Gitta's Literary Escapades

Just another reader taking on (modern) classics, best-sellers, award-winners, non-fiction, and (guilty pleasure) chicklit armed with common sense, a brain and feminism.

Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy by T. C. Price Zimmermann

Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy - T.C. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio

This is a review of chapters six and seven which discuss the 1527 Sack of Rome and Giovio's subsequent stay with Vittoria Colonna on the island of Ischia.


Chapter Six gives a very readable account of the events leading up to the Sack, Pope Clement VII's rule and Giovio's involvement in all this. For example, we are told that as Clement was fleeing the Vatican through the passage way to Castel Sant'Angelo, “groaning and lamenting his betrayal by everybody", Giovio was holding up Clement's robe to speed up the flight. I can almost picture it! The pope, holding his red zucchetto, moaning whilst Giovio has to listen to it all -- understanding perfectly why the soldiers were pillaging the Holy City -- holding up his garments.

The seventh chapter discusses the Ischian dialogue. What follows is a brief overview of what arguments are made in the Notable Men and Women of Our Time. Moreover, surprisingly little is said about Giovio's time there; whom he met, etc. The chapter is only concerned with the literary work, but not in great depth. It proves to be a great starting point for those who don't feel the need to dive into the Italian. However, earlier this year (April 2013) the first English (bilingual) translation of Dialogus de viris ac foeminis aetate nostra florentibus and published by the I Tatti Renaissance Library. Zimmermann's work, nonetheless, remains the only monograph of this sixteenth-century historian, who lived during such a turbulent time.


For an interesting analysis of Vittoria Colonna's character in Giovio's Ischian dialogue see, Diana Robin, 'The Breasts of Vittoria Colonna'California Italian Studies, 3.1 (2013). 

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