The Condottiere’s Praise: Prospero Colonna in Pietro Gravina’s Epigrams
The extant works of Pietro, a Neapolitan humanist close to the Academy at Naples during the time of Giovanni Pontano, contain a large number of poems written in praise of the condottiere Prospero Colonna. In his depictions of Colonna as a man of war, Gravina traces the portrait of a defender both of the papacy and of Italy. The dominant image of Colonna is that of the conqueror of the French forces in battles near Milan, most notably at Landriano, during the years 1521-1522. The humanist likens his heroic patron to a series of ancient military figures encountered in the works of Livy. His array of ancient generals noted for widely differing strategies and personalities invents a somewhat refined portrayal of Prospero that underscores the complexity of his character. Varyingly hesitant and enterprising on the battlefield, Prospero Colonna poses a distinct challenge to the court poet who seeks to describe him in terms of ancient military figures.