Parthenius, Bartholomaeus Benacensis, (d. ca. 1492)
Humanist from the Garda region; professor at the Studium Urbis from the mid-1480s to his death.
Relations with Pomponio Leto—Testimonia
Partenio must have been in contact with Pomponio while the two were teaching at the Studium Urbis in the second half of the 1480s and early 1490s. The connection between them is demonstrated by Pomponio's De historia (a) and by an amusing anecdote concerning the circulation of false rumors about Pomponio's death (b).
a) The exchanges and relations between Partenio and Pomponio in Rome are probably responsible for the latter's familiarity with Partenio's editions of Greek and Latin texts. Large sections of Pomponio's annotations De historia (see Leto (ed.) 2021), bound with copies of his 1490 edition of Sallust, were reproduced from Partenio's letter to the Venetian patrician Francesco Tron, appended to the edition of Livy printed by Michele Manzolo in 1480, in collaboration with Partenio (see Livius (ed.) 1480, fols [Y7]r-v). Partenio's significant Greek learning explains some of Pomponio's second-hand references to authors he could not have read in the original, such as Ammonius Grammaticus and John Tzetzes (cf. Leto (ed.) 2021, 23-24, 58-59). Pomponio's debt to Partenio is also clearly revealed by a comparison between the De historia and Partenio's dedicatory letter, whose central section is reproduced almost verbatim by Pomponio.
b) Around the years 1490-91, the rumor that Pomponio had died spread throughout Northern Italy. In order to commemorate him, Girolamo Bologni - a resident of Treviso and long-time friend of Partenio - wrote a funerary epigram in memory of Pomponio, which he then sent to Partenio, in Rome. Having received Bologni's verses, Partenio informed his friend that Pomponio was alive and well, but that he had nonetheless appreciated Bologni's words, remarking that he was grateful to be able to read what is normally written only after one's death.
De carminibus vero tuis, quorum mihi copiam fecisti, gratias etiam ago immortales meo et Hermolai Barbari Aquilejensis nomine, cui illa ostendi, quae de ipsius laudibus composuisti, qui et ipse, cum Pomponii epitaphium legisset, anceps una mecum fuit num illud Pomponio ostendendum foret; tandem utrique visum est id homini propalare. Accessi ego et ostendi cuncta, qui cum venisset ad eam partem, ubi scriptum fuerat epitaphium, acclamare coepit ridereque pariter, dicens gratias Diis agere et tibi, quod ea, quae post mortem observari vetita sint, in humanis ipse legere valeat; voluitque tibi manu propria hic responsum dare.
(cit. in Zeno 1752-53, II, 250-251)
(I thank you most sincerely for the composition you have sent me, on behalf of both myself and Ermolao Barbaro of Aquileia, to whom I showed your verses in his praise. Upon reading your funeral eulogy to Pomponio, we were both hesitant as to whether we should show it to Pomponio or not. At last, we resolved to do so. I approached him and showed him your entire composition; as he got to the part that contains the eulogy he broke into laughter, saying that he was grateful to you and the gods since he could read while living those things that one cannot hear once dead. He also wanted to let you have this response, which he wrote himself.)
Appended to Partenio's message was a short letter by Pomponio, who cordially greeted Bologni, thanking him for his poetic composition.
Habeo gratias officio, id enim egisti, Hieronyme, quod pauci facere solent. Hoc mihi contingat: exopto ut saepius decipiaris, itemque alii si qui tentaverint; sic longius vixero. Si pro tua salute atque studio aliquid fieri posse putas, scribe. Respondebo opinioni tuae, et eo gratius erit, quod is quem elatum audieras revixit ut tuus esset.
(cit. in Zeno 1752-53, II, 251)
(I am grateful, Girolamo, for your kindeness, since you did something that few people generally do. Let this be my lot: I wish that you sould be mistaken more often, and others too if any should try - in this way, I will live a longer life. If you think I can do anything for you, do let me know. I will answer your doubt and you shall be pleased that the man whom you heard to be dead came alive again for you.)
As results from the allusion to Ermolao Barbaro's nomination to the office of Patriarch of Aquileia, Partenio's and Pomponio's letters to Bologni were written no earlier than March 1491 (cf. Zeno 1752-53, II, 251). They are now preserved in Rome, Archivum Generale Ordinis Praedicatorum, XIV.IV 388 (cf. Guerrieri 2005, 36; Kristeller, Iter, II, 561).
Little is known of Partenio's life. As the cognomen 'Benacensis' suggests, he was born in the Garda region, perhaps in Salò, if we are to believe a letter addressed to him by Jacopo di Porcia, who calls his correspondent 'Parthenius Salodianus' (cf. Porcia Jacopo (da), fol. 47r; Weiss 1969, 197 n. 61).
In the early 1480s, Partenio reportedly taught in Treviso, where he collaborated with the three main local printers of classical and humanist texts. In 1480, he assisted Michele Manzolo with the publication of Giovanni Andrea Bussi's edition of Livy's Ab urbe condita (see Livius (ed.) 1480). In the same year, Bartolomeo Confalonieri published Giuniano Maio's De priscorum proprietate verborum, edited and supplied with Greek etymologies by Partenio (see Maio (ed.) 1480). Lastly, Giovanni Rubeo availed himself of Partenio's collaboration for the publication of both Strabo's Geographia, translated by Guarino Veronese and Gregorio Tifernate (see Strabo (ed.) 1480), and Thucydides' Historiae, translated by Lorenzo Valla (see Thucydides (ed.) 1483) (cf. Federici 1805, 38, 42, 90; Serena 1912, 144-147; Weiss 1969, 196-197).
While in Treviso, Partenio befriended Girolamo Bologni, who also worked with the main printers in town and remained close to Partenio until the latter's death, as suggested not only by the aforementioned correspondence but also by the many pieces of poetry that Bologni dedicated to Partenio and other members of the Pomponian entourage including Filippo Buonaccorsi, Cosmicus, Sabellico, Domizio Calderini, and Pomponio Leto. Many of these compositions are preserved in three Venetian manuscripts containing poetical works and letters by Bologni (see Venice, Museo Correr, Cicogna 2664-2666 (1870-1872); cf. Federici 1805, 38; Kristeller, Iter, II, 285-286; Serena 1912, 152).
In the mid-1480s, perhaps in 1484, Partenio moved to Rome, were he taught rhetoric at the Studium Urbis until his death. Given his editorial interests, Partenio's teaching probably focused on Greek and Latin classics. In Rome, Partenio was in contact with Pomponio and other members of the Roman sodalitas, with whom he shared philological and antiquarian interests such as those informing his epigraphic observations (see Venice, Museo Correr, Cicogna 2393 (1874)).
Partenio died in Rome, sometime between the second half of 1491 and early 1492. While the aforementioned letter to Bologni of March 1491 constitutes a terminus post quem for Partenio's death, a terminus ante quem is provided by the end of Innocent VIII's pontificate, in July 1492. Before dying, Innocent VIII appointed Bonifacio Bembo to take Partenio's vacant position at the Studium Urbis (cf. Capreolus 1505, fol. LXXr; Carafa 1751, II, 306; Quirini 1739, I, 62; Weiss 1969, 197).
Bartolomeo Partenio was hypothetically identified by de Rossi and Lumbroso with the 'Parthenius' whose name is inscribed on the walls of the Roman catacombs along with those of Pomponio and other members of the sodalitas (cf. de Rossi 1864-77, I, 5; de Rossi 1857-88, II.1, 402; Lumbroso 1889, 232). This interpretation was rejected by Nolhac, who argued for the identification of 'Parthenius' with a certain Parthenius Minutius Paulinus, a young member of the Pomponian entourage who belonged to the Roman family of the Paolini or Pallini (cf. Nolhac (de) 1886, 141-145.) The Partenio who is named in the hypogean graffiti is probably the same Partenio mentioned in Bartolomeo Platina's description of an imaginary vegetarian dinner among members of the Pomponian sodalitas, in book 5.1 of the De honesta volupate et valetudine (cf. Platina (ed.) 1988, 242. Cf. also: Lumbroso 1889, 227-228; Restani 1990, 277-278). Both the De honesta volupate et valetudine and the Roman graffiti predate Bartolomeo Partenio's arrival in Rome; therefore, I believe that the 'Parthenius' whose name is found in Platina and in the catacombs should not be identified with Bartolomeo Partenio, who did not enter the Pomponian circle before the mid-1480s.
All of Partenio's known works are connected to his editorial collaborations in Treviso. His editions of Livy, Giuniano Maio, Strabo, and Thucydides are all supplied with dedicatory letters to the Venetian patrician Francesco Tron (see respectively: Livius (ed.) 1480, fol. [Y7]r-v; Maio (ed.) 1480, fol. [K8]r; Strabo (ed.) 1480, fol. [Q4]r; Thucydides (ed.) 1483, fol. [r6]v).
Partenio's letters to Francesco Tron touch upon different themes, vaguely related to the texts he edited. While the aforementioned letter in the incunable edition of Livy deals with the nature and subgenres of historical writing, the letters appended to the editions of Giuniano Maio and Thucydides highlight Partenio's philological efforts to complete or correct the published materials in light of readings drawn from Greek texts. Finally, the dedicatory letter published along with Guarino's and Tifernates' translation of Strabo stresses the importance of geographical and chorographic research, thus suggesting a typically antiquarian interest on Partenio's part. This antiquarian interest is also proved by Partenio's epigraphic observations, which are reported in a letter of 1483, now in Venice, Museo Correr, Cicogna 2393 (1874) (cf. de Rossi 1857-88, II.1, 402; Kristeller, Iter, II, 282).
The edition of Valla's translation of Thucydides was also supplied with an "Ex Marcellino Graeco Thucydidis Atheniensis vita" by Partenio. The short biography is a compendium of information drawn from the Greek life of Thucydides by a certain Marcellinus (see Thucydides (ed.) 1483, [r7]r-v).
a) Cited MSS:
b) Sources and Editions:
Helias Capreolus, Chronica de rebus Brixianorum (Brescia: Arundus de Arundis, ), ISTC No. ic00126000.
Leto (ed.) 2021
Pomponio Leto, De historia, ed. and trans. Giuliano Mori (Roma, 2021).
Livius (ed.) 1480
Titus Livius, Historiae Romanae decades, ed. Johannes Andreas (Treviso: Michael Manzolus, 1480), ISTC No. il00242000.
Maio (ed.) 1480
Junianus Maius, De priscorum proprietate verborum, ed. Bartholomaeus Parthenius (Treviso: Bartholomaeus Confalonerius, 1480), ISTC No. im00097000.
Platina (ed.) 1988
Platina, On Right Pleasure and Good Health, ed. and trans. Mary Ella Milham (Tempe, Arizona, 1998).
Porcia Jacopo (da)
Opus Iacobi comitis Purliliarum epistolarum familiarium (s.n.t. [1507?]).
Strabo (ed.) 1480
Strabo, Geographia, trans. Guarinus Veronensis and Gregorius Tiphernas, ed. Johannes Andreas and Bartholomaeus Parthenius (Treviso: Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 1480), ISTC No. is00796000.
Thucydides (ed.) 1483
Thucydides, Historia belli Peloponnesiaci, trans. Laurentius Valla, ed. Bartholomaeus Parthenius (Treviso: Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis, [1483?]), ISTC No. it00359000.
Carafa 1751, II, 306
Josephus Carafa, De professoribus gymnasii romani, 2 vols (Rome 1751).
de Rossi 1857-88
G.B. De Rossi, Inscriptiones Christianae urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores, 2 vols (Rome 1857-88).
de Rossi 1864-77
G.B. De Rossi, La Roma sotterranea cristiana, 3 vols (Rome 1864-77).
Domenico Maria Federici, Memorie trevigiane sulla tipografia del secolo XV: Per servire alla storia letteraria e delle belle arti d'Italia (Venice 1805).
E. Guerrieri, "Bartholomaeus Parthenius," Compendium Auctorum Latinorum Medii Aevi, II.1 (Florence 2004), 36.
P.O. Kristeller, Iter Italicum (Leiden 1, 1965; 2, 1967; 3, 1983; 4, 1989; 5, 1990; 6, 1994. Index 1997).
G. Lumbroso, "Gli accademici nelle catacombe," Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 12, (1889), 215-239.
Nolhac (de) 1886
Pierre de Nolhac, "Recherche sur un compagnon de Pomponius Laetus," Mélanges de l'École française de Rome 6, (1886), 139-146.
Angelo Maria Quirini, Specimen variae literaturae quae in urbe Brixia eiusque ditione paulo post typographiae incunabula florebat scilicet vergente ad finem saeculo XV usque ad medietatem saeculi XVI, 2 vols (Brescia 1739).
Mirella Restani, "Le 'Commentationes in Catullum' di Antonio Partenio Veronese," Giornale italiano di filologia 42, 2 (1990), 275-94.
Augusto Serena, La cultura umanistica a Treviso nel secolo decimoquinto (Venice 1912).
Roberto Weiss, "Umanisti benacensi del Quattrocento," Il lago di Garda: Storia di una comunità lacuale. Atti del congresso internazionale promosso dall'Ateneo di Salò, 2 vols (Salò 1969), II, 191-200.
Apostolo Zeno, Dissertazioni vossiane, cioè giunte e osservazioni intorno agli storici italiani che hanno scritto latinamente rammentati dal Vossio nel III libro De historicis latinis, 2 vols (Venice 1752-53).
For studies of Pomponio's unpublished marginal annotations on Sallust's Catilina and Jugurtha and the notes bound with various copies of his 1490 edition of Sallust, see the bibliography in Leto (ed.) 2021 and in the RP entries on Agostino Maffei and Paolo Pompilio.
(8 September 2021)
This entry can be cited as follows:
Giuliano Mori, "Bartolomeo Partenio," Repertorium Pomponianum