi, R 1972. Pauli Iovii opera cura et studio societatis historicae novocomensis denuo edita. Tomus VIII. Elogia virorum illustrium Roma: Istituto poligrafico dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato.

Meschini, A 1976. Giano Laskaris. Epigrammi Greci. Padua: Liviana Scolastica.

Moreau, J 1976. De la concordance d'Aristote avec Platon. In Platon et Aristote a la Renaissance, 45-58. Paris.

Most, G 1996. Reading Raphael: 'The School of Athens' and its pre-text. Critical Inquiry 23:145-182.

O'Malley, J 1977. The Vatican library and the schools of Athens: A text of Battista Casali, 1508. The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 7.2:271287.

Orlandi, G 1975. Aldo Manuzio editore. Dediche, prefazioni, note ai testi. Introduzione di Carlo Dionisotti, testo latino con traduzione e note a cura di Giovanni Orlandi I. Milan: Edizioni Il Polifilo.

Pagliaroli, S 2004. Giano Lascari e il ginnasio greco. Studi medievali e umanistici 2:215-293.

Pernot, L 1993. La rhetorique de l'eloge dans le monde greco-romain. Tome I. Histoire et technique. Paris : Institut d'Etudes Augustiniennes 1993.

Pontani, F 2002/2003. Musurus' creed. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 43:175-213.

--2005. Sguardi su Ulisse : la tradizione esegetica greca all'Odissea. Rome:

Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura.

Reau, L 1956-1957. Iconographie de l'art chretien. Tome 2: Iconographie de la bible. Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

Rijser, D 2012. Raphael's poetics. Art and poetry in high Renaissance Rome. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Roberts, M 2001. Rome personified, Rome epitomized: Representations of Rome in the poetry of the early fifth century. The American Journal of Philology 122:533-565.

Roscoe, W 1805. The life and pontificate of Leo the Tenth I-IV. London : T Cadell & W Davies.

Saladin, J-Ch 2000. La bataille du grec a la renaissance. Paris: Les Belles Lettres. Sandys, J E 1908. A history of classical scholarship I-III. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Setton, K M 1976-1984. The papacy and the Levant 1204-1571. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society.

Sifakis G M 1954. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 8:366-388.

West, M 1982. Greek metre. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Zanker, P 1995. Die Maske des Sokrates. Das Bild des Intellektuellen in der antiken Kunst. Munich: Beck.

(1) s.n. 1839. Review of Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy by Thomas Keightley, 2nd ed. 1838. The Gentleman's Magazine XII by Sylvanus Urban, 54-57.

(2) s.n. 1847. Memoir of the rev. H F Cary, translator of Dante. The Gentleman's Magazine by Sylvanus Urban, 339-360.

R Dijkstra

(Radboud University, Nijmegen)

E Hermans

(Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University)

(1) We would like to thank the anonymous referee of Akroterion, Philip Mitsis (New York University), Leslie Pierce (New York University) and in particular Han Lamers (Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin) for their remarks and suggestions.

(2) Sed saeva coniuratione externarum gentium, afflictis bello Venetis inde exturbatus, ita tranquillum optium quaesivit, ut graeco carmine divi Platonis laudes decantaret; extat id poema et in limine operum Platonis legitur, commendatione publica cum antiquis elegantia comparandum. This remark can be found in Giovio's Elogia virorum illustrium. XXX. Marcus Musurus, see Meregazzi 1972:63 ([21.sup.r]).

(3) The standard edition of Musurus' poem is still to be found in Legrand's edition of early modern classical Greek literature: Legrand 1885:106-112. The only publication entirely devoted to Musurus' poem is Sifakis 1954:366-388. Sifakis tackles the reception of the poem and provides a rudimentary commentary, which is both random and unrewarding. Recently, Ferreri 2014 has published the first modern translation of the poem, into Italian. He also provides the Greek text, other documents concerning the poem and a Latin translation of the poem by Lascaris, see pp. 132-165. Roscoe 1805:241-247 provides a highly stylized translation into English, which is not very helpful to understanding the Greek. Some passages are translated into French by Firmin-Didot 1875:352-354. A Latin translation can be found in Foster 1763:407-435. For two other Latin translations see Ferreri 2014:158-159. Geanakoplos 1962:149-153 briefly discusses the poem and partly quotes Roscoe's translation. Binner 1980 discusses the poem on pp. 200-206.

(4) For some recent biographies of Musurus, see Geanakoplos 1962:111-166 and Cataldi Palau 2004:295-369; cf. Pagliaroli 2004:224-232 in particular. A recently discovered poem by Musurus is dealt with in depth by Pontani 2002-2003:175-213.

(5) Musurus had to terminate his lessons at the University of Padua and fled to Venice in 1509 due to this war, see Geanakoplos 1962:141-142.

(6) West 1982:181.

(7) Lauxtermann 2003:197.

(8) See Lauxtermann 2009:41-65.

(9) Hutton 1935:34-45, 155.

(10) Enenkel 2009:1-25, esp. 14. Cf. Ijsewijn & Sacre 1998:80-85.

(11) See e.g. Hankins 1990.

(12) Hall 1997:37-41.

(13) There is discussion about the function of the room: it probably contained books, but might have had the function of 'oval office' at the same time, see Rijser 2012:108-110.

(14) Geanakoplos 1962:128-130, 144-145; on Musurus' visit to Rome in 1516: Ibid:158. For the friendly relation between Leo and Musurus, see Pagliaroli 2014:230-232. Moreover, Musurus undoubtedly was aware of Leo's philhellenism, for which see e.g. Saladin 2000:116.

(15) The standard and excellently documented overview is Setton 1976-1984. Regarding the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century: 111:51-171.

(16) Setton 1976-1984:III, 142, who does not mention Musurus in particular. For an overview of such appeals by Greek refugees, see Manousakas 1965 and Binner 1980.

(17) Musurus also had personal experience with Ottoman political power, when he had to translate a proclamation of a Turkish envoy in the Venetian Senate from Greek into Latin, announcing the accession of sultan Selim I in 1512, see Setton 1976-1984:In, 127-128 (with footnotes).

(18) For Janus Lascaris see e.g. Knos 1945, but cf Binner 1980:129-185. Musurus affirms himself in 1516 that Lascaris worked ceaselessly to undertake a crusade against the Turks: Ibid:148-151; Geanakoplos 1962:158. Moreover, in 1508 Lascaris wrote an Italian treatise, Informatione ad impresa contro a Turchi, in which he proposed a programme to unite the Christian states in an expedition against the Turks, see Setton 1976-1984:III, 53. Lascaris' translation of Musurus' poem can be found in Ferreri 2014:158-165.

(19) Quoted from the sermon of Battista Casali delivered for Julius II, on 1 January 1508, see O'Malley 1977:271-287 (286 for the quotation, 272-273 and 277 for references to the Turkish threat in the work of Casali).

(20) Setton 1976-1984:III, 146.

(21) IbidlIl, 150.

(22) Pagliaroli 2014 and Chambers 1995:1-14.

(23) The date of publication is mentioned on the last page of this edition.

(24) For the Latin text of this letter: Legrand 1885:11, 321. Lascaris seems to be the mastermind behind the idea of this academy: Fanelli 1961:379-393 (388-389). Pagliaroli 2004: 245-257 in particular: he distinguishes between Lascaris' and Manutius' attempt to found an academy: Non sappiamo con esatezza quale fosse il progetto che Aldo intendeva realizzare a Roma e fino a qual punto, in quel momento storico, potesse essere alternativo a quello di Giano, che comunque, ed e significativo, qui (sc. the Latin dedicatory letter preceding the edition of Plato by Manutius) non e menzionato. However, it is also possible that both Lascaris and Manutius each tried to convince the pope to found the same academy. Pagliaroli himself suggests that Manutius withdrew his plans, about which no trace is found in documents later than the dedicatory letter.

(25) Geanakoplos 1962:153. The poem did gain some popularity soon after its publication, however. In 1517 it was translated into Latin by Zanobi Acciaiuoli, a confidant of Leo X. In a letter in which the translation is found, Acciaiuoli writes to have encountered the poem recently (nuper), see Hankins 1990:458, n.19. There is little known about the actual functioning of the academy. Fanelli 1961:389 suggested that it was founded in 1516, when the official statutes were written and when Musurus visited Rome for the first time after 1513. However, Saladin 2000:109 refers to a letter by Lascaris written to the parents of the first pupils of the academy, dated 15 February 1514. It seems that the academy started in that year already. For Musurus' belated arrival in Rome, see Foffano 1892:453-470, 469 in particular. Because of this later date, Foffano suggests that Musurus was not really interested in the academy. However, Musurus was not needed in Rome since Lascaris was head of the academy.

(26) Foffano 1892:468-469. Similar to Foffano's reasoning, Sifakis 1954:367 assumes that the poem was written in 1512 without further argument. Geanakoplos 1962:147-154 refers both to Bembo's letter and to Foffano's article, but entirely ignores this dating problem.

(27) Most of Ficino's commentary on the Phaedrus was devoted to the image of the charioteer, see Allen 1981, especially 1-5 about associations recalled by the Phaedran chariot in Ficino's time.

(28) Ibid:8-14. A reference to the chariot in the beginning of a Homericizing poem about Plato probably reminded the readers of Musurus' poem of the world of Homer in which the chariot was particularly significant (for which see Ibid:2-3).

(29) Cf. e.g. Sappho fr. 1. 1-13, where Aphrodite is asked to come down and also a chariot and the wings of the sparrows are mentioned (cf. Musurus v. 4 and 6 in particular).

(30) Sifakis 1954:384 translates the word and mentions the fact that it is a hapax.

(31) For a short description of the lively debate of the commensurability of Plato's and Aristotle's philosophy in Musurus' times see e.g. Moreau 1976:45-58. The ideas about the cosmos in Musurus' time are described in Grant 1994. Although most people looked upon cosmological matters from an Aristotelian perspective, more variety existed than has often been assumed, see Ibid:675-679. For discussion about the validity of Platonism compared to Aristotelianism in Musurus' days, see e.g. Saladin 2000:59-76.

(32) Cf Ferreri 2014:147 n. 46.

(33) For topoi in the praise of Rome see e.g. Roberts 2001:533-565, 543-545 for the hills, 551-552 for the Tiber. These topographical aspects were also part of praise of cities in classical literature in general, see Pernot 1993:178-215.

(34) Cf. Thuc. 4.24.5 where Charybdis is mentioned by name with reference to Odysseus (thus implying the presence of Scylla).

(35) Neue Pauly, s.v. Dionysius and Plato Ep. 7. Ferrei 2014:148 n.49 mentions both possibilities, but does not try to determine who is meant in Musurus.

(36) Cf. Sifakis 1954:385 ad locum.

(37) Kidwell 2004:13-15; Knos 1945:89-94; Geanakoplos 1962:128-132.

(38) Four Lascarids were Byzantine emperors in the 13th century.

(39) See a remark about Janus in (1) 1839:55. For the ancient quadrifrons triumphal arch of Janus and its early modern reception, see Most 1996:173-179.

(40) For depictions of a three-faced Janus see e.g. the Hawisia Psalter from around 1313, mentioned in Gordon 1963:245-253. There is also a three-faced Janus in the cathedral of Chartres, see Reau 1956-1957:21. For the possible influence of contemporary images of a three-faced Janus, see the surprisingly off-topic and lengthy but well documented footnote in (2) 1847:339-360, esp. 345-346. Fanelli 1961:391, n. 50 suggests that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] refers to the goddess Diana (formerly called Iana), but this explanation seems less plausible.

(41) Ferreri 2014:148, note 50.

(42) Already before he left the Conclave on 11 March 1513, the new pope Leo X appointed two well-known Latinists, Pietro Bembo and Jacopo Sadoleto, as his personal secretaries: Kidwell 2004:164.

(43) Quorum unus ac praecipuus est Musurus Cretensis, magno vir judicio, magna doctrina, qui hos Platonis libros accurate recognovit cum antiquissimis conferens exemplaribus, ut una mecum, quod semper facit, multum adjumenti afferret et Graecis et nostris hominibus. Text in Orlandi 1975:123.

(44) This is the interpretation of Fanelli 1961:382, who has searched in vain for this special edition.

(45) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Nestle-Aland, 26th edition). Cf. Revelation 18:12 where gold, silver and purple, among others things, are associated with the despicable city of Babylon.

(46) See Neue Pauly s.v. Euganei.

(47) For Musurus and Homer's work, see Pontani 2005:481-485.

(48) Regarding Polyphemus, Rijser 2012:390-401 discusses the different roles attributed to him in Roman culture in the beginning of the sixteenth century, but these do not correspond to Polyphemus' role in Musurus' poem.


(50) Furthermore [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (v. 96) might recall Plato ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Ap. 23c).

(51) Sifakis 1954:386.

(52) It is not a hapax, pace Ibid: 386.

(53) Sandys 1908:104; Firmin-Didot 1875:105-111.

(54) Furthermore, it is one of Musurus' many neologisms: Sifakis 1954:386.


(56) Musurus' religious conviction is debated; although officially a catholic, his sympathy also lay with the orthodox faith, see Cataldi Palau 2004:343-344.

(57) It occurs twice in Greek literature, once in Lascaris epigrams (55.1) and once in the Greek Anthology (AP 7.550,2). For a short discussion of this [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], see Meschini 1976:175.

(58) Setton 1976-1984:III, 147-151; on the battle of Otranto: Ibid: II, 314-345.

(59) On the structure of catalogues, see Austin 1965.

(60) Ibid: III, 150. The Hungarians had become neighbours of the Ottoman Empire, cf the papal encyclical letter (supra n. 12).

(61) Sifakis 1954:387. Pace Ferreri 2014:149: 'L'allusione dovrebbe essere agli Albanesi'.

(62) Pontani 2002-2003:185 refers to this passage in his index of a manuscript in which he discovered another poem by Musurus. In this manuscript two drawings of ships can be found.

(63) Before Musurus the only occurrence of the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in combination is in Gregory of Nyssa's De Sancto Theodoro, 125. The reputation of both the author and the saint, as well as the fact that St. Theodore's relics were preserved in the city of Venice make it plausible that Musurus knew this text, but this particular reference seems too obscure to have been recognized by Musurus' readers.

(64) See Binner 1980:203.

(65) This word was also included in the Etymologicum Magnum, edited by Musurus in 1499.

(66) In Hesychius' Lexicon this word can also be found. For Musurus' acquaintance with Hesychius, see Pontani 2002-2003:197 n. 57.

(67) (...) mando tibi ut suscipias diligentem curam adducendi ad nos e Graecia decem aut duodecim, aut sane quot voles ipse, liberalis ingenii bonaeque indolis pueros, unde latinis hominibus linguae illius verus germanusque usus, rectaque cognitio et tanquam seminarium quoddam bonorum studiorum commode confici et comparari possit. Text in Legrand 1885:11, 321. Opinions differ on the academy's actual organisation, since there is no document describing its whereabouts, see Saladin 2000:108. Fanelli takes the letter above at face value and asserts that in contrast with Aldus' academy in Venice, in Rome intellectuals were able to take advantage of men of Greek origin, see Fanelli 1961:384. This seems to imply the rather improbable situation that young men (pueros) would teach adults (hominibus). Knos 1945:140-142 claims that the academy in Rome was founded out of Lascaris' concern about the decline of Greek education in the lands under Ottoman rule. Knos therefore suggests that the academy was founded to instruct young men from Greece and he seems to interpret latinis hominibus as a dativus auctoris instead of a dativus commodi. Although Knos does not mention Musurus, his interpretation is in line with Musurus' allusion to this papal letter. Moreover, the letter by Lascaris to the pupils' parents (see n. 25 supra) as well as a letter by Musurus written in 1516 confirm Knos' line of argument, see Saladin 2000:101-111. The number of twelve students is also confirmed by these letters. The letter by Lascaris extensively described the reception of the first students by pope Leo X, see Ibid:108-118.

(68) Musurus himself seems to confirm this. In a letter, written in 1516 as a preface to the editio princeps of Pausanias, Musurus describes the academy and mentions that its members hail from Crete, Corfu and the coastal regions of the Peloponnesus. For the Greek text, see Legrand 1885:I, 148.

(69) Ferreri 2014:150 n. 59 mentions the possibility that westerners may here refer specifically to Italians, although in general it refers to all inhabitants of the West.

(70) Nuper adeo ex universa graecia foelicissimae indolis pueros multos una cum praeceptoribus Romam evocavit (...), see Saladin 2000:118 (Latin text on p. 436, n. 43).

(71) Pagliaroli 2014:250.

(72) Fanelli 1961:382 suggests that Manutius' academy is meant. Sifakis 1954:388 thinks that verse 173 refers to Augustan Rome. Both these interpretations do not make sense, since the first person singular refers to Plato, the speaker of this passage: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (vv. 165-166).

(73) With Ibid: 383 we do not follow Legrand's emendation of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(74) O'Malley 1977:272-273, where also a few other contemporary references to cities as the New Athens are discussed.

(75) For Plato's theory of anamnesis, see e.g. Phd. 72e, 92d.

(76) Ancient descriptions of Plato's appearance are lacking. For images of philosophers in classical art see e.g. Zanker 1995.
COPYRIGHT 2015 University of Stellenbosch, Department of Ancient Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Dijkstra, R.; Hermans, E.
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUGR
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Self-satire in the Cena Trimalchionis.
Next Article:The soother of evil pains: Asclepius and Freud.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters