Annibal Caro was born on June 19, 1507 in Civitanova Marche, a small town overlooking the Adriatic Sea. When Annibal was eighteen he left home for Florence to further his education. He entered the household of Monsignor Giovanni Gaddi, clerk of the Apostolic Chamber, as Gaddi’s private secretary. Gaddi had achieved considerable renown as a patron in the publishing of classical and contemporary authors, and some delegation of editorial responsibilities almost certainly fell to Caro. In due course Caro moved to Rome. There he found himself in close contact with the entourage of the Farnese pope, Paul III, and with the leading circles of humanist writers and thinkers. From 1542 to 1547, he found new employment as a member of the secretariat in the household of Pierluigi Farnese, the eldest son of Pope Paul III.
During that time, in early 1543, Caro wrote Gli Straccioni for his new patron. On behalf of Pierluigi, Caro also undertook a series of diplomatic missions and was named administrator of justice in Piacenza. After Pierluigi alienated the nobles of his territories and massacred those who had rebelled against his father, he was assassinated on September 10, 1547. Caro, accused of complicity and larceny, fled to Rome, where he became secretary to the pope’s nephew, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, whom he served until 1563 in administrative and diplomatic capacities.
As a member of the Accademia della virtù, Caro wrote a series of salacious parodies. His two volumes of Lettere familiari, consisting of some 800 letters, form an outstanding literary achievement. Perhaps his greatest work was an Italian translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, destined to become the canonical translation down to the twentieth century. His other translated works include Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe.
Caro died on November 20, 1566 and was buried in the center of the south aisle of the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso in Rome, not far from the great Farnese Palace where he had long worked.
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