Renaissance and Reformation Angelo Poliziano
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0140

Introduction

Angelo Ambrogini (b. 1454–d. 1494), called Poliziano after his home town (Lat. Mons Politianus, Ital. Montepulciano), was a Renaissance man of letters of international renown. He lived and worked under the protection of the Medici in Florence, obtaining through their influence the chair of rhetoric and poetry at the University of Florence. From this position he lectured and prepared commentaries on an unusually wide range of authors, becoming one of the first scholars in the West whose facility in Greek was equal to that of the Byzantine émigrés. He was also a poet of significant repute whose work in both Latin and Italian is still read with profit and pleasure today.

General Overviews

Poliziano has been well served as the subject of literary biographies over the past century. Bigi 1960 and Hallyn-Galand 1997 offer concise introductory overviews. Fumagalli 1914, Micheli 1917, Picotti 1915, and Vaccarella 1925 provide older treatments that are still worth consulting. Maïer 1966 stood for forty years as the definitive intellectual biography, which should now be consulted along with Orvieto 2009, a splendid new treatment that incorporates the latest scholarship in every area.

  • Bigi, Emilio. “Ambrogini A., detto il Poliziano.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 2. Edited by Alberto M. Ghisalberti, 691–702. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960.

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    An excellent short introduction to Poliziano and his works, integrating the literary works with Poliziano’s life story concisely and accurately.

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  • Fumagalli, Anna. Angelo Poliziano. Rome: Albrighi, Segati, 1914.

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    An older literary biography that places the works into their author’s intellectual development, divided into chapters on Poliziano and nature, Poliziano and society, the artist in the humanist, and Poliziano as scholar.

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  • Hallyn-Galand, Perrine. “Politien (Ange).” In Centuriae Latinae: Cent une figures humanistes de la Renaissance aux Lumières offertes à Jacques Chomarat. Edited by Colette Nativel, 623–628. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 1997.

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    A good brief introduction, offering a few pages on Poliziano’s life and works followed by an extensive bibliography that is especially strong on primary sources.

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  • Maïer, Ida. Ange Politien: La formation d’un poète humaniste. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 1966.

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    An important intellectual biography, using Poliziano’s university career, his works of classical scholarship, and his Latin poetry as lenses through which his Italian poetry is evaluated. Richly documented, with an invaluable year-by-year chronology of key events in Poliziano’s life.

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  • Micheli, Pietro. La vita e le opere di Angelo Poliziano. Livorno, Italy: R. Giusti, 1917.

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    An older study, divided into sections on Poliziano’s life, his Greek and Latin works, and his Italian poetry.

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  • Orvieto, Paolo. Poliziano e l’ambiente mediceo. Rome: Salerno, 2009.

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    A splendid literary biography of Poliziano, placing his full literary production into the context of Florentine cultural life under the Medici.

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  • Picotti, Giovanni Battista. “Tra il Poeta ed il Lauro: Pagina della vita in Agnolo Poliziano.” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 65 (1915): 263–303.

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    See also 66 (1915): 52–104. An older but still useful biography, focused on the relationship between Poliziano and Lorenzo de’ Medici. Reprinted in Ricerche umanistiche (Florence: Nuova Italia, 1955), along with three other essays on Poliziano.

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  • Vaccarella, Giovanni. Poliziano. Turin, Italy: P. Gobetti, 1925.

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    An older, impressionistic study that places Poliziano’s writings, both those in Italian and those in Greek and Latin, into a “spiritual biography.”

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Bibliography

As a major figure in Italian Renaissance literature, Poliziano has always attracted attention from scholars in several disciplines, but recent bibliographical work establishes the existence of a veritable “Poliziano industry” since the 1970s. Delcorno Branca 1972, Bettinzoli 1987, and Bettinzoli 1993 offer systematic surveys that cover a key period from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s. Lo Cascio 1970 (cited under Critical Reception) and Orvieto 2009 (cited under General Overviews) also provide bibliographies.

Primary Sources

The first attempt to provide an edition of Poliziano’s complete works, Poliziano 1498, came only four years after his death; another, printed in Basel in 1553, has been incorporated into Poliziano 1970–1971, which offers relative completeness without the advantages of a modern critical edition. Poliziano 1964, Bausi 2006, and Poliziano 1952 present useful selections of Poliziano’s most important works in accurate, widely accessible editions.

  • Bausi, Francesco, ed. Poesie. Turin, Italy: Unione Tipografico Editrice Torinese, 2006.

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    A scholarly yet accessible edition of the Stanze, Fabula di Orfeo, Rime, Elegia a Bartolomeo Fonzio, Epicedio di Albiera degli Albizi, and Silvae, taking into account the most recent scholarship on the poems.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Opera omnia. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1498.

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    One of the earliest large-scale publishing projects by one of the great Renaissance printers, suggesting how important Aldus considered Poliziano to be in his plans for spreading the culture of humanism. Reprinted, Rome: Bibliopola, 1968.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Prosatori latini del Quattrocento. Edited by Eugenio Garin. Milan and Naples, Italy: Ricciardi, 1952.

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    An accessible anthology that contains Poliziano’s speech in praise of Quintilian and Statius, his correspondence with Paolo Cortesi on the best type of stylistic imitation, and his defense of the philosopher Epictetus.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Poeti latini del Quattrocento. Edited by Francesco Arnaldi, Lucia Gualdo Rosa, and Liliana Monti Sabia. Milan and Naples, Italy: Ricciardi, 1964.

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    A good introductory anthology of Poliziano’s Latin verse, with Italian translations, from the epigrams, elegies, odes, and Silvae.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Angelo Poliziano, Opera omnia. 3 vols. Edited by Ida Maïer. Turin, Italy: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1970–1971.

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    Contains facsimiles of the 1553 Basel edition of Nicolaus Episcopius Jr. (Volume 1), I. Del Lungo’s edition of Prose volgari inedite e poesie latine e greche (Florence: Barbera, 1867) (Volume 2), and various works, letters, and documents by and about Poliziano (Volume 3).

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Prolusions

A substantial part of Poliziano’s output is connected to his teaching at the University of Florence. At the beginning of each academic year, he gave an introductory lecture (prolusione) on the author(s) on whom he would be lecturing. The most famous of these prolusions are the Silvae (occasional poems), with Bausi 1996 offering the best scholarly edition, Poliziano 1987 a valuable introduction, and Wesseling 1986 a good separate edition of the Lamia. Other important introductory lectures include Cesarini Martinelli and Ricciardi 1985, Megna 2007, and Zollino 2016, with Schönberger and Schönberger 2011 offering German translations of a collection of prolusions.

  • Bausi, Francesco, ed. Silvae. Florence: Olschki, 1996.

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    A scholarly edition of Poliziano’s poetic prolusions to his courses on Virgil (Manto), Hesiod’s Works and Days, and Virgil’s Georgics (Rusticus), Homer (Ambra), and poetry in general (Nucricia), in which the notes cover two to three times as much space as the text.

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  • Cesarini Martinelli, Luca, and Roberto Ricciardi, eds. Commento inedito alle Satire di Persio. Florence: Olschki, 1985.

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    An edition of the lecture Poliziano gave when he began teaching Persius in the University of Florence, with a lengthy scholarly introduction showing the breadth of learning brought to bear on a poet who was not at the center of the traditional curriculum.

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  • Megna, Paola, ed. Oratio in expositione Homeri. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2007.

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    Edition of Poliziano’s inaugural lecture to the 1485–1486 course on Homer, with an eighty-page introduction and a commentary that is so full that at times only a line or two on the page is left for the text.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Les silves. Edited by Perrine Galland. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1987.

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    An often-cited edition, reproducing the first edition of each poem in facsimile with a French translation. Valuable especially for the 120-page introduction, a masterful overview of the poems and the critical issues they raise.

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  • Schönberger, Otto, and Eva Schönberger, trans. Angelo Poliziano, Vorworte und Vorlesungen, Einleitung, deutsche Übersetzung und Anmerkungen. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Neumann, 2011.

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    A German translation of a collection of Poliziano’s prolusions, in which Poliziano placed a succession of works into their original contexts and developed the principles upon which his teaching of the texts would be based. Regularly cited by those who can read German, given that the Latin texts have often not been published in modern editions.

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  • Wesseling, Angelo, ed. Lamia: Praelectio in priora Aristotelis analytica. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1986.

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    The first critical edition of Lamia, Poliziano’s defense against those who were criticizing him for teaching philosophy without knowing anything about it. A carefully done edition, with a thirty-page introduction and one hundred pages of commentary accompanying twenty pages of text.

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  • Zollino, Giorgia, ed. Angelo Poliziano, Praelectiones 2. Edizione nazionale delle opere di Angelo Poliziano, testi 9.2. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2016.

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    Contains definitive critical editions of four inaugural lectures delivered between 1480 and 1490, on Quintilian and Statius’s Sylvae, Persius, Homer, and Suetonius, each of which marks a deliberate effort to open up the canon of classical authors and to demonstrate the lecturer’s range of learning.

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Commentaries

Poliziano’s commentaries were also connected to his teaching activity, in that they formed the basis of his lectures on the author(s) he chose to teach each year. Interest in these commentaries rose significantly in the 1970s, with good editions appearing of the glosses on one Greek author (Megna 2009), on one Latin prose author (Gardenal 1975), and on several Latin poets. Lazzeri 1971 and Lo Monaco 1991 focus on Ovid, while Castano Musicò 1990 offers an edition of Poliziano’s commentary to the Georgics. Lattanzi Roselli 1973 presents Poliziano’s commentary to Terence, an important author for Renaissance humanists, while Cesarini Martinelli 1978 turns to Statius.

  • Castano Musicò, L., ed. Commento inedito alle Georgiche di Virgilio. Florence: Olschki, 1990.

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    An edition of Poliziano’s commentary to Virgil’s Georgics, entered into the 1471 Sweynheym and Pannartz edition, consisting mostly of references to the Greek and Latin authors Poliziano used to explicate the text.

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  • Cesarini Martinelli, L., ed. Commento inedito alle Selve di Stazio. Florence: Sansoni, 1978.

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    A carefully prepared edition of Poliziano’s commentary to Statius’s Silvae, a text that was especially important both for his philological work and for his poetic compositions.

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  • Gardenal, Gianna, ed. Il Poliziano e Suetonio: Contributo alla storia della filologia umanistica. Florence: Olschki, 1975.

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    An edition of the notes Poliziano prepared for his lectures on Suetonius during the academic years 1490–1491 and 1482–1483, with an introduction discussing philological method and the broad approach to antiquity in Poliziano’s use of Suetonius.

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  • Lattanzi Roselli, Rosetta, ed. La commedia antica e l’Andria di Terenzio. Florence: Olschki, 1973.

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    An edition of Poliziano’s commentary to Terence’s Andria, a typical example of his didactic activity, containing an introduction focused on the author and the genre, followed by observations on notable passages.

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  • Lazzeri, Elisabetta, ed. Commento inedito all’epistola ovidiana di Saffo a Faone. Florence: Sansoni, 1971.

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    An edition of Poliziano’s commentary on Ovid’s epistle of Sappho to Phaon (Heroides 15), from the Munich manuscript (Clm 754) that contains material collected from Poliziano’s lecture notes by Pietro Crinito.

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  • Lo Monaco, Francesco, ed. Commento inedito ai Fasti di Ovidio. Florence: Olschki, 1991.

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    A lengthy, carefully prepared edition, concluding with one hundred pages of indexes, of the commentary to Ovid’s Fasti, a work that appealed to Poliziano’s scholarly instincts because of its detailed, sometimes obscure references to Roman life.

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  • Megna, Paola, ed. Le note del Poliziano alla traduzione dell’Iliade. Messina, Italy: Università degli Studi di Messina, Centro di Studi Umanistici, 2009.

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    Edition with lengthy introduction and commentary of the glosses Poliziano made in his youth on Iliad 2–5, exemplifying the new humanist approach to ancient literature.

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Latin and Greek Works

A good part of Poliziano’s literary output is in Latin, similar to many other Renaissance humanists who were dedicated to reviving the influence of Antiquity in the culture of his day. He was a master of the genre of the miscellany, as explored in Poliziano 1972 and Megna 2012, in which he offers solutions to various intransigent problems in the works of classical authors. Poliziano was also an unusually accomplished Hellenist for his day, composing works in Greek as well, which are included in Pontani 2002. Bausi 2003, Poliziano 1989, and Perosa 1954 offer editions of his Latin poems, while Accame Lanzillotta 2012 confirms that for Poliziano, Antiquity included the early Christian writers as well. Perosa 1958 reminds us that Poliziano was no ivory-tower intellectual; rather, he was a writer who lived and worked at the center of political power in his day.

  • Accame Lanzillotta, Maria. Poliziano traduttore di Atanasio: L’Epistola ad Marcellinum. Ricerche di filologia, letteratura e storia 14. Rome: Edizioni Tored, 2012.

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    Contains Poliziano’s Latin translation of Athanasius’s “Letter to Marcellinus,” in which this early Christian writer comments on the Psalms and on their use in daily life. The accompanying material explores which Greek text Poliziano used, the characteristics of his translation, and his motivations for undertaking the project.

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  • Bausi, Francesco, ed. Due poemetti latini: Elegia a Bartolomeo Fonzio; Epicedio di Albiera degli Albizi. Rome: Salerno, 2003.

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    The first critical edition with Italian translation of the two poems by means of which the twenty-year-old Poliziano injected himself into the literary culture of Florence during the age of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

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  • Megna, Paola, ed. Poliziano e la storiografia bizantina: Il cap. LVIII dei primi Miscellanea. Messina, Italy: Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Umanistici, Università degli Studi di Messina, 2012.

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    A critical edition of one chapter of the Miscellanea, along with an extended discussion of topics that come up in this chapter, including the humanists’ understanding of oracles and of the Roman secular games and the writings of the 5th-century historian Zosimus.

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  • Perosa, Alessandro, ed. Sylva in scabiem. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1954.

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    A scholarly edition with detailed commentary of a learned poem rediscovered by P. O. Kristeller at the beginning of the 1950s, which, since then, has been attracting increasing scholarly attention.

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  • Perosa, Alessandro, ed. Della congiura dei Pazzi (Coniurationis commentarium). Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1958.

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    Critical edition with textual variants and detailed commentary of Poliziano’s account of the conspiracy to murder the Medici rulers of Florence, with extracts from other relevant primary documents.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Miscellaneorum centuria seconda. 4 vols. Edited by Vittore Branca and Manilo Pastore Stocchi. Florence: Fratelli Alinari, 1972.

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    The text of Poliziano’s scholarly masterpiece, in which he used his philological acumen to propose solutions to one scholarly crux after another, accompanied by a detailed introduction. Reprinted in 1978 and 1983.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Sylva in scabiem. Edited by Paolo Orvieto. Rome: Salerno, 1989.

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    An exemplary edition with detailed commentary, Italian translation, and lengthy introduction, reproducing the text from Perosa 1954 but extending and updating the discussion of critical issues raised by the poem.

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  • Pontani, Filippomaria, ed. Liber epigrammatum Graecorum. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2002.

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    An extraordinarily detailed critical edition of Poliziano’s Greek epigrams, in which a half-page poem is followed by six and a half pages of commentary, with a lengthy analysis of the collection, its textual tradition, its language, meter, and style as well as its reception.

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Italian Works

Carrai (Poliziano 1988), Maier (Poliziano 1968), and Puccini 1992 offer editions of several of Poliziano’s more important poems. Delcorno Branca 1986 and Sapegno (Poliziano 1967) are scholarly editions of a major poetry collection, while Tarugi 1970, Tissoni Benvenuti 2000, and Zanato 1983 present three of the minor vernacular works, and Curti 2016 offers an edition of Poliziano’s private correspondence.

  • Curti, Elisa, ed. Angelo Poliziano, Lettere volgari. Temi e testi 154. Rome: Edizioni Storia e Letteratura, 2016.

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    The first critical edition of Poliziano’s private letters, written in Italian, sent for the most part to members of the ruling Medici family in Florence, offering a personal perspective on both the great public events of the day and the intimacies of daily life. A detailed commentary addresses both linguistic and historical issues in the texts.

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  • Delcorno Branca, Daniela, ed. Rime. Florence: Presso l’Accademia della Crusca, 1986.

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    The definitive edition of Poliziano’s Rime, with 275 pages on the textual tradition followed by a critical edition of the poems with a detailed apparatus criticus.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Rime. Edited by Natalino Sapegno. Rome: Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1967.

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    A reprint of Vincenzo Pernicone’s text (Turin, 1954), with the commentaries of Giosue Carducci and Sapegno; for the serious student.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Stanze per la giostra, Orfeo, Rime: Con un’ appendice di prose volgari. Edited by Bruno Maier. Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico de Agostino, 1968.

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    Reprint of Vincenzo Pernicone’s text (Turin, 1954), containing extracts from the Sermoni, Detti piacevoli, and Lettere volgari along with basic notes sufficient for an informed first reading.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Stanze; Fabula di Orfeo. Edited by Stefano Carrai. Milan: Mursia, 1988.

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    A scholarly pocket edition of two of Poliziano’s most important poems in Italian.

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  • Puccini, Davide, ed. Stanze; Orfeo; Rime. Milan: Garzanti, 1992.

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    A widely disseminated edition of the three major poems in Italian, with a good introduction and notes that are more than adequate for an informed first reading.

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  • Tarugi, Giovannangiola. “Scritti religiosi di Angelo Poliziano.” In Il pensiero italiano del Rinascimento e il tempo nostro. Edited by Giovannangiola Tarugi, 43–108. Florence: Olschki, 1970.

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    Contains the texts of four sermons composed for the Compagnia del Vangelista, along with several shorter prayers, hymns, and poems, with a sensitive analysis of how these works fit into Poliziano’s larger oeuvre.

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  • Tissoni Benvenuti, Antonia, ed. L’Orfeo del Poliziano, con il testo critico dell’originale e delle successive forme teatrali. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 2000.

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    An edition with extensive annotation and 130-page introduction of three different versions of the Orfeo, a work of seminal importance as a model for theatrical productions in the courts of northern Italy during the last decades of the 15th century. First printed in 1986.

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  • Zanato, Tiziano, ed. Detti piacevoli. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1983.

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    An edition of Poliziano’s collection of witty sayings, with notes and an introduction placing the work in the history of its genre.

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English Translations

Only with the translations of Butler (Poliziano 2006) and Fantazzi (Poliziano 2004) has Poliziano’s work really attracted the attention it deserves among English translators. Lord (Poliziano 1931) is a useful rendering of a work that plays an important role in theater history, while Quint (Poliziano 1979); Salvadori, et al. 2013; and Wells (Poliziano 1978) are skillful translations of two of Poliziano’s works that will most interest anglophone readers.

  • Poliziano, Angelo. A Translation of the Orpheus of Angelo Politian and the Aminta of Torquato Tasso. Translated by Louis E. Lord. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.

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    Contains an English translation of the Orpheus, with a lengthy introduction on Latin pastoral poetry, prose pastoral in Antiquity, and Italian pastoral eclogues, romances, and dramas.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. “The Pazzi Conspiracy.” In The Earthly Republic: Italian Humanists on Government and Society. Edited by Benjamin G. Kohl, Ronald G. Witt, and Elizabeth Wells, 293–303. Translated by Elizabeth Wells. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978.

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    A translation of Poliziano’s account of the shocking effort to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici in the midst of a mass, with an introduction contextualizing the event and Poliziano’s pro-Medici analysis of it.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. The Stanze of Angelo Poliziano. Translated by David Quint. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1979.

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    An excellent translation of the Stanze, Poliziano’s poem celebrating the 1475 tournament won by Lorenzo the Magnificent’s younger brother Giuliano, a work left unfinished after the hero was killed during the Pazzi conspiracy thirty years later. Reprinted in 1993 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press).

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Silvae. Edited and translated by Charles Fantazzi. I Tatti Renaissance Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    An accessible Latin-English edition of Poliziano’s poetic prolusions to his university courses, composed in an improvisatory style that masks (at least in part) the craftsmanship of the poems.

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  • Poliziano, Angelo. Letters. Vol. 1, Books 1–4. Edited and translated by Shane Butler. I Tatti Renaissance Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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    The first volume of Poliziano’s correspondence, with Latin text and English translation. Contains a block of letters with Giovanni a Mirandola, much of the correspondence pertaining to the Miscellanies, and the famous letter on the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

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  • Salvadori, Corinna, Peter Brand, and Richard Andrews, ed. and trans. Overture to the Opera: Italian Pastoral Drama in the Renaissance: Poliziano’s Orfeo and Tasso’s Aminta with Facing English Verse Translations. Dublin: UCD Foundation for Italian Studies, 2013.

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    Contains an English translation of Poliziano’s pastoral drama that successfully reproduces the original meter, rhythm, and rhyming patterns, along with an interpretation of the play that links it to ancient Greek satyr drama and to Striggio and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, an early opera.

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Scholarly Aids

The manuscripts on which modern editions are based are catalogued in Maïer 1965. Perosa 1955 provides an overview of the documents on which study of Poliziano is based, and Rolshoven and Fontana 1986 offers a concordance to Poliziano’s Italian poems.

  • Maïer, Ida. Les manuscrits d’Ange Politien: Catalogue descriptif. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1965.

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    Still the definitive catalogue of the manuscripts of Poliziano’s work, with detailed descriptions of each item. The essential starting place for research in this area.

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  • Perosa, Alessandro. Mostra del Poliziano nella Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Manoscritti, libri rari, autografi e documenti. Catalogue of an exhibition held in Florence, 23 September to 30 November 1954. Florence: Sansoni, 1955.

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    A sparsely illustrated catalogue that accompanied an exhibition held in the library where Poliziano himself studied, showing his work as a philologist, his original compositions, and letters, documents, and sources relevant to his life and works.

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  • Rolshoven, Jürgen, and Alessio Fontana. Concordanze delle poesie italiane di Angelo Poliziano. Florence: F. Cesati, 1986.

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    The first complete concordance to Poliziano’s Italian poetry, with each word clearly positioned in relation to a verse that precedes and follows it.

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Modern Studies

While most modern studies about Poliziano treat either his work as a humanist or his poetry, several books attempt to provide a fuller picture of his literary efforts and critical principles. Bigi 1967 and Martelli 1995 are essay collections by two scholars who have written extensively on various aspects of Poliziano’s oeuvre. Rotondi Secchi Tarugi 1957; Fera and Martelli 1998; Garfagnini 1992; Baier, et al. 2015; and Viti 2016 offer valuable collections of conference proceedings that cover most key areas. Tateo 1972 comments on a number of Poliziano’s works, while McLaughlin 1995 offers an insightful analysis of Poliziano’s thoughts about literary imitation, a key concept that shaped his work in both Latin and the vernacular.

  • Baier, Thomas, Tobias Dänzer, and Ferdinand Stürner, eds. Angelo Poliziano: Dichter und Gelehrter. Tübingen, Germany: Narr Francke Attempto, 2015.

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    A collection of essays about Poliziano that takes into account both his poetry and his scholarship, with special attention paid to the connections between theory and practice in Poliziano’s writings, his relationships to other humanists in Medicean Florence, and aspects of the reception of his work in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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  • Bigi, Emilio. La cultura del Poliziano e altri studi umanistici. Pisa, Italy: Nistri-Lischi, 1967.

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    Contains essays on Poliziano that cover the relationship of his poetry to the broader culture of his day, his critical writings, his Latin lyrics, and his Sylva in scabiem, with a bibliographical appendix.

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  • Fera, Vincenzo, and Mario Martelli, eds. Agnolo Poliziano poeta scrittore filologo: Proceedings of the Convegno internazionale di studi, Montepulciano, 3–6 November 1994. Florence: Le Lettere, 1998.

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    A valuable collection of twenty-seven essays dividing Poliziano’s work into four areas: Italian poetry, Latin and Greek writings, philology, and Poliziano’s relationships with his contemporaries. Contains contributions by many of the leading Italian specialists on Poliziano.

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  • Garfagnini, Gian Carlo, ed. Lorenzo il Magnifico e il suo tempo: Proceedings of the Convegno internazionale di studi, Florence, 9–13 June 1992. Florence: Olschki, 1992.

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    A seminal collection of essays on Medici culture in Florence, with specific references throughout to Poliziano and his writings.

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  • Martelli, Mario. Angelo Poliziano: Storia e metastoria. Lecce, Italy: Conte, 1995.

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    A revision of a series of essays written on Poliziano over a twenty-year period, with special attention devoted to the Orfeo, Stanze, and Libro delle epistole, preceded by a long essay on Poliziano’s role in the cultural politics of Lorenzo de’ Medici and followed by a lengthy study of Poliziano’s language.

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  • McLaughlin, Martin L. “The Dispute between Poliziano and Cortesi.” In Literary Imitation in the Italian Renaissance: The Theory and Practice of Literary Imitation in Italy from Dante to Bembo. By Martin L. McLaughlin, 187–227. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995.

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    The definitive treatment of one of the great Renaissance debates over imitation, placing Poliziano’s assault on the strict Ciceronianism advocated by Cortesi into a fuller analysis of what both parties had to say about imitation throughout their respective oeuvres.

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  • Rotondi Secchi Tarugi, Luisa, ed. Il Poliziano e il suo tempo: Proceedings of the IV Convegno internazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, Florence, 23–26 September 1954. Florence, Italy: Sansoni, 1957.

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    An older set of conference papers that is still well worth consulting for the variety of perspectives offered, from general issues in Poliziano’s work to his relationships with other prominent figures of his day.

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  • Tateo, Francesco. Lorenzo de’ Medici e Angelo Poliziano. Letteratura Italiana Laterza 15. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1972.

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    The second section provides analyses of several selected works of Poliziano’s rather than the continuous narrative one might have expected in this series.

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  • Viti, Paolo, ed. Cultura e filologia di Angelo Poliziano: Traduzioni e commenti; Atti del convegno di studi, Firenze, 27–29 novembre 2014. Edizione nazionale delle opere di Angelo Poliziano, strumenti 6. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2016.

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    A set of conference proceedings focused on Poliziano’s work as translator of and commentator on classical texts, from which a clear picture emerges of a virtuoso editor and annotator whose learning ranged widely and who played a key role in translating Greek texts into Latin, the language in which learned discourse was conducted in the Renaissance.

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Poliziano as Humanist

In areas ranging from textual studies to the history of scholarship, Poliziano emerges as a major figure in Italian Renaissance humanism. Waschbüsch 1972 and Viti 1996 offer overviews of Poliziano’s humanistic works, while Branca 1983 and Perosa 2000 offer collections of essays by major historians of humanism that also provide an orientation to the key issues. Viti 1994 is an interesting exhibition catalogue that provides an overview of Poliziano’s humanistic activity based on documentary evidence. Godman 1998 and Grafton 1977 focus on Poliziano’s methods of textual study; Stewart 1997 is a controversial approach to some of the broader social issues connected with Renaissance humanist teaching.

  • Branca, Vittore. Poliziano e l’umanesimo della parola. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1983.

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    An often-cited collection of essays covering Poliziano’s teaching and scholarly activity, integrating observations on specific works with the broader development of Quattrocento humanism.

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  • Godman, Peter. “The Angel from Heaven.” In From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance. By Peter Godman, 80–133. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

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    A discussion of the distinctive features of Poliziano’s method, which gave primacy to the grammaticus (philologist), whose control of language allowed him to speak with authority on any subject.

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  • Grafton, Anthony. “On the Scholarship of Poliziano and Its Context.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 40 (1977): 150–188.

    DOI: 10.2307/750994Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A lucid argument that Poliziano effected a revolution in philological method, foregrounding the new genre of the miscellany, developing a procedure for reconstructing the textual history of a manuscript, and insisting on the importance of source study. Incorporated into Grafton’s Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. 1, Textual Criticism and Exegesis (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983), pp. 9–44; then reprinted in Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450–1800 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 47–75.

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  • Perosa, Alessandro. Studi di filologia umanistica. Vol. 1, Poliziano. Edited by Paolo Viti. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2000.

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    A collection of twelve essays on Poliziano’s humanistic activity, originally published between 1946 and 1981, focused primarily on individual works but containing several valuable overviews, by the foremost expert on Poliziano from the postwar generation.

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  • Stewart, Alan. “From Singing Boy to Scholar: The Deaths, Lives, and Letters of Angelo Poliziano.” In Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England. By Alan Stewart, 3–37. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

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    A provocative reading of Poliziano’s dismissal as tutor to the children of Lorenzo de’ Medici, in which the emerging social roles of Renaissance humanism are mapped against forms of intimacy that, Stewart argues, are always open to charges of sodomy.

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  • Viti, Paolo, ed. Pico, Poliziano, e l’umanesimo di fine Quattrocento. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 4 November to 31 December 1993. Florence: Olschki, 1994.

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    This catalogue to mark the 500th anniversary of the deaths of Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano, is focused more on the former, but it has essays on the relationship between the two humanists as well as on manuscripts and editions of Poliziano’s work and on documents relevant to his life.

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  • Viti, Paolo, ed. Il Poliziano latino: Proceedings of the Seminario di Lecce, 28 aprile 1994. Galatina, Italy: Congedo, 1996.

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    A collection of essays on Poliziano’s philological work and his writing in Latin, both commentaries and original poetry, by a group of well-established scholars.

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  • Waschbüsch, Alfons. Polizian: Ein Beitrag zur Philosophie des Humanismus. Munich: Fink, 1972.

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    A comprehensive interpretation of the philological-philosophical texts that Poliziano produced in connection with his pedagogical work at the Florentine Studio.

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Applications of Humanism

The articles listed in this section exemplify what happens when Poliziano applied the general approaches described in Poliziano as Humanist to specific problems. Kraye 1983, Monfasani 2006, and Oliver 1958 discuss textual criticism in relation to philosophical texts, while Daneloni 2001 focuses on rhetoric, Bonmatí Sánchez 2013 addresses the textual criticism of an epic poet, Boparai 2014 takes up translation, Zollino 2013 turns to lexicography, and Ribuoli 1981 treats Latin drama.

  • Bonmatí Sánchez, Virginia. “Las Argonáuticas de Valerio Flaco y las apostillas de los humanistas Bartolomeo Fonzio, Ángelo Poliziano y Pomponio Leto.” eHumanista: Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Iberian Studies 25 (2013): 243–255.

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    Analyzes the annotations entered into the first edition of Valerius Flaccus’s Argonautica (Bologna, 1474) by Poliziano, along with the notes of Bartolomeo Fonzio and Pomponio Leti, to clarify the textual tradition and to show which of the Renaissance variants are retained in modern editions.

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  • Boparai, Jaspreet Singh. “Politian’s Translation of Callimachus’s ‘Bath of Pallas’ in the Miscellanea (1489).” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 41 (2014): 369–388.

    DOI: 10.1353/crc.2014.0045Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Poliziano’s translation of Callimachus’s hymn in his Miscellanea “had to satisfy multiple demanding components of a critical (if enthusiastic) public” (p. 384) by making a poem written according to an unfamiliar set of Alexandrian aesthetic conventions intelligible to the audience of his day.

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  • Daneloni, Alessandro. Poliziano e il testo dell’Institutio oratoria. Messina, Italy: Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Umanistici, Università degli Studi di Messina, 2001.

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    Studies the marginalia Poliziano entered into his early printed edition of the Institutio oratoria, as preparation for his lectures on Quintilian, in the context of early humanistic scholarship in general on this author.

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  • Kraye, Jill. “Cicero, Stoicism, and Textual Criticism: Poliziano on Katorthoma.” Rinascimento 23 (1983): 79–110.

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    An account of Poliziano’s analysis of a passage in Cicero, De officiis 1.3.8, focused on the intersection of lexicography, textual criticism, and philosophy in the scholarship of Poliziano’s day.

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  • Monfasani, John. “Angelo Poliziano, Aldo Manuzio, Theodore Gaza, George of Trebizond, and Chapter 90 of the Miscellaneorum Centuria Prima (with an edition and translation).” In Interpretations of Renaissance Humanism. Edited by Angelo Mazzocco, 243–265. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789047410249_014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that Poliziano was the source for a key emendation of Pseudo-Aristotle Prob. 30:1 (953a17–18) in chapter 90 of the Miscellanea, a discussion of melancholy that drew in a number of other prominent humanists as well.

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  • Oliver, Revilo P.. “Politian’s Translation of the Enchiridion.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 89 (1958): 185–217.

    DOI: 10.2307/283675Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An exacting study of Poliziano’s Latin translation of Epictetus’s Enchiridion, providing a date for the translation, considering the material at his disposal and the nature of his interest in Epictetus, and reconstructing the history of the text.

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  • Ribuoli, Riccardo, ed. La collazione polizianea del Codice bembino di Terenzio: Con le postille inedite del Poliziano e note su Pietro Bembo. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1981.

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    A study of Poliziano’s collation of Bembo’s Terence manuscript (Vat. lat. 3226), concluding that Poliziano was less likely to introduce conjectures than sometimes believed. An appendix contains transcriptions of Poliziano’s marginalia to Terence.

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  • Zollino, Georgia. “Poliziano e il lessico Suda.” In La compilación del saber en la Edad Media / La compilation du savoir au Moyen Age / The Compilation of Knowledge in the Middle Ages. Edited by María José Muñoz, Patricia Cañizares Ferris, and Cristina Martín, 577–592. Textes et études du Moyen Âge 69. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013.

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    Shows that Poliziano knew well, and used often, the Suda, a massive 10-century Byzantine encyclopedia that provided words and information necessary for a humanist intent on re-creating the ancient world in his own day.

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Poliziano as Poet

Mutini 1972 and Séris 2002 offer general studies of the key elements of Poliziano’s poetics, while Leuker 1997 discusses the role of intertextual reference in several of Poliziano’s important poems. Bettinzoli 1995 and Galand-Hallyn 1994 focus on the Silvae, while Ghinassi 1957, Greene 1982, Bausi 2011, and Lo Cascio 1954 examine the Stanze, and Ventrone 2012 explores the Fabula di Orpheo.

  • Bausi, Francesco. “Testo, tradizione ed esegesi delle «Stanze» del Poliziano: status quaestionis e nuove proposte.” Studi di filologia italiana 69 (2011): 293–374.

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    Explores the textual tradition of one of Poliziano’s major vernacular works, as the basis for interpreting the poem. An erudite, important article.

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  • Bettinzoli, Attilio. Daedaleum iter: Studi sulla poesia e la poetica di Angelo Poliziano. Florence: Olschki, 1995.

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    Six essays on Poliziano’s poetry, focused on the Silvae, with an emphasis on poetic techniques and strategies.

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  • Galand-Hallyn, Perrine. “Ange Politien.” In Le reflet des fleurs: Description et métalangage d’Homère à la Renaissance. By Perrine Galand-Hallyn, 483–563. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1994.

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    A major study of the Silvae, especially the Rusticus, in which the distinctions among philology, literary criticism, learned discourse, and poetry are dissolved to produce a nuanced language that is capable of expressing the variety of phenomena found in the natural world.

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  • Ghinassi, Ghino. Il volgare letterario nel Quattrocento e le Stanze del Poliziano. Florence: Le Monnier, 1957.

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    A detailed linguistic study of the style of Poliziano’s Stanze, examining morphology, syntax, and rhythm.

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  • Greene, Thomas. “Poliziano: The Past Dismembered.” In The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry. By Thomas Greene, 147–170. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982.

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    An interesting attempt to link Poliziano’s imitative theory to his poetry that centers on the Stanze, which deny the historicity of imitation in an effort to avoid the mutilation of poetry in time.

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  • Leuker, Tobias. Angelo Poliziano: Dichter, Redner, Stratege; Eine Analyse der Fabula di Orpheo und ausgewählter lateinischer Werke des Florentiner Humanisten. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1997.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110968408Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyses of the Fabula di Orpheo, Sylva in scabiem, Nutricia, and Ambra, showing through close reading how Poliziano mastered the game of intertextual referencing esteemed by writers in his day.

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  • Lo Cascio, Renzo. Lettura del Poliziano: Le “Stanze per la Giostra” Palermo, Italy: S. V. Flaccovio, 1954.

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    Offers an impressionistic interpretation of the Stanze, focused on a close reading of the text and its sources but using other works of Poliziano for elucidation.

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  • Mutini, Claudio. Interpretazione del Poliziano. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1972.

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    An interesting, if impressionistic, effort to clarify Poliziano’s poetics, covering topics ranging from myth and imitation to rhetoric and epistemology.

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  • Séris, Émilie. Les Étoiles de Némésis: La rhétorique de la mémoire dans la poésie d’Ange Politien, 1454–1494. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 2002.

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    A major study of Poliziano’s poetry, focused on memory as a way to immortalize princes, express the quest for the good, and transmit ancient literature to later generations.

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  • Ventrone, P. “‘Philosophia. Involucra fabularum’: La Fabula di Orpheo di Angelo Poliziano.” In L’attore del Parnaso. Profili di attori-musici e drammaturgie d’occasione. Edited by Francesca Bortoletti, 225–266. Milan: Mimesis, 2012.

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    An extended study of the first vernacular play written on a classical theme in Italy, first placing it into the Florentine circle of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1473–1474 instead of Mantua in 1480 (the current received opinion), then exploring the consequences of this new conclusion for the interpretation of the play.

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Critical Reception

Lo Cascio 1970 provides the essential treatment of the critical reception of Poliziano’s works through the centuries. Delcorno Branca 1979 and Crinito 1994 focus on the decades immediately after Poliziano’s death, while Dempsey 1992 turns to art and Albalá Pelegrín 2013 and Haugen 2011 focus on drama. Pirrotta and Povoledo 1982 places Poliziano into the prehistory of opera, and Rota 2016 uses a poem of his in a choral setting. Edelheit 2015 expands the critical perspective to place Poliziano into the broader development of the humanities.

  • Albalá Pelegrín, Marta. “El arte de Lope de Vega a la luz de la teoría dramática italiana contemporanéa: Poliziano, Robortello, Guarini y el Abad de Rute.” eHumanista: Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Iberian Studies 24 (2013): 1–15.

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    Identifies Poliziano as a key theorist of Italian Renaissance drama whose conception of comedy as an historically changeable category underlies Lope de Vega’s New Art of Making Comedies (1609), an important critical document of the day.

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  • Crinito, Pietro. Un commento inedito all’‘Ambra’ del Poliziano. Edited by Alessandro Perosa. Rome: Bulzoni, 1994.

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    An edition of the commentary on the Ambra by Pietro Crinito, Poliziano’s student and heir to part of his library, representing a key moment in the creation of the critical response to Poliziano’s work.

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  • Delcorno Branca, Daniela. Sulla tradizione delle Rime del Poliziano. Florence: Olschki, 1979.

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    Ostensibly a preliminary study for a critical edition of the Rime, this monograph describes the early circulation of the text, showing how this work fits into the larger development of humanist philology in Poliziano’s day.

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  • Dempsey, Charles. The Portrayal of Love: Botticelli’s “Primavera” and Humanistic Culture at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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    An incisive analysis of the relationship between Giuliano de’ Medici and Simonetta Cattaneo in relation to two of the works connected with them, Botticelli’s Primavera and Poliziano’s Stanze.

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  • Edelheit, Amos. “Poliziano and Philosophy: The Birth of the Modern Notion of the Humanities?” Traditio 70 (2015): 369–405.

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    Poliziano’s important definition of history presented in his Panepistemon, together with other pieces of evidence, reveals the moment in which the disciplines associated with the “humanities” (in the modern sense of this term) began to be separated from the natural sciences. Edelheit argues that this separation took place at a point just preceding the massive critique of Aristotelian science during the 16th century, stimulated by Poliziano’s notion of a philosophical literature to which the Aristotelian texts also belong.

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  • Haugen, Kristine Louise. “The Birth of Tragedy in the Cinquecento: Humanism and Literary History.” Journal of the History of Ideas 72.3 (2011): 351–370.

    DOI: 10.1353/jhi.2011.0018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies Poliziano’s lecture on Terence from the 1480s as a key document in the understanding of the origins of tragedy that began in Aristotle’s Poetics, extended through the rise of opera around 1600, and culminated in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.

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  • Lo Cascio, Renzo. Poliziano. Palermo, Italy: Palumbo, 1970.

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    An enormously valuable overview of the critical reception of Poliziano’s work, beginning with a century-by-century narrative that chronicles the passage of interest from philologist to poet, and ending with an anthology of passages from influential critics. Also contains a useful bibliography of older material on pp. 155–160.

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  • Pirrotta, Nino, and Elena Povoledo. Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi. Translated by Karen Eales. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

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    The definitive account of Poliziano’s Orfeo, a dramatic fable with music, as a sort of opera before opera actually existed, with an exploration of what the generations between Poliziano and Monteverdi thought musical theater might be. Italian edition originally published in 1975.

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  • Rota, Nino. Four Canons for Three Women’s Voices (S) (1932). Mainz: Schott Music, 2016.

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    A choral setting by the 20th-century composer Nino Rota of a poem by Angelo Poliziano, as a part of a work that also includes lyrics by Matteo Maria Boiardo and Gabriello Chiabrera.

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