Assalti, Pietro

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Assalti, Pietro

(b. Acquaviva Picena, Italy, 23 June 1680; d. Rome, Italy, 29 April 1728)


A descendant of a family who had held public office in the small town of Fermo in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Assalti received his early education, which included Latin, in Acquaviva Picena. At fifteen he went to Fermo, where he studied Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. Four years later, following his father’s wishes, he went to Rome to study law; he continued, however, to show increasing interest in languages and natural history. Assalti soon earned a reputation as a scholar and was chosen by Pope Clement XI to be one of the “writers” of the Vatican Library, where he had the means to broaden the scope of his learning.

In 1709 Assalti was appointed professor of botany at the University of Rome, succeeding Giovanni Battista Trionfetti; his teaching of the natural sciences led to his appointment as professor of anatomy in 1719 and, two years later, of theoretical medicine, with a stipend of 234 scudi.

Assalti collected the works of Lancisi and published them in two volumes (1718), and he was almost certainly the author of the scholarly and elegant annotations to Michele Mercati’s Metallotheca (1717). His letter to Morgagni regarding Lancisi was published as a preface to Lancisi’s De motu cordis et aneurysmatibus (1728). Also worthy of mention is his unpublished “Oratio de incrementis anatomicae in hoc saeculo XVIII,” which, among other topics, deals with the function of the spleen.

In De incrementis anatomie Lorenz Heister writes most enthusiastically of Assalti, and the anatomist G. B. Bianchi (1681–1761) describes him as “eximium Medicum virum longe doctissimum, et in linguis eruditis peritissimum.”


I. Original Works. Assalti collected and edited Lancisi’s work as Opera omnia in duos tomos distributa, 2 vols. (Geneva, 1718). The year before, his annotations to Michele Mercati’s Metallotheca (Rome, 1717) had appeared. He was also responsible for the preface to Lancisi’s De motu cordis et aneurysmatibus (Rome, 1728).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Assalti are A. Bacchini, Vita ed opere di G. M. Lancisi (Rome, 1920), p. 32; Biblioteca Comunale di Fermo, MSS 8/3, in Notizie raccolte da Rodolfo Emiliani sulla famiglia Assalti e su Pietro Assalti; V. Curia, L’Università degli Studi di Fermo (Ancona, 1880), p. 71; G. Natalucci, Medici insigni italiani antichi e contemporanei nati nelle Marche (Falerona, 1934), pp. 49–50; G. Panelli, Memorie degli uomini illustri e chiari in medicina del Piceno, II (Ascoli, 1767), 364–383; A. Pazzini, La storia della Facohà Medica di Roma, II (Rome, 1961), 458–459; S. de Renzi, Storie della medicina in Italia, IV (Naples, 1846), 53; and F. Vecchietti, Biblioteca Picena o sia Notizie storiche delle opere e degli scrittori Piceni, I (Osimo, 1790), 228–232.

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