Francesco Sperulo: Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy - Volume I
This book is also available as a set, together with Volume II.
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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 I reconstructs Sperulo’s life and circle of contacts by placing the poet’s works in chronological order and setting them within the political and social circumstances of their composition. Archival documents scattered across Italy, penitentiary records from the Vatican Archives and a voluminous correspondence with the Duke of Urbino and members of the Varano family of Camerino show that Sperulo was intimately involved in papal politics and intrigue; indeed, he was almost assassinated for his involvement. A selection of this correspondence is included here to supplement the poet’s biography.
Chapter 5: Sperulo on Love: Elegies and Hymns
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Sperulo on Love: Elegies and Hymns
As we have already seen (above, Chapter 1), Sperulo began to revise his youthful verse for publication at the insistence of his patron Cardinal Luigi de’ Rossi, but when De’ Rossi died unexpectedly (1519) the poet used the revised manuscript as part of his strategy to cast about for a new patron. BAV, Vat. lat. 1673 is the poet’s re-worked copy of the elegiac verses which De’ Rossi had requested.1 The seventy-five poems (and a verse preface) form a collection of erotic and erudite narrative elegies arranged thematically into four books.2 Books One (De amore iuvenili, 5v–38v) and Two (De amore coniugali, 39v–72v) conventionally chronicle the poet’s infatuation with a certain girl named Leuca. In Book Three (In laudem virginitatis, 73r–103r) Sperulo moves away from the celebration of this ‘mistress’ to include other themes, such as an exchange of verse epistles between separated lovers; (from antiquity: Massinissa and Sophonisba; and contemporary history: Venanzio Verano and Maria della Rovere) as well as encomiastic verses addressed to Pope Leo X and members of the Colonna, Medici and Rangone families. The series concludes with seven hymns on the feast days of the Virgin Mary (In laudem Virginis et Matris Dei Mariae, 103v–14v).3 As the titles show (love, marriage, celibacy, virginity), these four books were clearly intended ← 343 | 344 → to form a literary unit. The themes progress from the physical world (Books One and...
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