Fabretti, Raphael

, a very learned antiquary of Italy, was born at Urbino, of a noble family, in 1619. After he had passed through his first studies at Cagli, he returned to Urbino to finish himself in the law, in which he was admitted doctor at eighteen. Having an elder brother at Rome, who was an eminent advocate, he also went thither, and applied himself to the bar; where he soon distinguished himself to such advantage, that he was likely to advance his fortune. Cardinal Imperiali entertained so great an esteem for him, that he sent him into Spain, to negociate several important and difficult affairs; which he did with such success, that the office of the procurator fiscal of that kingdom falling vacant, the cardinal procured it for him. Fabretti continued thirteen years in Spain, where he was for some | time auditor general of the Nunciature. These employments, however, did not engage him so much, but that he found time to read the ancients, and apply himself to polite literature. He returned to Rome with cardinal Bonelli, who had been nuncio in Spain; and from his domestic became his most intimate friend. He was appointed judge of the appeals to the Capitol; which post he afterwards quitted for that of auditor of the legation of Urbino, under the cardinal legate Cerri. His residence in his own country gave him an opportunity of settling his own private affairs, which had been greatly disordered during his absence. He continued there three years, which appeared very long to him, because his inclination to study and antiquities made him wish to settle at Rome, where he might easily gratify those desires to the utmost. He readily accepted, therefore, the invitation of cardinal Corpegna, the pope’s vicar, who employed him in drawing up the apostolical briefs, and other dispatches belonging to his office, and gave him the inspection of the reliques found at Rome and parts adjacent. Alexander VIII. whom Fabretti had served as auditor when cardinal, made him secretary of the memorials, when he was advanced to the pontificate; and had so great a value and affection for him, that he would certainly have raised him to higher dignities, if he had lived a little longer.

Upon the death of Alexander, Fabretti retired from business, and devoted himself entirely to his favourite amusement. He went to search antiquities in the country about Home, without any other companion than his horse, and without any regard to the heat or inclemency of the weather. As he always made use of the same horse, his friends gave that animal, by way of jest, the name of Marco Polo, the famous traveller; and said, that this horse used to discover ancient monuments by the smell, and to stop of himself immediately when he came to any ruins of an old building. Fabretti was so well pleased with the name given to his horse, that he used it to write a letter to one of his friends in an ironical strain, yet full of learning, upon the study of antiquity: but this letter was never printed. Innocent XII. obliged him to quit his retirement, and made him keeper of the archives of the castle of St. Angelo; a post, which is never given but to men of the most approved integrity, since he who enjoys that place is master of all the secrets of the pope’s temporal estate. All these | different employments never interrupted his researches into antiquity; and he collected enough to adorn his paternal house at Urbino, as well as that which he had built at Rome after the death of Alexander VIII. Neither could old age divert him from his studies, nor hinder him from labouring at the edition of his works, which he printed at his own house. He died Jan. 7, 1700. He was a member of the academy of the Assorditi at Urbino, and the Arcadi at Rome.

He was the author of the following works 1 <c De Aquis & Aquae-ductibus Veteris Romae Dissertationes tres,“Romae, 1680, 4to. This book may serve to illustrate Frontinus, who has treated of the aqueducts of Rome, as they were in his time under the emperor Trajan. It is inserted in the fourth volume of Graevius’s” Thesaurus Antiquitatum Romanarum.“. 2.” De Columna Trajana Syntagma. Accesseruntexplicatio Veteris Tabellae Anaglyphae Homeri Iliadem, atque ex Stesichoro, Arctino, et Lesche Ilii excidium continentis, et emissarii lacus Fucini descriptio,“Romae, 1683, folio. 3.” Jasithei ad Grunnovium Apologema, in ej usque Titivilitia, sive de Tito Livio somnia, animadversiones,“Neapol. 1686, 4tp. This work is an answer to James Gronovius’ s” Responsio ad Cavillationes R. Fabretti,“printed at Leyden, 1685. Fabretti had given, occasion to this dispute, by censuring, in his book” De Aquae-ductibus,“some corrections of Gronovius; and thus had drawn upon himself an adversary, who treated him witk very little ceremony. Fabretti replied to him here, under the name Jasitheus, and treated him with equal coarseness. Gronovius called him Faber fiusticus, which he retorted by styling his antagonist Grunnovius. 4.” Inscriptionum Antiquaruni, quae in aedibus paternis asservantur, explicatio et additamentum,“Romae, 1699, folio. Fabretti had an admirable talent in decyphering the most difficult inscriptions, and discovered a method of making something out of those which seemed entirely disfigured through age, and the letters of which were effaced in such a manner as not to be discernible. He cleaned the surface of the stone, without touching those places where the letters had been, engraven. He then laid upon it a piece of thick paper well moistened, and pressed it with a spunge, or wooden pin covered with linen; by which means the paper entered into the cavity of the letters, and, taking up the dust there, Discovered the traces of the letters. M. Baudelot, in his | book” De FUtilitc* des Voyages,“informs us of a secret very like this, in order to read upon medals those letters which are difficult to be deciphered. 5.” A Letter to the abb Nicaise,“containing an inscription remarkable for the elegance of its style, inserted in the” Journal des Seavans“of Dec. 1691. He left unfinished” Latium vetus illustratum." Fabretti discovers in his writings a lively genius, a clear and easy conception, and a great deal of learning. 1


Fabroni Vita Italorum, vol. VI. Gen. Dict. —Moreri, —Saxii Onomast.