Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Dialogues, Volume 1: Charon and Antonius

Dialogues, Volume 1: Charon and Antonius

Giovanni Gioviano Pontano

Edited and translated by Julia Haig Gaisser

ISBN 9780674054912

Publication date: 11/19/2012

Giovanni Pontano (1426–1503), whose academic name was Gioviano, was the most important Latin poet of the fifteenth century as well as a leading statesman who served as prime minister to the Aragonese kings of Naples. His Dialogues are our best source for the humanist academy of Naples which Pontano led for several decades. They provide a vivid picture of literary life in the capital of the Aragonese seaborne empire, based in southern Italy and the Western Mediterranean. This first volume contains the two earliest of Pontano’s five dialogues. Charon, set in the underworld of classical mythology, illustrates humanist attitudes to a wide range of topics, satirizing the follies and superstitions of humanity. Antonius, a Menippean satire named for the founder of the Neapolitan Academy, Antonio Beccadelli, is set in the Portico Antoniano in downtown Naples, where the academicians commemorate and emulate their recently-deceased leader, conversing on favorite topics and stopping from time to time to interrogate passersby.

This volume contains a freshly-edited Latin text of these dialogues and the first translation of them into English.


  • The best possible tribute to Pontano is that his dialogues still make entertaining reading… A large part of this entertainment is Gaisser’s doing—this is as shrewd and effervescent a rendering as poor forgotten Pontano is ever likely to get. It’s another triumph for I Tatti, a benchmark of Pontano studies, and a required starting-point for all future textual scholars of his work. But it mainly makes readers think about the vanities of intellectuals and the joys of good raillery. It would be a shame if it found its way only into the hands of scholars and students, even though Pontano himself would probably have preferred it that way.

    —Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly


  • Julia Haig Gaisser is Eugenia Chase Guild Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Professor Emeritus of Latin at Bryn Mawr College.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author