Pontanus, John Jovian

, a very learned Italian, was born at Cerreto, in Umbria, in 1426, and settled at Naples, where his merit procured him illustrious friends. He became preceptor to Alphonso the younger, king of Arragon, to whom he was afterwards secretary and counsellor of state. Having reconciled this prince to his father Ferdinand, and not being rewarded by the latter as he thought he deserved, he aimed against him “A Dialogue on Ingratitude,” in which also he launched out into the praises of Charles VIII. of France, his great enemy. Ferdinand had the magnanimity to despise his censures, and suffer him to hold his appointments. Pontanus died, according to Moreri, in 1503, at the age of seventy-seven; according to others two years later. His epitaph is famous, and, though vain enough in the beginning, concludes with a fine thought, which seems to have suggested the still more sublime close of Dr. Foster’s epitaph on himself.

Sum Johannes Jovianus Pontanus,

Quern amaverunt bonae Musae,

Suspexerunt viri probi,

Honestaverunt Reges, Domini.

Scis quis sim, aut quis potius fuerim.

Ego vero te, Hospes, noscere in tenebris nequeo;

Sed teipsum ut noscas, rogo. Vale.

He wrote the “History of the Wars of Ferdinand I. and John of Anjou,” and several works in prose, which were collected and published at Venice by D’Asola, in 1513, 1518, in 3 vols. 8vo. His poetical works were published by Aldus, in 1505, in 8vo, and again in 1513, 1518, in 2 vols. Many have considered him as the most accomplished poet and scholar of his age; but, like too many scholars, he was infected with the licentiousness which then prevailed. 2


Tiraboschi.Chaufepie.Niceron, vols. VIII. andX. Blount’s Censura. Roscoe’s Leo. Gresswell’s Politian, &c. Ginguene Hist. Litt. d’ltalie. For his works see Brunei’s Manuel du Libraire.