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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: In laudem virginitatis


Twenty-first elegy

Alas, the sun has set for me, never to return at sunrise, do not raise your cursed head from the shadows on my account. Galassus, believe that you have absolved every office of friendship, alas, if thus you will let me die. Why, why should I live any longer without any mind, without any inspiration? Leuca has taken all these things with her, she was holding my soul and keeping my senses awake, she now holds them oppressed in continual sleep. Why, why should I raise my eyes to the stars or raise my face? Just so that I may be reminded all the more of my loss? The heavens envy us, and we are not permitted to understand why death was now allotted to her, unless it is permitted to understand by death itself. Why, why should I live longer? Since life is full of evils, but death could bring me an end, this frail burden of my body, despoiled of every gift, is not worth so much that I may not die. I will gladly follow you, my Leuca, without you life is not worth living, where Fate has taken you, let Fate also bear me. Are these the joys of the marriage bed that we longed for? Are these my sweet children? Are these the caresses of my sons? Ah, deceitful earthly Love, how you deceive everyone! How everyone always thinks of you alone as their leader! Hostile fortune renders no one skilled...

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