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Janus Pannonius, Bartolomeo Melzi, and the Sforzas

  • Marianna D. Birnbaum (a1)

Extract

Janus Pannonius (1434-72), Hungary's foremost Renaissance poet, has been the subject of continuous work by Hungarian students of the period engaged in identifying and describing his oeuvre and its European reception. This endeavor, of course, also includes searching for any and all contacts Pannonius had with his humanist contemporaries. Each time a new Janus MS is discovered (and it still happens), new titles are added to his ‘bibliography’ and new names to the roster of his many foreign friends. Here and there among his famous acquaintances an unknown name appears which in turn triggers new research and speculations, often yielding new insights into the varied activities of Pannonius, and, as a by-product, reveals additional information regarding the dynamism of fifteenth-century Europe.

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1 A detailed description of the codex (7-1-15) appears in my article: ‘An Unknown Latin Poem, Probably by Petrus Garazda, Hungarian Humanist,’ Viator, 4 (1973), 303-309. The Janus poem is on fol. 116. My findings regarding the origin and contents of the codex were also used by János Horváth in his ‘Janus Pannonius ismeretlen versei a Sevillai kodexben,’ Itk; Irodalomtörteneti közlemények 78, 5 (1974), 594-627.

2 I have followed the MS except for expansion of abbreviations, punctuation, and a few corrections (1. 2 reads Lator, 1. 8 reads credo for coelo).

3 The text begins on fol. 247 of Cod. lat. 8386.

4 Actually he stays relatively close to the course of events. Bernardino Corio in his L'Historia di Milano, based on Simonetta (1554, pp. 401-402), and, much later, Pietro Verri in his Storia di Milano (1834-59, II, 42-46) render very similar descriptions.

5 Melzi could have referred here to actual works. By 1462 Pier Candido Decembrio had completed his Vita Francisci Sfortiae; Francesco Filelfo finished the first four books of his Sfortias in 1455 (dedicated to Piero di Cosimo), and, as he stated in a letter to Leodrisio Crivelli, by 1465 he was ready with Book VIII of his long (6,400 ll.) panegyric (the letter appears in Frandsci Philelphi Epist. Fam. Libri [Venetiae, 1502], p. 179.

6 In his poem (Eleg. II, 8) the young Janus urges Tito Vespasiano Strozzi to write epic works (among the topics suggested is also the life and deeds of Francesco Sforza) and ‘modestly’ states that his young pen is not yet ready for such longer works (ll.195-196). He too achieves his goal: the much older and famous Strozzi answers in a 378-line poem to the ‘young genius’ (cf. Iani Pannonii Poemata, ed. S. Teleki, Traiecti ad Rhenum, 1784, Elegiae, Lib. II, 391-411).

7 Historia dell'antichita di Milano, 1592, IV, 679.

8 Bibliotheca scriptorum Mediolanensium, 1745, II, 906-916.

9 Epistolae, p. 72.

10 See the description of events in Muratori's, Ludovico Return Italicarum Scriptores, 1723-51, xx, 917918 .

11 The first page of the MS appears in a chapter dealing with the Sforza family in the Storia di Milano (Milano, 1965), VII, 56.

12 We know that as late as 1478 Bonus Accursius Pisanus dedicated his Dicta Phutina to Giovanni Melzi.

13 ‘Iani Pannonii Panegyricus in Renatum,’ published by Ábel, Jenö. Adalékok a humanizmus történetéhez Magyarországon (Budapest, 1880), pp. 131144 .

14 For further details, see my forthcoming article ‘Janus Pannonius istneretlen milanói kapcsolatai’ (The Unknown Milanese Contacts of Janus Pannonius), International Janus Pannonius Symposium, Pécs, 1972. Budapest, Academy of Sciences.

15 Aeneae Sylvii episc. Senensis Historia Remm Friderici tertii imperatoris (Argentorati, 1585), p. 62.

16 Matthias’ continued interest in Milan and a Milanese alliance is proven by the fact that many years later when he tried to make his illegitimate son his successor, his plans included a marriage between Joannes Corvinus and Bianca Maria Sforza.

Janus Pannonius, Bartolomeo Melzi, and the Sforzas

  • Marianna D. Birnbaum (a1)

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