Letter of dedication for the written version of the funeral oration for Leonardo Grifo
Leonardo Grifo (Griffo, Griffi) was a humanist, private secretary of Sixtus IV and (since 1482) bishop of Benevent with a long carreer at the papal curia (no direct contacts between him and Leto are known so far). He died on 24 November 1485 and was buried the following night in S. Maria del Popolo "in the chapel behind the main altar" (Burckhard, Diarii ed. Celani I 128). The exequies – where Leto delivered the oration – were celebrated on 15 December 1485. The written version of Leto's oration was presumably produced shortly afterwards (the dedication letter is not dated). The addressee of the letter, Falcone Sinibaldi (d. 1492), was papal treasurer and the recipient of many dedications, among others from Domizio Calderini and Battista Spagnoli.
The letter is known from a single witness, BAV Vat. lat. 6850, which also contains the oration itself. In a new collation with this manuscript several misreadings in the edition of De Rienzo could be corrected. The following edition retains monophthongs, as in the ms. (with some exceptions), where standard Latin orthography prefers diphthongs. Abbreviations are expanded. Punctuation and capitals are standardized according to current practice.
Pomponius Laetus Falconi Sinibaldo salutem.
Orationem quam nuper in funere Leonardi Griphi te iubente habui, ut ex omni parte quod summe liberalitati debeo persolveretur, ad te mitto. Rogo, licet in praesentia sis occupatissimus, semel ac iterum legas. Brevis est et, cum a tibi1 <coniunctissimo> procedat et de coniunctissimo loquatur, fastidium non adferet. Vtinam ubi legeris idem contingat, quod cum pronuntiaretur censuisti, scilicet ut probes. Cum probaveris – quod opto – , legendam ceteris pro tua ingenita humanitate dabis, sin minus, supprime et tua lictura a lectione prohibe.
In funebri oratione datur venia laudatoribus. Nam qui immortalitatem induerunt summopere extollendi sunt. Apud veteres nullum funus sine laudatore celebratum est. Hec et nos vestigia sequimur. Sed quorsum hec? Tui iuris est si permiseris potestatem merori. Scio enim quocunque nomen adcesserit tuum, ibi et memoriam aeternitatis fore.
Vnum illud, quod in oratione preterii, hic minime silentio dari visum est. Sepultus est Griphus in ede Matris Dei sinistra ingredientibus urbem via Flaminia sub colle, ubi Domitie familie sepulchrum fuit. Is locus olim extra menia urbis et campum Martium, et nunc pomerium intrinsecus contingit. Edis vero titulus sub cognomine populi Romani. Xistus Quartus a fundamentis restituit. Hec volui scripsisse, ut qui oracionem lecturi sunt, non ignorent ubi Griphi corpus monumento tegatur. Bene valeas.
1 tibi … loquatur coni. Ramminger] tibi et de coniunctissimo loquatur procedat ms.
(words in italics are added to make the translation clear)
Pomponius Laetus greets Falcone Sinibaldi.
I send you the oration that I gave recently at your instance at the funeral of Leonardo Grifo, so that I may discharge my full debt to your generosity. I ask that you, though at present very busy, read it once and again. It is short, and since it comes from one who is very close to you and speaks about another also very close, it will not be tedious. If only the same thing would happen when you read it as when it was delivered, that you approve of it. If you approve – which I hope – you will, such is your inborn humanity, let others read it; if not, suppress it and with your rejection prohibit others from reading it.
In a funeral oration one is indulgent towards those who praise the deceased, because those who have assumed immortality deserve the highest praise. In old times no funeral was performed without somebody who praised the deceased. We too follow in these footsteps. But why this? You have the authority to give power to sorrow. I know that wherever your name penetrates there will be eternal memory of the deceased (?).
There is one thing that I left off in the oration but that I do not want to pass over in silence here. Grifo is buried in the 'church of the Mother of God' on the left side as you enter the city on the via Flaminia at the foot of the hill where there was the grave of the Domitia-family. The spot was once outside the city walls and the Campus Martius, and now borders on the city area inside. The church takes its name from the people of Rome [i.e. Santa Maria del Popolo]. Sixtus IV restored it in its entirety. This I wanted to add so that those who are going to read the oration may know where Grifo's body is covered by its memorial. May you be well.
De Rienzo 1933. Simonetta 2002. Zippel in Gaspare da Verona 1904, 60–61 (notes, for F. Sinibaldi's biography).
This entry can be cited as follows:
Pomponius Laetus, Oratio in funere Leonardi Grifi, praefatio, ed. Johann Ramminger, Repertorium Pomponianum, URL: www.repertoriumpomponianum.it/textus/leto_a_sinibaldi.htm,