Image of Renaissance humanist and scholar Poggio Bracciolini.

Poggio Bracciolini

(1380 - 1459)

During his fifty years serving as secretary to eight successive popes, Poggio Bracciolini hunted for manuscripts in European monasteries: in one he discovered Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory—tucked away in a place “into which one would not cast a criminal condemned to death”—and in another LucretiusOn the Nature of Things. Both books had been thought to be lost for hundreds of years. He wrote to a fellow scholar and copyist in 1429, “You have now kept the Lucretius for twelve years…and the Petronius Arbiter for seven or more; it seems to me that your tomb will be finished sooner than your books will be copied.”

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