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Brunetto Latini
(c. 1220–1294)

Brunetto Latini (c. 1220–1294)

Brunetto Latini (signed his name Burnectus Latinus in Latin and Burnecto Latino in Italian) was an Italian philosopher, scholar and statesman.

Brunetto Latini was born in Florence in 1220, the son of Buonaccorso Latini. He belonged to the Guelph party. He was a notary and a man of learning, much respected by his fellow citizens and famed for his skill as an orator. He expounded the writings of Cicero as guidance in public affairs.

He was of sufficient stature to be sent to Seville on an embassy to Alfonso el Sabio of Castile to seek help for Florence against the Sienese; the mission was unsuccessful. On his return from Spain, travelling along the Pass of Roncesvalles, he describes meeting a student from Bologna astride a bay mule, who told him of the defeat of the Guelphs at the Battle of Montaperti. As a result, Latini was exiled from his native city. He took refuge for some years (1260-1266) in France.

In 1266, he returned to Tuscany and for some twenty years held successive high offices. Giovanni Villani says that he was a great philosopher and a consummate master of rhetoric, not only in knowing how to speak well, but how to write well. He was the author of various works in prose and verse. He died in 1294.

While in France, he wrote his Italian Tesoretto and in French his prose Li Livres dou Trésor, both summaries of the encyclopaedic knowledge of the day (the Italian 13th-century translation known as Tesoro was misattributed to Bono Giamboni). He also translated into Italian the Rettorica and three orations by Cicero. The Italian translation of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is often misattributed to Brunetto Latini: it is a work of Taddeo Alderotti instead.

Umm al Quiwain, 1972, Brunetto Latini

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