Girolamo Ruscelli

(1500–1556)

Ruscelli was a well-known humanist in the sixteenth century, and was the self-proclaimed founder of arguably the first scientific society, the Accademia Segreta, which is supposed to have flourished in Naples between 1542 and 1547. Earlier, when in Rome, Ruscelli was a founding member of the Accademia dei Sdegnati, in 1541; by 1548 he was in Venice working as a writer and proofreader for Vincenzo Valgrisi, who published this edition of Ptolemy. What we know of Ruscelli is discerned from his Proem’ to the Secreti nuovi’, one of the many books of secrets” of the sixteenth century, published in 1567. He was highly praised by contemporaries as a man of immense erudition, and humanistic writings add substance to these encomiums. Among his works were annotations on Boccaccio and Petrarch, commentaries on the Italian language, books on the design of arms and armour, heraldry, militia, the rules of Italian poetry, history, and a translation of Ptolemy’s Geography’” (Eamon and Paheau).