Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/602

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


some others in Italy. It had never rivalled Florence, and it could not now compete with Ferrara. Leo, in the first year of his pontificate (1513), made a serious effort to improve it; and it was not his fault if that effort had little permanent success. He remodelled the statutes of the University; created some new chairs; enlarged the emoluments ,of those which existed; and induced some scholars of eminence to join the staff. Another way in which he showed his earnest sympathy with learning was by his encouragement of Greek studies. More than forty years before this, editions of Latin classics had begun to issue from the Roman press. But Rome had hitherto lagged behind in the printing of Greek. The first Greek book printed at Rome was a Pindar, published in 1515 by Zacharias Calliergi, a Cretan, who had helped to bring out the Etymologicum Magnum at Venice in 1499. A Greek printing press was now established in Rome by Leo. He also instituted the "Gymnasium Caballini Montis," where lectures were given by Aldo's former assistant, the eminent Cretan scholar Marcus Musurus, and also by the veteran John Lascaris. This was perhaps the last considerable effort made in Italy to arrest the incipient decline of Greek studies.

A permanent interest attaches to the profession of faith in humanism left on record by Leo X. When, in 1515, the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus appeared in the editio princeps of Filippo Beroaldo the younger, the Pope conferred upon the editor a privilege for the sale and reprinting of the book. In the brief which granted this privilege, and which was prefixed to the edition, Leo expressed his estimate of the New Learning. "We have been accustomed," he says, "even from our early years, to think that nothing more excellent or more useful has been given by the Creator to mankind, if we except only the knowledge and true worship of Himself, than these studies, which not only lead to the ornament and guidance of human life, but are applicable and useful to every particular situation; in adversity consolatory, in prosperity pleasing and honourable; insomuch that without them we should be deprived of all the grace of life and all the polish of social intercourse." He then observes that "the security and extension of these studies" seem to depend chiefly on two things,—"the number of men of learning, and the ample supply of excellent authors." As to the first, it has always been his earnest desire to encourage men of letters; and as to the acquisition of books, he rejoices when an opportunity is thus afforded him of thus "promoting the advantage of mankind." The best spirit of Italian humanism finds a noble expression in these words, written by one who, both as Giovanni de' Medici and as Leo X, had proved the sincerity of his devotion to the interests of letters. That sympathy was interwoven with his personal character and temperament; it scarcely needed to be strengthened by the great traditions of his house. We may doubt whether he was conscious that the Classical Renaissance had