« السابقةمتابعة »
7°27′er. Marsy”, (3//
MAP OF THE WEST INDIES.
From the Map in the Edition of Peter Martyr's Decades, Published in Seville in 1511. Original in the Library of Henry C. Murphy, Esq.
entombed in a chapel of Sant' Eustorgio decorated by Michelozzi. Under the patronage and name of Peter Martyr, the child of the Anghera was baptised and, since his family name fell into oblivion, Martyr has replaced it. Mention of his kinsmen is infrequent in his voluminous writings, though there is evidence that he furthered the careers of two younger brothers when the opportunity offered. For Giorgio he solicited and obtained from Lodovico Sforza, in 1487, the important post of governor of Monza. For Giambattista he procured from the Spanish sovereigns a recommendation which enabled him to enter the service of the Venetian Republic, under whose standard he campaigned with Nicola Orsini, Count of Pitigliano. Giambattista died in Brescia in 1516, leaving a wife and four daughters. A nephew, Gian Antonio, whose name occurs in several of his uncle's letters is described by the latter as licet ex transverso natus; he served under Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, and finally, despite his bar sinister, married a daughter of Francesco, of the illustrious Milanese family of Pepoli." Concerning his earlier years and his education Peter Martyr is silent, nor does he anywhere mention under whose direction he began his studies. In the education deemed necessary for young men of his quality, the exercises of chivalry and the recreations of the troubadour found equal place, and such was doubtless the training he received. He spent some years at the ducal court of Milan, but there is no indication that he frequented the schools of such famous Hellenists as Francesco Filelfo who, in 1471, was there lecturing on the Politics of Aris* Peter Martyr's will gave to his only surviving brother, Giorgio, his share of the family estate, but on condition that he should receive Giambattista's daughter, Laura, in his family and provide for her: emponiendola en todas las buenas costumbres y crianza que hija de tal padre merece (Coll. de Documentos ineditos para la Hist. de España, tom. xxxix., pp. 397).
Another of Giambattista's daughters, Lucrezia, who was a nun, received one hundred ducats by her uncle's will.
totle, and of Constantine Lascaris whom the reigning duke, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, commissioned to compile a Greek grammar for the use of his daughter. In later years, when he found his chief delight and highest distinction in intercourse with men of letters, Peter Martyr would hardly have neglected to mention such precious early associations had they existed. The fortunes of the family of Anghera were the reverse of opulent at that period of its history, and the sons obtained careers under the patronage of Count Giovanni Borromeo. The times were troublous in Lombardy. The assassination, in 1476, of Gian Galeazzo was followed by commotions and unrest little conducive to the cultivation of the humanities, and which provoked an exodus of humanists and their disciples. Many sought refuge from the turbulence prevailing in the north, in the more pacific atmosphere of Rome, where a numerous colony of Lombards was consequently formed. The following year Peter Martyr, being then twenty years of age, joined his compatriots in their congenial exile. His rank and personal qualities, as well as the protection accorded him by Giovanni Arcimboldo, Archbishop of Milan, and Ascanio Sforza, brother of the Duke, Lodovicoil Moro, assured him a cordial welcome. For a youth devoid of pretensions to humanistic culture, he penetrated with singular ease and rapidity into the innermost academic circle, over which reigned the most amiable of modern pagans, Pomponius Laetus. It was the age of the Academies. During the Ecumenical Council of Florence, Giovanni de' Medici, fired with enthusiasm for the study of Platonic philosophy, brilliantly expounded by the learned Greek, Gemisto, conceived the plan of promoting the revival of classical learning by the formation of an academy, in imitation of that founded by the immortal Plato. Under such lofty patronage, this genial conception, so entirely in consonance with
the intellectual tendencies of the age, attracted to its support every Florentine who aspired to a reputation for culture, at a time when culture was fashionable. The Greek Cardinal, Bessarion, whom Eugene IV. had raised to the purple at the close of the Council, carried the Medicean novelty to Rome, where he formed a notable circle, in which the flower of Hellenic and Latin culture was represented. Besides this group, characterised by a theological tincture alien to the neo-pagan spirit in flimsily disguised revolt against Christian dogma and morality, Pomponius Laetus and Platina founded the Roman Academy—an institution destined to world-wide celebrity. Pomponius Laetus, an unrecognised bastard of the noble house of Sanseverini, was professor of eloquence in Rome. Great amongst the humanists, in him the very spirit of ancient Hellas seemed revived. What to many was but the fad or fashionable craze of the hour, was to him the all-important and absorbing purpose of living. He dwelt aloof in poverty; shunning the ante-chambers and tables of the great, he and kindred souls communed with their disciples in the shades of his grove of classic laurels. He was indifferent alike to princely and to popular favour, passionately consecrating his efforts to the revival and preservation of such classics as had survived the destructive era known as the Dark Ages. Denied a name of his own, he adopted a Latin one to his liking, thus from necessity setting a fashion his imitators followed from affectation. When approached in the days of his fame by the Sanseverini with proposals to recognise him as a kinsman, he answered with a proud and laconic refusal." The Academy, formed of super-men infected with
“His refusal was in the following curt form: Pomponius Lattus cognatis et propinquis suis, salutem. Quod petitis fieri non potest.—Valete. Consult Tiraboschi, Storia della Letteratura Italiana, vol. vii., cap. v.; Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom in Mittelalter; Burkhardt, Die Kulturder Renaissance in Italien, and Voigt in his Wiederlebung des Klassischen Alterthums.
pagan ideals, contemptuous of scholastic learning and impatient of the restraints of Christian morality, did not long escape the suspicions of the orthodox; suspicions only too well warranted and inevitably productive of antagonism ending in condemnation." From trifles, as they may seem to us at this distance of time, hostile ingenuity wove the web destined to enmesh the incautious Academicians. The adoption of fanciful Latin appellations—in itself a sufficiently innocent conceit—was construed into a demonstration of revolt against established Christian usage, almost savouring of contempt for the canonised saints of the Church. Pomponius Laetus was nameless, and hence free to adopt whatever name he chose; his associates and admiring disciples paid him the homage of imitation, proud to associate themselves, by means of this pedantic fancy, with him they called master. The Florentine, Buonacorsi, took the name of Callimachus Experiens; the Roman, Marco, masqueraded as Asclepiades; two Venetian brothers gladly exchanged honest, vulgar Piscina for the signature of Marsus, while another, Marino, adopted that of Glaucus. If the neo-pagans were harmless and playful merely, their opponents were dangerously in earnest. In 1468 a grave charge of conspiracy against the Pope's life and of organising a schism led to the arrest of Pomponius and Platina, some of the more wary members of the compromised fraternity saving themselves by timely flight.
* Sabellicus, in a letter to Antonio Morosini (Liber Epistolarum, xi., p. 459) wrote thus of Pomponius Laetus: . . . fuit ab initio contemptor religionis, sed ingravesciente atate capit res ipsa, ut mibi dicitur cura, esse. In Crispo et Livio reposint quaedam; et si memo religiosius timidiusques tractavit veterum scripta . . . Graeca. . . . vix attingit. While to a restricted number, humanism stood for intellectual emancipation, to the many it meant the rejection of the moral restraints on conduct imposed by the law of the Church, and a revival of the vices that flourished in the decadent epochs of Greece and Rome.