Mario Equicola : a biographical reappraisal
The thesis intends to supplement the information found in D.Santoroi s
Della Vita e delle opere di Mario Equicola (Chieti 1906). Further,
it intends to offer a different angle of approach from that provided
by Santoro who is over-zealous in his apology of a fellow southerner.
The early work suffers from two major defects. The first lies in the
fact that Santoro was unable to visit Mantua where a large number of
relevant documents are to be found. Secondly, Santoro makes a strict
division between life and works in his biography; it is the
contention of the present writer that Equicola's works were written
in response to the situation in which he found himself at court.
The thesis traces the career of this humanist courtier from his
obscure beginnings in Alvito where he was born, probably in 1470,
until his death at Mantua in 1525. Hardly any of his life was spent
in his native region because of the political climate. Indeed, he
spent about ten years in Rome which left an indelible mark on the
work he produced later in his life. 1494 saw him back in the Regno
fighting on the French side with, his patrons, the Cantelmo family.
Defeat forced the family (including Equicola) to move to Ferrara.
Here, in a northern Italian court he applied his humanist learning
to questions of interest to the court, such as the position of women.
In 1508 he transferred to Mantua as Isabella d'Este's tutor, a unique
post, created by the 'Marchesana' to enhance her reputation for
learning. During this period Equicola was also used as a diplomat
by Isabella to further her own political ends. The public,
administrative side becomes predominant in his last years after his
appointment as secretary to Isabella d'Este (1519), then to her son,