Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Andrea Alciati

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 1
Andrea Alciati

by Thomas Joseph Shahan


An Italian jurist, born at Alzano, near Milan, 8 May, 1492; died at Pavia, 12 June 1550. He was the only son of a Milanese ambassador to the Republic of Venice. He studied law at Pavia and Bologna, and published (1522) an explanation of the Greek terms in the Roman law, under the title of "Paradoxa juris civilis"; he had composed this work at the age of fifteen. In 1518 he became a professor of law at Avignon, then a Bourges; finally he returned to Milan in 1538, and was appointed professor of law at Pavia, after which he taught at Milan, Bologna, and Ferrara. He was highly honoroured by Paul III and Charles V, and was acknowledged as the first of the scholars of his age who had known how to embellish with literary skill the legal lore that had hitherto been presented in a very barbarous form (De Feller). His works on jurisprudence were collected and published at Padua (1571, 6 vols. Fol.), but he wrote other works not included in that edition: "Historia Mediolanensis" (p! ublished posthumously at Milan, 1625), "Responsa" (Lyons, 1561), "Formula romani imperii" (1559), and "Epigrammata" (1539). His gravity and moderation, and his caution in the solution of legal difficulties, are praised by his biographers. Hi is best known to the modern world by his curious and entertaining "Emblemata", a metrical collection of moral, proverb-like sayings, in which he ethical teaching is couched in elegant and forceful diction, though it lacks, somewhat, simplicity and naturalness. This work was first edited by Peutinger (Augsburg, 1531); an excellent edition is that of Padua (1661), with commentaries.

De Feller, Biographie Universelle (Paris ed., 1847), 109; Mazzuchelli, Scrittori d'Italia, s. v.; Green, Andrea Alciati and his Book of Emblems (1873); Id., Shakspeare and the Emblem-writers, etc., down to 1616 (1872).

THOMAS J. SHAHAN