Lovati, Lovato dei (1240–1309)

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Lovati, Lovato dei (12401309)

A leading civic official of Padua, a noted poet and scholar, and one of the first European humanists. The scion of a wealthy family, Lovati was devoted to recovering classical Latin authors, in editing their works, and in developing a new style of writing influenced by the ancients, who were dismissed as unworthy pagans by the scholastic schoolmen and philosophers of his day. Lovati edited a manuscript edition of the tragedies of Seneca, and introduced works of the Roman poet Ovid and the Greek poet Horace. He sparked widespread interest in these and other ancient authors, and inspired further research by Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, men of a later generation that were once credited as pioneers of the humanist movement.

Lovati saw the medieval fashion for French troubadours and their ballads of romantic love and chivalry a throwback to an age of ignorance. In the plays and histories of ancient Roman authors he admired a sense of dignity, balance, and clarity, and a source of cultural pride for the authors and scholars of Italy. His Latin poems written in 1267 emulated the forms and style of ancient authors, and pioneered a humanist strain in poetry that would continue in the works of Dante and much later extend to prose writings.

Lovati also was one of the first scholars to make a close inspection of ancient ruins in the search for the truth about the classical past. In the cathedral of Padua, he uncovered a tomb he believed to be that of the Trojan founder of the city, a discovery that gave strength to the city's claim for status as an independent commune.

See Also: Boccaccio, Giovanni; humanism; Petrarch