Giulio Cesare Cordara
Biography and works
He was born at Calamandrana in Piedmont, the scion of an illustrious and ancient family that came originally from Nice. Young Cordara studied at Rome under the Jesuits, and became a Jesuit himself at the age of fourteen. Subsequently he taught in various colleges of the Order, soon acquiring a great reputation not only for knowledge of general literature, but especially for proficiency in poetry, rhetoric and history. A brilliant discourse on Pope Gregory XIII, whose financial generosity led to the renaming of the Roman College into 'Gregorian university', and a satire on the Cabalists of the day won for him admission into the Academy of the Arcadians.
Several poetical works of his appeared under the pen name of Pameno Cassio. He was in high favor with the exiled Stuarts, then residing in Rome, on account of an allegorical drama, La Morte di Nice, which he composed in honor of the titular King James III, and a history in Latin of the expedition into Scotland of Charles Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales, which some of his admirers look upon as his most finished production. His satires on The Literary Spirit of the Times, published in 1737, are of a high order of merit. In them he pillories a class of contemporary writers who arrogated to themselves the literary censorship of their day, condemned the classification of the sciences and the methods of instruction then in vogue, and even the accepted principles of taste. A seventh and revised edition was brought out at Augsburg in 1764.
His best known work is The History of the Society of Jesus first published in Rome in 1750, with a posthumous, second volume in 1859. This work, written in Latin, was a continuation of the history of the Society of Jesus by Niccolò Orlandini, Francesco Saccini and Joseph Juvency, and embraced the period of Mutius Vitelleschi (1616–1633). He is also the author of a history of the German College in Rome (1770).
When the Society of Jesus was suppressed, Cordara, who had been a member for more than half a century, withdrew from Rome to Turin and later to Alessandria, where the King of Sardinia had allowed some members of the Society to live unmolested. Notwithstanding his advanced age and his new mode of life, Cordara continued his literary labours and published much in prose and verse. Sommervogel enumerates more than sixty works, large and small, of which he is the author.
He died at Alessandria in 1785. The citizens of his native town erected a marble statue to his memory, in the church of the Barnabites where he was interred.