Marullus, Michael Tarchaniota

, one of those learned Greeks who retired into Italy after the Turks had taken Constantinople, where he was born. It is said that it was not his zeal for the Christian religion, but the fear of slavery, which made him abandon his country; but if, according to Tiraboschi, he was brought into Italy in his infancy, this insinuation may be spared. He studied Greek and Latin at Venice, and philosophy at Padua; but for a subsistence was obliged to embrace the profession of arms, and served in the troop of horse under Nicholas Rhalla, a Spartan general. Rejoined the two professions of letters and arms, and would be no less a poet than a soldier: and, as he suspected that it would not be thought any extraordinary thing in him to be able to write Greek verses, he applied himself diligently to the study of Latin poetry, and acquired a good deal of reputation by his success in | it. His Latin poems consist of four books of epigrams, and as many of hymns, which were published at Florence in 1197, 4to. He bad begun a poem on the education of a prince, which he did not finish: as much of it, however, as was found among his papers was published along with his epigrams and hymns; and this whole collection has passed through several editions. He appears to have had a poetical mistress, whom he frequently courts under the name of Neraea; but he married Alexandra Scala, a Florentine lady of high accomplishments, and had Politian for his rival, which may account for the contempt with which Politian speaks of his poetry. The critics are divided about his poems, some praising them highly, while others, as the two Scaligers, find great fault with them. Erasmus says, in his “Ciceronianus,” that the poems of Marullus would have been tolerable, if they had savoured less of Paganism: “Marulli pauca legi, tolerabilia si minus haberent paganitatis.” He created himself many enemies by censuring too freely the ancient Latin authors, for which he was equally freely censured by Floridus Sabinns and Politian. The learned men of that time usually rose to fame by translation; but this he despised, either as too mean or too hazardous a task. Varillas, in his “Anecdotes of Florence,” asserts, that Lorenzo de Medici conjured Marullus, by letters still extant, to translate Plutarch’s moral works; but that Marullus had such an aversion to that kind of drudgery, which obliged him, as he said, to become a slave to the sentiments of another, that it was impossible for him to get to the end of the first page. He lost his life in 1499, or 1500, as he was attempting to pass the river Csecina, which runs by Volaterra, in Tuscany. Perceiving that his horse had plunged with his fore feet in such a manner that he could not disengage them again, he fell into a passion, and gave him the spur: but both his horse and himself fell; and, as his leg was engaged under the horse’s belly, there needed but little water to stifle him. Pierius Valerianus, who relates these circumstances, observes, that this poet blasphemed terribly just before his death, and immediately upon his fall discharged a thousand reproaches and curses against heaven. His impiety seems unquestionable; and it is imputed to this turn of mind, that he so much admired Lucretius. He gave a new edition of his poem, which is censured in “Joseph Scaliger’s notes upon Catullus:” and | he endeavoured to imitate him. He used to say, that “the rest of the poets were only to be read, but that Virgil and Lucretius were to be got by heart.” Hody, however, has collected a great many honourable testimonies to his merit, from the writings of able and learned critics at or near his time, while be has been equally undervalued by more modern writers. 1

1 Hody deGnecisillnstribiis. Tirabosehi. Bullari’s AcaJemie des Sciences. —Niceron, vol. XIX. Grcssweli’s Politiun.