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Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome

Francesco Sperulo: Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy – Volume II


Paul Gwynne

This book is also available as a set, together with Volume I.
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Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome is the first full-length study of the life and works of Francesco Sperulo of Camerino (1463–1531). In a remarkable career during which the poet progressed from serving as a soldier of fortune in the service of Cesare Borgia to an Italian bishopric, Sperulo produced a significant body of Latin poetry, here presented in a critical edition for the first time. An impressive array of contemporary figures including Leonardo da Vinci, Isabella d’Este, Raphael and Baldassare Castiglione appear in his verse. By placing his work within the larger historical, literary, political and social context, this study, published in two volumes, sheds light on the role played by neo-Latin poetry at the papal court and documents the impact of classical culture in Rome during the period usually referred to as «the High Renaissance».
Volume II presents a complete critical edition of all Sperulo’s surviving Latin works in poetry and prose, with translation and commentary. This remarkable œuvre documents Cesare Borgia’s conquest of Faenza, suggests to Raphael a programme for the fresco decoration of the Villa Madama, records conversations on love with Isabella d’Este, describes the newly-discovered antiquities and reports a sensational murder. Two orations, delivered on the eve of the Sack of Rome, celebrate a treaty between Spain and France and a Polish victory in the Crimean steppes.
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BAV, Vat. lat. 1673: De amore coniugali


BAV, Vat. lat. 1673: De amore coniugali

The first elegy in praise of marriage

Alas, alas, Elegy, we are tossed around on such great storms of cares, Goddess look after your bard. Oh, be at hand, and yet in a seemly fashion, assume your customary splendour, be present, although you are about to approach homes hardly worthy of you. Let your long hair be sprinkled with Assyrian balsam and let Athenian liquor pour upon your perfumed brow, bind myrtle garlands above your ringlets so they touch upon your neck and shoulders in a set order; just as they relate you mingled among the Pierian sisters when the wedding of Stella was celebrated. I myself have been worshipping you no less for many years, Goddess, and there is greater reason for your presence now. You know how burning flames consume my heart, with how much fire I am tortured. And you were furious with Venus on more than one occasion, and complained greatly that cruel woman is upsetting your poet so much. Venus was moved by your complaint; he burns more moderately and she has now attacked Leuca with the same torches. We burn with the same fire; now that woman seeks me as her husband and yet rejects the same man as a lover whom she wants to be her husband. I am unsure, I had decided to live as a batchelor, but Love now attempts to break that vow, tell me what I should do...

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