- Varchi, Benedetto
- (1503-1565)Florentine humanist. He studied law at the Universty of Pisa and Aristotelian philosophy at Padua, but because of his inherited wealth was free to devote much time to mas-tering Greek and Provençal. His support of the uprising against Medici rule of Florence in 1527 forced him into exile, but in 1543 Duke Cosimo de'Medici permitted him to return to the city, where he became a member of the ducal court, joined the Florentine Academy, and lec-tured on Dante and Petrarch. In 1547 Cosimo asked Varchi to write a history of Florence, and his Storia Fiorentina, based on careful use of documents and frank in its criticism of some of the Medici, is now re-garded as his principal work, but it was not published until 1721. His contemporaries admired him for his vast memory, his rich lingistic knowledge, and his poems in both Latin and Tuscan. He wrote a com-edy, La suocera / The Mother-in-Law, orations, works of literary criti-cism, and a grammar of the Provençal language. Varchi's treatise Er-colano was a contribution to contemporary debates on language and supports the humanists' contention that usage is more important than authority and reason in determining good practice in any language. He defended the use of the contemporary Florentine form of Tuscan against critics who attacked usages not found in the great 14th-century writers. On the other hand, as a great admirer of the "Three Crowns" (Dante, Pe-trarch, and Boccaccio), he also argued that a good stylist must be fa-miliar with the language as used by the best writers of the past.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.