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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Jacopo Sannazaro

Sannazaro, Jacopo (1458‑1530), Italian poet of the Renaissance, was born in 1458 at Naples of a noble family, said to have been of Spanish origin, which had its seat at San Nazaro near Pavia. His father died during the boyhood of Jacopo, who was brought up at Nocera Inferiore. He afterward studied at Naples under Giovanni Pontanus, when, according to the fashion of the time, he assumed the name Actius Syncerus, by which he is occasionally referred to. After the death of his mother he went abroad — driven, we are told, by the pangs of his despised love for Carmosina, whom he has celebrated in his verse under various names; but of the details of his travels nothing is recorded. On his return he speedily achieved fame as a poet and place as a courtier, receiving from Frederick III as a country residence the Villa Mergillina near Naples. When his patron was compelled to take refuge in France in 1501 he was accompanied by Sannazaro, who did not return to Italy till after his death (1504). The later years of the poet seem to have been spent at Naples. He died on the 27th of April 1530.​a

The Arcadia of Sannazaro, begun in early life and published in 1504, is a somewhat affected and insipid Italian pastoral, in which in alternate prose and verse the scenes and occupations of pastoral life are described. See Scherillo's edition (Turin, 1888). His now seldom read Latin poem De partu Virginis, which gained for him the name of the "Christian Virgil," appeared in 1526, and his collected Sonetti e canzoni in 1530.​b

Thayer's Notes:

a Sannazaro (whose name is also often spelled Sannazzaro) is the subject of a picturesque biographical sketch by his contemporary Paolo Giovio, online at Elfinspell. He is buried in the church of S. Maria del Parto in Naples, which he founded; his tomb is of a distinctly pagan character (see Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome, p25).

b The De Partu Virginis is online at Latin Library. A brief selection from Arcadia, in English translation as well as the original Italian, can be found at Elfinspell.

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Page updated: 25 Apr 17