Rossi, John Victor

, a learned Italian, who assumed and is generally known by the name of Janus Njcius Erythræus, was born at Rome, of a noble, but not opulent family, about 1577. He studied in the college of the Jesuits, and before he was nineteen years of age had made such progress in the law, that he was permitted to give lessons on the subject. These were so much admired by a magistrate of eminence, that he appointed Rossi his auditor; but as this gentleman died the same year, all his hopes from his patronage were disappointed. The law, however, still holding out the prospect of those honours to which he aspired, he omitted no opportunity of increasing his knowledge under the direction of Lepidus Piccolomini, one of the most famous lawyers of his time, and who advised him to turn pleader; but Piccolomini dying soon after, Rossi was so discouraged by this second disappointment that, as he had devoted himself to the study of the law rather from ambition than liking, he now determined to employ his | time in the study of the belles lettres. With this view he became a member of the academy of the Umoristi, where he read several of his compositions, the style of which was so much admired by Marcel Vestri, secretary of the briefs to pope Paul V., that he invited Rossi to his house, to assist in drawing up the briefs, and with a view that he should be his successor in case of himself rising to higher preferment. Rossi soon made himself useful in this office, but unfortunately Vestri died in about eight months, and Rossi was again left unemployed, Many expedients he tried, and made many applications, but without success, and his only consolation, we are told, he derived from his vanity, which suggested to him that persons in office would not employ him, from a consciousness of their inferiority to him, and a jealousy of his supplanting them. It appears, however, that a certain satirical and arrogant temper was more to blame; for this was what he could not easily repress.

At length, in 1608, when he was in his thirty-first year, the cardinal Andrew Peretti took him into his service, as secretary, and with him he lived near twenty years, that is, until the cardinal’s death, in 1628. Rossi tells us in one of his letters that he accepted this situation much against his will, and remained in it only because he could obtain no other; and complain* of the little care the cardinal took to promote his dependents, and his general want of liberality towards them. His residence here, however, appears to have cured him of all his ambition, and he resolved for the future to devote himself to study only. From this time accordingly, he was employed in perusing the scriptures and the fathers, and in the composition of his various works; and that he might be enabled to enjoy all this in quiet, he went to a retired part of Rome, where he afterwards built a small church dedicated to St. Mary. In some of his works he styles himself a Roman citizen, and a commissary of the water of Marana; but, according to one of his letters to Fabio Chjgi, afterwards pope Alexander VIL, he neither knew what the duty of that office was, what this water of Marana was, where it came from, whither it flowed, or what benefit the people of Rome derived from it, except that he had been told it turned some mills. There was, however, an annual salary annexed, which he found not inconvenient. He died Nov. 15, 1647, and was interred in the church which he built for the use of the hermits of the congregation of Peter of Pisa, whom also he made his heirs. | His first publication is entitled< Eudemiae libri Decem/* Cologne (Leyden), 1645. To this, which is a bitter satire on the corrupt manners of the Romans, he prefixed his assumed name of Janus Nicius Erythraeus. His other works consist of “Dialogues,” religious tracts, orations, and letters; but that for which he is most known is his “Pinacotheca imaginum illustrjum doctrinse vcl ingenii laude virorum, qui uuctore superstite diem suum ohierunt,” in three parts, Cologn, 1643—1648, reprinted at Leipsic in 1692, and in 1729. As containing many particulars of contemporary history, this is a work necessary to be consulted, but it contains more opinions than facts, and his criticisms are often injudicious. 1


Niceron, vol. XXXI II, Baillet Jugemens,