Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini

Craig Kallendorf

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2013 | | DOI:
Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (b. 1405–d. 1464) is one of the more interesting and enigmatic figures of the Italian Renaissance, a Renaissance humanist who became Pope Pius II. Born into an old but no-longer-prosperous family from the area around Siena, the young Aeneas Sylvius lived an open, easy life serving a variety of increasingly powerful individuals, shifting his alliances and remaining on good terms with everyone. Along the way he took orders and became more serious in his interests and goals, emerging rather surprisingly as pope in 1458. His short time in office was dominated by an unsuccessful effort to launch a crusade to recover the Holy Land. He was a prolific author, one whose Latin did not rise to the highest humanistic standards but whose works include the only autobiography ever written by a sitting pope. Worldly yet also a man of genuine faith, self-serving while he also served others, the complexity of Aeneas Sylvius’s character is symbolized by his official retraction bull of 1462, Aeneam suscipite, Pium recipite, in which he used a commonly understood reference to pious Aeneas, the hero of Virgil’s epic, to dissociate himself from the humanist past that he would continue to rely on to write his Commentaries.

Article.  7741 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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