Julius Pomponius Laetus


Julius Pomponius Laetus
Julius Pomponius Laetus, also known as Giulio Pomponio Leto, (1425 – 1498) was an Italian humanist, archaeologist, and Latinist who promoted the revival of ancient Roman classics and the traditions they represented. From his youth, he devoted himself to the study of Roman antiquity, and refused to learn Greek because he feared it would adversely influence his Latin style. He was a popular teacher and educated many of the great scholars of his period. He wrote treatises on archeology, the Roman magistrates, priests, and lawyers, a compendium of Roman history, and commentaries on classical authors, as well as producing numerous translations.

Laetus tried to emulate the lives of the ancient Romans, and around 1457, established the Academia Romana, a semi-secret academy dedicated to the study of antiquities and to promoting the adoption of ancient customs into modern life.

Its members adopted Greek and Latin names, met on the Quirinal to discuss classical questions and celebrated ancient Roman rites and festivals. In 1468, Laetus and twenty of the academicians were arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the order of Pope Paul II, who viewed the academy with suspicion, as promoting paganism, heresy, and republicanism. The following year, the members of the Academia were acquitted for lack of evidence and Laetus was allowed to resume his teaching duties; after the accession of Pope Sixtus IV, who also admired ancient Rome, the Academia Romana was allowed to resume its activities, which continued until 1572.

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