Secondo Lancellotti

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Vincenzo Lancellotti O.S.B.Oliv. (19 March 1583 – 16 January 1643), better known as Secondo Lancellotti was an Italian writer and Catholic priest.


Son of Ortensio and Camilla Sebastiani, grandson of the scholar Filippo Alberti, Lancellotti entered the religious order of the Olivetans at the age of eleven, with the name of Secondo. He studied in the monastery of Monte Morcino in Perugia under the guidance of Marcantonio Bonciari, thanks to the financial help of Don Lorenzo Salvi.

After meeting Cardinal Federico Borromeo in the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore,[1] Lancellotti first moved to the Benedictine monastery of Siena, then from 1608 to San Benedetto Novello in Padua. After an experience as chancellor of Salvi, he moved in 1612 in monastery of San Bernardo in Arezzo and finally in Rimini in the monastery of Santa Maria Nuova Annunziata di Scola, where he developed the idea of a history of the Olivetan Order, which led him to travel to numerous Italian monasteries, from 1615 to 1617.

The following year he was appointed theologian at Arezzo Cathedral. His life was characterized by the constant movement from one place to another and by not always having a good relationship with his superiors. Lancellotti's literary career was fundamentally based on the two major projects of the Historiae Olivetanae and the Acus nautica.

In 1621 he engaged in the preparation of his Historiae Olivetanae and at the same time he worked on one of his best known works: Hoggidì, overo il mondo non peggiore né più calamitoso del passato (1623), focuseing on the study and criticism of events and memories of the ancients, characterized by an original and anti-heroic spirit. A second part of the Hoggidì was published, entitled Hoggidì, overo Gl'ingegni non inferiori a' passati (1636), as well as the Farfalloni de gli antichi historici (1636), in which the criticism of ancient historiography proved to be so thorough and acute, even legendary elements of tradition, from the foundation of Rome to the exploits of Alexander the Great, were questioned, anticipating the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. "Lancillotti's work was translated into French with a much more combative title than the original, Les impostures de l'histoire ancienne et profane; ouvrages necessaire aux jeunes gens, aux instituteur, & generalement a toutes les personnes qui veulent lire l'histoire avec fruit (Paris: Costard, 1770) which translates the Farfalloni, making it a powerful manifesto against the "imposture" of the ancients and presenting it as a book in which young people should learn how to read classical historians."[2]

In 1622 Lancellotti began his Acus nautica, siue expeditissima ad quamcunquede re qualibet orationem, data e tanta copia scriptoribus, via. Inventore, ut in maritima nauigatione Flavio Amalphitano, ita in oratoria et academica, D. Secundo Lancellotto Abbate olivetano Perusino, which turned out to be a vast encyclopedia of fifty thousand entries in twenty-two volumes and seven thousand pages, including all the topics sorted alphabetically, from philosophy to religion, from science to geography and literature, inspired by the Polyanthea of the poet Domenico Nani Mirabelli.

The Historiae Olivetanae received criticism from his superiors, who decided to stop printing the work and to seize all copies in circulation; moreover in 1629 Lancellotti was sentenced to the monastic prison and subsequently to the monastery of Sant'Andrea in Volterra. Among the causes of the condemnation, we can also mention the internal conflicts within the Olivetan Congregation and the temperament of Lancellotti.

After a stay at Monte Morcino and a full rehabilitation from the accusations, Lancellotti wrote some autobiographical works, including Istoria olivetana dei suoi tempi, dal 1593 al 1636.

In 1639 Lancellotti emigrated to France, first to Lyon and then to Paris, where in 1641 he published L'Orvietano per gli Hoggidiani, cioè Per quelli, che patiscono del male dell'Hoggidianismo, a compendium from the Hoggidi, with an eloquent dedication to Richelieu and a self-praising epigraph that alludes to Tommaso Campanella, who had recently died in France ("Campanella prior fuerit, sim ipse Secundus"). He also tried to find a publisher for the work to which he had dedicated most of his life, the encyclopedic Acus nautica.

He died in Paris "in January of 1643 without having achieved his dream, supported in vain by Gabriel Naudé, who mourned his death with six elegant couplets praising his friend's wit and erudition."[3] On his own account, Don Secondo, perhaps with less elegance but with frank resignation, had dictated, three years before his death, this epitaph: Qui Perusina ortus/Parisina functus in urbe/Morti voce locum vitae habuit similem/Nemini Olivetano hic passo adversa Secundus/(o utinam fuerit vel pietate) iacet.

Lancellotti left unpublished Discorso contro la credenza delle cose sotto nome di antichità trovate in Volterra, a brilliant refutation of Curzio Inghirami.


  • Historiae olivetanae (1623) -- Don Secondo says in the preface that he hesitated for a while whether he should write this book in Latin or in Italian; and that he was helped by Octave Lancelloti, his brother, a priest in the same convent and professor of eloquence. The first book contains the general history of the congregation from the year 1319, the time of its establishment, until 1618; and the second that of the different monasteries. There are some curious facts and literary anecdotes.
  • L’hoggidì overo il mondo non peggiore né più calamitoso del passato (1623) -- This work, in which Lancellotti argues that men have never been better off or more wicked, will have a great impact in Europe. He corrected it carefully, and added a second part to it, entitled: L'Hoggidì overo gl'ingegni non inferiori a 'passati. Here he set to prove that the moderns are not inferior to the ancients in terms of their mind. Daniel de Rampalle translated Hoggidi for Richelieu (L'Erreur Combattue. Paris: Augustin Courbé, 1641).
  • Il Mercurio olivetano ovvero La Guida per le strade dell’Italia per le quali sogliono passare i monaci olivetani (1628) -- This journal of a voyage to Italy contains several interesting remarks.
  • L’hoggidi ouero gl’ingegni non inferiori a’ passati (1636)
  • Farfalloni de gli antichi Historici (1636)
  • Chi l’indovina è savio overo La prudenza humana fallacissima. Libri Otto (1640)
  • Del Griffone, arme od ingiuria dell'augusta città di Perugia (1640)
  • L’Orvietano per gli Hoggidiani, cioè per quelli, che patiscono del male dell’Hoggidianismo (1641) -- It is an ironic answer to the criticisms which the Hoggidi was received.
  • Istoria olivetana dei suoi tempi (1989)


  1. Vismara, Silvio (1921). "L'Abate Lancellotti e il Cardinale Federico Borromeo". Rivista Storica Benedettina. XII: 136–42.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Cherchi, Paolo (2005). Secondo Lancellotti: Le Concordanze delle Storie e gli Errori degli Antichi. Italica. LXXXII. pp. 490–509. JSTOR 27669029.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Arato, Franco (1996). "Un Enciclopedista Perugino del Seicento: Secondo Lancellotti". L'Enciclopedismo in Italia nel Secolo XVIII. Napoli: Bibliopolis. p. 27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Arato, Franco (1995). "Un Erudito Barocco: Secondo Lancellotti". Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana. CLXXII: 509–49.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Dioguardi, Gianfranco (1998). "Enciclopedismo nel XVIII Secolo". Belfagor. LIII (2): 208–15. JSTOR 26147739.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Faber, Martin (2005). "Meglio la Tirannide o l'Indifferenza? I Cardinali Protettori degli Olivetani (1591-1633)". Quaderni Storici. XL (119): 389–411. JSTOR 43779494.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Michaud, Jean-Francois; Michaud, Louis-Gabriel (1819). "Lancelloti ou Lancilloti (D. Secondo)". Biographie Universelle, Ancienne et Moderne. 23. Paris: Michaud Frères. pp. 315–16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Savini, Marta (1971). "A Proposito di Alcuni Inediti di Secondo Lancellotti". Lettere Italiane. XXIII (1): 85–111. JSTOR 26252157.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links