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


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

General Overviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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