Valerianus, Pierius

, or Valeriano Bolzam, an ingenious and learned Italian, was born at Belluno, in the state of Venice, about 1477. He lost his father at nine years of age, and was reduced with his mother and brethren to great poverty, which so retarded his studies that he was fifteen years old before he learned to read; but his uncle Urbanus Bolzanius (see vol. VI. p. 36), who was afterwards preceptor in the Greek language to Leo X. took him under | his protection, and had him liberally educated. He studied the Latin and Greek tongues under Valla and Lascaris; and made so wonderful a progress, that he was accounted one of the most learned men of his age. Going to Rome under the pontificate of Julius II. he became the favourite of John de Medicis (afterwards Leo X.), who committed to his care the conduct and instruction of two nephews; and the cardinal Julius de Medicis, who entered upon the pontificate in 1523, under the name of Clement VII. shewed him the same regard. He offered him first the bishopric of Justinople, and then that of Avignon; but Valerianus refused them both, being fully satisfied with the place of apostolic notary. He was in imminent danger, when Rome was taken in 1527; and the year after retired to Belluno, for the sake of that tranquillity which he had never found at court. Yet he suffered himself to be drawn from his retirement by Hypolite de Medicis, one of his pupils; who, being made a cardinal in 1529, chose him for his secretary. He continued in this office till the death of the cardinal in 1535; and seems to have passed the next two years with his other pupil Alexander de Medicis, who had been made first duke of Florence in 1531. Upon the death of Alexander, in 1537, he retired to Padua; where he spent the remainder of his life among his books, and died in 1558.

He composed several learned and curious works, some of which were published in his life-time, some not till after his death. Among the former are, “De Fulminum significationibus,” Romae, 1517, printed also in the 5th volume of Grsevius’s Roman Antiquities. “Pro Sacerdotum barbis defensio,” Romae, 1531, occasioned by an intention to renew a decree, pretended to be made by an ancient council, and confirmed by pope Alexander III. by which priests were forbidden to wear long beards. “Castigationes Virgilianae iectionis,” printed in Robert Stepbens’s Virgil at Paris, 1532, and since reprinted with the best editions of this poet. “Hieroglyphica, sive de sacris Egyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis Commentariorum libri LVIII.Basil, 1566. In this he attempts to illustrate, from Egyptian, Greek, and Roman symbols, almost every branch of science and art, but is supposed to display more imagination than judgment. Among the works published after his death are, “Diaiogo della volgar lingua, non prima uscito in luce,” 4to; “Antiquitatum Belluuensium libri quatuor,| 8vo; and “Contarenus, sive de literatorum infelicitate libri duo,” 8vo; all printed at Venice in 1620, by the direction and under the care of Alorsio Lollini, bishop of Belluno. The last piece contains a great number of curious anecdotes; and is entitled “Contarenus,” because the first book of it is a dialogue between Caspar Contareno, a Venetian ambassador, and some learned persons at Rome. It has been often printed at Amsterdam, 1647, in 12mo, “cum Cornelii Tollii Appendice,” at Helmstadt, 1695, in 12mo; and at Leipsic, 1707, in 8vo, with two other pieces upon similar subjects, namely, “Alcionius de Exilio,” and “Barberius de miseria Poetarum Grascorum,” and a preface by Joannes Burchardus Menkenius, the editor. Mr. D’Israeli, who has written so well on this interesting subject, considers Valerianus’s as “a meagre performance, iti which the author shews sometimes a predilection for the marvellous, which happens so rarely in human affairs; and he is so unphilosophical, that he places among the misfortunes of literary men, those fatal casualties to which all men are alike liable.” “Yet,” adds Mr. D’Israeli, “evert this small volume has its value; for, although the historian confines his narrative to his own times, he includes a sufficient number of names to convince us that to devote t>nf life to authorship is not the true means of improving our happiness or our fortune.

Valerianus published also at different times two volumes of Latin poems, among which were “Amorum libri <juin- r que.” It may be proper to observe here, that Valerianus’s Christian name was Petej; but changed, according to the custom of those times, by one of his masters into Pieritls, in allusion to Pierides, a name of the Muses, and therefore probably done as a compliment to his talents for poetry. 1

1 Tiraboschi.Moreri in Pierio. Rescue’s Leo. D‘Israeli’s Calamities of Authors, Pref. p. ri. Blounl’t Censura.