Bembo, Pietro(pyā`trō bĕm`bō), 1470–1547, Italian humanist, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. A favorite of the Medici, he was secretary to Pope Leo X and was made a cardinal by Paul III. Bembo was for many years the arbiter of Italian letters, insisting that classical traditions be preserved. He was responsible for editions of Petrarch and Dante and helped establish the language of Tuscany as the standard literary Italian. He wrote the History of Venice (1551); a disquisition on platonic love, Gli Asolani (1505, tr. 1954), inspired by Plato's Symposium; a book of lyric verse (Rime, 1530) in Latin and Italian; and Prose della volgar lingua [prose in the vernacular] (1525).
Born May 20, 1470, in Venice; died Jan. 18, 1547, in Rome. Italian writer, historian, and theoretician concerned with questions of literary language and style. Born into a patrician family. Became a cardinal in 1539.
In his works Bembo drew from the tradition of Cicero (in works written in Latin), G. Boccaccio, and especially F. Petrarch (in works written in Italian). Bembo’s lyric poetry showed little originality. As a prose writer, he became famous for his treatises in dialogue about platonic love, Conversations of Asolani (1505). The aristocratic humanism of Bembo received the name Bembism. The most valuable of his works is Prose in the Vernacular (1525), devoted to style, meter, and the bases of normative grammar of the Italian language. Bembo was an advocate of a national literary language (based on the Florentine dialect). He wrote (in Latin) a history of Venice from 1487 to 1513 in 12 volumes (published 1551) and translated it into Italian.
WORKSOpere, vols. 1–12. Milan, 1808–10.
In Russian translation:
Khrestomatiia po zarubezhnoi literature: Epokha Vozrozhdeniia, vol. 1. Compiled by B. I. Purishev. Moscow, 1959.
REFERENCESDe Sanctis, F. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1963.
Hilborn, H. The Life of P. Bembo. New York, 1958.