Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

An Italian comic poet, b. at Lamporecchio (Florence) 1497 or 1498; d. at Florence, 26 May, 1535. The son of noble but impoverished parents, he spent his early years in the Tuscan capital fighting want. At twenty better luck awaited him in Rome, where Cardinal Bibbiena, his relative the Cardinal's nephew, Angelo Dovizi, and Giovanni Mattia Giberti, Bishop of Verona and Datary to Leo X, successively employed him. In the datary, however, he had found a hard taskmaster, who kept him at his correspondence all day long and would not countenance the buffooneries in which the young clerk took huge delight. So, in 1531 we find Berni at Padua in rapturous freedom, gaily bent on bandying insults with the notorious Aretino. Still, the autumn of the same year saw him back at his desk in the episcopal residence of Verona, penning letters with a reluctant hand. Not until 1533, when Cardinal Ippolito dei Medici, who had engaged him the year before, made him a canon of the Florentine cathedral, did he find a position that pleased him. But that long dreamed of life, with its unbridled frolic and happy idleness, was not to last, for, becoming involved in the feud then raging between Ippolito and Alessandro dei Medici, he fell victim to poison under very mysterious circumstances two years afterwards.

Berni's most extensive work, the refashioning of Matteo Maria Boiardo's chivalric poem, "L'Orlando innamorato", was published at Milan seven years after his death and again at Venice, 1545. Leaving the original plot and detailed dénouement entirely unchanged, the jovial Florentine sought to enamel with a smooth diction, and colour with many a quip and prank what he thought offensive on account of its ruggedness of form and dullness of style. Thus he unwittingly made a parody of a creation strong and noble in its native simplicity. Undoubtedly Berni's fame is more deservedly due to his "Rime", embracing "Sonetti", "Sonettesse", and "Capitoli", wherein the Bernesque manner found its inception as well as highest achievement, and snivelling Petrarchists were pitilessly flouted. In spite of numberless imitators, including such men as Benedetto Varchi, Ercole Bentivoglio, Giovanni Mauro, Matteo Franzesi, and Ludovico Dolce, Berni's easy flowing tercets, fairly bubbling over with graceful raillery and capering mirth, dwarfed all his rivals. The "Rime, Poesie latine, e Lettere" were edited by A. Virgili at Florence, in 1885. Nor are the Latin poems, a rustic farce known as "Catrina" (Florence, 1567), and the "Dialogo contro i poeti" (Ferrara, 1527) unworthy productions of his facile pen. The morality of Berni's writings is far from commendable.


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

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Apollonia: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • Stations of the Cross - Series HD Video
  • MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More