Marcantonio Flaminio

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Marcantonio Flaminio
Marcantonio Flaminio.jpg
Marcantonio Flaminio.
Born winter 1497/1498
Died February 1550
Rome, Italy
Pen name Marcus Antonius Flaminius
Occupation Poet
Nationality Italian
Period 1515–1551
Literary movement Renaissance humanism
Relatives Giovanni Flaminio (father)

Marcantonio Flaminio (winter 1497/1498 – February 1550), also known as Marcus Antonius Flaminius, was an Italian humanist poet, known for his Neo-Latin works. During his life, he toured the courts and literary centers of Italy. He was also a supporter of the Reformed Church.[dubious ] His father Giovanni Flaminio was also a renowned author, but the son's career put the father's into the shadows. Flaminio's correspondence with his father, his cousin, Gabriele Flaminio, and with his literary friends allows us to know much about his life.


Flaminio grew up in Serravalle, a small village in the Veneto (in the north of Italy). When he was 11, Austria invaded the Veneto, and Marcantonio and his family were forced to flee to his father's native village, Imola, a village south of Bologna. A friendly cardinal gave the family financial support.

In 1514 Flaminio was given the chance to go to Rome to get a broader education. According to C. Maddison, by that time the boy was already "an accomplished scholar, and something of a poet".[1] He was introduced to Pope Leo X, and placed by him under the care of the humanist and poet Raffaele Brandolini. Later on in the same year, Flaminio went to Naples, where he met Jacopo Sannazaro. They became very good friends and Sannazaro greatly influenced Flaminio's poetry. Carlo Falconi has examined in particular Pope Leo's infatuation with the seventeen-year-old Marcantonio, with Leo arranging the best education that could be offered for the time. However, suspicions of Leo's amorous motives seem to have led to the direct intervention of Marcantonio's father, who took the unusual step for the time of refusing the career in the church that Leo had mapped out for the son and instead demanded a return to Bologna.[2] [3] [4] [5]

In 1515, Flaminio moved to Bologna, where he dedicated himself to the study of philosophy. His first poems were published that year in a collection consisting of odes, eclogues, epitaphs and Catullan love lyrics. All the poems follow the tradition of Neo-Latin secular verse, taking up the subjects of the famous classical poets (such as Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus). In university, he met new lifelong friends, but after a few years Bologna begins to bore him.

In 1520, now an adult, he traveled to Padua, to study literature, Aristotelian philosophy, and law, but in two years, he fell seriously ill with syphilis. He survived, and in the same year, accompanied by his patron Domenico Sauli, he visited Rome to see the coronation of the new Pope, Clement VII. Rome, by that time, was a place where the plague had free rein, the river Tiber overflowed its banks, and a war was in progress. Maddison says: "... the cardinals had fled, paganism had come into life — an ox was crowned with flowers and sacrificed in the Colosseum ...".[6]

In 1524, Flaminio met Bishop Giberti of Verona, and was taken into his household in 1528, in which the poet lived in for 14 years. In this household, a group of bishops, poets, and scientists lived in a very strict Reformed way. That year, Flaminio was among the members of the Oratorio del Divino Amore, "a group of 60 clerics and laymen who met on Sunday afternoons in the church of Saints Silvestro and Dorotea in Trastevere to discuss theology and to practise spiritual exercises".[7]

From this period on, Flaminio became more serious and philosophical. According to Nichols, "He became more and more intensely concerned with religion, devoting himself in particular to the study of the psalms ...".[8] He studied Greek, Hebrew and theology and began to read the works of religious reformers.

In 1536, his father died, and Flaminio returned home. When he came back in Rome, he gained the favour of the rich and influential Farnese family, which helped get him into trouble for his interest in reform.

In 1538, his health worsened, and he decided to live in Naples. After a year, he visited the Count of Caserta and where he remained for over a year. He regained his health and wrote his second book of Lusus Pastorales. During his yearlong stay in Naples, Flaminio became part of several literary circles, and of the religious group of Juan de Valdes. The people in this group believed that the soul's relation with God was more important than the formal relations with the Church.

In 1541 and 1542 Flaminio lived in Viterbo in Cardinal Pole's household, one of the most reformed cardinals of that time.

In Venice in 1543, the Beneficio di Cristo, "the most popular devotional work in sixteenth-century Italy"[9] is published. The book is condemned by the Inquisition and Flaminio was accused of revising and publishing it.

In 1545 the Council of Trent was reconvened. Flaminio was offered secretaryship by the Pope, but was forced to decline it (he did so in an elegy to Alessandro Farnese) because of ill health. In this time he wrote a poetic paraphrase of several psalms. In the spring of 1548 he fell ill, suffering from malaria, and died in 1550 in Rome.

During his life, Flaminio was always a purist poet: in his Latin poetry, he referred only to the best classical writers; he specialised in pastoral poems, which were about pure love and nature. This idea also fit in his religious views, which stressed purity and the importance of a personal relationship with God, de-emphasizing the role of the Church.


In 1515, Flaminio's first collection of poems was published, containing poems in many different genres.

Before his twenties, he also published an edition of a posthumous work of Marullus.

In 1526, he finished his first book (which he started in 1521) of Lusus Pastorales, a collection of bucolic epigrams).

He also wrote an elegy about his syphilis and several other elegies, as well as odes, epigrams, hymns, eclogues and epitaphs (and a large number of letters in various poetic forms to his friends, colleagues and patrons). He paraphrased 32 psalms in prose, and 30 in poetry. He also translated several works from several languages to Latin and Italian. All his Latin poetry has been brought together in a modern collection Carmina, consisting of eight books.

In the last two years of his life he wrote poetic memorials to his friends (about 127 people).

After his death, Flaminio's Carmina Sacra was found and published in 1551. The poems were written in the last few years of his life and are "simple and eloquent religious poems".[10]


  1. ^ Maddison 1965
  2. ^ G. A .Cesareo, Pasquino e pasquinate nella Roma de Leone X, Rome, 1938
  3. ^ Wotherspoon & Aldrich (Eds), Who’s who in gay and lesbian history, London, 2001
  4. ^ T. Wagner, Missverstandus un Vuororteil in 'Der Unterdruckte sexus', Berlin, 1977
  5. ^ C. Falconi, Leone X, Milan, 1987
  6. ^ Maddison 1965
  7. ^ Maddison 1965
  8. ^ Nichols 1979
  9. ^ Maddison 1965
  10. ^ Nichols 1979


  • Maddison, C. (1965). Marcantonio Flaminio, Poet, Humanist and Reformer. London, Routledge.
  • Nichols, F.J. (1979). An Anthology of Neo-Latin Poetry. New Haven, Yale University Press.
  • Pastore, A. (1979). "Due bilioteche umanistiche del Cinquecento (I libri del Cardinal Pole e di Marcantonio Flaminio)." Rinascimento 19: 269-290.
  • Flaminio, M. (1978). Lettere. A. Pastore, Rome.
  • Flaminio, M. (1993). Carmina. M. Scorsone, San Mauro Torinese, Edizioni RES.
  • The facsimile of the 1543 Venice edition of the Benefit of Christ (il Beneficio di Cristo) can be viewed beginning on p. 104 of The Benefit of Christ’s Death, London/Cambridge, 1855