Palmieri, Matteo


Palmieri, Matteo
(1406-1475)
   Florentine humanist, identi-fied like his older friend Leonardo Bruni with exaltation of the active life of the citizen as superior (except for persons embracing a monas-tic career) to a life of contemplation. Born into a middle-class family, he was educated under the direction of two prominent Florentine hu-manists, Ambrogio Traversari and Carlo Marsuppini. Palmieri held many important public offices, including diplomatic missions to the king of Naples and two popes. In Latin he wrote a chronicle of world history from Creation to his own times, Liber de temporibus; a narra-tive of the successful Florentine effort to conquer the seaport city of Pisa in 1406, De captivitate Pisarum; and a biography of Niccolö Ac-ciaiuoli, a prominent Florentine citizen. His long vernacular poem La città di vita / The City of Life was an allegory dealing with the fate of the angels who remained neutral during Satan's rebellion against God, and since it depicted the souls of these angels awaiting their turn to be born as human beings and to be purged by the sufferings of human ex-istence so that they could again have an opportunity to choose between good and evil, the church, which firmly opposed the idea of the pre-ex-istence of souls before Creation, later condemned this book.
   Palmieri's most important work, however, was Della vita civile / On Civic Life (1429). This dialogue deals with questions of child-rearing, the moral life of lay citizens, and the tension between what is "useful" and what is "honest." He quotes heavily from classical moralists like Cicero, Plutarch, and Quintilian, but the book also draws on Palmieri's personal experience in public affairs. It empha-sizes the importance of a good education as preparation for a life of active participation in family affairs and politics.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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