Piero Valeriano Bolzani
Bolzani was born in Belluno. His family was poor, and he did not learn to read until age 15. An uncle invited him to Venice, but he instead went into the service of a noble for support, and was tutored in various languages. He studied philosophy at the University of Padua at age 23. He returned to Belluno later, but fled to Rome in 1509 to escape the occupation of the city by the Holy Roman Empire during the War of the League of Cambrai.
In Rome, he became acquainted with Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, who would become Pope Leo X in 1513. Upon Leo X's elevation, Bolzani frequented the papal court, and was provided for until the Pope's death in 1521. After Leo X's death, Bolzani went to Naples, but returned to Rome upon the accession of Leo X's cousin, Pope Clement VII, in 1523. He took holy orders and was given a number of positions and titles, being made chair of eloquence, protonotary apostolic, private chamberlain, and given a canonry in Belluno. He also became private tutor to Alessandro de' Medici and Ippolito de' Medici. He accompanied Alessandro and Ippolito to Florence, but fled with them in 1527 when the Medici were expelled from the city in favor of a Republic; he returned along with them in 1530. After their deaths (Ippolito in 1535 and Alessandro in 1537), he moved to Belluno, and then to Padua, where he wrote a number of works, and died in 1558.
Among his books, De Infelicitate Literatorum and Hieroglyphica sive de sacris Aegyptiorum litteris commentarii are notable. De Infelicitate Literatorum is a treatise on the misfortunes of learned men, containing a number of anecodotes of misfortunes and poverty attending them, though some of the stories are of dubious authenticity. His Hieroglyphica, written during a frenzy of popularity surrounding the rediscovered Hieroglyphica of Horapollo, was a nearly thousand-page folio that constituted the first Renaissance dictionary of symbols, which would become a popular genre. It was published in Basel in 1556, reprinted seven times through 1678, and translated into French in 1576 and 1615 and Italian in 1602. He also wrote Latin poetry, which was well-known at the time. In particular, a 1549 poem of his, "Pierus", written in the shape of a pear, is an early example of concrete poetry; it was famous enough to be known in England, where it was attacked by Gabriel Harvey.
- John Platts, ed. (1826). "Piero Valeriano Bolzani". A New Universal Biography 4. pp. 289–290.
- Luc Brisson (2004). How Philosophers Saved Myths. University of Chicago Press. pp. 142, 193. ISBN 0-226-07535-4.
- Dick Higgins (1987). Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature. SUNY Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-88706-413-2.