Lovati, Lovato dei
(1241-1309)
   Paduan notary and judge, one of the first Italian poets in several centuries to write in Latin rather than in the literary languages previously current in northern Italy— French, Provençal, and several regional Italian dialects. Although conventionally classified as a "pre-humanist," he did most of the things usually regarded as typical of later humanists, not only by writing original Latin poetry but also by his admiration for classical Latin literature and his interest in the Roman antiquities of his own community. About 1283 he discovered an ancient tomb that he mistakenly claimed to be that of Antenor, the mythical founder of Padua. Lovati was especially devoted to the Roman dramatist Seneca, and his study of that Seneca led him to write a treatise in which he explained the nature of classical Latin poetical meter, an subject that had been completely misunderstood during the Middle Ages.
   In his Latin verse, Lovato sought to recapture the diction of classical Latin, though his prose writings, mostly related to his work as a judge and notary, used the prevailing medieval Latin of his profession. He was one of the few earlier classical scholars to be mentioned favorably by Petrarch. His prominent role in Latin literary culture is especially important because he was a layman, writing at a time when north of the Alps most higher culture was still dominated by the clergy. Because he was a layman and was active in the political life of what was then a republic, his poems dealt with questions of family life and civic politics in a way that later became typical of the "civic" and secular humanism of the 15th century.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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