Renaissance and Reformation Ermolao Barbaro the Younger
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0365

Introduction

Ermolao Barbaro the Younger (b. 1454–d. 1493) was born into a prominent Venetian family. His father, Zaccaria, sent him to Rome, where he studied under Pomponio Leto, after which he returned to the Veneto, where he took up a position teaching at the University of Padua. The decisive event in his life was his abortive effort to take up an appointment as patriarch of Aquileia in 1491; when this failed, he remained in Rome until his death a short time afterward. Widely respected as a humanist scholar in his own day, he represented well the distinctively Venetian strain of this intellectual movement, which was more oriented toward Aristotelian philosophical studies, plus self-effacing service to the Venetian state, than its better-known Florentine variety, which focused more on man’s potential, plus his role in society. He prepared translations of and commentaries to a number of the texts he taught, along with treatises that drew from his experiences in life and a modest amount of poetry. While modern scholarship is extending the understanding of Barbaro’s work in some interesting new directions, he has not attracted an interest commensurate to that of some of his contemporaries. The most bracing recent work is clarifying the distinctive nature of his scholarship, which has been distorted in places by a certain reluctance to meet Venetian humanism on its own terms, but for Barbaro in general, much more remains to be done.

Life and Works

Like many Italian humanists, Barbaro would benefit from a good modern intellectual biography. Bigi 1964, supplemented by Céard 1997 and King 1986, offers a reliable short introduction to Barbaro’s life and works, and Mazzuchelli 1753–1763 contains much of the information on which these works still rely. Paschini 1957 goes into more detail but is still only of article length. Ferriguto 1922 offers bulk, but it is now almost a century old and is padded out with a great deal of extraneous information; Stickney 1903 is even older and less accessible. The essays in Marangoni and Pastore Stocchi 1996, several of which are explicitly focused on Barbaro’s life and family, offer the patient reader the resources to construct a larger picture.

  • Bigi, Emilio. “Ermolao Barbaro.” In Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 6. Edited by Alberto Maria Ghisalberti, 95–96. Rome: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1964.

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    A good introduction to Barbaro’s life and works that takes into account the complexity of his character and interests, along with a basic primary and secondary bibliography, unfortunately limited by the fact that this entry appeared in one of the earlier volumes of the DBI, which is becoming increasingly outdated.

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    • Céard, Jean. “Ermolao Barbaro.” In Centuriae Latinae: Cent une figures humanistes de la Renaissance aux Lumières offertes à Jacques Chomarat. Edited by Colette Nativel, 79–84. Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance 314. Geneva, Switzerland: Librairie Droz, 1997.

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      A nice little overview that places Barbaro’s major works into the key events in his life, followed by a reference list that contains biographical material, editions of Barbaro’s works, and secondary scholarship. Updates Bigi 1964.

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      • Ferriguto, Arnaldo. Almorò Barbaro: L’alta cultura del settentrione d’Italia nel 400, i ‘sacri canones’ di Roma e le ‘sanctissime leze’ di Venezia (con documenti inediti). Miscellanea di storia veneta edita per cura della R. deputazione veneta di storia patria, series 3, 15.2. Venice: A Spese della Societa, 1922.

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        An expansive survey of Barbaro’s life and works, beginning with issues in his intellectual life and providing a wide-ranging discussion of those issues. Not everything is directly relevant to Barbaro, but the work contains an enormous amount of information.

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        • King, Margaret L. “Ermolao Barbaro.” In Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance. By Margaret L. King, 322–323. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

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          A good schematic introduction to Barbaro, providing basic information on his education, career, works, and correspondence, along with a brief discussion of his importance and a list of works about him. Barbaro also makes regular appearances in King’s narrative, which served as a definitive treatment of Venetian humanism when it appeared.

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          • Marangoni, Michela, and Manlio Pastore Stocchi, eds. Una famiglia veneziana: I Barbari; Atti del Convegno di Studi in Occasione del Quinto Centenario della Morte dell'Umanista Ermolao, Venezia, 4–6 novembre 1993. Venice: Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 1996.

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            For those who read Italian, the essential starting place for modern scholarship on Barbaro, containing fifteen essays by the world’s leading scholars on his family, his relation to the important people of his day, his individual works, and his broader cultural environment.

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            • Mazzuchelli, Giammaria. “Ermolao Barbaro.” In Gli scrittori d’Italia cioé notizie storiche, e critiche intorno alle vite, e agli scritti dei letterati italiani. Vol. 2.1. By Giammaria Mazzuchelli, 256–264. Brescia, Italy: Bossini, 1753–1763.

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              The earliest recognizably modern bio-bibliographical study of Barbaro, with an overview of the major events of his life followed by a list of his works, divided into those that had been published by the middle of the 18th century and those that remained in manuscript at that point.

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              • Paschini, Pio. “Ermolao Barbaro.” In Tre illustri prelati del Rinascimento: Ermolao Barbaro, Adriano Castellesi, Giovanni Grimani. By Pio Paschini, 9–42. Lateranum, n.s., 23.1–4. Rome: Facultas Theologica Pontificii Athenaei Lateranensis, 1957.

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                A competent basic biography, beginning with Barbaro’s formation as a man of letters, focusing significant attention on his nomination to be patriarch of Aquileia, and concluding with a discussion of his time in Rome and premature death.

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                • Stickney, Trumbull. De Hermolai Barbari vita atque ingenio. Paris: Société Nouvelle de Librairie et d’Édition, 1903.

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                  A thirty-page biography, followed by an appendix containing a generous selection of Barbaro’s letters. Often cited, but, in the end, not especially helpful.

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                  Editions

                  In general, Barbaro’s translations and commentaries still have to be read in Renaissance editions (with one major exception), while many of his other writings are now available in modern critical editions.

                  Renaissance Editions

                  Aristotle lay at the center of Barbaro’s work as a philosopher. Aristotle 1545 is the translation of the Rhetoric that he prepared when he was still in his twenties, with Barbaro 1544 and Barbaro 1545 representing his efforts to summarize key parts of Aristotelian thought. Themistius 1481 presents Barbaro’s translation of someone else’s Aristotelian digests, while Gilbert de la Porrée 1541 extends the scope of Barbaro’s work on Aristotle to medieval scholasticism. Barbaro 1530 covers his work on the medical writer Dioscorides.

                  • Aristotle. Rhetoricorum libri III. Translated by Ermolao Barbaro. Basel, Switzerland: Westhemerus, 1545.

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                    A translation of Aristotle’s Rhetoric that played a significant role in making this work, which was not often read in the Middle Ages, influential once again. Also contains a commentary by Daniele Barbaro. Available online.

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                    • Barbaro, Ermolao. In Dioscoridem corollariorum libri quinque. Cologne: Soter, 1530.

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                      An important edition of a work that exemplifies one approach to the natural sciences in the Renaissance, in which progress was made by improving the text of a key ancient authority by using the same procedures that led to advances in humanistic texts. Available online, with additional information available from the website of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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                      • Barbaro, Ermolao. Compendium ethicorum librorum. Venice: Cominus de Tridino, 1544.

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                        An overview of ethical philosophy based in Aristotle, originally prepared after Barbaro had taught the Nicomachean Ethics at the University of Padua in the 1474–1475 school year. Available online.

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                        • Barbaro, Ermolao. Compendium scientiae naturalis ex Aristotele. Venice: Cominus de Tridino, 1545.

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                          An overview of the natural sciences as developed in the works of Aristotle that made this difficult material more accessible both to Barbaro’s own students at the University of Padua and to readers throughout Europe. Available online.

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                          • Gilbert de la Porrée. Liber de sex principiis. Commentary by Ermolao Barbaro. Paris: P. Calvarinus, 1541.

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                            A commentary on a treatise attributed to the 12th-century scholastic philosopher Gilbert de la Porrée (it is actually anonymous) that discusses the six subordinate modes of the Aristotelian categories. Barbaro’s interest in this work confirms that for him there was not a rigid division between the new humanist movement and the scholasticism of previous centuries.

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                            • Themistius. Paraphrasis in Aristotelem. Translated by Ermolao Barbaro. Treviso, Italy: Bartholomaeus Confalonerius and Morellus Gerardinus, 1481.

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                              Includes Barbaro’s translation of Themistius’s paraphrases of Aristotles Posterior Analytics, Physics, and De anima and Pseudo-Themistius’s De memoria. This work is little read today but was an important study aid when Aristotle’s works remained the foundation of knowledge in many fields. Available online.

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                              Modern Editions

                              Modern editions exist of several of Barbaro’s most important works. Branca 1943 and Branca 1969 blazed the trail here, offering meticulously prepared editions of five works in two different collections. Pozzi 1973–1979 and Barbaro and Pico della Mirandola 1998 present Barbaro’s best-known texts, while Cappelli 2011, Pomponius Mela 1973, and Barbaro 2016 offer editions of other individual works. See also Stickney 1903 (cited under Life and Works), Branca 1970 (under Appointment as Patriarch of Aquilea), Ramminger 2001 (under Humanism), Robuschi 2013–2014 (under Treatises), and Branca 1964 (under Poetry).

                              • Barbaro, Ermolao. “Ad Federicum imperatorem/Ad Maximilianum regem Romanorum.” In Three Speeches by Venetian Ambassadors 1433–1486: Francesco Barbaro, Ad Sigismundum Caesarem; Bernardo Giustinian, Ad universitatem Parisiensem; Ermolao Barbaro, Ad Federicum imperatorem/Ad Maximilianum regem Romanorum. Edited by Jan Rothkamm, 87–172. Gratia 54. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2016.

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                                Critical edition, with speeches in Latin, accompanied by an English translation, introduction, and commentary, of two speeches made by Barbaro when he was serving as an ambassador of the Venetian republic.

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                                • Barbaro, Ermolao, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Filosofia o eloquenza? Edited by Francesco Bausi. Sileni 2. Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1998.

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                                  An edition of the documents recording a famous debate between Barbaro and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on the role of rhetoric within humanism and scholasticism.

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                                  • Branca, Vittore, ed. Epistolae, orationes et carmina. 2 vols. Nuova collezione di testi umanistici inedite o rari 5–6. Florence: Bibliopolis, 1943.

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                                    A critical edition of Barbaro’s letters, speeches, and poems, with a lengthy introduction and four different indices. A reliable, handy way to gain access to three of Barbaro’s key works at once. See also Branca 1969.

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                                    • Branca, Vittore, ed. De coelibatu, De officio legati. Nuova collezione di testi umanistici inediti o rari 14. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1969.

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                                      A critical edition of two of Barbaro’s treatises, On Celibacy and On the Duty of an Ambassador, along with a series of important additions to Branca 1943, covering newly discovered texts, manuscripts, and corrections to the earlier work.

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                                      • Cappelli, Guido M. “Debutto napoletano: Un’ignota orazione ufficiale di Ermolao Barbaro.” Humanistica: An International Journal of Early Renaissance Studies 5 (2011): 111–124.

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                                        Discusses several speeches given before the Aragonese court in Naples, as recorded in Valenza, Biblioteca universitaria, cod. 735, with a focus on the speech delivered by Ermolao Barbaro, which marks his intervention as a diplomat into the shifting political alliances of his day. Includes a critical edition of the speech.

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                                        • Pomponius Mela. Cosmographia sive de situ orbis. Northridge: California State University, 1973.

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                                          A facsimile of the c. 1498 edition, edited by Ermolao Barbaro, of Pomponius Mela’s description of the ancient world as it was known to him.

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                                          • Pozzi, Giovanni, ed. Castigationes Plinianae et in Pomponium Melam. 4 vols. Thesaurus Mundi 11, 14, 18, 19. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1973–1979.

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                                            A tour de force, containing three hefty volumes of Barbaro’s revisions of the text of Pliny, followed by a fourth that contains several indices. The Florentine humanist Angelo Poliziano was so taken with this work that he claimed to have devoured it in one night; the modern reader can still find it an interesting window into how Barbaro thought and worked.

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                                            Appointment as Patriarch of Aquilea

                                            In 1491 Pope Innocent VIII nominated Barbaro to be patriarch of Aquileia, at which point he became caught up in the dispute between Venice and the papacy over who had the right to make this appointment. Innocent and Alexander VI, who succeeded him, threatened to excommunicate Barbaro if he did not take up the appointment, while the Venetian Senate accused him of treason, insisted that he refuse the position, and exiled him from Venice. Della Santa 1922, updated by Banfi 1950, describes the situation, while Branca 1970 links the issues raised here to others in Barbaro’s career.

                                            • Banfì, Luigi. “Ermolao Barbaro Venezia e il patriarcato di Aquileia.” Nuova antologia 111 (1950): 421–428.

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                                              A clearly presented analysis of the dispute over Barbaro’s appointment as patriarch of Aquileia that explains how he got caught between two conflicting political forces.

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                                              • Branca, Vittore. “Fermezza cristiana e impegno filologico del Patriarca Ermolao Barbaro.” In Miscellanea Gilles Gérard Meersseman. Vol. 2, pp. 687–694. Italia sacra 15–16. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1970.

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                                                A brief but important analysis of a letter from Barbaro to Giorgio Merula from the era of his abortive nomination to be patriarch of Aquileia, in which Barbaro’s Christian faith is associated more explicitly than usual with such philological endeavors as his work on Pliny. The text of the letter is included.

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                                                • Della Santa, Giuseppe. “Una vicenda della dimora di Ermolao Barbaro a Roma nel 1492.” In Scritti storici in memoria di Giovanni Monticolo. Edited by Carlo Cipolla, Remigio Sabbadini, Pier Silverio Leicht, et al., 221–228. Padua, Italy: Ferrari, 1922.

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                                                  A short study of the controversy over Barbaro’s appointment as patriarch of Aquileia, as seen through several letters of Fantino Coppo, a contemporary Venetian patrician who had information about what transpired in Rome.

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                                                  Humanism

                                                  Although his star has dimmed somewhat over the centuries, Barbaro was one of the better-known humanists of his day and the leading scholar in Venice at the end of the 15th century. Branca 1963, Branca 1973, Branca 1980, and Griffante 1998 place Barbaro’s scholarly activities into the broader context of Venetian humanism. Falco 1987 argues for the importance of a youthful trip to Naples for Barbaro’s development as a humanist, while Diller 1963 offers information about the library on which his work depended. Miletti 2007, Nauert 1979, and Ramminger 2001 provide examples of how Barbaro worked in his chosen field. See also King 1986 and Marangoni and Pastore Stocchi 1996, both cited under Life and Works.

                                                  • Branca, Vittore. “Ermolao Barbaro e l’umanesimo veneziano.” In Umanesimo europeo e umanesimo veneziano. Edited by Vittore Branca, 193–212. Florence: Sansoni, 1963.

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                                                    The first of three essays by a distinguished Italian scholar on Barbaro’s life and work, which would expand into Branca 1973, then into Branca 1980. This version is largely superseded by the two that followed it, although it contains a list of important dates in Barbaro’s life that remains valuable.

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                                                    • Branca, Vittore. “Ermolao Barbaro and Late Quattrocento Venetian Humanism.” In Renaissance Venice. Edited by John Rigby Hale, 218–243. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1973.

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                                                      The most accessible of several efforts by a distinguished Italian scholar to summarize the achievements of Barbaro, concluding that “[t]hrough Aristotelian translations and commentaries, through treatises on moral philosophy and civic values, through orations and masterly models of the epistolary art, above all through his searching philological studies, Ermolao . . . made a fundamental impact on European culture” (pp. 220–221).

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                                                      • Branca, Vittore. “L’umanesimo veneziano alla fine del Quattrocento: Ermolao Barbaro e il suo circolo.” In Storia della cultura veneta. Vol. 3.1, Dal primo Quattrocento al Concilio di Trento. Edited by Girolamo Arnaldi and Manlio Pastore Stocchi, 123–175. Vicenza: Pozza, 1980.

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                                                        The fullest and latest of several overviews of Barbaro by his most distinguished modern successor, delineating clearly the distinctive features of Venetian humanism and presenting Barbaro as the pinnacle of its achievements, comparable to Poliziano in Florence but at the head of a circle of associates in a different scholarly milieu. The references, although dated, are extensive. See also Griffante 1998.

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                                                        • Diller, Aubrey. “The Library of Francesco and Ermolao Barbaro.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 6 (1963): 253–262.

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                                                          Identifies items 1148–1697 of Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3436, an inventory of the library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, as a list of the books in Ermolao Barbaro’s library, many of which had originally belonged to his grandfather Francesco. Also gives the present locations of the books when they could be determined.

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                                                          • Falco, Riccardo. “‘Litterae’ e ‘philosophiae’ nel rapporto tra Ermolao Barbaro, Antonio de Ferrariis e la cultura aragonese.” In Letteratura fra centro e periferia, studi in memoria di Pasquale Alberto De Lisio. Edited by Gioacchino Paparelli and Sebastiano Martelli, 261–284. Pubblicazioni dell’Università degli studi di Salerno, Sezione atti, convegni, miscellanee, 15. Salerno, Italy: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1987.

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                                                            Examines the time that Barbaro spent between 1471 and 1473 at the Aragonese court with his father, Zaccaria, concluding that the relationships he developed there with such Neapolitan humanists as Giovanni Pontano took on an importance in his later work that scholarship has tended to underestimate.

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                                                            • Griffante, Caterina. “L’umanesimo a Venezia: Note critiche per un aggiornamento bibliografico del capitolo ‘Ermolao Barbaro e il suo circolo.’” In La sapienza civile: Studi sull’umanesimo a Venezia. Edited by Vittore Branca, 197–216. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1998.

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                                                              An extended commentary on Branca 1980 (reprinted in an expanded version in the same volume) that provides a rich bibliography from the end of the 20th century on humanism in Venice, allowing Barbaro to be placed within his larger intellectual context.

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                                                              • Miletti, Lorenzo. “Calderini, Poliziano, Barbaro e il ‘ritorno’ di Temesa nell’umanesimo.” Atene e Roma 1–2 (2007): 39–52.

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                                                                Explores how three humanists of the late 15th century—Domizio Calderini, Angelo Poliziano, and Ermolao Barbaro—recovered information from the ancient sources about Temesa, a city in Magna Graecia on the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea whose exact location has still not been found.

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                                                                • Nauert, Charles G., Jr. “Humanists, Scientists, and Pliny: Changing Approaches to a Classical Author.” American Historical Review 84 (1979): 72–85.

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                                                                  Argues that Barbaro, who claimed to have corrected more than five thousand errors in the text of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, played an important part in effecting a shift in the way this work was treated, from an encyclopedia of knowledge in the Middle Ages to a text that required emendation when the rise of printing allowed humanists to stake their reputations on their work as textual critics.

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                                                                  • Ramminger, Johann. “Die ‘Irrtümer Perottis’ von Ermolao Barbaro d.J.: Ausgabe und Kommentar von Brief 135.” Wiener Studien 114 (2001): 677–700.

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                                                                    Contains a critical edition of and commentary on the letter in which Barbaro passes harsh judgment on the Cornucopiae of Niccolò Perotti, which he had approached for lexical information but found wanting.

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                                                                    Philosophy

                                                                    Humanism in Venice had a stronger philosophical strand, especially as associated with Aristotle, than Italian humanism in general, and Barbaro played an important part in aiming it in this direction. Poppi 1976 discusses the place of philosophy at the nearby University of Padua in general, while Saitta 1949–1951 and Kristeller 1948 clarify the basic parameters within which Barbaro worked. Dionisotti 1955 and Valcke 1992 follow an unexpected path toward Barbaro’s engagement with the English mathematician and philosopher Richard Swineshead, while Panizza 1999 addresses the question of memory aids in philosophy and Salman 1986 examines Barbaro’s work with Themistius.

                                                                    • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Ermolao Barbaro e la fortuna di Suiseth.” In Medioevo e Rinascimento: Studi in onore di Bruno Nardi. Vol. 1, pp. 217–253. Pubblicazioni dell’Istituto di filosofia dell’Università di Roma 1. Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1955.

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                                                                      A technically oriented study of Barbaro’s role in the reception of the works of Richardus Suiseth (Richard Swineshead), an English theologian, mathematician, and philosopher whose Book of Calculations, as Dionisotti shows, found an audience in the universities of northern Italy.

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                                                                      • Kristeller, Paul Oskar. “Un codice padovano postillato da Francesco e Ermolao Barbaro: Il manoscritto Plimpton 17 della Columbia University Library a New York.” La bibliofilia 50 (1948): 162–178.

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                                                                        Places Barbaro’s notes in Columbia University Library’s Plimpton Collection (Plimpton 17) into Barbaro’s larger engagement with Aristotle, which in turn is positioned in regard to humanist scholarship on Aristotle, a noticeably underdeveloped field at the time when Kristeller was writing.

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                                                                        • Panizza, Letizia. “Learning the Syllogisms: Byzantine Visual Aids in Renaissance Italy—Ermolao Barbaro (1454–93) and Others.” In Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: Conversations with Aristotle. Edited by Constance Blackwell and Sachiko Kusukawa, 22–47. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1999.

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                                                                          Examines the recovery of the Byzantine system of coding syllogisms from Aristotelian logic into geometric diagrams that serve as memory aids, a process in which Barbaro played an important part as a Greek tradition was imported into the West and spread via Latin texts.

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                                                                          • Poppi, Antonino. “Il problema della filosofia morale nella scuola padovana del Rinascimento: Platonismo e aristotelismo nella definizione del metodo dell’etica.” In Platon e Aristote a la Renaissance. Edited by Jean-Claude Margolin and Pierre Aquilon, 105–146. Paris: Vrin, 1976.

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                                                                            An overview of how moral philosophy was taught at the University of Padua during the Renaissance, followed by a closer look at a number of prominent professors, including Barbaro, and several important themes. Useful background for understanding Barbaro’s work in this area.

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                                                                            • Saitta, Giuseppe. “Averroisti, aristotelici e platonici.” In Il pensiero italiano nell’umanesimo e nel Rinascimento. Vol. 1. Edited by Giuseppe Saitta, 438–445. Bologna, Italy: C. Zuffi, 1949–1951.

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                                                                              Places Barbaro’s work on Aristotle into the larger context of Renaissance intellectual history, showing that his views about the proper function of philosophy have to be integrated into his ideas about the role of philology and eloquence in right thinking.

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                                                                              • Salman, Phillips. “Barbaro’s Themistius and Gelli’s Lecture: Philosophy Lost in Translation.” In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Sanctandreani: Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, St. Andrews, 24 August–1 September 1982. Edited by Ian D. McFarlane, 177–184. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 38. Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1986.

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                                                                                An interesting little essay that begins with Barbaro’s translation of Themistius and shows how Giovanni Battista Gelli makes Themistius accord with Dante on the nature of phantasms.

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                                                                                • Valcke, Luis. “I ‘Calculatores,’ Ermolao Barbaro e Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.” In L’educazione e la formazione intellettuale nell’età dell’umanesimo. Edited by Luisa Rotondi Secchi Tarugi, 275–284. Proceedings of the second international conference, 1990. Mentis itinerarium. Milan: A. Guerini e Associati, 1992.

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                                                                                  Examines the reaction of Barbaro to the Book of Calculations of Richardus Suiseth (Richard Swineshead), where it becomes apparent that his devotion to a high level of linguistic accomplishment worked against his ability to integrate the two worlds of letters and science.

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                                                                                  Rhetoric

                                                                                  As with a number of other Italian humanists, the relationship between philosophy and eloquence was an important issue for Barbaro. Cox 2003 provides background for the exchange with Pico della Mirandola, in which this issue was discussed. Arsani 1999, McLaughlin 1995, and Panizza 1999 offer nuanced re-readings of this exchange, in which Barbaro is traditionally associated with the defenders of eloquence and Pico with those who privileged philosophy and looked upon rhetoric with suspicion.

                                                                                  • Arsani, Antonella. “Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola’s Discourse on Eloquence: A Rhetorical Reading.” American Journal of Italian Studies 22 (1999): 81–98.

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                                                                                    Focuses on Pico’s reply to Barbaro, claiming that Pico, like other humanists, was attempting to define a unity between language and reality, not simply to oppose two different fields of study.

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                                                                                    • Cox, Virginia. “Rhetoric and Humanism in Quattrocento Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly 56 (2003): 652–694.

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                                                                                      A careful examination of what kind of rhetorical training Barbaro thought was appropriate in the Venice of his day. Cox concludes that Barbaro opposed both the narrow school training and the pragmatic, Ciceronian tradition of Venetian rhetoric because he saw them as inadequate preparation for the political eloquence that was required in Venetian public life.

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                                                                                      • McLaughlin, Martin. “The Dispute between the Elder Pico and Barbaro.” In Literary Imitation in the Italian Renaissance: The Theory and Practice of Literary Imitation in Italy from Dante to Bembo. By Martin McLaughlin, 228–248. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                        Returns to the dispute between Barbaro and Pico della Mirandola over the proper relationship between philosophy and eloquence as it opens into the larger debate on the nature of imitation that pulled in Angelo Poliziano, Paolo Cortesi, Giovan Francesco Pico, and Pietro Bembo. McLaughlin concludes that “Barbaro has links with both sides of the imitation debate, and is unanimously respected by the other five humanists” (p. 247).

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                                                                                        • Panizza, Letizia. “Pico della Mirandola e il De genere dicendi philosophorum del 1485: l’encomio paradossale dei ‘barbari’ e la loro parodia.” I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance 8 (1999): 69–103.

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                                                                                          Uses the debate between Barbaro and Pico della Mirandola on philosophy and eloquence, reinterpreted as a rhetorical game in which both writers actually held similar positions, as the background for interpreting Pico’s De genere dicendi philosophorum, which is positioned within a Ciceronian appreciation for the affinities between rhetoric and dialectic.

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                                                                                          Medical Writings

                                                                                          Unlike many humanists of his day, Barbaro extended his interest to what is now considered to be science. The piece at the center of current scholarly discussion is the Corollarium, which contains observations on Dioscorides’ medical writings. Ramminger 1999 examines Barbaro’s study of Dioscorides in general, while Pozzi 1974 and Ramminger 2005 discuss whether the Corollarium can really be considered a commentary, and Ramminger 1998 examines the sources of this work.

                                                                                          • Pozzi, Giovanni. “Appunti sul ‘Corollarium’ del Barbaro.” In Tra latino e volgare: Per Carlo Dionisotti. Vol. 2. Edited by Gabriella Bernardoni Trezzini, 619–640. Medioevo e umanesimo 18. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1974.

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                                                                                            A detailed study of Barbaro’s Corollarium, his comments on Dioscorides that did not attain the popularity of, for example, his observations on Pliny but that are important, among other things, for their genre, which imitates the completeness of a commentary but avoids its occasional and dispersed nature.

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                                                                                            • Ramminger, Johann. “Rem latinam iuuare: Zur Funktion nichtfachlicher Zitate im Corollarium des Ermolao Barbaro.” Studi umanistici piceni 18 (1998): 139–155.

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                                                                                              A study of Barbaro’s sources in the Corollarium, leading to the conclusion that Barbaro uses a broader range of sources than one would expect, including a good number of works that come from fields outside the sciences.

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                                                                                              • Ramminger, Johann. “Zur Entsehungsgeschichte des Dioskurides von Ermolao Barbaro (1453–1493).” Neulateinisches Jahrbuch 1 (1999): 189–204.

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                                                                                                A detailed explication of the lengthy process by which Barbaro prepared his Latin translation of and commentary to Dioscorides’ De materia medica, showing how he worked and how this project connected to others undertaken more or less simultaneously with it.

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                                                                                                • Ramminger, Johann. “A Commentary? Ermolao Barbaro’s Supplement to Dioscorides.” In On Renaissance Commentaries. Edited by Marianne Pade, 65–86. Noctes Neolatinae/Neo-Latin Texts and Studies 4. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 2005.

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                                                                                                  Argues that Barbaro’s Corollarium (a type of supplement) is not a commentary on Dioscorides, as it is generally understood to be, nor is it an encyclopedia of medical information, but is rather a work of humanist philology in the field of medicine that connects medical material with other types of texts in which the humanist method had come to operate.

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                                                                                                  Treatises

                                                                                                  As Figliuolo 1999 shows, one of Barbaro’s more interesting nontechnical works is the treatise he wrote on the duty of an ambassador. Doglio 1983 and Fubini 1996 work from a similar perspective, comparing Barbaro’s treatise to others on the same topic. Robuschi 2013–2014 considers the text from a somewhat different angle, and Biow 2002 examines it as part of a larger discussion of the relationship between humanism and the professions in Renaissance Italy. Barbaro also wrote an interesting treatise on celibacy, which is discussed in Branca 1952.

                                                                                                  • Biow, Douglas. “Fathers and Sons: Ermolao Barbaro’s Trattato as the Ritratto of the Resident Ambassador.” In Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries: Humanists and Professions in Renaissance Italy. By Douglas Biow, 108–120. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                    Differentiates Barbaro’s treatise on the ambassador from its predecessors in the genre, noting that “Barbaro is exclusive rather than inclusive in his choice of information, he writes with a Ciceronian Latin and in complex periodic prose, and he has organized his subjects thematically rather than schematically” (p. 109), giving us a treatise that is patriotic, patrilinear, and practical.

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                                                                                                    • Branca, Vittore. “Un trattato inedito di Ermolao Barbaro: Il De coelibatu libri Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et de Renaissance 14 (1952): 83–98.

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                                                                                                      An analysis of Barbaro’s youthful work on celibacy and the contemplative life, written as a complement to his grandfather Francesco Barbaro’s work on marriage but little known until the rediscovery of the only surviving manuscript (Ferrara, Biblioteca comunale Ariostea, II,9) in the forties.

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                                                                                                      • Doglio, Maria Luisa. “Ambasciatore e principe: L’Institutio legati di Ermolao Barbaro.” In Umanesimo e Rinascimento a Firenze e Venezia: Miscellanea di studi in onore di Vittore Branca. Vol. 3, pt. 1, pp. 297–310. Biblioteca dell’‘Archivum Romanicum,’ serie 1, storia, letteratura paleografia, 178–182. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1983.

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                                                                                                        Places Barbaro’s treatise on the ideal ambassador into the cultural moment in which it was produced, noting connections with other works in its genre and suggesting its importance in relation to the broader discourse about courts and power in the Renaissance.

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                                                                                                        • Figliuolo, Bruno. Il diplomatico e il trattatista: Ermolao Barbaro ambasciatore della Serenissima e il De officio legati. Storici e storia 2. Naples, Italy: Guida, 1999.

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                                                                                                          Draws on newly discovered archival documents to place Barbaro’s treatise on the duty of an ambassador into the context of his actual ambassadorial assignments on behalf of Venice to Milan (1488–1489) and Rome (1490–1491), leading to a redating of the treatise and a reinterpretation of its contents.

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                                                                                                          • Fubini, Riccardo. “L’ambasciatore nel XV secolo: Due trattati e una biografia (Bernard de Rosier, Ermolao Barbaro, Vespasiano da Bisticci).” Mélanges de l’Ecole française de Rome: Moyen Age 108.2 (1996): 645–665.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.3406/mefr.1996.3520Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Places Barbaro’s treatise on the duties of the ambassador into a small group of works that withdrew from the medieval tradition of viewing the ambassador from a legal perspective into one that focused instead on a broader approach tied to ethics and the norms of political life.

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                                                                                                            • Robuschi, Luigi. “Il De officio legati di Ermolao Barbaro e il pensiero politico nella Venezia di fine ‘400.” Atti del Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, classe di scienze morali, lettere ed arti 172 (2013–2014): 257–301.

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                                                                                                              Contains an edition of Barbaro’s treatise on the duties of an ambassador, situating the ideal of the Venetian patrician as ambassador into a larger discussion of the active and contemplative lives and setting forth the contradictions that emerged in Barbaro’s own life as he sought to balance competing claims and interests.

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                                                                                                              Poetry

                                                                                                              We do not tend to think of Barbaro today as a poet, but poetry was one of the humanistic disciplines, and he did in fact try his hand there on a number of occasions. Branca 1964 offers the definitive overview, with Branca 1963 providing an interesting supplement.

                                                                                                              • Branca, Vittore. “Ermolao Barbaro in Francia (con un carme inedito nel Par. Lat. 8274).” In Studi in onore de Carlo Pellegrini. Edited by Glauco Natoli, et al., 97–106. Biblioteca di studi francesi 2. Turin, Italy: Società Editrice Internazionale, 1963.

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                                                                                                                A brief overview of the reception of Barbaro’s work in France, followed by a transcription of one of Barbaro’s poems that is found in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Lat. 8274, and that Branca adds to the small number of surviving poems by a humanist who was renowned in his own day as a poet.

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                                                                                                                • Branca, Vittore. “Ermolao Barbaro ‘poeta’ e la sua ‘presentazione’ alla corte aragonense (con carmi ed epistole inedite).” In Classical, Mediaeval, and Renaissance Studies in Honor of Berthold Louis Ullman. Vol. 2. Edited by Charles Henderson, 385–411. Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 1964.

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                                                                                                                  A thoughtful study of Barbaro’s poetry, beginning with an exploration of why Barbaro deemphasized his work in this area, then looking at the highlights among his nineteen surviving poems. Includes critical editions of a number of poems, along with two letters by Andrea Contrario in praise of Barbaro.

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