Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola

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Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola, or simply and perhaps more accurately Benvenuto da Imola[1] (Latin: Benevenutus Imolensis) (1320? – 1388), was an Italian scholar and historian, a lecturer at Bologna. He is now best known for his commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy.


He was born in Imola, into a family of legal officers. In 1361–2 he was working for Gómez Albornoz, governor of Bologna and nephew of Cardinal Egidio Albornoz.[2]

In 1365 he went on a diplomatic mission on behalf of the city, to Avignon and Pope Urban V.[3] At the time members of the Alidosi family dominated Imola, and other citizens looked to the papacy for a change. The petition brought by Benvenuto and others failed;[2] the local political situation at home caused him to move on without returning, going to Bologna, where he made a living as a teacher. He was made the subject of accusations there of indecency, which may have been connected to lectures on the Inferno;[4] on the other hand Benvenuto himself had made accusations to the papal legate in Bologna of improper teacher-student relationships of others. While previously in Bologna he may have lectured officially, and did teach some classical authors, his later lectures were in a private house, that of the grammarian Giovanni de Soncino.[2]

In 1373 he visited Florence and there heard Boccaccio lecture on Dante. From 1375 he was based in Ferrara.[5] There he had the protection of Niccolò II d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara, whom he had met in Avignon.[2][4]


An early humanist, he still wrote in medieval Latin.[6] His commentary on Dante was known as the Comentum super Dantis Aligherii comoediam. Charles Eliot Norton considered that Benvenuto's commentary on Dante had "a value beyond that of any of the other fourteenth-century commentators".[7] It exists in three versions: one published in 1875, one from his time in Ferrara, and a third published in 1887 (edited by James Philip Lacaita).[4] The second (Ferrara) version is a source for his theory that the Divine Comedy combines the three genres of comedy, tragedy and satire. It influenced Juan de Mena, in particular, via Giovanni da Serravalle who had heard Benvenuto teach.[8] Benvenuto acknowledged influence himself from the tradition of Averroes and Hermannus Alemannus, as well as Boccacio.[5][9]

Other works were:

This work is not connected to the Gesta Romanorum, but sometimes went under the title De Gestis Romanorum, or in its French version Des fai(t)s des Romains. It circulated in a small number of manuscripts of high quality; the first French translation (1460) was by Jean Miélot, for Philip the Good and it was transcribed by David Aubert. Another followed in 1466 by Sébastien Mamerot, for Louis de Laval, seigneur de Châtillon.[10][12][13] Six manuscripts of Miélot's Romuléon are known.[14]

He also wrote on Petrarch's Carmen Bucolicum.[3]


  1. ^ (Italian) The biography at makes the point that the evidence that the cognomen Rambaldi was used during his lifetime is slight.
  2. ^ a b c d Deborah Parker, Commentary and Ideology: Dante in the Renaissance (1993), p. 184; Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Kleinhenz, Medieval Italy: an encyclopedia, Volume 1 (2004), p. 107; Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c Richard Lansing (editor), The Dante Encyclopedia (2000), pp. 97–8.
  5. ^ a b c d Michael Caesar, Dante: The Critical Heritage (1995), p. 176; Google Books.
  6. ^ University of Bologna page Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ James Turner, The Liberal Education of Charles Eliot Norton, 1999, ISBN 0-8018-7108-5, p. 181
  8. ^ Henry Ansgar Kelly, Ideas and Forms of Tragedy from Aristotle to the Middle Ages (1993), p. 206–7; Google Books.
  9. ^ John Anthony Burrow, The Poetry of Praise (2008), p. 22; Google Books.
  10. ^ a b (French) Frédéric Duval (editor), Le Romuleon en François (2000), pp. xi–xiii; Google Books.
  11. ^ biography of Montaldo
  12. ^ Thomas Warton, A Dissertation on the Gesta Romanorum, p. vii, printed with volume 3 of his History of Poetry (1775-1781);
  13. ^ Thomas Kren, Margaret of York, Simon Marmion, and the Visions of Tondal: papers delivered at a symposium organized by the Department of Manuscripts of the J. Paul Getty Museum in collaboration with the Huntington Library and Art Collections, June 21–24, 1990 (1992), p. 32; Google Books.
  14. ^ British Library Catalogue entry, Royal 19 E V[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Paul Maurice Clogan, The Early Renaissance (1987), p. 152; Google Books.
  16. ^ Paul A. Olson, The Journey to Wisdom: self-education in patristic and medieval literature (1995), p. 253 note 74; Google Books.
  17. ^ Catherine J. Castne, Biondo Flavio's Italia Illustrata: Northern Italy (2005), p. 278; Google Books.

External links[edit]

A review (in Italian) devoted to Benvenuto