Luigi Pulci (and Boiardo) (and Tarot)

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Huck  Huck is offline
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Luigi Pulci (and Boiardo) (and Tarot)

Luigi Pulci wrote between 1460 and 1470 his "Morgante" on the sggestion of Lorenzo de Medici's mother, somehow related to the Orlando-theme, which then was known in Italy, but hadn't developed its strength. Somehow the news of this work must have come to Boiardo, who later worked on the same topic.
The opinion is expressed by Antonio Panizzi, that Boiardo started this work in 1472, after his journey to Rome, when he accompanied duke Borso, who became duke of Ferrara there (April 1471).

10 books of Antonio Panizetti to Orlando

In this time Pulci was used by Lorenzo de Medici for diplomatic missions. It might well be, that Pulci was in Rome and that there was a communication between the two poets, which led to the later work of Boiardo (evidence for the contact between the poets is missing and searched by us).

In our own timeline ( ) we assume according other informations 1476 as the starting year ... well, the argument of Antonio Panizetti, who argues from the base of the Boiardo text is not bad. Perhaps 1472 has the better arguments.

Pulci invented two figures into the Orlando (at least I've read once an argumentation, that they were new): 2 giants, Morgante and Margutte, and about them you can read the following excerpt from

Stories from the Italian Poets: With Lives of the Writers
By Leigh Hunt (1846), p. 333 - 342

It's not Pulci, but a description of the Pulci-text with focus on the both giants. Before the given part there is a report how Orlando met Morgante, and made him his ally in the connected text, perhaps you find this also of interest also, but it's not as funny as the given excerpt.

Some passages I've set in bold texture for special reference, as these are just interesting parts in matters of Tarot, as well be argued below.

The Paladin and the giant quitted the abbey,
the one on horseback and the other on foot, and
journeyed through the desert till they came to a
magnificent castle, the door of which stood open.
They entered, and found rooms furnished in the
most splendid manner—beds covered with cloth
of gold, and floors rejoicing in variegated marbles.
There was even a feast prepared in the saloon, but
nobody to eat it, or to speak to them.
Orlando suspected some trap, and did not quite
like it; but Morgante thought nothing worth con
sidering but the feast. " Who cares for the host,"
said he, " when there's such a dinner ? Let us
eat as much as we can, and bear off the rest.
I always do that when I have the picking of

They accordingly sat down, and being very
hungry with their day's journey, devoured heaps
of the good things before them, eating with all
the vigour of health, and drinking to a pitch of
weakness. They sat late in this manner enjoying
themselves, and then retired for the night into
rich beds.

But what was their astonishment in the morning
at finding that they could not get out of the
place! There was no door. All the entrances had
vanished, even to any feasible window. "
We must be dreaming," said Orlando. "My dinner was no dream, I'll swear," said
the giant. "As for the rest, let it be a dream if
it pleases."

Continuing to search up and down, they at
length found a vault with a tomb in it; and out
of the tomb came a voice, saying, "You must
encounter with me, or stay here for ever. Lift,
therefore, the stone that covers me." "Do you hear that?" said Morgante; "I'll
have him out, if it's the devil himself. Perhaps
it's two devils, Filthy-dog and Foul-mouth, or
Itching and Evil-tail. [names of devils described by Dante]"

"Have him out," said Orlando, " whoever he
is, even were it as many devils as were rained out
of heaven into the centre."

Morgante lifted up the stone, and out leaped,
surely enough, a devil in the likeness of a dried-up
dead body, black as a coal
. Orlando seized him,
and the devil grappled with Orlando. Morgante
was for joining him, but the Paladin bade him
keep back. It was a hard struggle, and the devil
grinned and laughed, till the giant, who was a
master of wrestling, could bear it no longer: so
he doubled him up, and, in spite of all his efforts,
thrust him back into the tomb.

"You'll never get out," said the devil, " if
you leave me shut up."
"Why not ?" inquired the Paladin."
"Because your giant's baptism and my deliverance
must go together," answered the devil. "If
he is not baptised, you can have no deliverance;
and if I am not delivered, I can prevent it still,
take my word for it."

Orlando baptised the giant. The two compardons then issued forth, and hearing a mighty
noise in the house, looked back, and saw it all

"I could find it in my heart," said Morgante, "to go down to those same regions below, and
make all the devils disappear in like manner.
Why shouldn't we do it ? We'd set free all the
poor souls there. Egad, I'd cut off Minos's tail—
I'd pull out Charon's beard by the roots—make
a sop of Phlegyas, and a sup of Phlegethon—
unseat Pluto,—kill Cerberus and the Furies with
a punch of the face a-piece — and set Beelzebub
scampering like a dromedary." "You might find more trouble than you wot
of," quoth Orlando, "and get worsted besides.
Better keep the straight path, than thrust your
head into out-of-the-way places."

Morgante took his lord's advice, and went
straightforward with him through many great adventures,
helping him with loving good-will as
often as he was permitted, sometimes as his
pioneer, and sometimes as his finisher of troublesome
work, such as a slaughter of some thousands
of infidels. Now he chucked a spy into a river —
now felled a rude ambassador to the earth (for
he didn't stand upon ceremony) — now cleared a
space round him in battle with the clapper of an old bell which he had found at the monastery —
now doubled up a king in his tent, and bore him
away, tent and all, and a Paladin with him, because
he would not let the Paladin go.

In the course of these services, the giant was
left to take care of a lady, and lost his master for
a time ; but the office being at an end, he set out
to rejoin him, and, arriving at a cross-road, met
with a very extraordinary personage.

This was a giant huger than himself, swarthy-
faced, horrible, brutish. He came out of a wood,
and appeared to be journeying somewhere. Morgante, who had the great bell-clapper in his hand
above-mentioned, struck it on the ground with
astonishment, as much as to say, "Who the devil
is this ?" and then set himself on a stone by the
way-side to observe the creature."

"What's your name, traveller ?" said Morgante, as it came up.

"My name's Margutte," said the phenomenon. "I intended to be a giant myself, but altered my
mind, you see, and stopped half-way; so that I
am only twenty feet or so." "I'm glad to see you," quoth his brother-
giant. " But tell me, are you Christian or Saracen ?
Do you believe in Christ or in Apollo ?"

"To tell you the truth," said the other, "I believe neither in black nor blue, but in a good
capon, whether it be roast or boiled. I believe
sometimes also in butter, and, when I can get it, in
new wine, particularly the rough sort; but, above
all, I believe in wine that's good and old. Mahomet's
prohibition of it is all moonshine. I am
the son, you must know, of a Greek nun and a
Turkish bishop; and the first thing I learned was
to play the fiddle. I used to sing Homer to it.
I was then concerned in a brawl in a mosque, in
which the old bishop somehow happened to be
killed; so I tied a sword to my side, and went to
seek my fortune, accompanied by all the possible
sins of Turk and Greek. People talk of the
seven deadly sins; but I have seventy-seven that
never quit me
, summer or winter; by which you
may judge of the amount of my venial ones. I
am a gambler, a cheat, a ruffian, a highwayman, a
pick-pocket, a glutton (at beef or blows)
; have no
shame whatever; love to let everybody know what
I can do; lie, besides, about what I can't do;
have a particular attachment to sacrilege; swallow
perjuries like figs; never give a farthing to any
body, but beg of every body, and abuse them into
the bargain ; look upon not spilling a drop of
liquor as the chief of all the cardinal virtues; but
must own I am not much given to assassination,
murder being inconvenient; and one thing I am
bound to acknowledge, which is, that I never
betrayed a messmate."

"That's as well," observed Morgante; "because
you see, as you don't believe in any thing
else, I'd have you believe in this bell-clapper of
mine. So now, as you have been candid with me,
and I am well instructed in your ways, we'll pursue
our journey together."

The best of giants, in those days, were not
scrupulous in their modes of living; so that one of
the best and one of the worst got on pretty well
together, emptying the larders on the road, and
paying nothing but douses on the chops. When
they could find no inn, they hunted elephants and
crocodiles. Morgante, who was the braver of the
two, delighted to banter, and sometimes to cheat,
; and he ate up all the fare; which
made the other, notwithstanding the credit he gave
himself for readiness of wit and tongue, cut a very
sorry figure, and seriously remonstrate: " I reverence
you," said Margutte, " in other matters;
but in eating, you really don't behave well. He
who deprives me of my share at meals is no friend;
at every mouthful of which he robs me, I seem
to lose an eye. I'm for sharing every thing to a
nicety, even if it be no better than a fig."
"You are a fine fellow," said Morgante; "you
gain upon me very much. You are 'the master
of those who know.'"

So saying, he made him put some wood on the
fire, and perform a hundred other offices to render
every thing snug; and then he slept: and next
day he cheated his great scoundrelly companion at
drink, as he had done the day before at meat; and
the poor shabby devil complained; and Morgante
laughed till he was ready to burst, and again and
again always cheated him.

There was a levity, nevertheless, in Margutte,
which restored his spirits on the slightest glimpse
of good fortune; and if he realised a hearty meal,
he became the happiest, beastliest, and most confident
of giants. The companions, in the course
of their journey, delivered a damsel from the
clutches of three other giants. She was the daughter
of a great lord; and when she got home, she
did honour to Morgante as to an equal, and put
Margutte into the kitchen, where he was in a state
of bliss.
He did nothing but swill, stuff, surfeit,
be sick, play at dice, cheat, filch, go to sleep,
guzzle again, laugh, chatter, and tell a thousand

Morgante took leave of the young lady, who
made him rich presents. Margutte, seeing this,
and being always drunk and impudent, daubed his
face like a Christmas clown, and making up to her
with a frying-pan in his hand, demanded "something
for the cook." The fair hostess gave him a
jewel; and the vagabond shewed such a brutal
eagerness in seizing it with his filthy hands, and
making not the least acknowledgment, that when
they got out of the house, Morgante was ready to
fell him to the earth. He called him scoundrel
and poltroon, and said he had disgraced him for

"Softly!" said the brute-beast. "Didn't you
take me with you, knowing what sort of fellow I
was ? Didn't I tell you I had every sin and shame
under heaven; and have I deceived you by the
exhibition of a single virtue ?"

Morgante could not help laughing at a candour
of this excessive nature. So they went on their
way till they came to a wood, where they rested
themselves by a fountain, and Margutte fell fast
asleep. He had a pair of boots on, which Morgante
felt tempted to draw off, that he might see
what he would do on waking. He accordingly
did so, and threw them to a little distance among
the bushes. The sleeper awoke in good time, and
looking and searching round about, suddenly burst
into roars of laughter. A monkey had got the
boots, and sat pulling them on and off, making the
most ridiculous gestures.
The monkey busied
himself, and the light-minded drunkard laughed;
and at every fresh gesticulation of the new boot-
wearer, the laugh grew louder and more tremendous,
till at length it was found impossible to be
restrained. The glutton had a laughing-fit. In
vain he tried to stop himself; in vain his fingers
would have loosened the buttons of his doublet, to
give his lungs room to play. They couldn't do it;
so he laughed and roared till he burst. The snap
was like the splitting of a cannon. Morgante ran
up to him, but it was of no use. He was dead.

Alas! it was not the only death; it was not
even the most trivial cause of a death. Giants are
big fellows, but Death's a bigger, though he may
come in a little shape. Morgante had succeeded
in joining his master. He helped him to take
Babylon; he killed a whale for him at sea that
obstructed his passage; he played the part of a
main-sail during a storm, holding out his arms and
a great hide; but on coming to shore, a crab bit
him in the heel; and behold the lot of the great
giant—he died! He laughed, and thought it a
very little thing, but it proved a mighty one.

"He made the East tremble," said Orlando; "and
the bite of a crab has slain him!"
I hope, you're amused like me ... and perhaps you understand, that Pulci was a funny writer.

For matters of Tarot it's here of interest, that Morgante and Margutte are two giants:

a Charles VI. Tarocchi cards, given by estimation to "ca. 1470" ...

... and of special interest it is, that we see here some persons collecting stones and throwing stones.

Already the one-eyed giant in the Ulysses-story threw with stones and so it's not really a new topic, that Orlando and Morgante meet each other and become friends in a stone-throwing battle (not included in the excerpt).

But there are two giants, not only one:

... as the Charles VI hasn't a Magician, we have to look for the d'Este cards, there's the giant Magician.

The Charles VI. and the d'Este cards are given to Ferrara, so we see Ferrarese giants. In Ferrara is the poet Boiardo, not Pulci (Florence).

In the description of Margutte (as given above) we can gather following details: He's even bigger than Morgante (well, we know, that the Magician got the name "Le petit" - likely ironical, but he himself adds: ""I intended to be a giant myself, but altered my mind, you see, and stopped half-way ... ").

And also he tells: "People talk of the seven deadly sins; but I have seventy-seven that never quit me."
That's really an interesting detail ... as Pulci changed some of his texts in the later time, we cannot really say, when Pulci formed this statement for the first time, but in matters of Tarot, when one giant (= Fool) hears of another giant (= Magician), that he has 77 sins, then this might refer to the structure of the related deck.

As - I hope, you still know it - the discussion of is more or less about the development of Tarot from a 5x14-deck to a deck with one Fool and 77 other cards, this is a rather interesting statement.

" ... [she] put Margutte into the kitchen, where he was in a state
of bliss. "
Margutte likes eating and he's good in cooking. Weve to remember, that Mercury representations in the d'Este/Sforza books, which looked similar to the Magician, also referenced "cooking". (which was here discussed earlier, I don't know where).

"A monkey had got the
boots, and sat pulling them on and off, making the
most ridiculous gestures."

The relation monkey-Magician was discussed here in broad details, especially considering the Cary-Sheet.
It's the moment, when Margutte died .. exploding cause of laughter.

Morgante died cause of the bite a crab ... The fans of the Cary-Sheet likely will recognize something in it.

Here the suspicion might be born, that Morgante, the Fool-giant was related to the Moon ... and suspiciously he asks Margutte: "Do you believe in Christ or in Apollo ?" (Apollo = Sun). Margutte explains: "I am the son, you must know, of a Greek nun and a Turkish bishop", which actually tells, that he comes from the east, and from east comes the sun.

And Orlando tells after the death of Morgante: ""He made the East tremble," said Orlando; "and the bite of a crab has slain him!"

The East (the sun, the morning) trembles cause of the evening and the Moon.
Morgante, the Moon, and Margutte, the Sun.

Actually there are 3 giants at the begin of Orlando's friendship with Morgante, and all three throw with stones (described in the not presented part). Two are killed by Orlando, Morgante becomes his friend: 3 giants - Star, Moon, Sun. One returns as Margutte.

When Pulci started to write the Morgante 1460 in Florence, in the same time Benoto Gozzoli painted the frecoes of the Medici Chapel. As surely everybody knows, these paintings showed the triumphal march of the three holy kings. As it is not known, but likely, the three holy kings were associated to Star, Moon and Sun (one these kings was black and this was the moon).

A little before Pulci's poem (started 1460) in France Rene d'Anjou had founded the knight order of the Crescent (the half-moon) with a lot of knightly romantic, which he lived later in his illuminated books. Pulci, of French origin and generally interested in this French stories, with security knew about these details.

"The crab bites Morgante". - likely the moon.

And Margutte is a "a gambler, a cheat, a ruffian, a highwayman, a pick-pocket, a glutton" - in short, le petit, le bagatello - likely the sun

And Orlando, the hero ... likely the star.

... if the "77 sins" don't lie, the Tarot game had 78 cards then. So we should observe with interests, that ... before all these adventures of Orlando and Morgante can take place, the problem of the castle with no doors had to be solved ... a devil had to be released.

Early Tarot hadn't a devil.

Pulci released it. In 1474/75 he was accused in Florence by other literary men (for instance Ficino) cause of heresies. Later, 1482, when he died there, he wasn't buried in "holy earth" cause of his blasphemies.

Although the "Morgante" wasn't printed till 1482 (in his death year), Pulci reached these effects.
From Boiardo's incompleted version we've the informations, that a first printing date was 1483 ...

[quote From our page]January 1483 - Boiardo leaves Modena; by February the Orlando Innamorato has been printed by Pietro Giovanni da San Lorenzo, a citizen of Modena. Boiardo is sometimes at Reggio and Scandiano, sometimes with the Duke at the capital. The first and second books of Orlando are completed. He was noted for turning to writing certain phases and episodes of the war in Italian ecologues in terza rima .[/quote]

... although at this time Ferrara is involved in war (1482 - 1484). The suspicion is given, that Ercole used the Boiardo text as a military weapon (demonstrating the cultural worth of Ferrara) or that the publication of attacked Pulci text caused the hasty edition of the Boiardo version.

[quote From our page].. the first two books of the Orlando Innomorato were published in Venice in 1487 with a dedication to the Duke of Ferrara.[/quote]

... and the publication was repeated in the year of the Lucrezia wedding.

The time of Pulci showed an increased interest in magic and an inscreased interest to persecute such things.

1462: Pius against Malatesta

1468: Accademia Romana, persecution of literates

1473: Persecution of Jews, starting in Florence, but mirrored in other Italian cities

1475: the Pulci Case

1478: all Florence is excommunicated

1484: Malleus Maleficarum, most influential work, which became the base to persecute 100.000's in the course of time

1486: Pico de Mirandola is persecuted

It seems, that a great part of this development happened according to Pope Sixtus and his influence. Pius II and the following Pope Paul stayed relatively harmless in their actions, but Sixtus consequently used this tool. Naturally one might also conclude, that time had changed with printing, and the raised "reactions" appeared according the higher possibilities of publication.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Trying to intensify some knowledge around Pulci, it became of interest to study his surrounding, to which belong two brothers and a sister-in-law, all with literary activities.

Of these the works of the older brother Luca Pulci and especially two of them (perhaps three) are of special interest.

"Ciriffo Calvaneo" (1 book of Luca Pulci, 3 others were added by Bernardo Giambullari (1395 - 1555). It's of interest, cause it likely influenced the "Morgante" of Pulci.

The Life of Lorenzo de Medici, Called the Magnificent
By William Roscoe, Thomas Roscoe (1847)
p. 509, Note 138 + 139,M1

II Ciriffo Calvaneo, and his companion II Povero
Avveduto, the heroes of the poem, are the illicit offspring of two
unfortunate ladies, who, being abandoned by their lovers, are indebted
to the shepherd Lecore for their preservation. As the young men grow
up, they display their courage in pursuing wild beasts, and their generosity
in giving away the old shepherd's cattle and effects; in consequence
of which he breaks his heart. Massima, the mother of Il
Ciriffo, then informs them of the nobility of their origin, and of the
distress which she has herself suffered ; in consequence of which her
son piously swears to accomplish the death of his father, which vow he
accordingly fulfils. Repenting of his crime, he hastens to Rome,
obtains Christian baptism, and the remission of his sins. In the mean
time II Povero Aweduto is carried off by Epidoniffo, a pirate of Marseilles,
who stood in fear neither of God nor his saints, ...
After many adventures, II Povero Aweduto goes to the assistance of
Tebaldo, sultan of Egypt, who was besieged by Luigi, king of France:
the combatants on each side are particularly described. A battle takes
place, after which II Povero is made a cavalier by the sultan, for whose
particular amusement he tilts with his newly-discovered brother
Lionetto. Such is the heterogeneous mixture which composes this
poem; the invention of which is not, however, to be wholly attributed
to Luca. In the Gaddi library is a MS. anterior to his time by 150
years, entitled by Bandini "Liber pauperis prudentis." (Cat. Bibl.
Laur. vol. v. Plut. xliv. cod. 30.) From which it sufficiently appears
that in this instance Luca is only an imitator. It is to be regretted
that his judgment did not lead him to select a better model.
... It was printed, with the continuation of Giambullari, at Florence, in 1535, and had probably been printed before, as
it is dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, the grandson of Lorenzo the
Magnificent, who died in the year 1519. It there consists of four books,
of which the first only is the work of Pulci. The "Ciriffo Calvaneo"
was reprinted with the "Giostra" of Lorenzo, and other works of Luca,
by the Giunti at Florence, in 1572; but the continuation by Giambullari
is there omitted.
As in the Morgante we've two heroes, which follow their quest. It's assumed occasionally, that Luigi possibly contributed to the work of his brother).

The second is "Driadeo d'Amore" ... 18 letters from women to men, starting with a letter of Lucrezia Donati to Lorenzo de Medici (Lorenzo had a favor
for this Lucrezia Donati).

The text is made following a classical idea of Ovid in his "Heroides":

Ovid: Heroides
15 letters
6 double letters (letter exchanges).

The Heroides (Her.) (“The Heroines”), or Epistulae Heroidum (“Letters of Heroines”), are a collection of fifteen epistolary poems composed by Ovid in Latin elegiac couplets, and presented as though written by a selection of aggrieved heroines of Greek and Roman mythology, in address to their heroic lovers who have in some way mistreated, neglected, or abandoned them.
Front matter of Boswell's copy of the 1732 edition of the Heroides, edited by Peter Burmann. Note the title "Heroides sive Epistolae", “The Heroides or the Letters.

A further set of six poems—widely known as the Double Heroides and numbered 16 to 21 in modern scholarly editions—follows these individual letters and presents three separate exchanges of paired epistles: one each from a heroic lover to his absent beloved and from the heroine in return
It was not possible (for the moment) to get the names of the female writers in Luca Pulci's work.

But: The names in Ovid's work often refer to persons, which also appear in Boiardo's Tarocchi poem. The names are mentioned in the Wikipedia-articles.

Although this is generally given to Luca Pulci, occasionally one meets the opinion, that Luigi Pulci contributed.

The 3rd is about a tournament for Lorenzo di Medici, organized in February 1469.
Again it is discussed, if Luigi or Luca was the author.

Actually Luca Pulci, the elder brother of Luigi, was a man with trouble, which resulted from his activities as a banker, mostly in Rome. In 1465/66 Luigi Pulci himself became a fugitive from Florence to avoid difficulties with persons who wanted money from his brother. Luca went back to Rome after 1465, but finally died in a prison cause of his money difficulties.
Luigi got trouble himself cause of literary opinions and discussions in Florence 1474-1476, mainly due to the influence of Marsilio Ficino (Pulci called in the following years "sbandito"). Actually it might be, that he had difficulties to publish with his own name. It's possible, that he used the name of his brother, so that all these debates about the "true authorship" of these works depend on the conditions of Luigi Pulci's trouble after 1476.
Things seem to have become better with 1479, after the situation in Milan was settled (Ludovico Sforza became then leader of the state; Luigi Pulci was with Roberto Sanseverino and Roberto had militarical and political success in Milan together with Ludovico Sforza in 1479).


For the research of Tarot interesting: The relation between Boiardo Tarocchi and Ovid's Heroides.

Btw.: 15 singular letter and 6 double letters (as in Heroides) ... this mathematical structure seems to indicate, that Ovid structured his work according to the throws of two dices: 15 simple possibilities + 6 double possibilities 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6

Naturally this has some similarity to the Major Arcana structure
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kwaw  kwaw is offline
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Originally Posted by Huck
The text is made following a classical idea of Ovid in his "Heroides":

Ovid: Heroides
English translation of the XXI letters here:
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Luigi Pulci had an interest in magic, it's said, that it started in ca. 1465 and endured till his death.

Friends called him "Gigi". A sorcerer named "Malagigi" appears in his "Morgante". In Canto XXV of "Morgante" Malagigi makes an evocation for the demon "Astarotte". As the Canti XXIV - XXVIII are said to have been added late (1481 - 1483), this should be a younger part.

In the way to get the details of Pulci's life right (which is a complicated attempt) , I discovered a few connected contexts , which are interesting:

- In a letter of Dec. 4, 1470 Pulci indicates, that he wishes to visit the cave of the sybil in Norcia (Norcia is relatively near to Camerino).

- For the late year 1470 it's said, that Pulci was in diplomatic mission for Lorenzo in Camerino. It's noted nowhere, but he should have met there Ludovico Lazzarelli, who was involved in the context of the Mantegna Tarocchi (likely then court poet in Camerino).

For January/February 1471 it's stated, that Pulci was in Naples (also cause of his diplomatic mission). Likely Pulci took his way from Camerino to Naples via Norcia.

- What Pulci wanted in Norcia is his mystery.

- But Norcia and the cave of sybil is a topic for Andrea di Barberino (ca. 1371 - ca. 1432), a writer, who was recently detected as important for the development of the chivalry-genre ("Orlando-theme") in Italy cause of many translations from French sources to Italian.

Especially there is this work called "Guerrin Meschino" ...

Also Norcia is a topic for Antoine de la Sale ("1385 to 1398; his death date generally falls between 1460 and 1462")
with connections to the romantic Rene d'Anjou, also to the Burgundian court.

- Norcia itself is declared to have been an object for a French colony in IX. century (time of the Karolingians). Pulci's family thought or knew, that they also invaded Italy from France.

- Near Norcia are many mountains (nowadays a nature-parc), the population rate is thin. The region suffered by an heavy earth-quake in 14th century, perhaps that triggered a little bit the "mysterious" character of the region.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Sibillinic mountain

"At about 50 Km from the fermano beaches, driving through the valleys of the rivers Tenna and Aso you reach the Sibillini Mountains, part of the homonymous National Park, with tops overcoming 2000 metres of height such as the Vettore (m. 2478), the Priora (m. 2332), the Sibilla (m. 2175) with its top wrapped by a rocky step similar to a crown and a cave at 2150 m. where people think the Sibilla Appenninica (Apennine Sybil) lived in the past. The queen of the mountains giving its name to these Azure Mountains (as Leopardi named them in Le Ricordanze – Remembrances ) has been depicted as kind fairy or evil witch but always as wonderful and spellbounding woman.

This cave is widely thought to have been originally used in the protohistoric age by the Apennine civilizations as place of cult consecrated to the mysteries of a Mediterranean goddess. Literary witnesses about the Sybil go back to the Latin historian Svetonio who lived at the time of the Flaviemperors; during Middle Ages and Renaissance poets and literates speak about her and scholars of every time have studied and study the legends about the cave and its inhabitant. The Sybil was also destination of errant knights who were in search of oracles and prophecies.
The legend tells that the Apennine Sybil had been condemned by God in the depth of the mountain where she had to remain until the Last Judgement because she rebelled against Him after having known she wouldn’t be the mother of Jesus.

According to local traditions the Sybil is at the contrary a good fairy whose maids sometimes come down to the near little towns to teach the maidens the most beautiful secrets of spinning and weaving and they sometimes remain to dance with young men.

So there are two sibylline traditions: the “Alcina” Sybil, enchantress, heretic, erotic, satanic and the “Good” Sybil, wise, learned, kind and motherly.
The first tradition is more related to the literary world. We can find in it clear transalpine influences and it is strengthened by characters and esoteric doctrines about the Sibillini.
The second tradition seems more related to our popular culture and is influenced by Christianity in a more simple and natural way.
The Sybil is protagonist in works of the Italian and European literature, from Il Guerrin Meschino by Andrea da Barberino, to Il Regno della Regina Sibilla by Antoine de la Sale, from ll Meschino e il Guerrino by Tullia d’Aragona, to Il Tannhauser set to music by Wagner. She is quoted in L’Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, the Morgante Maggiore by Pulci, in De Nobilitate et Rusticitate by Hemmerlin, in the Theatrum orbis terrarum by Ortel. She is a disquieting figure in heresy trials in Northern Italy and is matter of studies even for Marquis De Sade.
Detailed descriptions of the Sybil are given by Andrea da Barberino and Antoine De La Sale. In his novel Il Guerrin Meschino (about 1409) Andrea da Barberino makes his hero, searching for his parents, arrive at the cave to question the Sybil (or Alcina wizard). The Meschino comes from Norcia and after several adventures along harsh paths he manages to reach the entrance door of the bewitched palace. Here neither compliments nor menaces, nor the beautiful fairies’ tender caresses succeeded in bending the virtuous Meschino.

Antoine de la Sale in the famous opera Le Paradis de la Reine Sibylle describes the cave in details and tells his journey to the mount Sibilla on 18th May 1420, leaving from Montemonaco.

he Sibillini are ploughed by deep and untouched gorges: of wonderful beauty those of Infernaccio, Foce and Ambro. The inaccessibility of these places has allowed the keeping of still untouched areas from the naturalistic point of view, with a fauna and flora rich of rare and varied species.
Really peculiar is the situation of the Pilato Lake. Placed at 1940 m. of height, set in a natural basin among the Sibillini Mountains and with a peculiar “glass shape” this lake is full of suggestive legends and in its waters there is a kind of shellfish unique in the world. First of all among the legends the one related to the Sybil pointing it out as “Averno Lake” and door for the underworld of hell. Secondly the legend linking it to Ponzio Pilato, the famous Roman governor in Palestine who condemned to death let his corpse being drawn by buffaloes until he found the most suitable place for his burial.
It seems his corpse reached the Sibillini and disappeared among this lake eddies for ever; from that day on these waters inhabited by devils are tinged with red. In some periods of the year its waters actually becomes red because of the Chirocephalus Marchesonii, unique shellfish in the world which lives only in these waters, discovered by professor Marchesoni in 1954 during some biological researches.
This sheet of water became famous all around Europe and attracted wizards and necromancers who went to the now disappeared isle in the middle of the lake to consecrate the Command Book despite the strong prohibition imposed by the bishop who made a gallows built at the valley entrance as explicit warning to transgressors. Nowadays in the Historical Archives of Montemonaco a document of the 15th century has been found stating the effective coming during the late Middle Ages of knights, wizards and necromancers from every part of Europe."

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I so enjoyed this thread Huck! Thank you. ~Rosanne
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Yes, Pulci could be rather funny ...

... but not everybody loved him, especially those poet's with less humorous ideals had their problems with him.

Pulci to the other poets of Florence:

"I know I ought to make no dereliction
From the straight path to this side or to that;
I know the story I relate's no fiction,
And that the moment that I quit some flat,
Folks are all puff, and blame, and contradiction,
And swear I never know what I'd be at;
In short, such crowds, I find, can mend one's poem,
I live retired, on purpose not to know 'em.

Yes, gentlemen, my only ' Academe,'
My sole ' Gymnasium,' are my woods and bowers;
Of Afric and of Asia there I dream ;
And the Nymphs bring me baskets full of flowers,
Arums, and sweet narcissus from the stream ;
And thus my Muse escapeth your town-hours
And town-disdains ; and I eschew your bites,
Judges of books, grim Areopagites."

And occasionally he got his James-Joyce-mood:

"La casa cosa parea bretta e brutta,
Vinta dal vento; e la natta e la notte
Stilla le stelle, ch' a tetto era tutto:
Del pane appena ne dette ta' dotte :
Pere avea pure, e qualche fratta frutta;
E svina e svena di botto una botte :
Poscia per pesci lasche prese a l' esca ;
Ma il letto allotta a la frasca fu fresca."

The translator hadn't it easy, but he tried:

"This holy hole was a vile thin-built thing,
Blown by the blast; the night nought else o'erhead
But staring stars the rude roof entering;
Their sup of supper was no splendid spread;
Poor pears their fare, and such-like libelling
Of quantum suff.;—their butt all but; — bad bread;—
A flash of fish instead of flush of flesh;
Their bed a frisk al-fresco, freezing fresh."

... :-) Somehow it's a good question, "how" Pulci was on diplomatic missions ...

.. and how it went with Pulci and Lazzarelli in Camerino. Lazzarelli - as it seems - also hadn't very much of Pulci's way of life. However, he was young then ..

Camerino, small town with 7000 inhabitants and 10.000 students (no joke) in the old university of 1336. Should be an interesting composition.

With a view from above one can imagine how the old city was.

The view is focused on the Rocca ...

... perhaps it's there, where Pulci and Lazzarelli met, or in the Palazzo Ducale, which is nowadays the University.

.. and that's, how it looked 1627 or so.

This was the chef of Camerino in the relevant time:

Giulio Cesare Varano with an unlucky youth (nearly all the family killed) and an unlucky death (nearly all the family killed), sponsor of Lazzarelli for some time.
Between his unlucky times Giulio Cesare had an interesting life, and in the relevant time there were high life, dancing, amusement and they played cards, as abbess Camilla Battista Varano reported about her lucky youth.

And this was Pulci:

And this was Lazzarelli:

... sorry, no good picture, but Lazzarelli organized, that this sort of pictures appeared in his manuscipt:

Pulci 16 years older, Lazzarelli either 23 or 20, but already with some success ...
... and here we can make a little theatre, or a plot for a little theatre, as world is in 1470 near to detect theatre:

Lazzarelli had learnt to make "nice words". He never hadn't heard the drastical language of the Florentian underdog class. He never had read Burchiello. And he never had realised, that Florence was the highlight of the current culture, years and decades ahead of the other Italian cities. And he told Pulci, that he was so talented in his youth, that he was made a master-writer, when being only 14 or 15 years old. That a man from the Roman society told him, that he would be the monkey ... Pulci looked surprized and interested ... of the great poets. That he got the title poetus laureatus of the German Emperor. And he wrote a poem about a tournament in Padova. And that he wrote the Italian "Trojan war".

Just as this young men do, when they try to impress somebody else. Pulci had to be polite. He was a diplomat, on diplomatic mission. He listened. And he listened ... and he listened ... and he listened. Lazzarelli had a lot of stuff to tell.

.... :-)
... in the evening Pulci altered the canto for the death of his figure Margutte. His new idea: "Morgante, just to tease Margutte, took the shoes of the sleeping Margutte and threw them into the bushes. The next morning Margutte looked for the shoes and found a monkey trying to walk in his very big shoes. This was so funny, that Margutte started to laugh, and laughed and laughed and couldn't find an end. Finally he exploded." He had to work on it.

And he wrote:

"I know I ought to make no dereliction
From the straight path to this side or to that;
I know the story I relate's no fiction,
And that the moment that I quit some flat,
Folks are all puff, and blame, and contradiction,
And swear I never know what I'd be at;
In short, such crowds, I find, can mend one's poem,
I live retired, on purpose not to know 'em."

... :-)
Lazzarelli's story, that he was called by a Roman poet (likely of Naples origin) the monkey of the great poets is given in his life description of his brother.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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of the historical context are often discovered, when looking on a detailed map.

In this case it's often reported, that Pulci was often in the "Mugello" or in "Mugello" outside of Florence. Actually the Mugello is a great region and not a village or city. The precise location, where the Pulci family had a farm, was Cavallina, a small spot at the map. Near to Cavallina, maybe 4-5 km, is Cafaggiolo, and in Cafaggiolo the Medici got a castle in 1443, which was build by Michelozzo to become a nice residence on the country. "Lorenzo de Medici spend here a part of his childhood."

It's still in existence and nowadays a hotel.

The Medici family had its source in the Mugello (which also explains something). The distance from the given locations to Florence is ca. 30-35 km, trouble for travelling is given by mountains (at least 450 m has to be crossed, the Arno in Florence has a heigth of 128 m.

In Cavellina (Pulci's location) there is somehow "la Villa Il Palagio - La Torre che tra il 1457 e il 1466 ospitò anche Lorenzo il Magnifico, che si presenta
con un elegante prospetto classico con disegni sagomati, frutto della ristrutturazione ottocentesca."
The location was rebuild later, but it's stated, that Lorenzo between 1457 - 1464 was here as a guest ... which includes the deciding period for the Morgante (1461-62 ... it's said, that 14 of the final 28 canti were made then).

Well, one cannot be sure if one occasionally meets inventions of Italian tourism interests.

... but somehow it has logic.

Pietro de Medici was only second son and Cosimo, Lorenzo's grandfather, was ruling the family and the state. The elder brother Giovanni, Pietro and Cosimo, all had trouble with the gout. Giovanni had a son himself, but this died 1463 and short after it, same year, Giovanni died himself. In this year of death Cosimo made the deciding steps to build the platonic academy - likely in the context of the death of his oldest son, a turn away from money towards philosophy, as an an inner change.

The ship of the family had turned radically.

All the elder Medici had gout, and Pietro's state was the most bad (but he survived longest). Butween these "helpless" persons the position of Lucrezia Turnabuoni, wife of Piero and mother of Lorenzo ...

.. (here in 1475, 50 years old) was strong. She was it generally by context ...

Alberti mentions in On Painting the early fifteenth-century custom of introducing portraits of well-known and worthy citizens in religious narratives. This tradition continues in the family patronage of public religious commissions of the late fifteenth century. It also gives scope for female portraits to be included in a very important genre, that of collective civic portraiture. Perhaps the best example of a religious commission which stresses the significance of public display in such a context, while at the same time illustrating the difference of men's and women's ideal roles and behaviour in late fifteenth-century Florentine society, is provided by [a] series for frescoes by Ghirlandaio and his workshop. The decoration of the apse (cappella maggiore) of the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, commissioned by Giovanni Tornabuoni in 1485, was carried out between 1486 and 1490. This was the largest fresco commission in Florence in the last decades of the fifteenth century, for one of the most important churches of the city. Giovanni Tornabuoni was one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Florence, tied to the Medici by links forged by marriage, business and political interests. His sister Lucrezia was the wife of Piero de Medici and the mother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. In the same year as his sister's marriage, 1444, Giovanni had first entered the Medici bank. In 1465 he became the director and partner of the Medici bank in Rome, and eventually treasurer and financial adviser to Pope Sixtus IV....
.. from

It's interesting to see, how small the 4 humanists, between them Marsilio Ficino are painted (bottom left) ...

... in a minor role, as it seems.

Pulci is not included.

But Pulci appears at another picture, at least Vasari had this opinion:

Pulci in discussion at the left:

"Vasari had already identified a number of contemporary figures in those painted by Filippino: the resurrected youth was supposedly a portrait of the painter Francesco Granacci, at that time hardly more than a boy; "and also the knight Messer Tommaso Soderini, Piero Guicciardini, the father of Messer Francesco who wrote the Histories, Piero del Pugliese and the poet Luigi Pulci.""

"Filippino Lippi: Florentine painter, the son and pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi. who died when the boy was about 12. The boy completed his father's work (or at least cleared up his estate) in Spoleto (the final receipts for Filippo's frescoes in the Spoleto Cathedral was signed by Filippino) and he set off alone for Florence on 1 January 1470. He also studied with Botticelli and learned much from his expressive use of line, but Filippino's style, although sensitive and poetic, is more robust than his master's. The first certainly datable work by Filippino is the Annunciation on two tondi (1483-84, San Gimignano).
His first major commission was the completion of Masaccio's and Masolino's fresco cycle in the Brancacci Chapel of Sta Maria del Carmine, which had either been left unfinished by Masaccio or had been partially destroyed. This task he carried out with such skill and tact that it is sometimes difficult to tell where his work begins and that of more than half a century earlier ends."

"Originally the chapel was cross-vaulted and lit by a very tall and narrow two-light window; the last of the stories from the life of St Peter, his Crucifixion, was probably painted on the wall below the window, but this fresco was destroyed soon after Brancacci was declared a rebel so as to cancel all traces of a patron who had become politically embarassing. The chapel, formerly the chapel of St Peter, was reconsacrated to the Madonna del Popolo. It appears that Felice Brancacci was subjected to an operation of "damnatio memoriae", for all the portrayals of people connected to the Brancacci family were eliminated from Masaccio's fresco of the Raising of the Son of Theophilus. The scene was then restored in 1481-82 by Filippino Lippi, who also completed the cycle."

Picture in context (Brancacci Chapel):

It's an interesting detail ... After his trouble in Florence ending in a clash with the Accademia, Franco and Ficino in 1476 Pulci took steps to reconcile (likely. ca. 1479) and was between 1481 - 1483 really in Florence and finished the Morgante (it's said with the help of Lucrezia Turnabuoni ?). Lucrezia died 1482, Pulci was ready at begin of 1483
The Fresco - given to the year 1481-1482 (see above), so precisely in the time of Pulci's return - shows the return of a lost (dead) son.

"This scene illustrates the miracle that Peter performed after he was released from prison, thanks to Paul's intercession. According to the account in the Golden Legend, once out of prison, Peter was taken to the tomb of the son of Theophilus, Prefect of Antioch. Here St Peter immediately resurrected the young man who had been dead for fourteen years. As a result, Theophilus, the entire population of Antioch and many others were converted to the faith; they built a magnificent church and in the centre of the church a chair for Peter, so that he could sit during his sermons and be heard and seen by all. Peter sat in the chair for seven years; then he went to Rome and for twenty-five years sat on the papal throne, the cathedra, in Rome."

Pulci was a "lost son". Well, an interesting detail ... but back to 1461-62 and to medici castle on the country.


Luigi Pulci is about 29 years and a poet in a family of poets. Of these some will later write pieces for representations of holy actions, a sort of "holy theatre", taking place in churches or on the street. Also Lucretia Tornabuoni will do that and generally she's very interested in poetry, she writes herself and some writing have survived.

Lorenzo de Medici 11-12 years old, and, thanks to the gout in the family, the elder Medici are not in the condition to reply of the vital activities for children.

Lucretia Turnobuoni is a mother of 5-6 children ... she hires Pulci as a sort of educator. Things are practical, cause Pulci is near to one of the Medici castles. The locality is very nice there, lonesome and surely adventurous for children. Lorenzo will have later much interest in hunting. Pulci - all what we know - should have had a sense for beauty of nature himself (he loved his life in the Mugello and even climbed a romantic mountain).

So we see - in the inner eye of the researcher - Pulci wandering through the forests and mountains around Castello Cafaggio, around him a band of children and telling them fantastic stories about this and that. Well, Pulci is perfect, cause he knows there every stone and farmer, cause he himself is grown up in the same region, and more of that, he loved the region.

This natural situation (enriched with a lucky accident called "Pulci") is now filled with a little program from the sight of the mother, who wishes that the young band learns a little bit about history and poetry. So Pulci gets the job to work about Orlando, a theme, which fits with the actual crusader-theme (Osmanic problems) and with an interest of the Medici for the French market.

So, whatever had happened there ... it's very obvious, that the "Morgante" was initially a book (or better "life poem") for children, or young boys, cause this was the concrete and direct use for it in the moment of 1461-62. And one should be sure that the whole didn't come alone from Pulci's mind, but that it was made in dialog with a participating audience, which added hopes and fears, ideas, interests and concrete details of the region, which in the children-fantasies transformed to bewitched castles, dangerous enemies and even giants. And Morgante was actually the "giantious" Pulci himself and Morgante's good friend Orlando the smaller Lorenzo and Rinaldo likely the a few years younger brother Giulio.


Of the author's, that I studied to the Pulci stuff, nobody talks of a "children story". Also nobody talked about 3-4 kilometers between Cavallina and Castle Cafagglio.

The common great thinking error.
People research a successful piece of world lliterature. As they know, that this became a "successful piece of the world literature", they imply, that the author already knew, that this work would become successful. So - according this imagination - the author already intended that he would work 10 years or longer on his work and that he took his work very serious from beginning on. And they think, that the author was already famous just in the moment, that he started to write. Somehow it's constantly overrlooked, that the literary success is a process in stages, in which the author has his life, from little or no fame to finally fame and success (and this often enough long after his death)

So in Pulci's case, they overlook, that the whole plot "knight with giant have adventures" is a children story. Although they're told in each book about Pulci, that Pulci is the educator of Lorenzo, who is 11 years old. No .. the story is transformed to a story, in which Lucrezia Tornuaboni gave Pulci the commission to write a piece of world literature.

Similar these theories about Tarot origin. Constantly people treat to object, as if Tarot or Trionfi cards were already famous in 15th century. As if anybody would have known, that this would become an project, which would run over the whole world with its follow-ups. Just the same thinking error.

Another time more.

Merry Christmas altogether.
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Rosanne  Rosanne is offline
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Merry Christmas to you too Huck! It is nice when someone in the History forum makes History come alive; and speaks their own views- instead of continual links
and other peoples words. I know it is a lot of work to put together(this one) a post with images and thoughts. I certainly appreciate it. The house/now hotel made me think of th barely discernable building between the towers on the Moon card on the Cary-Yale sheet. Wheels within wheels sometimes it seems. ~Rosanne
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Studying all these stuff around the Tornabuoni chapel I took also a view on the Sassetti Chapel, also painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio and his workshop was hired from 1482-1485 for this one and got his commission for the Tornabuoni chapel for the years 1486-89.

and here's the page to see more:

Famous is the picture at the top, called "Confirmation of the Rule"

see here for enlargement:

At the right side we see Lorenzo de Medici together with sponsor and his son and ... here the description of the webgallery

At the best site in the chapel, highly visible above the altar, are the most famous scenes of the cycle, though they are not in any way the most important stages of the stories of St Francis. In these scenes Ghirlandaio succeeded in creating his own independent and unique images. Ghirlandaio moves the scene of the represented events from Rome where they took place to Florence.

The events in the Confirmation of the Rule are taking place on the most important square in Florence, the Piazza della Signoria. The fresco represents the visit of the Saint to Rome to obtain the confirmation of his order from pope Honorius III.

In the centre is the consistory hall decorated with gold drapes, and with prelates and personages witnessing the pope's blessing. The Medici family are also present, honouring Sassetti. Lorenzo de' Medici the Magnificent is easily recognizable on the right side, his profile rendered unhandsome by that squashed nose which deprived him (and his mother) of any sense of taste or smell and meant that he always spoke hoarsely, and his olive-complexioned face framed by a brown shock of rather shaggy hair. To his right is Antonio Pucci, now somewhat advanced in years, and Francesco Sassetti dressed in red; his young son Teodoro is by his side.

On the left, dressed in red, stand the sons of the donor: Galeozzo, Cosimo, and also Teodoro, who had already died in 1478. In order to be able to fit all figures into the picture, some of the figures that had already been painted in the fresco had to be scratched off the wall. Thus, next to the donor's sons, there appears a monk without a body: he had been overpainted, but can now be seen again shining through the insufficiently thick layer of colour that was painted over him.

Coming up the steps with their tutor are Lorenzo's two elder sons, Piero and Giovanni, and with them Giulio, the orphan of Giuliano who was killed in the Pazzi conspiracy, with their blond mops of hair, the solemn face of the former and the rather vague expression of the other who follows. Their tutor is Agnolo Poliziano, a man of letters, the composer of the 'Stanze', and a friend of Lorenzo who honoured him in his house.

The three boys are with Matteo Franco, the kinder and more favoured tutor, whose descriptions with the pen accompany Domenico's paint-brush that lingers with such affectionate care on the pinkish, childlike features. The same precision is repeated by Ghirlandaio in the sharp profile of Franco's sworn enemy, Luigi Pulci, a caustic and irreverent character whose soul was imbued with a violent laical paganism. Harsh, bitter, poor and melancholy, he was protected mainly by Lucrezia Tornabuoni.

In the background is Florence, with its most celebrated buildings: the Loggia dei Lanzia, the façade of Palazzo Vecchio with its solemn raised podium that was later replaced by the present-day flight of steps; the gilded Marzocco lion (symbol of Florentine democracy); a back-drop of houses in the far left-hand corner and a bell-tower (possibly that of San Piero Scheraggio) where the Uffizi would later be built. In the background is a bustling of small figures, citizens and curious onlookers, possibly an opening and closing of shutters and, in places, a glimmering of gold in the capitals and arch of the consistory hall. A faint clear light passes over the soft colours, mellowing even the severity of the stones in the distant buildings. It is the history of Florence, fixed for ever, that passes by and comes to rest in front of us.

3 boys in the Turnabuoni-chapel, one can easily identify, they're older now, but still it are these same 3 boys (and who's acquainted with history, knows, that we see the youth pictures of two popes and one unlucky future ruler of Florence). The thick boy is Pope Leo X.

We see Angelo Poliziano, the poet and one of the teacher of the kids.

And we see Poliziano again, now with 3 other humanists, again in the Turnabuoni-chapel.

Likely you think as I do, that the 3rd of left is Poliziano, but, no, the webgallery declares, that it is the fourth. So one has to learn, that one shouldn't believe everything.

Here is the ghost-monk, a person, who reappeared in the picture (see description above)

And here are the two, which interest us, Matteo Franco and Luigi Pulci, and it's said, that the right person is Matteo Franco, which makes logic, as he - as the teacher of the children - is nearer to the kids:

Well, this is NOT Luigi Pulci. Pulci, as already shown in this thread:

... and Pulci would have been in 1482 - 1485 a man of about 50 years. Ghirlandaio painted rather realistical.

But who's the other, obviously rather young man. Perhaps it's a simple familiary matter and this man is Bernardo Pulci ... but this one would have been also already ca. 45 years old.

Or, what about this one?

Giovanni Pico de Mirandola, in 1482 just having arrived in Florence and everybody was proud to have this man in the city - before the scandal and the calamities connected to him.

As he was new in Florence, it might have had some logic to present him at the lowest point of the stage, so "just entering the view of Florence".

The nose is very straight - usually, also in the chapel-picture. In the year 1482 Pico would have been 19 years old.
But the hair is usually painted curved and usually, not always, it's longer.
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