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CH A P. XVII.
A. Bs. A. Pont. VI.
FROM the time of the revival of letters in ChAP. Italy, the poesia volgare, or poetry of the national tongue, had experienced many vicissi- A. D. 1518. tudes; having at some periods shone with distinguished lustre, and at others been again improveobscured by dark and unexpected clouds; but ment in classical learning, and particularly Latin poetry, had made a steady and uniform progress, and in the course of one hundred and fifty years, during which a long succession of eminent scholars had continually improved upon their predecessors, had at length nearly attained to the highest degree of excellence.
classical li terature,
A. D. 1518.
CHAP. The pontificate of Leo X. was destined to
give a last impulse to these studies; for if there
was any department of literature, the profesA. Pont. VI. sors of which he regarded with more partiality
and rewarded with greater munificence than
The hopes thus early entertained of the future conduct of the pontiff, had been greatly encouraged by the appointment to the important office of apostolic secretaries, of Bembo and Sadoleti ; two men who were distinguished by their proficiency in almost every branch of polite learning, but who had chiefly acquired
(a v. ante. vol. ii. chap. xi. þ. 327.
A. D. 1518.
their reputation by the superior elegance of CHAP. their Latin writings. Jacopo Sadoleti was a native of Modena, and was born in the year 1477.(a) After having completed his studies A. Pont. VL at Ferrara, under the directions of Nicolo Leo
Jacopo niceno and other eminent professors, and made Sadoleti: a great proficiency in philosophy, eloquence, and the learned languages, he arrived at Rome during the pontificate of Alexander VI. where he found in the cardinal Oliviero Caraffa a kind and munificent patron, and in the learned Scipione Carteromaco an excellent instructor. Of the literary associations which were afterwards formed in Rome, Sadoleti was a distinguished member, and it is to his recollection of these meetings, in which festivity and learning seem to have been united, that we are indebted for the most particular account that now remains of them and which we have before had occasion to notice.(b) The ability and diligence of Sadoleti in his official employment, gave such satisfaction to Leo X. that he conferred upon him the bishoprick of Carpentras; the duties of which station Sadoleti fulfilled during his
(a) Tiraboschi, Storia della Letteratura Ital. vii. par. i. 273.
(b) v. ante. vol. ii. chap. xi. p. 325.
CHAP. subsequent life, notwithstanding his higher
preferments, in a manner that proved him to A. D..1518. have entertained a proper sense of the imA. Part. vt portance of his trust. Amidst his ecclesiasti
cal duties and his political occupations, he did not, however, wholly relinquish the exercise of his talents for Latin poetry; and his verses on the group of the Laocoon, which had been discovered in the baths of Titus during the pontificate of Julius II., are worthy of that exquisite remnant of ancient art which they are intended to celebrate (a) It was not, however, until the pontificate of Paul III. in the year 1536, that Sadoleti was honoured with the purple ; a dignity which he had long merited, not only by the services which he had rendered to the Roman see in many important embassies, but by the temperate firmness of his character, his elegant and conciliating manners, and, if it can be considered as any recommendation at a time when it was so notoriously dispensed with, by his sincere and unaffected piety. The moderation which he displayed in opposing the reformers, the con
: (a) These verses, which obtained for the author no inconsiderable share of reputation as a Latin poet, are printed in the works of Sadoleti, tom. iii. p. 245. Ed. Veron. 1738, 4 vols. 4to, and also in the Garm. illust. Poet. Ital.
cessions which he was willing to make to them, CHAP. and the kindness with which he invited them to return to the bosom of the church, formed A. D. 1518. a striking contrast to the conduct of the great- A. Pont. VI. er part of his ecclesiastical associates, and has led an eminent writer to express his opinion, that if there had been many like Sadoleti, the breach would not have been so widely extended. (a) It was probably from this liberality of sentiment, that in his Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans he incurred the censure of the Roman court; and although the prohibition was, in consequence of his representations, removed by the pope, and the work was with some corrections admitted as canonical, yet this event appears to have occasioned infinite anxiety to its author.(b)
(a) “ Ed io credo, che se molti avesse allora avuti la o chiesa a lui somiglianti, minore sarebbe stato il danno da « lei sofferto.” Tirab. vii. i. 276.
(b) Tiraboschi. vii. i. 278. Erasmus, who was a friend and admirer of Sadoleti, was aware that the publication of his commentary would give rise to some dissatisfaction. After adverting to the epistle of Paul, in a letter to Damiano Goes, he adds, " In eamdem tres libros edidit illud ex“ imium hujus ætatis decus Jacobus Sadoletus, admirabili " sermonis nitore, & copia plane Ciceroniana; nec deest 66 affectus Episcopo Christiano dignus. Fieri non potest,