Authors: Poliziano

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Italian scholar and playwright

Author Works


Miscellaneorum centuria prima, 1489 (commonly known as Miscellanea)

Conjurationis pactianae commentarium, 1498


Orfeo, pr. 1480 (English translation, 1879; also known as Orpheus)


Manta, 1482

Rusticus, 1483

Ambra, 1485

Nutricia, 1491 (the 4 previousworks collectively known as Sylvae)

Stanze cominciate per la giostra delmagnifico Giuliano de’Medici, 1518 (commonly known as Stanze; The Stanze of Angelo Poliziano, 1979)

Rime, 1814


Opera omnia, 1498


Angelo Ambrogini, most commonly known as Poliziano (poh-leets-YAHN-oh) or Politian from his birthplace in Tuscany, was an Italian humanist. A true man of the Renaissance, he displayed a modern spirit in his ability to express his classical learning in understandable, popular forms without forsaking his high standards of scholarship. Many modern classical scholars consider him the initiator of their academic discipline, the study of ancient Greek and Roman culture. Though he studied the philosophy of Plato under Marsilio Ficino and of Aristotle under John Argyropoulos, Poliziano considered himself a literary scholar.{$I[AN]9810000382}{$I[A]Poliziano}{$S[A]Politian;Poliziano}{$S[A]Ambrogini, Angelo;Poliziano}{$I[geo]ITALY;Poliziano}{$I[tim]1454;Poliziano}

At the age of nineteen Poliziano attracted the attention of Lorenzo de’ Medici by his poetic Latin translation of a part of Homer’s Greek Iliad. Other translations from the Greek include works by Plato, Epictetus, and Plutarch. Poliziano was asked to tutor Lorenzo’s son Piero. Besides being a canon of the cathedral of Florence, he developed the scientific method of textual criticism in his lectures on Greek and Roman literature at the University of Florence, where he had among his students Johann Reuchlin and William Grocyn. Poliziano’s essays, Miscellanea, discuss a wide variety of issues that arose in his literary and historical studies and give a sense of how he went about his scholarly inquiries.

Poliziano is as well known for his creativity as a poet as for his scholarship. Original verses in Latin include individual Sylvae (Manta, Rusticus, Nutricia, and Ambra), and he composed numerous epigrams in Greek. As one of the best poets of the Italian Renaissance, he revealed the lyrical qualities of Italian in his Rime, a collection of more than one hundred short poems, and in his Stanze, the most famous of his poems in that language, written to celebrate the skill and courage of Giuliano de’ Medici in a tournament. Poliziano’s pastoral play, Orfeo, produced in Mantua in 1480 during a brief period of estrangement from the Medicis, is one of the first plays in Italian. Because it was set to music, it can also be classified as an early Italian opera. Poliziano died at Florence on September 28, 1494.

BibliographyBrand, Peter, and Lino Pertile, eds. The Cambridge History of Italian Literature. Rev. ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Includes introductory information on Poliziano and pertinent historical background.D’Amico, John F. Theory and Practice in Renaissance Textual Criticism: Beatus Rhenanus Between Conjecture and History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. Gives a short account of Poliziano’s achievements.Donadoni, Eugenio. A History of Italian Literature. Translated by Richard Monges. New York: New York University Press, 1969. Contains biographical and critical information on Poliziano’s life and work.Godman, Peter. From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998. Godman presents an intellectual history of Florentine humanism from the lifetime of Poliziano in the late fifteenth century to the death of Niccolò Machiavelli in 1527. Making use of unpublished and rare sources, Godman traces the development of philological and official humanism.Grafton, Anthony. Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450-1800. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991. Grafton summarizes Poliziano’s innovations as a classical scholar.
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