After being exiled from Rome in 1517 for taking part in Cardinal Petrucci’s plot to assassinate Pope Leo X, the Florentine cardinal Francesco Soderini found refuge at Fondi, in the Kingdom of Naples, in what is now southern Lazio, where he was hosted by the powerful baron Prospero Colonna. During his sojourn at Fondi, Soderini restored a long Roman wall in opus reticulatum still visible today and part of an ancient monumental area used by the cardinal as his suburban residence. This area was locally known as the Varronianum, since it was believed to be the remains of an ancient villa belonging to Marcus Terentius Varro. Two inscriptions, today lost, bearing the coats of arms respectively of Soderini and Colonna, celebrated the restoration. Albeit only modestly investigated, this episode in itself is not totally unknown; yet it has never been pointed out that the area, before Soderini’s intervention, is referred to in the dialogue Aegidius, written by the humanist Giovanni Gioviano Pontano between 1501 and 1503. The article analyses the episode in the light of this source, underscoring how this dialogue encouraged the growth of the ‘myth of Varro’ at Fondi, and that the trait d’union between Pontano and Soderini was the humanist Francesco Peto of Fondi, who was one of the personae in Pontano’s dialogue and was a member of Prospero Colonna’s close entourage. It thus appears that Francesco Peto acted both as a source for Pontano and, later, as an antiquarian consultant for Soderini’s restoring of the Varronianum.

Studying Local Antiquities in the Kingdom of Naples. Giovanni Pontano, Francesco Soderini, and the Varronianum of Fondi

Lorenzo Miletti
2018

Abstract

After being exiled from Rome in 1517 for taking part in Cardinal Petrucci’s plot to assassinate Pope Leo X, the Florentine cardinal Francesco Soderini found refuge at Fondi, in the Kingdom of Naples, in what is now southern Lazio, where he was hosted by the powerful baron Prospero Colonna. During his sojourn at Fondi, Soderini restored a long Roman wall in opus reticulatum still visible today and part of an ancient monumental area used by the cardinal as his suburban residence. This area was locally known as the Varronianum, since it was believed to be the remains of an ancient villa belonging to Marcus Terentius Varro. Two inscriptions, today lost, bearing the coats of arms respectively of Soderini and Colonna, celebrated the restoration. Albeit only modestly investigated, this episode in itself is not totally unknown; yet it has never been pointed out that the area, before Soderini’s intervention, is referred to in the dialogue Aegidius, written by the humanist Giovanni Gioviano Pontano between 1501 and 1503. The article analyses the episode in the light of this source, underscoring how this dialogue encouraged the growth of the ‘myth of Varro’ at Fondi, and that the trait d’union between Pontano and Soderini was the humanist Francesco Peto of Fondi, who was one of the personae in Pontano’s dialogue and was a member of Prospero Colonna’s close entourage. It thus appears that Francesco Peto acted both as a source for Pontano and, later, as an antiquarian consultant for Soderini’s restoring of the Varronianum.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/719569
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