The Accademia Pontaniana was the first academy in the modern sense, as a learned society for scholars and humanists and guided by a formal statute. Patronized by Alfonso V of Aragon, it was founded by the poet Antonio Beccadelli in Naples during the revival of classical learning and later led by Giovanni Pontano who gave it a more official character to the meetings.
The Accademia Antoniana as it was first called, was founded in 1458, but its origins dates back to 1443 in an academic circle around the Neapolitan scholar and poet Antonio Beccadelli. This circle met informally in the Castel Nuovo of Alfonso V of Aragon. After the death of Beccadelli in 1471 these meetings were overseen by Giovanni Pontano, hence the name Accademia Pontaniana.
During its centuries-old history, the Academy was closed twice. The first closure was in 1542 by the Spanish viceroy of Naples Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca, as part of his harsh policy of "spagnolizzazione" ("Spanish-ization"). Revived in December 1808, was officially recognized by Royal Decree as an academy in 1825, it was again suppressed by the Fascist government in 1934 and its library burned in 1943. The Academy was restored by decree on February 19, 1944.
Benedetto Croce was the President of the Academy from 1917 to 1923.
Today's the activities of the Accademia Pontaniana includes meetings, reports and competitions. It has five divisions:
- Pure and Applied Mathematics
- Natural Science
- Science and Morals
- History, Archeology and Philology
- Literature and Fine Arts
Each class is composed of 20 regular members with residence in Naples, 10 ordinary members and 20 foreign corresponding members.
The Academy publishes a series of publications, including the "Atti Accademia Pontaniana", as well as the annual "Quaderni della Accademia Pontaniana".