At his festival in 1513 the talking statue Pasquino took the character of Apollo to celebrate the election of Leo X and to predict a golden age of patronage and poetry.(1) "I used to be an exile," Pasquino/Apollo remarks, "But I'm back in Leo's reign. / So burn your midnight oil, boys, / And follow in my train, / For no one leaves my Leo / Without a handsome gain. / Bards will sing for prizes, / And they'll not sing in vain."(2) The new era lived up to Pasquino's expectations, for the Roman humanists were rewarded and entertained not only in the papal court but also, less formally, in the vigne of numerous Maecenases and fellow poets, where they came together in literary groups, or sodalities, to dine, exchange their poetry, and celebrate the shared ideals of the humanist community.(3)
The literary and convivial spirit of the age seemed to find its perfect expression in the hospitality of Johannes Goritz. Goritz had arrived in Rome from his native Luxembourg sometime during the reign of Alexander VI and soon became well established in the Curia, first as a registrar of supplications and later as a papal protonotary. Each year he celebrated the feast of Saint Anne (July 26) at the altar he had commissioned in her honor in the church of S. Agostino and feted the humanists with a poetry contest and an elaborate banquet in his vigna. The humanists called him Coricius or Coritius, in allusion both to the Corician cave of the Muses on Mount Parnassus and to the wonderful old gardener in the Fourth Georgic who "was first to pluck the rose of spring and the fruit of autumn" and, though tilling but a poor plot, "in his contentment equalled the wealth of kings."(4) Goritz's garden was magnificent (and his friends claimed that he worked in it himself), but he was not poor and obscure like the old man in Vergil.(5) He had grown wealthy in the Curia, and the fame of his celebration attracted poets from all over Europe.
For many years Goritz enjoyed extravagant popularity among the humanists of his adopted city, as Pierio Valeriano recalls in his notice in De litteratorum infelicitate:
He consecrated his delightful gardens at Trajan's forum to the whole academy and to all who were distinguished for letters. In addition, he established a celebration and a kind of literary contest every year on the feast of Saint Anne and celebrated it in a long succession of years. This won him so much good will that there was no one in our age of princes more celebrated in the poetry of all learned men than Coritius alone, and he was truly called the "father of all festivity and charm."(6)
All this generosity and "the piety of Corycius, attested by the witness of so many poets and rehearsed in the pages of so many scholars,"(7) as Valeriano tells us, were lost with Goritz himself in the sack of Rome in 1527.
Even before the sack, however, Goritz's feasts had lost much of their convivial savor, and Goritz himself was under attack by some of his former friends. Goritz's celebrations, as we shall argue, were rounded on the idea of Rome as the patria communis of the nations; they foundered on the realities of anti-German prejudice brought into the open when the humanists confronted the northerners Christophe Longueil and Pope Adrian VI. The changing attitudes can be charted in the remarks of Pasquino, in various writings of Pierio Valeriano, who both observed and participated in the principal events of the Roman humanist world, and in contemporary poems, some hitherto unpublished.
The Roman humanists took their festivities seriously, for they saw them not only as promoting and embodying their friendships but also as the modern counterparts of the gatherings of the ancient poets whom they so admired. Thus, when Valeriano lectured on Catullus at the University of Rome in 1522, he took the occasion to pronounce a little digression on the word sodalis in Cat. 12 in order to draw a parallel between ancient and modern sodalities. (Catullus is inveighing against the man who had stolen his napkin at a dinner party: "Either expect an attack in 300 hendecasyllables, or give back my napkin. I don't care so much about its value, but it is a memento of my sodalis.")(8) Here is Valeriano's comment: "No form of association produces a greater bond of friendship than dining together, than being nourished and fed together - whence the terms 'close friends' [sodales] and 'fellowship' [sodalitium] for a gathering of those friends who often dine together. You know this sort of fellowship at Rome, the sodalitia of Sadoleto, Giberti, Coricius, Colocci, Melinus, Cursius, Blosius, and the rest."(9) The sodalities were loosely organized, and their memberships overlapped. Valeriano himself seems to have belonged to at least three sodalities (those of Goritz, Mellini, and Colocci), and several of those he lists as leaders of sodalities were members of other groups as well.
Two sodalities were particularly important. One was that of Johannes Goritz. The other was headed by Valeriano's great friend, Angelo Colocci. Colocci was an astute man of affairs and a knowledgeable collector of benefices, antiquities, and manuscripts. He was also the heir of Pomponio Leto's house and Pomponio's successor as leader of the Roman Academy, which seems to have been less a regularized institution with rules and a program than a state of mind compounded of conviviality, Roman patriotism, love of poetry, and (in the tradition of Pomponio) enthusiasm for the tangible remains of antiquity - statuary, ruins, coins, inscriptions - that were still found almost daily in Renaissance Rome.(10) Most of Colocci's sodality (including Colocci himself) belonged also to Goritz's, but the two groups were different in kind: Colocci's was patriotic and antiquarian, while Goritz's was religious and literary. In order to understand the most important differences that separated them, however, we must look more closely at Goritz's altar in S. Agostino and the events of Saint Anne's day.
Goritz's altar was attached to one of the piers in the nave of S. Agostino. Immediately above it was a fresco by Raphael depicting the prophet Isaiah holding a scroll. Below, in the pavement of the church, was Goritz's tomb, ready to receive him. On the altar itself was Andreas Sansovino's sculpture of Saint Anne, the Virgin, and the infant Christ.(11)
On Saint Anne's day Goritz's friends wrote poems musing on the statues, on the piety of Goritz, and (less often) on the powerful fresco that is so much better known today than Sansovino's sculpture - as well as on their own commemoration of the occasion. They attached their poems to boards or frames fastened to the pier, expanding and sometimes interpreting the artistic ensemble.(12) Here, for example, is Blosio Palladio in his ode On Goritz's Column (he is certainly thinking not only of the statue group but also of Goritz's waiting tomb and the prayer inscribed on the altar that the intercession of Saint Anne and the Virgin will assure him eternal life): "Hail, august …