Alessandro Piccolomini (13 June 1508 – 12 March 1579) was an Italian astronomer and philosopher from Siena, who promoted the popularization in the vernacular of Latin and Greek scientific and philosophical treatises. His early works include Il Dialogo della bella creanza delle donne, o Raffaella (1539) and the comedies Amor costante, and Alessandro, (other titles are erroneously attributed to him) which were sponsored and produced by the Sienese Accademia degl'Intronati, of which he was a member and an official. Much of his literary production consisted of translations from the Classics, of which Book xiii of Ovid's Metamorphoses and book vi of the Aeneid are early examples. In 1540, while a student at the University of Padua, he helped found the Infiammati Academy, in which he gave lectures in philosophy. (He never taught at the University of Padua, as is often stated incorrectly.) His poetry, in which he followed the Petrarchan tradition, appeared first in various contemporary collections, and in 1549 he published as a single volume one hundred sonnets titled Cento sonetti. Later in life, he translated Aristotle's Poetics on which he wrote a learned commentary issued in 1575. His interest in Aristotle included the publication of a paraphrase of Aristotle's Rhetoric with commentary. In his Trattato della grandezza della terra e dell' acqua (1558), he opposed the Aristotelean and Ptolemaic opinion that water was more extensive than land.
The treatises Sfera del mondo e Delle stelle fisse (The sphere of the world and The fixed stars) (1540), in which he adhered to Ptolemaic theories, were some of his major contributions to the field of astronomy. He also wrote, at the behest of Cosimo de' Medici, a proposal for reforming the calendar (1578). In 1574 Pope Gregory XIII appointed him titular bishop of Patras (Patrae) and Coadjutor Archbishop of Siena.
The lunar crater Piccolomini is named after him.
- This article incorporates text from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article "Alessandro Piccolomini" by U. Benigni, a publication now in the public domain.
- Cerreta, F. (1960). Alessandro Piccolomini. Siena.
- Alessandro Piccolomini (1508-1579). Un siennois à la croisée des genres et des savoirs. Actes du colloque International (Paris, 23-25 septembre 2010), réunis et présentés par M.F. Piéjus, M. Plaisance, M. Residori, C.I.R.R.I. Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la Renaissance italienne, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, 2011
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