Imitation and Subversion of Models in Agnolo Firenzuola's I Ragionamenti
Agnolo Firenzuola has always been considered a minor figure among the giants of sixteenth-century Italian culture. The details of his life remain largely unknown, and extant documentation allows for only a partial reconstruction. He was born in Florence in 1493, maternal grandson of Alessandro Braccesi, the renowned humanist, diplomat, and secretary of the Signoria. He spent his youth in Siena and in Perugia, pursued studies in law, joined the Vallombrosan monastic order, and was destined for an ecclesiastical career in the Roman Curia. After attaining the title of abbot, he decided to abandon the legal profession and dedicate himself to the study of literature. This decision was apparently precipitated by his attraction for Costanza Amaretta, a source of poetic inspiration throughout his stay in Rome. In 1526 he was struck by an illness traditionally thought to have been syphilis, and Pope Clement VII dispensed him from his monastic vows. Little is known of his whereabouts during the next eleven years. In 1538 he was living in Prato, where he died in June of 1543.