Academic journal article Seventeenth-Century News

Notable Men and Women of Our Time

Academic journal article Seventeenth-Century News

Notable Men and Women of Our Time

Article excerpt

Notable Men and Women of Our Time. By Paolo Giovio. Ed. by Kenneth Gouwens. The I Tatti Renaissance Library, 56. xxii + 760 pages. Latin Poetry. By Girolamo Fracastoro. Ed. by James Gardner. The I Tatti Renaissance Library, 57. xx + 537 pages. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2013. $29.95. The last two volumes to be published in the I Tatti Renaissance Library are unusually hefty tomes, containing important works in the Neo-Latin canon accompanied by an English translation and extensive annotation, more than enough for an intelligent first reading of the text.

Paolo Giovio (1486-1552) wrote Notable Men and Women after the sack of Rome in May, 1527 by Emperor Charles V. As Clement VII's personal physician, Giovio was a firsthand witness to this event, initially following the pope into imprisonment but eventually gaining a safe-conduct which led him to Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. There he stayed with Vittoria Colonna and composed the dialogue, as consolation for the disastrous events in Rome. The major interlocutors are Alfonso d'Avalos, a renowned imperial military officer; Giovanni Antonio Muscettola, a Neapolitan jurist who was well known in his own day; and Giovio himself, all of whom were on Ischia in late 1527. The first day's discussion ostensibly focuses on military matters, but it also extends to philosophical debates about fate, the value of astrology, and the place of morality in keeping order. On the second day the dialogue turns to men of letters, surveying over a hundred and considering why opportunities for composition in Latin have declined. The third day's discussion centers on illustrious women and asks whether the outstanding figures of the present can rival those of the past. The last discussion is probably the most interesting for a reader at the beginning of the twenty-first century, given that it takes a topic of great interest today and develops it into a series of portraits that are considerably more detailed and realistic than much of what was written in this area in the Renaissance. …

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