now one of the glories of the French Bibliotheque Nationale, nor the Sforzi, had shown that holy zeal in matters pertaining to letters which possessed the Medici. Lodovico il Moro, who understood the art ol self-advertisement to perfection, disdained the obscure role of the bibliophile. M. Leopold Delisle found only one manuscript executed for Lodovico, a Sallust, among those in the Bibliotheque Nationale.1

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On the other hand, was it a question of advertising himself in distant lands, Lodovico would put a whole army of ambassadors in motion, as in 1488, when he begged Mathias Corvinus, King of Hungary, to lend him a manuscript of Festus.

The pleiad of humanists—poets, orators, historians, philologists "e tutti quanti "—gathered around Lodovico was, in number at any rate,

1 Le Cabinet des Manuscrits. See also the work of the Marchese d'Adda, Indagini .... sulla Libreria del Castello di Pavia, vol. i. p. 60 et sea., 142 et seq., 167; vol. ii. p. 85 et seq., 101, 124. Also Mazzatinti, Manoscritli italiani delle Bibliotechc di Francia, vol. i. c. xcvii-viii.

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not inferior to that which filled the palaces and the villas of the Medici. But most of them were strangers to Lombardy. Francesco Philelfo, the famous professor of Greek, was born at Tolentino, Ermolao Barbaro at Venice, the Simonetti in Calabria, Jacopo Antiquario at Perugia, Bernardo Bellincione at Florence, Luca Pacioli at Borgo San Sepolcro; Constantino Lascaris and Demetrio Chalcondylas came from the heart of Greece. The poet Gasparo Visconti, the historians Calco and Corio, and the philologist, Giorgio Merula, alone were natives of Milan. The enumeration of these names in itself suffices to mark their relative obscurity. With the exception of Philelfo, who died at the beginning of Lodovico's regency, and of Ermolao Barbaro, who was only at his court as Venetian Ambassador (he composed a poem lauding II Moro as champion on the occasion of the tournament of 1492), they are all laborious rather than brilliant spirits, chiefly philologists and chroniclers. What a crushing parallel for them was the Medicean coterie, with its Politian, its Cristoforo Landini, its Marsilio Ficino, its Pulci, its Pico della Mirandola, its Giovanni Lascaris, and a host of other shining lights! All the efforts of II Moro, and even the encouragement he gave to the new-born industry of printing, were unavailing ;1 the Milanese were deficient in the necessary training and their duke in refinement of taste, as also in that loving zeal which contributed quite as much as their munificence to make the work of the Medici fruitful.

It may not be out of place here to acquaint ourselves with the chief of these literary and scientific men who, coming into perpetual contact with Leonardo da Vinci, formed an integral part of the circle in which he moved.

One of his friends, the poet, Gasparo Visconti, attached to the ducal court at an early age (1481)2 was the author of a romance in

1 The art of printing was carried on with great activity in Milan, and this naturally gave an impulse to letters. The first Greek book was printed at Milan in 1476. It was Constantino Lascaris' Greek Grammar.

2 Document in the State archives of Milan, Pot. Sovrane A.—Z. Vitto. Visconti's poems have been printed in part by Argelati {Bibliotheca Scriptorum mediolanensium, vol. i. p. xlv.; vol. ii. p. 1386), who qualifies one of them as "rude." It is said that Visconti died in 1499 at the age of thirty-eight, but a text published by M. de Maulde (Chronique de Jean d'Auton, vol. ii. p. 331) speaks of him as having taken refuge in Mantua in 1503, and as included by Louis XII. in the list of the rebels.

verse entitled: De Paulo e Daria Amanti (1495). He begins it with an eulogy on Bramante, whom he knew to be in high favour at the court; he then breaks into a dithyramb in honour of II Moro, no less exaggerated in form than vulgar in idea. He calls him

Principe sagro, egregio tra li egregi
Duca di duci e Re degli altri Regi.

Going on to speak of the building of the monastery of Sant' Ambrogio, he relates how Bramante discovered the tomb with the epitaph of Daria and Paulo and, beside the bodies, some books covered in lead and written in Lombard characters. Then follows, in the same insipid style, a list of the institutions of Bishop Azzo Visconti.

The verses of Bramante—for the future architect in chief of St. Peter's at Rome, the future " frate del Piombo," also tried his hand at poetry—1 are, in general, no less rough and halting than those of his Milanese fellow-poets.2 Among these Lombard poetasters, the prize for barbarism falls incontestably to the author—an anonymous writer, happily for his memory—of the Antiquaria Prospettiche romane composte per Prospettico Melanese dipintore, published between 1499 and 1500, and reprinted in Rome in 1876 at the instance of Gilberto Govi. This poem, which consists of an enumeration of the antiquities of the city of Rome, is dedicated to Leonardo, whose praises are sung in the two sonnets at the beginning.

Numberless other poems, more or less occasional, testify to the

1 Some of Bramante's sonnets were published a century later in the Raccolta milanese, and then by Trucchi (Poesie italiane incdite di dugento Autori; Prato, 1847, vol. iii.). I have drawn attention to others in a MS. in the Bibliotheque Nationale (GazettedesBeauxArts, 1879, vol. ii. p. 514 etseq.). Signor Beltrami has given us these sonnets, twentythree in number, in a collected edition: Bramantepoeta, Milan, 1884.

2 I will quote here from among his sonnets the one in which, long before Ronsard, he implored his fair "dolce nimica d'ogni riposo" not to let old age come upon her before responding to his flame :—

"Dunque, mentre que dura il tempo verde,
Non far come quel fior che'n su la pianta
Senza frutto nessun sue frondi perde.

Che quando il corpo in pill vecchiezza viene,
Piii di sua gioventu si gloria e vanta,
Vedendosi aver speso i giorni bene."

cordiality of Leonardo's relations with the Milanese versifiers. We shall return to the subject further on.

Leonardo may perhaps have also met the youthful Baldassare Castiglione (born in 1478), who was sent to Milan by his parents to finish his education.1

At that time, too, a Visconti, Ippolita, the wife of Alessandro Bentivoglio, afterwards known to fame as having commissioned Bernardino Luini to paint his masterpiece, the frescoes of the "Monastero maggiore," and also as the lady to whom Bandello

dedicated his Novclle, assembled the most brilliant of these choice spirits in her palace. She was already an important figure in 1499, when Louis XII. confirmed her in several privileges.2

Nor did Leonardo disdain, as we shall see later on, to take part in the poetic contests organised in Milan. Indeed, did he not excel as an improvisatore!

Besides her men of letters and her scholars, Milan contained a number of eccentric spirits, more or less given up to superstition. One can easily understand that the new-comer may have interested himself in more than one of these scientific charlatans, even though he gauged their powers, and despised them.

There was first of all his quasi-compatriot, Fra Luca di Pacioli, professor of mathematics, and a fervent follower of the doctrines of Pythagoras. We shall return later to this poor Franciscan monk, a writer no less laborious than unintelligible.

More mysterious, however, is his connection with a personage whom this same Pacioli lauds as profoundly versed in the science of Vitruvius, but who came to the most miserable end, a certain

1 See my Raphael, published by Hachctte, 2nd ed., p. 298.

2 Pelissier, Bulletin Jristorique etphilologique, 1892, p. 139-140.



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