Vida, Marcus Hieronymus

, an elegant modern Latin poet and critic, was a native of Cremona, and was born, as is generally thought, about 1470, but with more probability about 1480. His parents were not wealthy, yet enabled to give him a good education. After having made considerable proficiency in philosophy, theology, an-d political science, he came to Rome in the latter part of the pontificate of Julius II. and appears to hate mixed in the literary societies of the place; and his poem on the game of chess, “Scacchiae Ludus,” introduced hi fcothe favour of Leo X. who received him with particular distinction and kindness, admitted him as an attendant at court, and rewarded him with honours and emoluments. But that upon which the poet appears chiefly to have congratulated himself was, that his works were read and approved by the pontiff himself. It was at the suggestion of Leo that he began his celebrated “Cbristiad,” which he afterwards completed in six books, but Leo did not live to see it finished. It was, however, published under the patronage of Clement VII. in 1535. In the mean time Clement had already raised Vida to the rank of apostolical secretary, and in 1532, conferred on him the bishopric of Alba. Soon after the death of that pontiff, Vida retired to his diocese, and was present at its defence against the attack of the French | in 1542, where his exhortations and example animated the inhabitants successfully to oppose the enemy. After having attended in his episcopal character at the council of Trent, and taken an active part in the ecclesiastical and political transactions of the times, he died at his see at Alba, Sept. 27, 1566, more respected for his talents, integrity, and strict attention to his pastoral duties, than for the wealth which he had amassed from his preferments.

Mr. Roscoe, whom we have hitherto principally followed, observes, that of all the writers of Latin poetry at the period in which he lived, Vida has been the most generally known beyond the limits of Italy. This is to be attributed, Mr. Roscoe adds, not only to the fortunate choice of his subjects, but to his admirable talent of uniting a considerable portion of elegance, and often of dignity, with the utmost facility and clearness of style; insomuch that the most complex descriptions or abstruse illustrations are rendered by him perfectly easy and familiar to the reader. Dr. Warton is of opinion that the merits of Vida seem not to have been particularly attended to in England, till Pope introduced him in these lines:

"lmmortal Vida: on whose honour’d brow

The poet’s bays and critic’s ivy grow."

The first specimen of the talents of Vida in Latin poetry appeared in a collectoin of pieces on the death of the poet Aquila, which happened in 1500, towards which he contributed two piees, which were published in that collection at Bologna, in 1504. His whole works were first printed at Romae in 1527 and 1535, in 2 vols. 4to, but he published a more complete edition at Cremona, 1550, 2 vols. 8vo. The first contains, “Hymni de rebus divinis,” and “Christiados libri sex” the second “De Arte Poetica libri tres;” “De Bombyce libri duo;” Scacchiae Ludus“”Bucolica;“” Eclogæ, et Carmina diversi generis.“Besides the poems comprehended in these two volumes, others are ascribed to him, as” Italorum Pugilum cum totidem Gallis certamen;“” Carmen Pastorale in Obltum Juliill. Pontificis Maximi;“” Epicedion in Funera Oliverii Cardinalis Caraphæ;“but these he disavowed in a postscript to the above edition of his poems. He was also the author of some pieces in prose, as” Dialogi de Republics Dignitate“” Orationes tres Cremonensium adversus Papienses in Controversia Principatus“and” Constitutiones Synodales Civitati Albæ et Diœcesi prescriptæ.“| Of such of these works, a-s his reputation as a Latin poet is at this day founded on, his three books” De Arte Poetica“were probably the first produced; and these were soon afterwards followed by the” Bombyx,“and by his” Scacchias Ludus,“which, as we noticed, introduced him to Leo X. The” Bombyx,“or silk-worm, is written with classical purity, and with a just mixture of the styles of Lucretius and Virgil. Dr. Warton says it was a happy choice to write a poem on” Chess;“nor is the execution less happy.” The various stratagems and manifold intricacies of this ingenious game, so difficult to be described in Latin, are here expressed with the greatest perspicuity and elegance; so that, perhaps, the game might be learned from this description.“Of the” Christiad,“the same excellent critic observes, that amidst many prosaic flatnesses, there are many fine strokes in this poem; particularly his angels, with respect to their persons and insignia, are drawn with that dignity which we so much admire in Milton, who seems to have had his eye on those passages. The” Poetics,“however, are perhaps the most perfect of his compositions; he had formed himself upon Virgil, who is therefore his hero, and he has too much depreciated Homer. He is, in truth, so much an imitator of Virgil as to be very defective in originality. Although his precepts principally regard epic poetry, yet many of them are applicable to every species of composition. This poem has the praise of being one of the first, if not the very first piece of criticism, that appeared in Italy since the revival of learning; for it was finished, as is evident from a short advertisement prefixed to it, in 1520. We have an excellent translation of this poem by Pitt, and one more recent, with notes, by Mr. Hampson. There are, if we mistake not, English translations also of the” Game of Chess,“a‘.id the” Bombyx." Of his original works, the best recent editions are that of Oxford, by Tristram, 1722, 4 vols. 8vo, with elegant plates; that of the Vulpii (including the prose works) Padua, 1731, 2 vols. 4to. 1


Tiraboschi. Roscoe’s Leo X. Warton’s Essay on Pope.