Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


Italian and Latin poet, b. at Naples, 28 July, 1458; d. at Rome, in Aug., 1530. He belonged to a family of Spanish origin, in the service of Charles III, of Durazzo, holding the fief of Rocca di Mondragone from the end of the fourteenth century. He received the name by which he was known because he was born on the feast of St. Nazarius. Having lost his father at an early age, he lived in Nocera dei Pagani with his mother; returning later to Naples he studied with Pontanus and was a member of the academy which assembled about this scholar. In this group he received the name of Sincerus by which he is often mentioned in the letters of the times. He was closely allied with the princes of Aragon at Naples and followed Fedirico into the exile to which he was driven by Louis XII, King of France (1521). Relying on the generosity of the French king, Federico established himself at Tours, and Sannazaro remained with him until his death (9 Sept., 1504). During this time Sannazaro discovered a manuscript containing the hitherto unknown works of Latin poets, the fragment of the "Halieutica" ascribed to Ovid by Pliny the Elder, the "Cynegetica" of Grattius Faliscus, Nemesianus, and Rutilius Namatianis. manuscript 227 of Vienna is actually the portion of this manuscript which contained the "Halieutica" and Grattius. manuscript 3261 of Vienna is only a sixteenth-century copy of Nemesianus and Rutilius. On returmug to his own country Sannazaro left it no more. In his old age he had the sorrow of seeing his villa of Tore di Mergoglino destroyed by the imperial forces. He had just rebuilt it when died.

In his youth Sannazaro wrote a work in mingled verse and prose entitled "Arcadia", in which he described the pastoral life according to the traditions of the ancients. This work had great success; it was translated and imitated, and in the sixteenth century had about sixty editions; the first was at Venice, 12 May, 1502. The "Arcadia" gave rise to the pastoral style of writing much cultivated in Italy and elsewhere. A scholarly edition was issued by Scherillo (Turin, 1888). Sannazaro's other Italian poems were sonnets and canzoni . All were collected by Gallipoli (Padua, 1723). A correspondent of Paulus Manutius mentions another work called "Gliomero", now lost. A work entitled "Farsa" affords an idea of it. It consisted of detached scenes of a popular character, written in the Neapolitan dialect, and intended to amuse the king's Court.

Sannazaro's poetical reputation was formerly founded on his Latin works: the "Ecologiae piscatoriae", bucolic verses concerning fishers, elegies and epigrams containing interesting details concerning the life of the poet and contemporaries, his mistresses, Carmosina, Bonifacia, and Cassandra, and which are the best evidences of his sentiments; "Salices", account of metamorphosis; and especially the "De partu Virginis", a poem in three cantos which cost him twenty years of labor and won him the name of the Christian Virgil. These works show that he was a diligent imitator of Ovid and Virgil. The Christian poem is a mixture of the antique and the modern, of mythology and Biblical reminiscenses. Digressions often far from happy are inserted as ornaments, for instance in connection with the ass of the manger Sannazaro reviews all the legends in which the ass has played a part. He also abuses allegorical personifications. The poem, praised by Leo X before it was known, is dedicated to Clement VII, who covered it with praise. Sannazaro's Latin works were published by Volpi (Padua, 1719) and Janus Bronkhusius (1728).

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:1-9
1 Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 13-14
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2016 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman ... Read More