Giovanni Tortelli

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Giovanni Tortelli (around 1400–before 26 April 1466) was a Renaissance humanist, largely responsible for the creation of the Vatican Library, together with scholars such as Bessarion and Poggio Bracciolini.


Born in Arezzo, he studied Greek with Filelfo and Carlo Marsuppini in Florence and with Vittorino da Feltre in Mantua, perfected his Greek by spending five years in Greece between 1433 and 1438.[1] In 1447 he came to Rome to work with Pope Nicholas V (Tommaso Parentucelli, 1447–1455). In 1453 he was named abbot in commenda of the abbey of San Sebastiano at Alatri, some 40 miles south of Rome, in what was then Campania. He restored and embellished the ancient monastery, where he may have spent much of the rest of his life.[2] His major work, dedicated to Nicholas V, was the De Orthografia, a vast study of ancient Greek and Latin, antiquarian and erudite.[3] Special attention is now giving to epigraphical and grammatical sources of De Orthographia: in the theoretical section, at the beginning of the treatise, Tortelli handed down some grammatical fragments ascribable to Pliny the Elder’s Dubius sermo and to Papiriano, both of which are sources in Prisciano’s De litteris. Tortelli attributed the existence of other fragments also to a Greek grammarian called Partenio.[4] Under the item "Archimedes" one can found one of the first witness of the new humanistic translation of the Archimedean corpus, made by Iacopo da San Cassiano in the first half of the 15th century.[5]


  1. ^ G. Mancini, Giovanni Tortelli cooperatore di Niccolò V nel fondare la Biblioteca Vaticana, in "Arch. Storico Italiano" 78, 1920, pp. 1-108
  2. ^ A. Manfredi, "Apud Alatrium, Campaniae Oppidum": Giovanni Tortelli and the Abbey under Pope Nicholas V" in E. Fentress, C. Goodson, M. Laird and S. Leone, eds., Walls and Memory. The Abbey of San Sebastiano at Alatri (Lazio) from Late Roman Monastery to Renaissance Villa and Beyond Turnhout 2005, 254-284.
  3. ^ G. Donati, L'Orthographia di Giovanni Tortelli. Percorsi dei classici, 11. Messina 2006; P. Tomè, La princeps Veneziana dell’Orthographia di Giovanni Tortelli (con cenni sulla fortuna a stampa dell’opera in Veneto), in «Miscellanea Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae» XVIII (2011), pp. 517-581.
  4. ^ P. Tomè, Frammenti inediti del Dubius sermo pliniano nell’Orthographia di Giovanni Tortelli, in «Lexis» 27 (2009), pp. 541-575; P. Tomè, Papiri(an)us, Paperinus, Papirinus e l’Orthographia di Giovanni Tortelli, in «Revue d’histoire des textes» n.s. 6 (2011), pp. 167-210; P. Tomè, Nevio, Lucilio e il grammaticus Parthenius: due autentici ‘falsi d’autore’ nell’Orthographia di Giovanni Tortelli, in «Bollettino di Studi Latini», 41/2 (2011), pp. 556-585: all these studies are avaible online inè
  5. ^ Paolo d'Alessandro e Pier Daniele Napolitani, Archimede Latino. Iacopo da San Cassiano e il corpus archimedeo alla metà del Quattrocento, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2012.

Onorato, Aldo, Gli Amici bolognesi di Giovanni Tortelli. Messina : Centro interdipartimentale di studi umanistici, 2003. 270 p.