Repertorium Pomponianum

Giovanni Michele Nagonio

(Johannes Michael Nagonius)
(c.1450 – c.1510)
Poet, humanist and papal diplomat.

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Relations with Pomponio and with the pomponians

ÖNB, MS. 12.750 f. 20v-21r, three books of poems dedicated to Maximilian Habsburg.

Necnon sollicitus festas Marcellus ad aras
raptabat nuptasque nurus non foedera passas,
ignotasque thori ducebat rite puellas
Martigena de stirpe satus. Pomponius inde
cura deum Letus, vatum qui grandior ore
21r  et princeps Latiique chori, quo nullus habetur
clarior eloquio, et Phoebeo pectine maior.
Fonte suo puroque lacu nunc ora perenne
nostra natant, spargitque novos in plectra liquores,
cogebat similis pubem doctamque catervam.
Sic etiam Marsus terris memorabile nomen
Ausoniaeque decus, cultae mirantur Athenae
quippe virum, super extremos extenditur Indos,
ac Gangen, Latias fama exaudita per urbes,
hic magnum replevit opus Ciceronis et artes.
Scipio post sequitur Romana celsus in arce
Peoniis (ni fallor) adest prestantior herbis.
Pergamon huic memorant docto turbamque medentum
concessisse locum, cessit Peantius idem
atque repertor opis tacitae scrutator et artis.
Rectius hic poterat salientis pollice venas
pertentare suo, et dubiam depellere pestem.


In the two decades that span the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries the Italian itinerant poet Johannes Michael Nagonius travelled across Europe, perhaps as a member of a papal embassy, presenting deluxe manuscripts of Latin poetry to most of the major heads of state (including Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I; Henry VII of England; Vladislav II of Bohemia and Hungary; Louis XII of France; Doge Leonardo Loredan and Pope Julius II) as well as an impressive array of European princes and signori of Renaissance Italy (including Ercole D'Este, duke of Ferrara; Gian Giacomo Trivulzio; Giovanni Bentivoglio). Details of Nagonius's life, however, are scant and a degree of supposition must fill out the gaps. By his own admission, he was born in Borgo Franco (Suardi) near Pavia, probably in the middle decades of the fifteenth century. Nothing is known of his early life and career. Although Nagonius refers to himself as a discipulus of the classics, nothing is known of his education. It seems likely that sometime in the 1480s (or possibly earlier) he travelled to Rome where he frequented the circle of Pomponio Leto. The volume dedicated to Maximilian Habsburg includes verses in which Nagonius praises the founder of the Roman Academy (see above). His earliest compositions are an oration and verses welcoming the Polish prelate Piotr Vapowski to Rome. Herafter Nagonius appears to have entered papal service. The dedication of his manuscripts coincides with the shifting dynamics of Borgia foreign policy. In the early decades of the sixteenth century the poet can be found in the Veneto, before returning to Monferrat where he married into a local family. His last known work is a manuscript for Pope Julius II.
Nagonius's poetry is typical of the circle of Pomponius Leto with its almost exclusive interest in Roman history, classical rhetoric, and the study of archaeological remains. Indeed, the poet may have been one of the many young scholars who were attracted to Rome and Leto's Academy at the beginning of their careers. Nagonius was also acquainted with other members of the Studium Urbis. The prominent curialist and papal orator Cristoforo Marcello, the renowned doctor and poet Scipio Lancillotti and the eminent classicist Pietro Marso (or Marsi) are also mentioned in Nagonius's poetry.
Nagonius had perhaps seen Scipio Lancillotti take a pulse and may even have attended Pietro Marso's lectures on Cicero. Both were lecturing at the Roman Academy in the early 1480s and again in the mid 1490s. As Nagonius was travelling across Europe at the later date, it can perhaps be adduced that Nagonius heard them lecture c.1483. The majority of the famous orators listed in the oration for the Polish prelate Pietro Vapowski seem to be taken from Cicero's Brutus, indicating that the poet had studied this text in detail (perhaps with Pietro Marso).
The connection with Leto continues. In 1502 Nagonius presented the Venetian merchant (and future Doge) Andrea Gritti with a prose history of the later Roman emperors. This text was taken almost verbatim from Pomponius Leto's Compendium Romanae Historium, completed shortly before Leto's death (9 June 1499), and sent to Venice for his friend and pupil Marc'Antonio Sabellico to see through the press. Another copy of the Compendium Romanae Historium has been has been wrongly ascribed to Nagonius (Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Lat. XXII, 80 [=3751]). Fols 95-96 are in Leto's own hand.



(These are listed in chronological order to suggest Nagonius' itineraries across Europe following the political policies of the Borgia papacy towards France: first to counter the invasion of Charles VIII and then to welcome Louis XII):
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 12.750 (suppl. 350)
a. 1494, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii ad divum Caesarem Maximilianum carminum libri III.
York, Minster Library, MS. XVI.N.2
a. 1496, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii ad divum Henricum Septimum carminum libri III.
Prague, Národni a Universitni Knihovna, VIII. H.76 (1659)
a. 1497, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii ad divum Vvladislaum carminum libri IV.
Ed.: Ábel Jenő & Hegedüs István, Analecta nova ad historiam renascentium in Hungaria litterarum spectantia, Budapest 1903, 297–404 (
Reproductions: 1, 2, 3.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Lat. 8132
a. 1499, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii ad divum Ludovicum XII Aurelianum Francie regem carminum libri VI.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Lat. 8133
a. 1500, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii de gestis Petri ducis Borbonii carminum libri VII.
Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Est. Lat. 234 (á.M.5.2)
a. 1500, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii de gestis ducis Herculei ducis de Est. carminum libri VI.
Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale, F.V.5. (Biblioteca Reale MS.489, K.11.23)
a. 1501, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii de gestis Phyliberti Sabaudiae ducis carminum libri V.
Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Lat. XXII, 81 (=1585)
a. 1502, Vitae Imperatorum a Flavio Val. Constantino usque ad Heraclium per Iohannem Michaelem Nagonium civem Romanum et poetam laureatum.
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 5213
a. 1503, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii de gestis Leonardi Lauredani carminum libri VI.
Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Lat. XII, 75 (=3950)
a. 1507, Iohannis Michaelis Nangonii (sic) de laudibus Nicolai Ursini Pitiliani comitis imperatoris clarissimi libri VI.
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Fondo Cimelii I.165 inf.
a. 1508, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii de gestis Gulielmi II marchionis montis ferrati carminum libri VIII.
Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 1682
a. 1509, Iohannis Michaelis Nagonii ad divum Iulium II et Franciscum Mariam nepotem carminum libri VIII. Prognostichon Hierosolymitanum, Vat. lat. 1682 fols. 8 verso-9 recto

Present Whereabouts Unknown

Six books of poems dedicated to Giovanni Bentivoglio of Bologna
Book of poems dedicated to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (Formerly Biblioteca Trivulziana, 2097)

Printed Book

Poznañ, Biblioteka Narodowa, E.XXIII.39 Oratio Michaelis Nagonii Civis Romani ad Rev. Patrem Dom. Petrum Vapowski a Rachonicze Patricium Polonum Cantorem et Canonicum. Ad eundem Elegia (Cracow: Hieronymus Victor, 1537).


Paul Gareth Gwynne, Poets and Princes: the Panegyric Poetry of Johannes Michael Nagonius, Medieval and Renaissance Court Cultures 1, (forthcoming Turnhout: Brepols, 2011).
Paul Gareth Gwynne
December 2010
This entry can be cited as follows:
Paul Gareth Gwynne, , "Johannes Michael Nagonius," Repertorium Pomponianum (URL: nagonius.htm,