Valla, Lorenzo

Valla, Lorenzo

biographical name

(born 1407, Rome, Papal States—died Aug. 1, 1457, Rome) Italian humanist, philosopher, and literary critic. Unable to find a post as a papal secretary, Valla left Rome in 1430 and spent five years traveling in northern Italy. He was royal secretary and historian for Alfonso V of Aragon (1435–48). In his polemical style, he criticized the works of Boethius (for his viewpoint), Aristotle (for his “barbarisms,” among other things), and Cicero (for his prose style). Found heretical by the Inquisition for his refusal to believe that the Apostles' Creed was composed by the 12 Apostles, he narrowly avoided being burned at the stake. His Elegantiae linguae Latinae (printed 1471; “Elegances of the Latin Language”) was the first textbook of Latin grammar written since late antiquity. His Annotations on the New Testament (printed 1505) was his last major work.

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