In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Sperone Speroni

  • Introduction

Renaissance and Reformation Sperone Speroni
Teodoro Katinis, Lies Verbaere
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 April 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0510


Sperone Speroni degli Alvarotti (b. 1500–d. 1588) is a protagonist of the Italian Renaissance between the generation of Pietro Pomponazzi and Pietro Bembo and that of Torquato Tasso and Jacopo Mazzoni. He was educated at the University of Bologna as an Aristotelian under the guidance of Pomponazzi, who remained for him an important inspirational figure, as evident in his most famous Dialogo delle lingue. Speroni was a prominent member of the Accademia degli Infiammati in Padua and thereafter of the Accademia delle Notti Vaticane in Rome, and for a short period he taught logic and philosophy at the University of Padua. His rhetoric, often used in defense of rhetoric itself, was extraordinarily well known between Venice and Rome. He advocated the Italian vernacular as a language for scientific and philosophical knowledge, and, coherently with his position, he wrote all his works in Italian. Speroni has mostly been studied for his participation in the questione della lingua (quarrel about language), for his theory of dialogue, and as a prolific author of dialogues on several different subjects. This focus clearly emerges from the number of editions of his Dialogo delle lingue as well as from the most frequent subjects of the critical studies, which risks portraying Speroni as a unidimensional author with a narrow range of intellectual interests. Although in recent years the scholarly effort has been extended to the study of his revolutionary ideas on the sophistic tradition (to mention one possible direction of research), most of his literary production and ideas are still waiting for a deep exploration that could shed new light on the originality of his thought and writing style. For example, volume 5 of the 1740 edition of his works gathers a collection of trattatelli (short treatises) on a large variety of matters, from mathematics to literary criticism, but very few explorations have been done in this direction. We offer a bibliography of primary and secondary sources that intends to include all the modern editions of Speroni’s works and all the scholarly production since the beginning of the twentieth century. Among the primary sources, the reader will also find the 1740 edition, which is still the most extended so far accomplished, and its source, the seventeen volumes of manuscripts kept in Padua, which are still partially unexplored.

Primary Sources

We list here the editions and translations of Speroni’s works. Most of the scholarly effort has been done on the dialogues, especially the Dialogo delle lingue, while the critical editions are exceptions. This is also due to the difficulty of working on the manuscripts kept in the Biblioteca Capitolare in Padua (Italy), which does not allow the consultation of its materials due to ongoing restoration work. For further studies on primary sources, some of which contain also short editions, see Textual Studies. For descriptions of manuscripts and editions, see Bibliographies and Catalogues.

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