Ludovico Carbone on the
Nature of Rhetoric
Jean Dietz Moss
Catholic University of America
A product of the Jesuit College at Rome, probably during the second decade after its inception in 1551, Ludovico Carbone never became a Jesuit priest. He did, however, disseminate in a number of books much of what he learned there. The breadth of scholarship in his writings is remarkable even for a time when "Renaissance men" were not rare. His scope embraced logic, philosophy, theology, sacred oratory, and rhetoric. Among his published rhetorical works are a guide in the form of tables ( Tabulae) to the popular text of Cipriano Soarez, seven books on various aspects of rhetoric, and two books on sacred oratory.1 All of his books were published in the last two decades of the quinquecento, and the rhetoric texts in the space of 5 years.
We know little about the life of Carbone other than that he was a professor at the University of Perugia and died in 1597. What is obvious from reading his books is that he was a master pedagogue, familiar with scholastic doctrine, humanistic learning, and the doctrinal distinctions held and debated by the foremost scholars of his day. Above all he was clear and systematic in his exposition, and we do not find it hard to believe him when he voices the scholarly com-____________________