Niccolo de Niccoli - Encyclopedia




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NICCOLO DE NICCOLI' (1363-1437), Italian humanist, was born and died at Florence. He was one of the chief figures in the company of learned men which gathered round Cosimo de' Medici,who played the part of Augustus to Niccoli's Maecenas. Niccoli's chief services to classical literature consisted in his work as a copyist and collator of ancient MSS.; he corrected the text, introduced divisions into chapters, and made tables of contents. His lack of critical faculty was compensated by his excellent taste; in Greek (of which he knew very little) he had the assistance of Ambrogio Traversari. Many of the most valuable MSS. in the Laurentian library are by his hand, amongst them those of Lucretius and of twelve comedies ofPlautus. Niccoli's private library was the largest and best in Florence; he also possessed a small but valuable collection of ancient works of art, coins and medals. He regarded himself as an infallible critic, and could not bear the slightest contradiction; his quarrels with Filelfo, Guarino and especially with Traversari created a great sensation in the learned world at the time. His hypercritical spirit (according to his enemies, his ignorance of the language) prevented him from writing or speaking in Latin; his sole literary work was a short tract in Italian on Latin Orthography, which he withdrew from circulation after it had been violently attacked by Guarino.

See the Life in Traversarii Epistolae (ed. L. Mehus, 1 759); G. Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung des klassischen Altertums (1893); G. Zippel, Nicola Niccoli (Florence, 1890).

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