Pomponio Torelli

Pomponio Torelli

Portrait of Pomponio Torelli (1539 – 1608) by Cesare Aretusi (1549 – 1612), now in the Galleria Nazionale di Parma
Born 1539
Died 9 April 1608
Nationality Papal States
Occupation writer
Known for Renaissance tragedies

Pomponio Torelli (1539 – 9 April 1608) was Count of Montechiarugolo and a writer of prose, poetry and plays. He is principally remembered for his five tragedies.


Pomponio Torelli was born in 1539 at Montechiarugolo near Parma, which until the creation of the Duchy of Parma in 1545 was in the Duchy of Milan. He was the third son of Paolo Torelli (1509 – 1545) and his second wife Beatrice Pico della Mirandola (died 1546), who was the great-niece of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. In 1545 Torelli's father died and he succeeded at the age of six to the title of Count of Montechiarugolo; his mother died in the following year. He was tutored at home by Andrea Casali, then studied at Padova under Bernardino Tomitano and Francesco Robortello.

In 1566 he was knighted by the second Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese, and made ambassador to Flanders. In 1573 he married Isabella Bonelli, great-niece of pope Pius V and sister of cardinal Michele Bonelli. The third Duke of Parma, Alessandro Farnese, appointed Torelli tutor to his son Ranuccio Farnese, and entrusted him with diplomatic missions in Flanders and in Spain.[1]

Under the nickname Il Perduto, "the lost one", Torelli was a leading figure in the Accademia degli Innominati, a society of learned and literary men founded in Parma on 13 June 1574, which ceased activity in 1608, the year of Torelli's death.[2]

Pomponio Torelli died in Parma on 9 April 1608. A portrait of him by Cesare Aretusi was commissioned in 1602 by Giovan Battista Masi, who married Torelli's daughter Clelia in 1604 and who, with Torelli's son and heir Pio, was among those beheaded on 19 May 1612 for involvement in the Congiura dei feudatari, or "plot of the feudal lords", against Ranuccio Farnese.[3] The painting is now in the Galleria Nazionale di Parma.[1]


Torelli wrote love poetry in the style of Petrarch; his Rime were published in 1575, with an expanded edition in 1586, and his Scherzi poetici in 1598. His six books of Carmina in Latin were printed in Parma in 1600. His Trattato del debito del cavaliere (1596) and Trattato delle passioni dell’animo contain his Neoplatonist philosophical discussions of affects, emotions and the duties of the knight. He is however principally remembered for his tragedies: La Merope was published in 1589, Il Tancredi in 1597, La Galatea in 1603, and La Vittoria, on Pietro della Vigna, and Il Polidoro both in 1605.[4]



  1. 1 2 Jean-Paul Barbier-Mueller (2007) Ma bibliothèque poétique: poètes italiens de la Renaissance dans la bibliothèque de la Fondation Barbier-Mueller. Pt. 6, De Dante à Chiabrera (in French). Genève: Librairie Droz, ISBN 9782600011402. p. 220.
  2. Lucia Denarosi (2003) L'Accademia degli Innominati di Parma: teorie letterarie e progetti di scrittura (1574-1608) (in Italian). Florence: Società Editrice Fiorentina, ISBN 9788887048544. p. 21.
  3. Laura Turchi (2008) MASI, Giovan Battista, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 71 (in Italian). Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed May 2013.
  4. Torèlli, Pomponio. Treccani.it: Enciclopedie on line (in Italian). Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed May 2013.

Further reading

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