Agricola, Rodolphus

, one of the most learned men of the fifteenth century, was born in 1442, in the village of Bafflon, or Bafteln, near Groningen, in Friseland. Melchior Adam says, his parents were of one of the most considerable families in Friseland; but Ubo Emmius, in his history of that country, represents him as of mean extraction; and Bayle, who appears to have examined the matter with his usual precision, inclines to the latter opinion. He was, however, sent to school, where he made an uncommon progress, and had scarcely taken his degree of M. A. at Louvain, when he was offered a professorship, which he did not accept, as it would have prevented his travelling for farther improvement, a course usually taken by the learned men of those times. He went from Louvain to Paris, and from thence to Italy, residing two years at Ferrara, where he learned Greek and taught Latin, and disputed in prose and verse with Guarinus and the Strozzas, and where the duke honoured him with particular attention. He read lectures likewise on philosophy in this city, and his auditors were so well pleased as to wish he had been an Italian. At his return to his own country, he had the offer of many considerable employments; and at last | accepted of a post at Groningen, and attended the court of Maximilian I. for six months, upon the affairs of that city. After this, which the gratitude of his masters did not render a very profitable employment, he resumed his travels for many years, in the course of which he refused the presidentship of a college at Antwerp, and fixed at length in the Palatinate, influenced by the persuasions of the bishop of Worms, whom he had instructed in the Greek language. He came to reside here in 1482, and passed the rest of his life, sometimes at Heidelberg, and sometimes at Worms. The Elector Palatine was pleased to hear him discourse concerning antiquity, and desired him to compose an “Abridgement of Ancient History,” which he performed with great accuracy. He also read public lectures at Worms; but his auditors being more accustomed to the subleties of logic than to polite literature, he was not so popular as he deserved. About the fortieth year of his age, he began to study divinity; and having no hope to succeed in it without a knowledge of Hebrew, he applied himself to that language, in which he had made considerable pro-­gress, when he was seized with an illness, which put an end. to his life and labours, on the 28th of October, 1485. He died in a very devout manner, and was buried in the church of the minor friars at Heidelberg. He is thought to have inclined a little to the principles of the reformers. He was accomplished in music and poetry, although he used these talents only for his amusement. There are but two works of his extant: “De Inventione Dialectica,” printed at Louvain, 1516; and at Cologne in 1539, along with his “Abridgement of Ancient History,” under the title “R. Agricolffi lucubrationes,” 2 vols. 4to. Erasmus gives a very exalted character of his learning and abilities; and by some of his admirers he was compared to Virgil in verse, and to Politian in prose. 1


Gen. Dict. —Melchior Adam.