Repertorium Pomponianum

Giovanni Matteo Toscano

Joannes Matthaeus Toscanus (c. 1500-1576).



Pomponius Laetus, from Peplus Italiae

Duplice Roma fuit quondam convulsa ruina
Structurae amittens eloquiique decus.
Adfuit affectae medica Pomponius arte,
Atque duo gemina damna levavit ope.
 5Ille Quirinali statuens in vertice Musas,
Multa Medusaeis ora rigavit aquis1
Hinc sparsa evolvens disiectae rudera Romae,
Reddidit eversis nomina prisca locis.
Sic quae tempus edax abolevit marmora libris,
10Pomponi, vincent saecula2 longa tuis.
POMPONIVS Laetus in Piceno natus, Romae in Quirinali Academiam instituit omnium bonarum artium, ex qua velut ex equo illo Troiano paene innumera praeclara ingenia prodierunt. Viros doctos undique convenientes hospitio liberaliter excepit domi suae, quam cultissima biblioteca, vetustisque marmoribus ac signis exornaverat. Non pauca eius scripta supersunt magnam Romanae historiae totique antiquitati lucem ferentia; plura tamen in direptione domus per civilem seditionem sub Xisto pont. intercidisse creduntur.
1 i.e. fons Hippocrene.     2 cf. Virgil, Georgics 2.295: Multa virum volvens durando saecula vincit.
By double ruin was Rome once overturned,
Losing her glory of buildings and of speech.
Pomponio attended the injured with healing art,
and relieved the double loss with twofold aid.
 5Establishing the Muses on the Quirinal summit,
he moistened many mouths with Medusan waters,
Then, turning over scattered stones of Rome dismembered,
he restored to ruined sites their former names.
Thus stones effaced by all-devouring time
10will ages long outlast, Pomponio, by your books.
Pomponius Laetus, born in Picenum, established an Academy of all liberal studies on the Quirinal, out of which, as if out of that famous Trojan horse, came forth an almost countless number of outstanding talents. He generously welcomed learned men from all places in his home, which he had adorned with a very fine library and old marbles and statues. Several of his writings survive, casting great light on Roman history and all antiquity; many things, however, are believed to have perished in the destruction of his house during the civil disturbance under Pope Sixtus [IV].



Peplus Italiae. Io. M. Toscani opus, in quo illustres viri Grammatici, Oratores, Historici, PoŽtae, Mathematici, Philosophi, Medici, Iurisconsulti & eorumque patriae, professiones, & litterarum monumenta tum carmine tum soluta oratione recensentur. Ad Antonium Ebrardum Sansuplicianum Episcopum, & Comitem Cadurensem. Lutetiae [Paris]: Ex Officina Federici Morelli Typographi Regii, 1578, Liber primus, XXXVIII (p. 24).


The Peplus, published in Paris in 1578, is an anthology of epigrams by Giovanni Matteo Toscano praising Italian men and women distinguished in the liberal arts (especially poetry), mathematics, medicine, and philosophy in the previous three hundred years from Dante to Joannes Carga. The epigrams are followed by brief prose summaries assessing the achievements of the person. On this and other works by Toscano, an Italian poet connected to the French court of Catherine de' Medici, see Stella P. Revard, Joannes Matthaeus Toscanus and limits of Italian Humanism, a cura di M. de Nichilo, G. Distaso e A. Iurilli, Confini dell'umanesimo letterario: Studi in onore di Francesco Tateo, 3 vols. (Roma nel Rinascimento, 2003), III, 1165-76.



R.W. Ulery, Jr.
16 December 2012