Mancinelli's late works all aim to inculcate morals in Latin students. The Mirror of Morals and Duties (Speculum de moribus et officiis) is a verse treatment of the four cardinal virtues. It bears an interesting double dedication. A short, affectionate verse commending the work was addressed to Mancinelli’s youngest son Festus. Mancinelli says the purpose of his work is double, to instruct in morals and to teach Latin. The first is the leader (or duke, dux) of the poem, the second its companion (or count, comes). Here Mancinelli offers his son both fatherly advice and also a schoolroom clarification  (the technical term in grammar is differentia) between terms whose classical meaning had been distorted by their long use in feudal society. The verses to Festus are preceded by fourteen lines in praise of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III), a rare address by Mancinelli to a prince of the church. Farnese had been a student of Pomponio Leto and so was part of the Roman humanist circle by reason of real learning and intelligence as well as birth. Mancinelli's poem is punningly conventional. The cardinal exemplifies the cardinal virtues, so he is the perfect judge (optimus censor) of a poem on morals.


Marketplace of Latin Speech (Latini sermonis emporium) is an Italian-to-Latin proverb and phrase book. Nearly seven hundred short phrases in Italian are given elegant Latin dress. There are proverbs like “It’s better to be a doctor than an unlearned man, said Aristippus” or “Don’t be slow to learn,” but also commonplace and even colloquial phrases, “I was forced to do it” and “Set the table.” The logic of such a compilation is set out in the brief dedication. Even young children, Mancinelli says, should be encouraged to use Latin conversationally. (70)


Three other anthologies bring together classical extracts with original verse and prose by Mancinelli. They were offered in print as Latin reading books. Collected in Velletri, Orvieto and Rome in Mancinelli's later years, they were published first in Rome. (71) The first anthology, On the Care of Parents for their Children, and On the Reciprocal Obedience, Honor and Reverence Due to Parents from their Children, took inspiration from Mancinelli's own family life. It consists of extracts from classical, biblical, and patristic sources. Mancinelli coyly included an extract from his own recent Speculum de moribus et officiis.

This Care of Parents was never published separately and first appeared in 1503 along with A Decade of Speeches (Sermonum decas). The two works were reprinted almost immediately in Milan. (72) In publishing terms, then, they were originally a single anthology on moral themes, but each was reprinted separately later. The Decade is a collection of Mancinelli's occasional speeches and letters, arranged in ten books by subject. The dedication was to the single most prominent intellectual among Mancinelli's dedicatees, Angelo Colocci (1474-1549), a renowned antiquary and editor who was at this date moving up the ranks within the papal curia. (73) Mancinelli's greeted Colocci with an exact curial title, but the body of the brief letter was affectionate, in the Ciceronian manner of learned friendships of the day. Collocci was twenty years Mancinelli's junior, a fact the latter emphasized by recalling the accomplishments of Colocci's father and paternal uncle. Always the schoolmaster, Mancinelli commented upon the younger man's brilliance and praised him both for his accomplishments and for his potential to do more.


Also from about 1503, the Little Book of Epigrams (Epigrammaton libellus) and Fourfold Suite of Eclogues (Aepolion Aeglogarum quattuor) are collections of Mancinelli’s short verse. They offer a microcosm of the life of a small town in the shadow of papal Rome, including ceremonial poems, epitaphs, and verses that mirror Mancinelli's interests. (74) The largest single group concerns marriage, and the next most prominent theme is Latin education as a preparation for the moral life. The conventionality of such themes, of course, does not detract from their importance both in humanist thought and in Mancinelli's own life. Exactly these most deeply held beliefs needed stating, repeatedly and eloquently.

Lastly, we should remark four apparently lost works. Mancinelli seems to claim in his 1493 autobiographical poem that he had composed a set of glosses on Valerius Maximus, but they have never been identified. (75) We really know nothing about the other three lost works except that they are mentioned in lists starting in 1490. All three were apparently anthologies, like those we have met before, from classical authors. The title Centiloquium (One Hundred Sayings) alas, tells us nothing of the contents, merely that there were a hundred entries. Platonis sententiae (Sayings of Plato) and Aristotelis sententiae ex Ethicis, Politicis, Oeconomicis (Sayings from Aristotle's Ethics, Politics and Economics), on the other hand, are clear as to the sources of the extracts. Probably all three consisted of short passages intended for study by intermediate-level Latin students. They are unlikely to have been in Greek, since there is no evidence that Mancinelli ever taught Greek.

Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(70)  The Emporium was printed as late as  the 1550's with the preface redated to 1543, perhaps in error but more likely in an attempt to make the book seem more modern; Bersano 1966, 302.
(71)  Mellidi 2002, 143-150.
(72)  Mancinelli 1503b and 1504.
(73)  Rowland 1998, 83-85, 183.
(74)  Mellidi 2002, 148-150.
(75)  CTC 5:379.

Posted by admin on September 19, 2008
Tags: Chapter Three

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Ken Gouwens on paragraph 2:

This sounds like a useful and diverting phrase book, perhaps in content somewhere between Giuseppe Fumagalli’s _Ape Latina_ and Georg Capellanus’s _Facetiae Latinae_. Any idea if it’s available on microfilm, etc.?

September 26, 2009 8:04 am
Paul F. Gehl :

It may be included in the ISTC CDs coming out from the British Library, but hey, there is a copy for sale right now from a Florence bookseller for just 750 Euros!

September 26, 2009 4:06 pm
Paul F. Gehl on paragraph 5:

Further on the epigrams, see now the facsimile of the first edition with introduction and translation by Franco Lazzari and Mario Lozzi, Gli epigrammi di Antonio Mancinelli, Velletri, Centro Studi ‘Antonio Mancinelli’, 2009. The authors argue convincingly (pp. 26-29) that Mancinelli’s preferment at Orvieto in 1495 and his subsequent return to teaching at Rome resulted from his successful cultivation of Cesare Borgia.

November 29, 2010 10:34 am
Paul Gehl :

Lazzari and Lozzi’s argument offers a good example of the risks we run if we consider short literary forms like epigrams trivial, occasional, or frivolous works without useful value as historical evidence. True, they are minor forms, but especially in sizable collections like Mancinelli’s they offer valuable biographical data and cultural context.

September 22, 2015 7:51 pm
Paul F. Gehl on paragraph 1:

On Mancinelli’s dedications in this period, see now McLellan, “Spreading the Word,” cit at section 3.01/para 9, p. 300.

May 11, 2015 4:45 pm
paigeanderson on paragraph 1:

I feel as though this paragraph really captures the essence of Humanism. The two purposes of the work that Mancinelli mentions to his son are morals and Latin. This is a representation of the Humanist era because it was a movement from medieval times that began to focus more on the goodness of man. The teaching of Latin during this time was important as well since the Renaissance, and the Humanism movement in particular, stressed the newfound importance of language. Mentioning the different meanings of words between Humanism and feudal times is another representation of the movement away from medieval society and towards a new appreciation of Greek and Roman thought and of language.

However, I thought it was interesting that he made a mention to the Pope since Humanism started the movement away from the church and towards the importance of man’s own thought. Does this reference show the importance of the balance of discovery and spirituality during this period?

February 3, 2016 6:15 pm
Paul Gehl :

Hi, Paige. Your question is one of the big issues in the scholarship on the Renaissance. The relationship of humanism to the church is not an easy one to describe, because there were so many different solutions, almost as many as there were serious thinkers in the period. Mancinelli is writing on the eve of the Reformation, when many intellectuals were dissatisfied with the corruption of the church and their relative inability to effect reforms. Manicnelli,however, seems to have been a pretty conformist type. He is very devoutly religious and does not seem to have felt there was any real or necessary break between classical scholarship and Christian orthodoxy. I suspect this was a common stance among humanists, especially those of the second rank. It is worth remembering in this regard that, although I have devoted an entire chapter to him, Mancinelli was not one of the great thinkers of the period. He was a famous teacher (and most teachers are good but not necessarily great thinkers).

February 3, 2016 7:41 pm
Paul F. Gehl on paragraph 3:

Paola Farenga, cit. in comment to section 3.09, para 3 above, p. 415-416, notes that On the Care of Parents bears an epilogue in praise of Pietro Della Torre, a bookseller at Rome, who apparently subsidized the publication of the work with the education of his own three sons in mind. To my knowledge this is the only occasion on which Mancinelli remarks direct financial support for his publications from an individual. Della Torre, of course, was in a position to market the new book immediately and directly.

March 28, 2017 2:26 pm

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