Tommaso Inghirami

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Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami (ca. 1509) by Raphael (1483-1520).

Tommaso Inghirami (1470–1516) (also known as Phaedra, Phaedrus, or Fedra) was a Renaissance humanist who was a Catholic cardinal.


Tommaso Inghirami was born in Volterra in 1470, the son of Paolo Inghirami and his wife Lucrezia Barlettani.[1] His father, a prominent man in Volterra, was killed in a political uprising in 1472.[1] After the murder, Paolo's children were taken to Florence.[1] Later, at a young age, Tommaso was sent to Rome to live under the protection of Bishop Jacopo Gherardi and Tommaso's uncle, Antonio Inghirami, a secretary to Pope Sixtus IV.[1]

In 1486, Inghirami played Phaedra in a performance of Seneca's Phaedra staged by Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli and Raffaele Riario, with support from the Roman Academy of Julius Pomponius Laetus.[1] After this performance, he was known by the nickname "Phaedra" for the rest of his life.[1]

A member of the Roman intellectual elite, Inghirami was praised by Ludovico Ariosto, Pietro Bembo, Baldassare Castiglione, Paolo Giovio, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Angelo Colocci.[1]

In 1495, Inghirami was invited to the basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva to delivered his "Panegyricus in memoriam divi Thomae Aquinatis" for the annual March 7 celebration of the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas for the Dominican studium generale, the future Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.[2]

That same year Pope Alexander VI sent Inghirami to be an orator to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, who made him count palatine and poet laureate.[1] He met Desiderius Erasmus in 1509, becoming a lifelong correspondent and friend.[1] In 1510, he became Librarian of the Vatican Library.[1]

He served as secretary to the College of Cardinals at the papal conclave of 1513 that elected Pope Leo X.[1]

He died on September 6, 1516.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Contemporaries of Erasmus, Vol. 2, p. 223
  2. ^ Accessed 18 April 2013