Olympia Fulvia Morata - Encyclopedia




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OLYMPIA FULVIA MORATA (1526-1555), Italian classical scholar, was born at Ferrara. Her father, who had been tutor to the young princes of the ducal house of Este, was on intimate terms with the most learned men of Italy, and the daughter grew up in an atmosphere of classical learning. At the age of twelve she was able to converse fluently in Greek and Latin. About this time she was summoned to the palace as companion and instructress of the younger but equally gifted Anne, daughter of Renee, duchess of Ferrara. Olympia's father having died a convert to Protestantism, she met with a cold reception at the palace, and withdrew to her mother's house. Olympia now embraced the doctrines of Luther and Calvin. About the end of 1550 she married a young student of medicine and philosophy, Andrew Grunthler of Schweinfurt in Bavaria. In 1554 she accompanied Grunthler to his native place, where he had been appointed physician to the garrison of Spanish troops. In 1553 the margrave Albert of Brandenburg on one of his plundering expeditions took possession of Schweinfurt, and was in turn besieged by the Protestants. At length Albert evacuated the place, and Olympia and her husband made their escape. They finally succeeded in reaching Heidelberg (1554), where a medical lectureship had been obtained for Grunthler through the influence of the Erbach family, by whom they had been hospitably entertained during their flight. Here she died on the 25th of October in the following year.

Bibliography. - The scanty remains of her works - letters, dialogues, Greek verses - were collected and published by Celio Secundo Curione (1558). Monographs by Caroline Bowles, wife of Robert Southey the poet (1834), J. Bonnet (1850; Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1854), and R. Turnbull (Boston, 1846); see also Caroline Gearey, Daughters of Italy (1886).

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