Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Alessandro Piccolomini

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 12
Alessandro Piccolomini

by Umberto Benigni


Littérateur, philosopher, astronomer, b. 13 June, 1508; d. 12 March, 1578. He passed his youth in the study of literature and wrote several comedies ("Amor costante", "Alessandro", "Ortensio"), translated into Italian verse Ovid's "Metamorphoses", part of the "Æneid", Aristotle's "Poetics" and "Rhetoric", composed a hundred sonnets (Rome, 1549), and other rhyme. He repudiated in later years "Raffaello" or "Dialogo della creanza donne" as too licentious. In 1540 he became professor of philosophy at Padua, where he wrote "Istituzione di tutta la vita dell' uomo nato nobile e in città libera", "Filosofia naturale" in which he followed the theories of ancient and medieval philosophers, while in his "Trattato della grandezza della terra e dell' acqua" (Venice, 1558), he combatted the Aristotelean and Ptolemaic opinion that water was more extensive than land, thereby provoking, with Antonio Berga, professor at Mondovi, a controversy, in which he was assisted by Giambattista Bennedetti. In astronomy ("Sfera del mondo", "Delle stelle fisse", "Speculazioni de' pianeti") he adhered to the Ptolemaic theory. He also wrote on the reform of the calendar (1578), and a commentary on the mechanics of Aristotle. To counteract "Raffaella" he wrote his "Orazione in lode delle donne" (Rome, 1549). His fame extended beyond Italy. Gregory XIII, in 1574, appointed him titular Bishop of Patræ and coadjutor to Francesco Bandini, Archbishop of Siena, who survived him.

FABIANI, Vita di Alessandro Piccolomini (Siena, 1749 and 1759); TIRABOSCHI, Storia della letteratura italiana, VII, pt. i.

U. BENIGNI