1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Latini, Brunetto
LATINI, BRUNETTO (c. 1210–c. 1294), Italian philosopher and scholar, was born in Florence, and belonged to the Guelph party. After the disaster of Montaperti he took refuge for some years (1261–1268) in France, but in 1269 returned to Tuscany and for some twenty years held successive high offices. Giovanni Villani says that “he was a great philosopher and a consummate master of rhetoric, not only in knowing how to speak well, but how to write well.... He both began and directed the growth of the Florentines, both in making them ready in speaking well and in knowing how to guide and direct our republic according to the rules of politics.” He was the author of various works in prose and verse. While in France he wrote in French his prose Trésor, a summary of the encyclopaedic knowledge of the day (translated into Italian as Tesoro by Bono Giamboni in the 13th century), and in Italian his poem Tesoretto, rhymed couplets in heptasyllabic metre, a sort of abridgment put in allegorical form, the earliest Italian didactic verse. He is famous as the friend and counsellor of Dante (see Inferno, xv. 82-87).
For the Trésor see P. Chabville’s edition (1863); for the Tesoro, Gaiter’s edition (1878); for the Tesoretto, B. Wiese’s study in Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, vii. See also the biographical and critical accounts of Brunetto Latini by Thoe Sundby (1884), and Marchesini (1887 and 1890).