Muretus, Marc Anthony

, a very ingenious and learned critic, was descended from a good family, and born at Muret, a village near Limoges, in France, April 11, 1526. We know not who were his masters, nor what the place of his education; but it was probably Limoges. JJencius, in his funeral oration on him, and Bullart say | that be spent his youth at Agen, where he had Julius Caesar Scaliger for his preceptor; but Joseph Scaliger, his son, denies this, and affirms that Muretus was eighteen when he first came to Agen, to see his father. He adds, that he passed on thence to Auch, where he began to teach in the archiepiscopal college, and to read lectures upon Cicero and Terence. After some stay in this place, he went to Villeneuve; where he was employed by a rich merchant in the education of his children, and at the same time taught Latin in a public school. Two years after his settling here, he went to Agen, to pay a visit to Scaliger, who had the highest opinion and affection for him, and who ever kept up a most intimate correspondence with him. He removed from Villeneuve to Paris, from Paris to Poictiers, from Poictiers to Bourdeaux in 1547, and from Bourdeaux to Paris again in 1552. This year he recited in the church of the Bernardins, his first oration, “De dignitate ac praestantia studii theologici;” and this year also he printed his poems, entitled “Juvenilia;” from the dedication of which we learn, that he taught at that time philosophy and civil law.

It seems to have been the year after, that he was accused of a detestable crime, and thrown into prison. Shame, and the fear of punishment, affected him so, that he resolved to starve himself to death; but he was deterred from this by his friends, who laboured to procure his release, and after much pains, effected it. He could not, however, continue any longer at Paris, and therefore withdrew to Thoulouse, where he read lectures in civil law. But here he was exposed to fresh suspicions; and the accusation brought against him at Paris being renewed, he again fled in 1554, and was condemned to be burned in effigy.

He now retired to Italy, and falling sick at a town in Lombardy, he applied to a physician, who, not understanding his case, called a consultation. As they did not know Muretus, and fancied him too ignorant to understand Latin, they consulted a long time in that language, upon the application of some medicine which was not in the way of regular practice; and agreed at last to try it upon Muretus, saying, “Faciamus periculum in corpore vili;” ;t Let us make an experiment upon this mean subject.“This threat is said to have so far effected a cure, that he paid his host, and set forwards on his journey, as soon as they were withdrawn. This story is told somewhat | differently in the first volume of the” Menagiana.“He spent several years at Padua and Venice, and taught the youth in those cities. Joseph Scaliger says that the charge above-mentioned was renewed at Venice, but others caution us against Scaliger’s reports, who had a private pique against Muretus on the following account. Muretus had composed for his amusement some verses entitled” Attius et Trabeas;“which Scaliger supposing to be ancient, cited under the name of” Trabeas,“in his notes upon” Varro de Re Rustica;“but, finding afterwards that he had been imposed on, he removed them from the second edition of his” Varro;" and, to be revenged on Muretus, substituted in their place the following distich against him

"Qui rigidse flammas evaserat ante Tolosae

Muretus, fumos vendidit ille mihi."

Muretus was thirty-four, when the cardinal Hippolite d’Est called him to Rome, at the recommendation of the cardinal Francis de Tournon, and took him into his service: and from that time his conduct was such as to procure him universal regard. In 1562 he attended his patron, who was going to France in quality of a legate a latere; but did not return with him to Rome, being prevailed on to read public lectures at Paris upon Aristotle’s “Ethics;” which he did with singular applause to 1567. After that, he taught the civil law for four years, with a precision and elegance not common with the lawyers of his time. Joseph Scaliger assures us that he had taken the degrees in this faculty at Ascoli. It is related as a particularity in the life of Muretus, that when he first began to read law lectures at Thoulouse, he was so very indifferently qualified for the province he had undertaken, as to provoke the contempt and ridicule of his pupils, which be afterwards changed into admiration, by a very consummate knowledge in his profession. He spent the remainder of his life in teaching the belles-lettres, and explaining the Latin authors. In 1576 he entered into orders, was ordained priest, and devoted himself with zeal to all the exercises of piety. James Thomasius, in a preface to some works of Muretus, printed at Leipsic, says, that this learned man was a Jesuit at the latter end of his life; but for this there seems to be no foundation. He died at Paris, June 4, 1585, aged fifty-nine. He was made a citizen of Rome, (which title he has placed at the head of some of his pieces) | probably by pope Gregory XIIL who esteemed him very highly, and conferred many favours on him.

His works were collected, and printed in 5 vols. 8vo, at Verona, in 1727 30; a selection from them by Checotius, in 1741 but the best edition is that of the learned Ruhnkenius, printed at Leyden, in 1789, 4 vols. 8vo. They consist of orations, poems, epistles, various readings, and translations of Greek authors, Aristotle in particular. He composed with great purity and elegance; and he pronounced his orations with a grace which charmed his hearers. His poems, which have been highly applauded, were, as already noticed, published under the title of tf Juvenilia," at Paris, in 1552, and were reprinted in Latin and French, in 1682. He was the editor of several of the classics, which he enriched with notes. All his works are written in elegant Latin, but they are now thought to be more creditable to his judgment than his genius. 1


Niceron, vol. XXVII. Bullart’s Acatlemie des Science?. —Moreri. —Saxii Onomast; where are mauy references to authors who have noticed the particulars of Muretus’s life.