Girolamo Benivieni

Girolamo Benivieni

Portrait of Benivieni as an old man wearing a black cassock and hat seated in front of a snowy landscape painting.

Portrait of Benivieni at the National Gallery in London, painted between 1510 and 1520, and attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
Born 6 February 1453
Died August 1542
Occupation Poet

Girolamo Benivieni (6 February 1453 – August 1542)[1] was a Florentine poet[2] and a musician.[1] His father was a notary in Florence.[3] He suffered from poor health most of his life, which prevented him from taking a more stable job.[4] He was a leading member of the Medicean Academy, a society devoted to literary study.[2] He was a friend of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494), whom he met for the first time in 1479;[5] it was Mirandola who encouraged him to study Neoplatonism.[4] In the late 1480s, he and Mirandola became students of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498).[6] In 1496, he translated the teachings of Savonarola from Italian to Latin.[6] After he began following Savonarola, he rejected his earlier poetry and attempted to write more spiritually.[6] He participated in Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities, and documented the destruction of art worth "several thousand ducats".[7]

He was supported in his writing by noblewoman Lucrezia de' Medici (1470–1553).[2] They were both interested in the works of poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321).[2] In 1506, Benivieni published an edition of the Divine Comedy with maps by Antonio Manetti (1423–1497) and commentary by Manetti and Benivieni.[8] In March 1515 Benivieni drafted a letter to be sent from Lucrezia to her brother, Pope Leo X (s. 1513–21), seeking his assistance in bringing the body of Dante back to Florence.[2] On 20 October 1519, Benivieni signed a Medicean Academy petition to Pope Leo, again requesting the return of Dante from Ravenna.[9] Benivieni also used his connection with Lucrezia to advance his ideas on church reform with her brother, and later with her cousin, Pope Clement VII (s. 1523–34).[2] In 1530, he wrote a letter to Pope Clement in defense of Savonarola, seeking to have his reputation restored within the church.[10]



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