Aretino, Pietro

born April 20, 1492, Arezzo, Republic of Florence [Italy]
died Oct. 21, 1556, Venice

Italian poet, prose writer, and dramatist.

He was celebrated throughout Europe in his time for his bold and insolent literary attacks on the powerful. His fiery letters and dialogues are of great biographical and topical interest. His dramas, which are relatively free of venomous assaults, include five comedies and a tragedy, Orazia (1546), perhaps the best Italian tragedy of the 16th century.

* * *

▪ Italian author
born April 20, 1492, Arezzo, Republic of Florence [Italy]
died Oct. 21, 1556, Venice

      Italian poet, prose writer, and dramatist celebrated throughout Europe in his time for his bold and insolent literary attacks on the powerful. His fiery letters and dialogues are of great biographical and topical interest.

      Although Aretino was the son of an Arezzo shoemaker, he later pretended to be the bastard son of a nobleman and derived his adopted name (“the Aretine”) from that of his native city (his real name is unknown). While still very young, he went to Perugia and painted for a time and then moved on to Rome in 1517, where he wrote a series of viciously satirical lampoons supporting the candidacy of Giulio de' Medici for the papacy (Giulio became Pope Clement VII in 1523). Despite the support of the pope and another patron, Aretino was finally forced to leave Rome because of his general notoriety and his 1524 collection of Sonetti lussuriosi (“Lewd Sonnets”). From Rome he went to Venice (1527), where he became the object of great adulation and lived in a grand and dissolute style for the rest of his life.

      One of Aretino's closest friends in Venice was the painter Titian, for whom he sold many paintings to Francis I, king of France; a great gold chain that Aretino wears in Titian's portrait (c. 1545; Pitti Palace, Florence) was a gift from the king.

      Among Aretino's many works, the most characteristic are his satirical attacks, often amounting to blackmail, on the powerful. He grew wealthy on gifts from kings and nobles who feared his satire and coveted the fame accruing from his adulation. His six volumes of letters (published 1537–57) show his power and cynicism and give ample justification for the name he gave himself, “flagello dei principe” (“scourge of princes”). Aretino was particularly vicious in his attacks on Romans because they had forced him to flee to Venice. In his Ragionamenti (1534–36; modern edition, 1914; “Discussions”), Roman prostitutes reveal to each other the moral failings of many important men of their city, and in I dialoghi and other dialogues he continues the examination of carnality and corruption among Romans.

      Only Aretino's dramas were relatively free of such venomous assaults. His five comedies are acutely perceived pictures of lower-class life, free from the conventions that burdened other contemporary dramas. Of the five comedies, written between 1525 and 1544 (modern collection, Commedie, 1914), the best known is Cortigiana (published 1534, first performed 1537, “The Courtesan”), a lively and amusing panorama of the life of the lower classes in papal Rome. Aretino also wrote a tragedy, Orazia (published 1546; “The Horatii”), which has been judged by some the best Italian tragedy written in the 16th century.

Additional Reading
Biographies include Thomas Caldecot Chubb, Aretino, Scourge of Princes (1940); and James Cleugh, The Divine Aretino, Pietro of Arezzo, 1492–1556 (1965).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ARETINO, Pietro — (1492 1556) One of the more versatile and prolific writers in the Italian vernacular, Pietro Aretino made a significant impact on the literary, political, social, and artistic worlds of sixteenth century Italy. Born in Arezzo, Italy, Aretino came …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Aretino, Pietro — (1492 1556)    Poet and satirist from the region of Arezzo who spent his formative years in Perugia, where he wrote his earliest poems. In 1517, Aretino went to Rome where he worked for Agostino Chigi, the wealthy banker and patron of Raphael,… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Aretino, Pietro — (1492 1556)    Italian writer, born to a poor family in Arezzo but by 1517 settled at Rome, where he found wealthy patrons. A skilled vernacular poet, he first became notorious for his satirical verses or pasquinades, which were sufficiently… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Aretino,Pietro — A·re·ti·no (ăr ə tēʹnō, är ), Pietro. 1492 1556. Italian writer and satirist best known for his literary attacks on his wealthy and powerful contemporaries and for six volumes of letters. * * * …   Universalium

  • Aretino, Pietro — ► (1492 1556) Seudónimo de Pietro Bacci, poeta italiano. Sus composiciones son célebres por lo atrevidas y licenciosas, y sus sátiras, finas y punzantes, fueron temidas por todos los hombres públicos de su tiempo. Entre sus obras destacan los… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pietro Aretino — Pietro Aretino, in Titian s first portrait of him Pietro Aretino (20 April 1492 – 21 October 1556) was an Italian author, playwright, poet and satirist who wielded immense influence on contemporary art and politics and invented modern literate… …   Wikipedia

  • Pietro Aretino — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Pietro Aretino Aretino retratado por Tiziano 1545 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Aretino — aretino, a (del lat. «Aretīnus», de «Aretĭum», Arezzo) adj. y, aplicado a personas, también n. De Arezzo, ciudad de Italia. * * * aretino, na. (Del lat. Aretīnus, de Aretĭum, Arezzo). adj. Natural de Arezzo. U. t. c. s. || 2. Perteneciente o… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Aretino — (izg. aretíno), Pietro (1492 1556) DEFINICIJA talijanski pamfletist, pjesnik, satiričar, komediograf; znamenit po neumoljivom i drskom izrugivanju moćnika …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Aretino [2] — Aretīno, Pietro, ital. Schriftsteller, geb. 20. April 1492 zu Arezzo, durch sittenlose Schriften berüchtigt, gest. 21. Okt. 1556 zu Venedig, schrieb 5 Lustspiele (»Cortigiana«, »Talanta« u.a.), die Tragödie »Orazia«; ferner »Ragionamenti« (1535;… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.