Renaissance and Reformation Francesco Filelfo
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 31 January 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0276

Introduction

Of all the major humanists of the Italian Renaissance, Francesco Filelfo (b. 1398–d. 1481) probably has the worst reputation. In his own day he was reviled for being jealous, vain, and greedy, and his modern biographers repeat the same criticisms and add a few others, such as an exaggerated self-assurance that approached narcissism. Even those who did not like him admitted freely that Filelfo was a great scholar, one with a better knowledge of Greek than almost any Westerner of his day. However, his bad personal reputation seems to have caused many modern researchers to keep their distance from Filelfo as well. As the bibliography below indicates, this is starting to change, with Jeroen De Keyser in particular approaching Filelfo with a more sympathetic eye, but much more work remains to be done.

Biography

Rather surprisingly, there is no full modern biography of Francesco Filelfo. Viti 1997 offers an excellent short introduction, with Garin 1956 also worth consulting and Sheppard 1935 an acceptable summary for those restricted to English sources. Adam 1974 and Robin 1991 provide excellent accounts of significant aspects of Filelfo’s life and work, but Rosmini 1808 remains indispensable after 200 years, with Benadduci 1901 (cited under Editions) offering additional material. Robin 1983 sketches out the direction a new biography might take, while Ruggeri 1992 presents an important source that future biographical work must draw upon.

  • Adam, Rudolf Georg. “Francesco Filelfo at the Court of Milan: A Contribution to the Study of Humanism in Northern Italy (1439–1481).” PhD diss., Oxford University, 1974.

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    A major study of Filelfo and his works, placed into the larger setting of 15th-century Italian political and intellectual life. Unfortunately never published and therefore hard to obtain, but always cited in any serious scholarship on Filelfo.

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  • Garin, Eugenio. “L’opera di Francesco Filelfo.” In Storia di Milano: L’età sforzesca dal 1450 al 1500. Vol. 7. Edited by Giovanni Treccani, 541–561. Milan: Fondazione Treccani degli Alfieri, 1956.

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    A good introductory overview, assessing Filelfo’s character, his relationship with the political powers of his day, his major works, and his long-term influence and reputation.

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  • Robin, Diana. “Reassessment of the Character of Francesco Filelfo.” Renaissance Quarterly 36 (1983): 202–224.

    DOI: 10.2307/2860869Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important effort to lay the groundwork for a new intellectual biography of Filelfo by attributing the generally negative portrait of him to a handful of contemporary sources that reflect the biases of their authors.

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  • Robin, Diana. Filelfo in Milan: Writings, 1451–1477. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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    A hybrid volume, part intellectual biography stressing Filelfo’s status as marginalized “other” and his ambivalent relationship with his patrons, and part a selection of previously unpublished texts (see Robin 1983).

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  • Rosmini, Carlo de’. Vita di Francesco Filelfo da Tolentino. 3 vols. Milan: Muigi Mussi, 1808.

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    Still the essential starting place for the study of Filelfo’s life and works, accompanied by an extensive selection of relevant documents.

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  • Ruggeri, Fausto. “Il testamento di Francesco Filelfo.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 35 (1992): 345–366.

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    Contains the text with a brief study of an important document, the will preserved in the Archivio del Capitolo metropolitano di Milano, which had been lost since the mid-18th century.

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  • Sheppard, L. A. “A Fifteenth-Century Humanist, Francesco Filelfo.” The Library 16 (1935): 1–26.

    DOI: 10.1093/library/s4-XVI.1.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A useful overview of Filelfo’s life and works, with much derived from Rosmini, for those who do not read Italian.

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  • Viti, Paolo. “Francesco Filelfo.” In Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 47. Edited by Alberto M. Ghisalberti, et al., 613–626. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1997.

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    An excellent introduction, offering a detailed chronology of Filelfo’s life followed by a balanced assessment of his works, concluding with four columns of bibliography.

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Editions

While Filelfo was a prolific writer, there are no modern critical editions of a good many of his works. Several general guides to Filelfo’s writings exist, however. Benadduci 1901 offers access to the early editions, and De Keyser 2015 facilitates scholarly work on Filelfo’s writings. Filelfo 1901 provides a selection of key texts, and Robin 1991 presents representative sections of several important books.

  • Benadduci, Giovanni. “Contributo alla bibliografia di Francesco Filelfo.” Atti e memorie della Reale deputazione di storia patria per le province delle Marche 5 (1901): 459–535.

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    A valuable guide to both primary and secondary sources on Filelfo written before 1900, some of which must still be consulted.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen. “Incipitarium Philelfianum. A Guide to the Works of Francesco Filelfo.” Camenae 17 (2015): 1–72.

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    An invaluable list of the first lines of 3,175 of Filelfo’s Latin and Greek prose writings and poetry, allowing any given work, no matter how obscure, to be identified securely, as a prelude to the preparation of a text.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. “Prose e poesie volgari di Francesco Filelfo.” Atti e memorie della Reale deputazione di storia patria per le province delle Marche 5 (1901): 1–261.

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    A miscellany of Filelfo’s poetry and prose in Italian, including a speech in praise of Dante, a life of John the Baptist, and letters that supplement his work in Latin and Greek.

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  • Robin, Diana. Filelfo in Milan: Writings, 1451–1477. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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    Contains critical editions of selected letters, Sforziad 3, selected odes (Books 1–4), and On Moral Teaching 1, with synopses of the Psychagogia.

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Manuscripts

The manuscripts that Filelfo’s works must be based on have attracted their fair share of scholarly attention. Firpo 1967 offers a facsimile of a deluxe manuscript, while Calderini 1915 and De Keyser 2013 survey the other manuscripts to be found in Milan, where Filelfo lived and worked for many years. Speranzi 2005 concentrates on the Greek manuscripts, while Fiaschi 2000 uses the manuscript evidence to trace the diffusion of one of Filelfo’s poetry collections.

  • Calderini, Aristide. “I codici milanesi delle opera di Francesco Filelfo.” Archivio storico Lombardo 42.2 (1915): 335–411.

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    A useful survey of Filelfo’s manuscripts that were found in the Ambrosiana, the Braidense, and the Trivulziana—the three major libraries in Milan.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen. “I codici filelfiani della Biblioteca Trivulziana.” Libri e documenti 39 (2013): 91–109.

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    Provides an overview of all the manuscripts in Milan’s Biblioteca Trivulziana that contain works of Filelfo, assessing their proximity to the author and identifying, when possible, their copyists.

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  • Fiaschi, Silvia. “Prima e dopo la raccolta: diffusione e circolazione delle ‘Satyrae’ di Francesco Filelfo: Spunti dall’epistolario edito ed inedito.” Medioevo e Rinascimento 14.11 (2000): 147–165.

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    Traces the circulation of Filelfo’s Satires by means of the manuscripts that carried them, from France to Naples to Tolentino (Filelfo’s home town), noting that most were copied between 1463 and 1476.

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  • Firpo, Luigi, ed. Francesco Filelfo educatore e il Codice Sforza della Biblioteca reale di Torino. Turin, Italy: Unione tipografico-editrice torinese, 1967.

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    A reproduction in color of the manuscript of Filelfo’s commentary to the Rhetorica ad Herennium, with a transcription of the text, an analysis of the illustrations, and an appendix containing three letters with Filelfo’s ideas on education.

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  • Speranzi, David. “Codici greci appartenuti a Francesco Filelfo nella biblioteca di Ianos Laskaris.” Segno e testo 3 (2005): 467–496.

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    An interesting study of Filelfo’s Greek manuscripts, some of which made their way into the Bibliothèque Royale and thereby helped shape the development of French humanism.

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Prose

Two important prose works, Filelfo 1502 and Filelfo 1552, must still be consulted in 16th-century editions, while editions of two others, Filelfo 1892 and Filelfo 1898, appeared over a century ago. Filelfo 1952 gives access to part of Filelfo’s Commentationes, De Keyser 2015 provides a critical edition of the letters, Juhász 1932 offers an interesting contemporary perspective on Filelfo, and Filelfo 2013 presents a modern edition of one of Filelfo’s most interesting prose works.

  • De Keyser, Jeroen, ed. Collected Letters: Epistolarum libri XLVIII. By Francesco Filelfo. 4 vols. Hellenica 54. Alessandria, Italy: Edizioni dell’Orso, 2015.

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    A magisterial critical edition, based primarily on the final authorized version in Milan, Biblioteca Trivulziana, MS. 873, of over two thousand letters, mostly in Latin but also including a few written in Greek, offering a fascinating, although biased, window into the world of 15th-century Italian humanism.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. Epistolarum familiarium libri XXXVII. Venice: Ioannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, 1502.

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    Not easy to find, with copies at the British Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and a dozen US institutions, but still the standard source for this important work.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. De morali disciplina libri quinque. Edited by Francesco Robortello. Venice: Gualterus Scottus, 1552.

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    A 16th-century edition that remains the standard source for books and articles on Filelfo’s treatise on ethics.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. Cent-dix lettres grecques de François Philelphe. Edited by Emile Legrand. Paris: Leroux, 1892.

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    Contains 110 letters of Filelfo’s, originally written in Greek, with light annotation and a French translation, followed by a selection of Filelfo’s Greek poems and letters written by other humanists, predominantly Byzantine emigrés.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. Orazione di Francesco Filelfo in lode di Filippo Maria Visconti, duca di Milano. Edited by Giovanni Benadduci. Tolentino, Italy: Stab. Tip. Francesco Filelfo, 1898.

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    One of a series of shorter pieces edited by Benadduci and published in very limited editions in Tolentino, Filelfo’s hometown.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. “Commentationes Florentinae de exilio.” In Prosatori latini del Quattrocento. Edited by Eugenio Garin, 494–517. Milan: Ricciardi, 1952.

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    A lightly annotated edition, with Italian translation, of Book 3 of the Commentationes, on poverty. Neither complete nor a critical edition but easily accessible.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. On Exile. Edited by Jeroen De Keyser and translated by W. Scott Blanchard. The I Tatti Renaissance Library 55. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.

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    An edition with accompanying English translation of Filelfo’s philosophical treatise On Exile (c. 1440), in which a group of prominent Florentine humanists and nobles, driven out of their city by Cosimo de’ Medici, discuss how exile inflicts on them sufferings like poverty and loss of reputation, and how they can best deal with these problems.

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  • Juhász, Ladislaus, ed. Invectivae in Franciscum Philelphum. Bibliotheca scriptorium medii recentisque aevorum. Leipzig: Teubner, 1932.

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    A critical edition of Galeotti Marzio’s invectives against Filelfo, in which statements from Filelfo’s prose writings are extracted and used to blacken his reputation.

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Poetry

Filelfo was not the most original of poets, but modern editors have served his verse better than his prose. There are two good texts of the Satires, Fiaschi 2005 and Filelfo 1989, while Filelfo 2009 offers a serviceable text and English translation of the Odes. De Keyser 2015 presents Filelfo’s epic poem and other Sforza-related writings, and Cortassa and Maltese 1997 is a fine edition of the De psychagogia. Vignuolo 1975 presents an interesting example of how Filelfo’s reading of classical literature could serve as the foundation for his creative efforts.

  • Cortassa, Guido, and Enrico V. Maltese, eds. De psychagogia (Peri psychagogias): Editio princeps dal Laurenziano 58, 15. Alessandria, Italy: Edizioni dell’Orso, 1997.

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    An edition of the poems of Filelfo’s Psychagogia, the first prominent example of Greek versification in the ancient style of the humanist age, based on the only complete manuscript, Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 58, 15. The introduction contains a valuable analysis of Filelfo’s Greek usage.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen. Francesco Filelfo and Francesco Sforza: Critical Edition of Filelfo’s Sphortias, De Genuensium deditione, Oratio parentalis, and His Polemical Exchange with Galeotto Marzio. Noctes Neolatinae/Neo-Latin Texts and Studies 22. Hildesheim, Germany: Olms, 2015.

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    A carefully prepared critical edition of Filelfo’s epic poem on the exploits of Francesco Sforza, along with editions of the other three Sforza-centered writings: De Genuensium deditione, celebrating Genoa’s submission to Milan; the Oratio parentalis, a biographical eulogy written a year after Sforza’s death; and the polemical epistolary exchange with Galeotto Marzio regarding the merits of the Sphortias.

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  • Fiaschi, Silvia, ed. Satyrae (Decadi I–V). Studi e testi del Rinascimento europeo 26. Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 2005.

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    A monumental critical edition of Filelfo’s Satires, in which the introduction, notes, appendices, and indices exceed the length of the text.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. Satiras de Filelfo: Biblioteca Colombina, 7–1–13. Edited by José Solis de los Santos. Seville, Spain: Ediciones Alfar, 1989.

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    Contains Latin text and Spanish translation of seventeen poems from the Satires as found in the Seville manuscript, with brief notes.

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  • Filelfo, Francesco. Odes. Edited and translated by Diana Robin. The I Tatti Renaissance Library 41. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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    A working text and fine English translation of Filelfo’s lyric poetry collection, the first work of Latin poetry in the Renaissance to use all the lyric meters of Horace’s Carmina.

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  • Vignuolo, G. “Note inedite di Francesco Filelfo a Giovenale (Sat. I–IV).” Studia picena 42 (1975): 96–125.

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    A transcription of Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. Lat. 134, Filelfo’s commentary on Juvenal’s satires, with notes.

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Latin Translations of Greek Texts

Among the byproducts of Filelfo’s Greek studies are his translations into Latin, which served to introduce Greek texts to the educated classes of Europe. De Keyser 2012, Leotta 2008, and Xenophon 1990 are representative examples, with Nelson 1909 and Martinelli Tempesta 2009 linking Filelfo’s efforts to those of his contemporaries.

  • De Keyser, Jeroen. Traduzioni da Senofonte e Plutarco: Respublica Lacedaemoniorum, Agesilaus, Lycurgus, Numa, Cyri Paedia. Hellenica 44. Alessandria, Italy: Edizioni dell’Orso, 2012.

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    A meticulously prepared critical edition of five translations made by Filelfo of Greek works that were important to the early Italian humanists: the Respublica Lacedaemoniorum, Agesilaus, and Cyropaedia of Xenophon, and two biographies, those of Lucurgus and Numa, by Plutarch. As De Keyser shows, these works exercised considerable influence through the early printed editions by means of which they were disseminated in Renaissance Europe.

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  • Leotta, Serena, ed. Captivitatem Ilii non fuisse. Messina, Italy: Centro interdipartimentale di studi umanistici, 2008.

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    A meticulously prepared critical edition of Filelfo’s translation of Dio Chrysostom’s De Troia non capta, with a lengthy introduction and notes to elucidate the text.

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  • Martinelli Tempesta, Stefano, ed. Platonis Euthyphron. Il ritorno dei classici nell’Umanesimo 3, Edizione nazionale delle traduzioni dei testi greci in età umanistica e rinascimentale 6. Florence: SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo, 2009.

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    A critical edition of Filelfo’s translation of Plato’s Euthrypho, along with Pier Candido Decembrio’s translation of the Lysis, offering valuable information on the recovery of the Platonic corpus outside what would become the dominant source, Marsilio Ficino.

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  • Nelson, Axel, ed. Die Hippokratische Schrift, Peri physon, Text und Studien. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist and Wilksells Buchdruckerei, 1909.

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    A critical edition containing the Greek text of Hippocrates’ Peri physon along with Latin translations by Filelfo and Janus Lascaris.

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  • Xenophon, Gian F. Gianotti. L’ordinamento politico degli Spartani. Edited by Gian Franco Gianotti. Città antica 5. Palermo, Italy: Sellerio, 1990.

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    Contains Filelfo’s Latin translation of Xenophon’s Constitution of Sparta, as an appendix to the Greek text with Italian translation.

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Politics

While Filelfo was a teacher and writer rather than a politician per se, intellectual life in the 15th century was highly politicized, so that where he lived and worked depended on his relationships with the rich and powerful.

Milan

Filelfo spent many of his most formative years in Milan. Sverzellati 1997 provides background, while Caglioti 1994 and Gionta 2005 show how Filelfo’s writings became intertwined with the efforts of Milan’s Sforza rulers to solidify their power, and Robin 1985 hints at how difficult it must have been for Filelfo to navigate the changing currents of Milanese political life. See also Adam 1974 and Robin 1991, both cited under Biography.

  • Caglioti, Francesco. “Francesco Sforza e il Filelfo, Bonifacio Bembo e ‘compagni’: nove prosopopee inedite per il ciclo di antichi eroi ed eroine nella Corte Ducale dell’Arengo a Milano (1456–61 circa).” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 38.2–3 (1994): 183–217.

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    A study of the epigrams composed by Filelfo to accompany a pictorial cycle of heroes from Antiquity in the Ducal Palace in Milan. Includes a critical edition of the poems.

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  • Gionta, Daniela. Per i convivia mediolanensia di Francesco Filelfo. Messina, Italy: Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Umanistici, 2005.

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    A careful study of Filelfo’s Convivia mediolanensia, in which his accomplishments as a humanist are displayed in his analysis of Milanese culture. Includes an analysis of the textual transmission of the work.

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  • Robin, Diana. “Humanist Politics or Vergilian Poetics? (Filelfo’s Odes 2.2 and 3.4).” Rinascimento 25 (1985): 101–125.

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    An examination of two of the odes that comment on the sudden appearance of a republic in Milan, concluding that the poems present Filelfo’s personal feelings, not rhetorical posturing for public consumption. Contains a critical edition of the two odes.

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  • Sverzellati, Paola. “Il carteggio di Nicodemo Tranchedini e le lettere di Francesco Filelfo.” Aevum 71 (1997): 441–529.

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    A detailed study of the correspondence between Filelfo and Nicodemo Tranchedini, an important functionary of the Milanese state, shedding light on the state of culture and politics in Quattrocento Milan.

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Relations with Other Italian States

Since he lacked independent means and had a large family to support, Filelfo maintained a constant correspondence with many Italian princes and powers in an effort to improve his financial situation. The few years he spent in Florence were especially tumultuous and have attracted considerable scholarly attention, as shown by Blanchard 2007, Cao 1997, De Keyser 2015, Fiaschi 2005, Vasoli 1990, and Zippel 1979. De Feo Corso 1940 covers the years Filelfo spent in Siena, while Gualdo 1979 recounts his efforts to secure a papal position, and Luzio and Renier 1890 explores his interactions with the Gonzaga rulers of Mantua.

  • Blanchard, Scott W. “Patrician Sages and the Humanist Cynic: Francesco Filelfo and the Ethics of World Citizenship.” Renaissance Quarterly 60 (2007): 1107–1169.

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    Argues that Filelfo’s work from 1429 to 1444 responds to a political crisis in Florence but also reflects on the notion of world citizenship, a concept derived largely from Stoic and Cynic sources.

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  • Cao, Gian Mario. “Tra politica fiorentina e filosofia ellenistica: Il dibattito sulla ricchezza nelle Commentationes di Francesco Filelfo.” Archivio storico italiano 155 (1997): 99–126.

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    An interesting analysis of the section on poverty in Book 3 of Filelfo’s Commentationes Florentinae de exilio, in which a noteworthy series of citations from Sextus Empiricus is integrated into a discussion of the dialogue’s place in Quattrocento Florentine history.

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  • De Feo Corso, Laura. “Il Filelfo in Siena.” Bollettino di storia patria 47 (1940): 181–209, 292–316.

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    A detailed study of the time that the itinerant Filelfo spent in Siena, where he taught at the university and did some important work. Includes several pages of relevant documents.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen. “Francesco Filelfo’s Feud with Poggio Bracciolini.” In Forms of Conflict and Rivalries in Renaissance Europe. Edited by David A. Lines, Marc Laureys, and Jill Kraye, 13–28. Super alta perennis, Studien zur Wirkung der Klassischen Antike 17. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht Unipress, 2015.

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    Concentrates on the dispute that Filelfo had with Poggio Bracciolini, as it played out in Filelfo’s Satires and Poggio’s three Invectives, providing insight both into the intellectual and political life of Renaissance Florence and into the nature of humanist invective more generally.

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  • Fiaschi, Silvia. “Deformazioni storiche e propaganda politica negli scritti antimedicei di Francesco Filelfo.” In Il principe e la storia: Atti del convegno, Scandiano, 18–20 settembre 2003. Edited by Tina Mattarese and Cristina Montagnani, 415–437. Scandiano, Italy: Interlinea, 2005.

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    An interesting study of how Filelfo’s hostility toward the Medici affected both his literary efforts and the way in which the events being described were later perceived.

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  • Gualdo, Germano. “Francesco Filelfo e la curia pontificia: Una carriere mancata.” Archivio della societa romana di storia patria 102 (1979): 189–236.

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    A long, scholarly article exploring Filelfo’s unsuccessful efforts, lasting almost fifty years, to obtain stable, secure employment in the papal curia.

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  • Luzio, Alessandro, and Rodolfo Renier. “Il Filelfo e l’umanesimo alla corte dei Gonzaga.” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 16 (1890): 119–217.

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    A lengthy study, based on the archival documents in Mantua, of the relations of the Gonzaga court with Filelfo’s family. Includes lengthy excerpts from the documents.

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  • Vasoli, Cesare. “Le Commentationes de exilio di Francesco Filelfo.” In Exil et civilisation en Italie (XIIème–XVIème siècles). Edited by Jacques Heers and Christian Bec, 119–134. Nancy, France: Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1990.

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    Examines the Commentationes de exilio as a document of political propaganda and analyzes the rhetorical structure with which Filelfo shapes his arguments.

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  • Zippel, Giuseppe. “Il Filelfo a Firenze (1429–1434).” In Storia e cultura del Rinascimento italiano. Edited by Giuseppe Zippel, 215–253. Medioevo e umanesimo 33. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1979.

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    The fundamental study of the crucial five years Filelfo spent in Florence, where his teaching at the university was marred by the powerful enemies he made there, which led ultimately to a physical attack on his person. Originally published in Rome in 1899.

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Relations with States outside Italy

Gualdo Rosa 1964–1968 and Meserve 2010 explore Filelfo’s opinions on one of the burning issues of his day, the relationship of the west toward the Turks, and Fumagalli 2008 shows how Filelfo’s scholarship impacted international politics.

  • Fumagalli, Edoardo. “Francesco Filelfo e il re di Dacia.” Bollettino dell’Istituto storico italiano per il medio evo e archivio muratoriano 110 (2008): 117–130.

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    Interesting examination of a curious situation where a visit by the Danish King Christian I to Italy in 1474 stimulated a discussion by Filelfo on how an ancient language and the world it described should be adapted to modern exigencies.

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  • Gualdo Rosa, Lucia. “Il Filelfo e i Turchi.” Annali della Facolta di lettere e filosofia dell’Università di Napoli 11 (1964–1968): 109–165.

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    After surveying the previously known writings in which Filelfo expressed his opinions about a crusade against the Turks, Gualdo Rosa presents several unknown texts from a document in the Vatican archives and an analysis of those texts which nuances Filelfo’s ideas on this subject.

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  • Meserve, Margaret. “Nestor Denied: Francesco Filelfo’s Advice to Princes on the Crusade Against the Turks.” Osiris 25 (2010): 47–65.

    DOI: 10.1086/657262Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Describes a series of letters in which Filelfo addresses Christian princes in Italy and northern Europe, advising them of the necessity and utility of a military expedition to the Islamic East.

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Culture

Filelfo was not the most original of writers, but modern scholarship is still coming to terms with the breadth of his accomplishments, which extend through many literary genres and philosophical schools. Filefo 1986 provides an excellent orientation to Filelfo’s work, with seminal articles on a variety of topics.

Greek Studies

After spending time in Constantinople, Filelfo returned to Italy with a trunk full of manuscripts and a knowledge of Greek that was unrivaled in his generation, as Calderini 1913, Cortassa 2001, and Ganchou 2005 show. De Keyser and Speranzi 2011 provide insight into how Filelfo worked with material in Greek. Fiaschi 2007 offers an overview of Filelfo’s work as a translator, while Fabbri 1983 and Marsh 1994 explore specific translation projects. Maltese 1989 and Robin 1984 focuses on De psychagogia, an important collection of Filelfo’s original poems in Greek.

  • Calderini, Aristide. “Ricerche intorno alla biblioteca e cultura greca di Francesco Filelfo.” Studi italiani di filologia classica 20 (1913): 204–424.

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    A lengthy, learned overview of Filelfo’s Greek studies, providing a meticulous analysis of what Filelfo knew about each of 160 different Greek authors and concluding with a synthesis of his Greek studies. Over a hundred years old but still the necessary starting place for this field of research.

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  • Cortassa, G. “Francesco Filelfo, la Grecia, e Bisanzio.” In Rapporti e scambi tra umanesimo Italiano ed umanesimo Europeo: “L’Europa e uno stato d’animo.” Edited by L. Rotondi Secchi Tarugi, 353–364. Milan: Nuovi orizzonti, 2001.

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    A useful overview of Filelfo’s relationship with the Greek world, showing both its importance for his scholarly work and its prominence in his emotional landscape.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen, and David Speranzi. “Gli Epistolographi Graeci di Francesco Filelfo.” Byzantion: Revue internationale des études byzantines 81 (2011): 177–206.

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    A codicological analysis of Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 57.12, a manuscript containing a collection of letters in Greek that was produced in Constantinople in the 1430s. The authors show that Filelfo had material added to the original collection, annotated the manuscript himself, and used it in preparing his Commentationes Florentinae de exilio.

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  • Fabbri, Renata. “I ‘campioni’ di traduzione omerica di Francesco Filelfo.” Maia 35 (1983): 237–249.

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    A detailed study of the Homeric passages that Filelfo translated, placing them into the context of humanist Homeric scholarship and comparing his versions to those of other prominent translators of the day.

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  • Fiaschi, S. “Filelfo e ‘i diritti’ del traduttore: L’auctoritas dell’interprete e il problema della attribuzioni.” In Tradurre dal greco in età umanistica: Metodi e strumenti; Atti del Seminario di studio Firenze, Certosa del Galuzzo, 9 settembre 2005. Edited by M. Cortesi, 79–138. Florence: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2007.

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    An invaluable list of Filelfo’s translations from the Greek, with codicological and bibliographical information to facilitate further study of this material.

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  • Ganchou, Thierry. “Les ultimae voluntates de Manuel et Iôannès Chrysolôras et le séjour de Francesco Filelfo à Constantinople.” Bizantinistica 7 (2005): 195–285.

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    A long, detailed study of Filelfo’s stay in Constantinople, a key period in his formation as a humanist whose accomplishments in Greek surpassed almost all of his contemporaries.

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  • Maltese, Enrico V. “Appunti sull’inedita Psychagogia di Francesco Filelfo.” Res publica litterarum 12 (1989): 105–113.

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    Offers some observations about an important work of Filelfo’s, the Psychagogia, a collection of Greek poems that offers much information on the author’s relationships with other eminent figures of his day.

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  • Marsh, David. “Francesco Filelfo’s Translation of the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum.” In Peripatetic Rhetoric after Aristotle. Edited by William W. Fortenbaugh and David C. Mirhady, 349–364. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1994.

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    A study of Filelfo’s translation of the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, the first translation of an ancient Greek rhetorical text in the Renaissance, with a text and translation of the preface, a preliminary census of manuscripts, and a list of relevant rhetorical terms from Filelfo’s Greek-Latin lexicon.

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  • Robin, Diana. “Unknown Greek Poems of Francesco Filelfo.” Renaissance Quarterly 37 (1984): 173–206.

    DOI: 10.2307/2861283Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A detailed study of two poems (including text, translation, and commentary) from De psychagogia, one of the first collections of neo-Greek poems written by an Italian humanist, showing the state of Filelfo’s knowledge of Greek and shedding light on the interests and concerns of learned men during his age.

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Scholarship on Filelfo’s Literary Writings

Filelfo’s epic poem, the Sforziad, has attracted scholarly attention for some time, as Novara 1906, Kallendorf 2007, and De Keyser 2016 attest (see also Robin 1991, cited under Biography). Picci 1914 drew attention to the De iocis et seriis, with Zaggia 1994 picking up this line of inquiry. Other works have drawn sporadic interest, as D’Elia 2002, Fabbri 1983, Oliver 1949, and Parussa 1988 show.

  • De Keyser, Jeroen. “Picturing the Perfect Patron? Francesco Filelfo’s Image of Francesco Sforza.” In Portraying the Prince in the Renaissance: The Humanist Depiction of Rulers in Historiographical and Biographical Texts. Edited by Patrick Baker, Johannes Helmrath, Ronny Kaiser, and Maike Priesterjahn, 391–414. Transformationen der Antike 44. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

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    Takes issue with Kallendorf 2007, arguing that Filelfo did not criticize Sforza under the guise of flattering praise in his Sphortias, but instead tried to balance his declared intention to offer a true presentation of historical facts against the needs of panegyrical literature.

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  • D’Elia, Anthony F. “Marriage, Sexual Pleasure, and Learned Brides in the Wedding Orations of Fifteenth-Century Italy.” Renaissance Quarterly 55 (2002): 379–433.

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    Studies Filelfo’s wedding oration as one of several efforts to defend marriage by adapting classical concepts to Italian court culture.

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  • Fabbri, Renata. “Le Consolationes de obitu Valerii Marcelli ed il Filelfo.” In Umanesimo e Rinascimento a Firenze e Venezia, Vol. 3 of Miscellanea di studi in onore de Vittore Branca. Edited by Armando Balduino, et al., 227–250. Biblioteca dell’ “Archivum Romanicum,” Seria 1, Storia, letteratura, paleografia 180. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1983.

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    A study of the literary condolences written by Filelfo to commemorate the death of the son of the Venetian patrician Iacopo Antonio Marcello, including a critical edition of Filelfo’s Greek elegy and a biographical appendix on Marcello.

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  • Kallendorf, Craig. “Marginalization.” In The Other Virgil: Pessimistic Readings of the Aeneid in Early Modern Culture. By Craig Kallendorf, 17–66. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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    Analyzes Filelfo’s Sforziad as part of a tradition of Virgilian literature that offers veiled criticisms of a series of putative heroes along with the expected praise of them.

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  • King, Margaret. The Death of the Child Valerio Marcello. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226436272.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a brief discussion (pp. 30–34, 71–74) of Filelfo’s consolatory treatise on the death of Valerio Marcello and its context.

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  • Novara, A. “Un poema latino del quattrocento: La Sforziade di Francesco Filelfo.” Rivista ligura di scienze, lettere ed arti 28 (1906): 3–27.

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    An introductory study of the Sforziad, worth consulting but too harsh in its evaluation of the poem.

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  • Oliver, Revilo P. “The Satires of Filelfo.” Italica 26 (1949): 23–46.

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    A spirited defense of Filelfo and his satires, viewed as important documents for the literary and social history of the Renaissance.

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  • Parussa, Gabriella. “Deux essais de traduction: Les fables de Francesco Filelfo traduites par Jean Baudoin et celles de Gabriele Faerno traduites par Charles Perrault.” Reinardus 1 (1988): 104–112.

    DOI: 10.1075/rein.1.14parSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the translation of eighteen of Filelfo’s fables made by Jean Baudoin in the mid-17th century, with an eye on the liberties taken by the translator.

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  • Picci, C. Il ‘De iocis et seriis’ di Francesco Filelfo. Varallo Sesia, Italy: Unione tipografica valesiana, 1914.

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    A valuable study, beginning with a key manuscript (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana G.93 inf.), moving to a literary analysis of the text, and concluding with what De iocis et seriis tells us about Filelfo’s relationship with his contemporaries.

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  • Zaggia, Massimo. “Indice del De iocis et seriis filelfiano con l’incipitario delle raccolte latine.” Rinascimento 34 (1994): 157–235.

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    A list of the first lines of each epigram, with their dedicatees, from one of Filelfo’s more important works, one that has never been printed and therefore has remained largely unstudied.

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Filelfo as a Philosopher

Filelfo was not an original philosopher of the first order, but he was conversant in the major trends of the day, as Kraye 1979 and Kraye 1981 show. Giustiniani 1980 demonstrates how Filelfo’s philosophical interests colored his literary criticism.

  • Giustiniani, Vito R. “Il Filelfo, l’interpretazione allegorica di Virgilio e la tripartizione platonica dell’anima.” In Umanesimo e Rinascimento: Studi offerti a Paul Oskar Kristeller. Edited by Vittore Branca, et al., 33–44. Florence: Olschki, 1980.

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    A study of Filelfo’s letter to Cyriaco d’Ancona, in which he analyzes the storm scene with Aeolus in Aeneid 1 according to moral and natural philosophy. Includes a critical edition of the letter, with commentary.

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  • Kraye, Jill. “Francesco Filelfo’s Lost Letter De ideis.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 42 (1979): 236–249.

    DOI: 10.2307/751098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reconstructs Filelfo’s lost work on Plato’s “Theory of the Ideas” through reference to a passage on the same subject in De morali disciplina, which is printed in a critical text with commentary.

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  • Kraye, Jill. “Francesco Filelfo on Emotions, Virtues and Vices: A Re-examination of His Sources.” Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance 43 (1981): 129–140.

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    A careful study of Filelfo’s approach to ethics and psychology, in relation to his reading in ancient sources. Reprinted in Classical traditions in Renaissance Philosophy (Aldershot and Burlington, UK: Ashgate, 2002), Study 5 (pp. 129–140).

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Vernacular Culture

Like most humanists of his day, Filelfo had more than a passing interest in vernacular literature as well. D’Episcopo 1987 demonstrates his interest in Dante, while Bessi 1987, Mehltretter 2011, and Raimondi 1950 focus attention on Filelfo’s commentary on Petrarch’s lyric poetry. Rotolo 1973–1974 shows Filelfo’s understanding of the vernacular in the Byzantine culture of his day. See also Filelfo 1901 (cited under Editions).

  • Bessi, Rossella. “Sul commento di Francesco Filelfo ai ‘Rerum vulgarium fragmenta.’” Quaderni petrarcheschi 4 (1987): 229–270.

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    A meticulously researched study of Filelfo’s commentary on Petrarch’s Canzoniere, tracing its genesis and integrating Filelfo’s work into the textual history of the poems.

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  • D’Episcopo, Francesco. “Orazioni di Francesco Filelfo e di suoi discepoli su Dante Alighieri.” Res publica litterarum 10 (1987): 77–83.

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    A study of four speeches given by Filelfo and his students on Dante, who occupied a complicated position in Italian culture during the 15th century.

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  • Mehltretter, Florian. “Vom guten Leben: Francesco Filelfo als Kommentator Petrarcas.” In Para/Textuelle Verhandlungen zwischen Dichtung und Philosophie in der Frühen Neuzeit. Edited by Bernhard Huss, Patrizia Marzillo, and Thomas Ricklin, 71–89. Pluralisierung & Autorität 26. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011.

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    Examines the commentary written by Filelfo to the Canzoniere of Francesco Petrarca, with an eye especially on the treatment of sexual desire and its relationship to moral philosophy.

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  • Raimondi, Ezio. “Francesco Filelfo, interprete del Canzoniere.” Studi petrarcheschi 3 (1950): 143–164.

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    An elegant study of Filelfo’s commentary on Petrarch’s lyric poetry, made in response to an invitation of Filippo Maria Visconti and noteworthy as part of the humanist exegetical tradition.

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  • Rotolo, V. “L’opinione di Francesco Filelfo sul greco volgare.” Rivista di studi bizantini e neoellenici 20–21 (1973–1974): 85–107.

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    Shows that Filelfo understood the state of Greek in the Constantinople of his day, with the upper classes speaking an archaizing language and the rest of the people using a dialect that had evolved considerably and embraced hybrid forms.

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