Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II (Latin: Pius PP. II, Italian: Pio II), born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini (Latin Aeneas Silvius Bartholomeus; 18 October 1405 – 14 August 1464) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 19 August 1458 to his death. He was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble but impoverished family. His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, the Commentaries, which is the only revealed autobiography ever to have been written by a reigning pope.
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- Desirous that our venerable city be preserved in its dignity and splendor, we must attend to its care with the greatest vigilance. Not only the basilicas, churches, and religious sites, in which many relics of the saints reside, but also the ancient buildings and their ruins should be handed down to posterity, as these confer upon the city its most beautiful adornment and its greatest charm; they attest to ancient virtues and encourage us to emulate their glorious example.
- Cum almam nostram urbem (28 April 1462), quoted in David Karmon, The Ruin of the Eternal City: Antiquity and Preservation in Renaissance Rome (2011), p. 69
The Tale of Two Lovers, 1444
- Pope Pius II (1444), The Tale of Two Lovers translated by Flora Grierson, London: Constable and Co., 1929: Online at Forumromanum
- You ask a thing ill-suited to my years, to yours both offensive and disgusting. For how can it become me, who am near forty, to write of love, or you, that are in your fifties, to read of it. That is a subject which delights young minds, and demands a tender heart. Old men are as fitted to tales of love as young men are to tales of prudence. Nor is there anything uglier than old age pursuing love, but lacking strength. Certainly you will sometimes find old men in love,—loved again, never; matrons and girls alike despise old age. No man’s love will hold a woman, but his whom she has seen in the flower of his youth. And if you hear aught to the contrary, there’s a lie behind it. Indeed I know, to write of love does not beseem me, who have already passed the noonday of life and am carried on towards evening; but it dishonours you who ask no less than me who write.
- p. xvii, preface (in 1933 edition)
- For what, in all the world, is more common than love? What state, what little town, what family lacks examples? Who, that has reached his thirtieth year, has not endured some villainy for love’s sake? I conjecture from myself whom love has sent into a thousand perils, and I thank the Gods above that I have a thousand times escaped the ambushes prepared for me; more fortunate in my star than Mars whom Vulcan took with Venus, and caught them in an iron net, and displayed them, as a laughing-stock, to the other Gods.
- p. xix, preface (in 1933 edition)