Repertorium Pomponianum

Agostino Maffei

(Augustinus Maphaeus) (1431-1496)
Apostolic scriptor and curial official; humanist collector of books and antiquities; friend and patron of Pomponio and of other members of the Academy.

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Relations with Pomponio (testimonia)

1. Dedicatee of Pomponio's edition of the opera of C. Sallustius Crispus (Rome: Eucario Silber, 3 IV 1490), ff. aii r-aiii v. HC 14217 IGI 8550 IERS 1177.
M. Valerius Probus unice vetustatis amator, cum animadvertisset veteres negligi et gloria fraudari, contracta multa exemplaria emendare, distinguere et annotare curavit, in eoque se plurimum exercendo laudem non exiguam est adsecutus . . . /. . . Emendavimus nihil addendo; detraximus non pauca fide vetustatis admonente. Plerique petierunt a me et prope quottidianis conviciis efflagitarunt; repugnavi semper et contra meos mores quibusdam sum visus nimis austerus; pervicit tandem iure contubernalitatis unius comitas. Itaque Ioanni Rhegiensi Bibliopolae (nam is saepius institit) permisi ut impressoribus suis traderet cui antea dederam C. Plini epistolas et sub certa condicione pepigimus, ut interesset qui cognosceret. Homo negociosus et officiosus ita faciendum recoepit. Scio, Augustine, pro tua humanitate et eruditione hoc te probaturum. Nam cum soleas diligentiam praesertim in literis laudare, consilium et institutum meum (nosti enim, sum vel unus e tuis domesticis qui pro tua ingenita liberalitate et officio erga litteratos tuis facultatibus aeque ac meis utor) facile ab omni offensiuncula vindicabis. Vale felicissime."
Note: Pomponio's presentation copy to Maffei of his edition of Sallust (BAV, Ottob. Lat. 2989) was written by Giacomo Aurelio Questenberg. Marginal notes, also in the hand of Questenberg, may be linked to fuller versions of a commentary by Pomponio on the De coniuratione Catilinae and De bello Iugurthino found in the margins of several copies of the 1490 edition, including BAV, Inc. Ross. 441; Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Inc. gamma B 6 25; New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, 51414.2; Fermo, Biblioteca Comunale, C8 395-34390; and Glasgow, University Library, SpColl BD7-e.1. See Farenga, Ulery and Osmond 2003; Osmond 2011b; Pade 2011.
2. Dedicatee of an epigram by Pomponio, appended to the edition of Epistolae ad Brutum, ad Quintum fratrem, ad Atticum, edited by Bartolomeo Saliceto and Ludovico Regio (Rome: Eucario Silber, after 17 VII 1490, f. 195v). HC 5216 IGI 2803 IERS 1179.

Augustino Maphaeo Pomponius Laetus S.
Quaeque erat altiloqui Ciceronis Epistola Bruto
Missa aut ad Quinton, Attice, sive tibi
Fraude vel aetatis vitio corrupta iacebat
Vixque una poterat parte resumpta legi.
5 Providit postquam Latiae custodia linguae,
Volvendum tanto vindice surgit opus.
Vivent, Augustine, tui titulique laresque,
Qui facis arenti morte carere Titos.
Ecce, tibi debent Veteres, debemus et ipsi,
10Saecula quique feret posteriora nepos.



Agostino was born in Verona in 1431, the son of Rolandino Maffei of the Verona branch of the Maffei family. Like his brothers Benedetto and Francesco he came to Rome around the middle of the century, where in 1455 he entered upon a career in the Chancery as scriptor litterarum apostolicarum. A friend of Pomponio Leto and member of the first Academy, he was arrested in 1468 together with other alleged conspirators and held in Castel S. Angelo until July 1470. With the election of Sixtus IV (1471) he was able to resume his careeer in the Curia and in the following years also served as lector in audientia litterarum contradictarum (1472-89), magister plumbi (1476-96), and abbreviator de parco minori (1479-96). Agostino and Benedetto had business as well as social ties with the Riario family, particularly Girolamo, and with Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, to whom they loaned money; their younger brother Francesco was a member of the Cardinal's household. A short encomium of the family, De origine et laudibus Maffeorum, composed by Giovanni Nicola Faela of Verona in 1480 and addressed to Girolamo Riario, was intended to further Agostino's curial career while celebrating the family's loyalty to Rome and the ecclesiastical dignities recently conferred on members of the family.
Agostino—whom Pomponio admiringly calls "rerum Romanarum thesaurus"—was praised for his learning and generous support of scholarly studies. The collection of manuscripts and antiquities, which he assembled with his brother Benedetto at the Maffei residence in Via della Pigna, and which formed one of the first important private collections of Renaissance Rome, was open to humanist friends and members of Pomponio's circle. As José Ruysschaert observed in his description of the library ("Recherche," 1958, p. 313): "elle se forma dans l'ambiance de l'Académie romaine de Pomponio Leto." In 1476-77 the Paduan poet Niccolò Lelio Cosmico stayed with Agostino, whom he calls his "mecenate," and Poliziano was Agostino's guest during his visit to Rome in 1484.
Manuscripts copied for and/or dedicated to Agostino include: an Epitome of Pliny the Elder's Naturalis historia by Bartolomeo Platina (London, BL, Harley 3475), perhaps composed c.1462-66; a collection of verses by Filippo Buonaccorsi (Siena, Bibl. Comunale, J. XI.34); Terence, Comoediae (London, BL, Add. 14085), inscribed on f. 198v "Augustini Maffei scriptoris apostolici" (Ruysschaert, n. 72), and annotated partly perhaps in his hand; and Festus, De verborum significatione (BAV, Vat. lat. 5958), written by Giuliano Cecio, with an epigram "Ad lectorem" citing Agostino, and with the Maffei coat-of-arms and decoration attributed to Bartolomeo Sanvito, (cf. Ruysschaert n. 112).
Other classical and humanistic manuscripts in the Maffei library copied and/or annotated by Agostino's friends and members of Pomponio's circle include: Tacitus, Annales and Historiae (Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibl., Gl. Kgl. S. 496 fol.), emended by Ludovico Regio (Ruysschaert, n. 70); Justinus (BAV, Ottob. lat. 1243), annotated in a Pomponian hand (Ruysschaert, n. 81); Herodian (BAV, Ottob. lat. 1836), written and annotated by Ludovico Regio, and continued and corrected by Angelo Poliziano (Ruysschaert, n. 92); Lucretius (BAV, Ottob. lat. 1954), written by Sulpizio da Veroli in 1466 (Ruysschaert, n. 95); Martial (BAV, Ottob. lat. 2029) annotated by Marco Lucio Fazini in Castel Sant'Angelo (Ruysschaert n. 101); and Platina, Dialogus de amore, copied by M. Lucio Fazini (Ruysschaert, n. 107). According to a note in Ad Herennium, f. 1 (BAV, Ottob. lat. 1990), Agostino lent his copy of Cicero's De oratore and his "Oratius antiquus" to Pomponio (Ruysschaert, nn. 97 and 88).
Agostino was also the dedicatee of new printed editions of classical authors based on manuscripts in his library or prepared with his encouragment and support: the commentary on Statius' Silvae (Rome, A. Pannartz, 13 VIII 1475) by Domizio Calderini (cf. preface in Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana, Acquisti e Doni 233, ff. 128-30); Sallust's Opera (Rome, E. Silber, 3 IV 1490), edited by Pomponio Leto (presentation MS: BAV, Ottob. lat. 2989, written and annotated by Giacomo Aurelio Questenberg; Ruysschaert, n. 103); and Cicero's Epistolae ad Brutum, ad Quintum fratrem, ad Atticum (Rome, E. Silber, after 17 VII 1490), edited by Bartolomeo Saliceto and Ludovico Regio (presentation MS: BAV, Vat. lat. 3250, with dedicatory letter and marginal notes in the hand of Regio [Ruysschaert, n. 106]). A deluxe copy of this edition (BAV, Inc. Membr. II. 16) was also annotated by Ludovico Regio (Ruysschaert, n. 75).
Agostino (d. 1496) was buried in the Maffei chapel in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, opposite his brother Benedetto (d. 1494). The inscription on his tomb (Forcella, Iscrizioni, 1:428, n.1638) reads:




G. Castigilione, "Maffei, Agostino," DBI 67 (2006) 209-11 with bibliography, including, on the Maffei library, J. Ruysschaert, "Recherche des deux bibliothèques romaines Maffei des XVe et XVIe siècles," La Bibliofilia 60 (1958), 306-55. Add to bibliography: M. Bertòla, 3 (on Pomponio) and 43, n. 3; B. L. Ullman 1973; R. J. Palermino, 127 and n. 40; P. Scarcia Piacentini 1984; D. S. Chambers, A Renaissance Cardinal and his Worldly Goods: The Will and Inventory of Francesco Gonzaga (1444-1483) (London 1992), 45-47 and ad ind.; Farenga 2001, 2:419-20; 2003; 2005, ad ind; and G. Castiglione, "Maffei, Benedetto," DBI 67 (2006), 221-23. On his offices in the Chancery, see T. Frenz, Die Kanzlei der Päpste der Hochrenaissance (1471-1527) (Tûbingen 1986), 291 (n. 263).
Studies of particular texts and editions:
Domizio Calderini, commentary on Statius' Silvae (1475)
M. Campanelli, Polemiche e filologia ai primordi della stampa. Le observationes di Domizio Calderini (Rome 2001), 34-38 and ad indicem; Farenga 1994, 66-67; 2005, 49-52.
Giuliano Ceci(o), copy of Festus, De verborum significatione (BAV, Vat. lat. 5958)
W. Bracke, "La première 'Édition' humaniste du DE VERBORUM SIGNIFICATIONE de Festus (Vat. lat. 5958)," RHT 25 (1995), 189-215, at 199ff.; idem, in Vedere i classici, ed. M. Buonocore (Rome 1996), n. 134.
Platina, epitome of Pliny's De naturali historia (c.1462-66?)
C. G. Nauert, Jr., "C. Plinius Secundus," CTC 4 (1980), 335-36 (where, however, the dates assigned to Agostino [1460-1525] are to be corrected); S. Bauer, The Censorship and Fortuna of Platina's Lives of the Popes in the Sixteenth Century (Turnhout 2006), ch.1 and Appendix to ch. 1, doc. 3, with a revised edition of the dedicatory letter and notes.
Pomponio Leto, edition of Sallust's opera (1490)
B. L. Ullman, "The Dedication Copy" (1955; 2nd ed., 1973); Farenga 1994, 64, 81; 2001, 2: 419-20; Farenga, Ulery, and Osmond 2003; Osmond and Ulery, "Sallustius," CTC 8 (2003), 237-40; Pade 2011. On Pomponio's unpublished commentary on Sallust, found in various copies of the 1490 incunable, see, in addition to Farenga, Ulery, and Osmond (2003), Osmond 2010, Osmond 2011b, Pade 2011, Buonocore 2012, Osmond and Ulery, CTC 10 (2014), 379, 383-86, and Mori (2021).

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Authors & Texts: Cicero; Festus; Martialis; Plinius (Major); Sallustius; Statius; Persons & Subjects: Domizio Calderini; Giuliano Ceci(o); Marco Lucio (o Lucido) Fazini (Fosforo); Vasino Gamberia; Giovanni da Reggio (or Regio); Niccolò Lelio Cosmico; Bartolomeo Platina; Angelo Poliziano; Paolo Pompilio; Giacomo Aurelio Questenberg; Ludovico Regio; Bartolomeo Saliceto; Eucario Silber.
Patricia Osmond
24 April 2008; bibliography partially updated to 2021
This entry can be cited as follows:
Patricia Osmond, "Agostino Maffei," Repertorium Pomponianum, URL:,