Alciati, Andrew

, a celebrated and learned lawyer, was the son of a rich merchant of Milan, according to Pancirolus, and born in that city in 1492. After having studied the liberal sciences under Janus Parrhasius at Milan, he attended the law-lectures of Jason at Pavia, and those of Charles Ruinus at Bologna. Then taking a degree in law in his twenty-second year, he followed his profession at the bar, in the city of Milan, till he was called to the law-chair by the university of Avignon. He discharged his office with so much capacity, that Francis I. thought he would be a very proper person to promote the knowledge of the law in the university of Bourges, and accordingly prevailed on him to remove thither in 1529; and the next year he doubled his salary, which before was six hundred crowns. Alciati acquired here great fame and reputation; he interspei’sed much polite learning in his explication of the law, and abolished that barbarous language, which had hitherto prevailed in the lectures and writings of the lawyers. Francis Sforza, duke of Milan, thought | himself obliged to bring back to his native country a man who could do it so much honour; and this he compassed at last, by giving him a large salary and the dignity of a senator. Alciati accordingly went to teach the law at Pavia, but soon after removed to the university of Bologna, where he continued four years, and then returned to Pavia; from whence he went to Ferrara, being solicited thither by duke Hercules d‘Este, who was desirous to render his university famous. It resumed its reputation under a professor so much followed; but at the end of four years Alciati left it, and returned to Pavia. Paul III. gave him an honourable reception as he passed by Ferrara, and offered him ecclesiastical preferment; but Alciati was contented with that of prothonotary, and would not give up his profession of the law. He seems to rejoice that he had refused Paul’s offers, in a letter to Paulus Jovius, whom the pope had a long time amused with fallacious promises: “I am very glad,” says he, “that I did not suffer myself to be deceived by this pope’s offers, who, under the promise of a great recompense, wanted to draw me to Rome.” The emperor created Alciati a count-palatin and a senator; and Philip, afterwards king of Spain, presented him with a golden chain as he passed by Pavia.

Alciati died at Pavia, on the 12th of January, 1550, being then in his 58th year. After the death of his mother, who died in a very advanced age, he intended to have employed his wealth in the foundation of a college; but, having received an affront from some insolent scholars, he dropped that design, and chose for his heir Francis Alciati, his nephew, a promising youth, whom he had brought up at his house. Mr.Teissier says, that Andrew Alciati passed his life in celibacy; but this is a mistake, as may be seen from a passage of a letter he wrote to his friend Francis Calvus, after he had withdrawn from Milan to Avignon. He was a man of unquestionable abilities and learning, but tainted with avarice, which often obscured the lustre of his reputation. He was very young when his talents began to attract the admiration of his countrymen. His “Paradoxes of Civil Law,” or an explanation of the Greek terms which occur in the Digest, was written in his fifteenth year, and published in his twenty-second. His works have been collected and published at Lyons, 1560, 5 vols. folio; at Basil, 1571, 6 vols. folio; and there also 1582, 4 vols. folio; Strasburgh, 1616, 4 vols. folio; | Francfort, 1617, 4 vols. folio. So many editions of a work of this magnitude afford a striking proof of the reputation of Alciati. Some of the contents of these volumes have been printed separately, as his “notes on Tacitus,” and a “treatise on Weights and Measures;” but besides these he wrote, 1. “Responsa nunquam antehac edita,Lyons, 1561; Basil, 1582, folio; published by his heir Francis Alciati. 2. “De Formula Romani Imperii,Basil, 1559, 8vo. 3. “Epigrammata selecta ex anthologia Latine versa,Basil, 1521, 8vo. 4. “Rerum patriae, seu Historise Mediolanensis libri quatuor,1625, 8vo, reprinted in Graevius’ Thesaurus. 5. “De Plautinorurn carminum ratione,” and “De Plautinis vocabulis Lexicon,” in an edition of Plautus, Basil, 1568, 8vo. 6. “Judicium de legum interpretibus parandis,” printed with Conrad Page’s treatise “Methodica juris traditio,1566, 8vo. 7. “Encomium Historiae,1530, 4to. 8. “Palma,” inserted in the “Amphitheatrum sapientiae Socraticae Dornavii.” 9. “Judiciarii processus compendium,1566, 8vo. 10. “Contra vitam monastic-am,1695, 8vo. II. “Notae in Epistolas familiares Ciceronis,” printed with Thierry’s edition of these epistles, Paris, 1557, folio. 12. “Twentyseven letters in ‘Gudii Epistolas,’1697, 4to. Perhaps the work for which he is now most generally known is his “Emblems,” highly praised by the elder Scaliger. Of these there have been various editions and translations. The best is that of Padua, 1661, 4to. The piece above noticed, “Contra vitam monasticam,” was addressed to Bernard Mattius, and shews that Alciati entertained the same notions with his friend Erasmus concerning the religious orders of the church. Mattius, to whom this treatise, or rather letter, is addressed, was a learned, modest, and ingenious man, who suddenly left his friends and his aged mother to embrace the monastic life; but whether Alciati’s persuasions were effectual is not known. 1


Gen. Dict.—Moreri.—Biog. Universelle.—Jortin’s Erasmus.—Saxii Onomasticon.