Disturbing the sacred dead

The BBC reports that an Italian professor of anthropology has violated the tombs of Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Politian, for some frivolous reason or other.  Both were leading figures in the recovery of ancient literature in the 15th century.  

I remember one day finding a letter from Politian bound into a manuscript that I was examining. It was to Tristano Chalci, about the works of Tertullian — what existed, what survived. At that date little had been printed. Politian went on a journey with Tristano Chalci through the Veneto in 1494, looking for manuscripts of classical and patristic works. Something of the sunshine of that civilised journey, in search of lost learning and civilisation, still trickles through his words to the reader, even today.  The letter to Chalci exists in handwritten copies bound into a number of humanist manuscripts of the works of Tertullian, and was printed often in the 16th century.  

Italy is largely a cultured land, aware of its past as the cradle of the Renaissance of ancient learning and the modern world.  It is melancholy to see such impiety.


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