Giannantonio de’ Pandoni aka Il Porcellio (before 1409 – after 1485) was an Italian humanist. Il Porcellio was born in Naples, but the first documents concerning him date from his period as a lecturer at the University of Rome. In 1434 he took part in an uprising which chased Pope Eugene IV from Rome, and he then participated in a mission to the Council of Basel. After the restoration of the pope, however, Il Porcellio was imprisoned for ten years. On his release, he began to move from court to court, writing Latin poems and historical works designed to ingratiate himself with various Italian luminaries; in Naples, he was appointed to diplomatic posts and in 1452 was made poet laureate to Emperor Frederick III. He lived subsequently in Rimini (1456) and Milan (1456– 1459), then again in Naples and finally in Rome, where he taught at the university, and where he died sometime after 1485.

Although he was married and had at least one child, Il Porcellio throughout his life had a reputation as a sodomite. The most overt testimony to his behaviour was a short story published in 1554, after his death, by Matteo Bandello (1485– 1561), recounting his years in Milan at the court of Duke Francesco Sforza. According to Bandello, Il Porcellio married late in life at the insistence of the duke, who wanted to distract him from young men. One day Il Porcellio fell ill, and his wife, believing him to be near death, summoned a confessor. When the priest left his room, she enquired whether her husband had confessed to the sin of sodomy. The priest admitted that he had not, whereupon he twice returned to ask Il Porcellio if he had committed the crime against nature, which he denied. Eventually, since Il Porcellio's wife kept insisting, the priest told him straightforwardly: ‘You deny having sinned against nature, yet I am assured you are a thousand times fonder of boys than goats are fond of salt.’ Il Porcellio, shaking his head, shouted: ‘Oh, oh, reverend father, you did not ask me properly. Amusing myself with boys is to me more natural than eating or drinking to humankind, yet you asked me whether I had sinned against nature! Go away, go away, sir, since you do not know what a desirable thing is.’

Other contemporary testimonies to Il Porcellio's sexuality exist. For instance, the poet Francesco Filelfo, in Milan, played host to Il Porcellio, his son and two boys travelling with them; Filelfo and Il Porcellio later argued and Filelfo, in De jociis et seriis (1458– 1465), published a series of venomous Latin epigrams about the man he called ‘Porcellus Porcellius’ (‘ Piggy Pig’) and also accused him of sodomy in a Latin letter. Filelfo's ‘Eulogium in Porcellium Porcellum Grammaticum’ is a makebelieve epitaph for the humanist in which he says: ‘Piggy Porcellius, renowned for every / vice, is now ashes in this place. / In fact, having been unique as a bugger [paedico fuit unicus], his destiny was being burned by fire / or, poor him, after death: thus the gods decreed.’ In another composition, Filelfo said that Il Porcellio's reputation for sodomy was known all over Lombardy in spite of his advanced age. The reputation was confirmed by a student, ‘Pierangelo Siciliano’, who between 1470 and 1480, lamented the wickedness of students in Rome (who, according to him, were also guilty of homosexuality). He also complained that students drew phalluses on the back of their teacher's chair, writing in Latin verse that they were for his lecherous anus.

As for Il Porcellio's own work, one poem, ‘In Petrutium adolescentem’, tells of young Petruccio who flees the poet's love verses. Yet, Il Porcellio argued, poetry was loved by Apollo, ganymede, Hylas, the Muses and Jove; therefore he who wants to be numbered among the learned must also love poetry. The allusion to Ganymede, Jove's beloved, and Hylas, Hercules’ lover, provides evidence of the explicit homoerotic interest of the poem's author.


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