The following is the second chapter from my book 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003.
For more on me: go to The Memory Hole.
Before he was Pope Pius II, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini was a poet, scholar, diplomat, and rakehell. And an author. In fact, he wrote a bestseller. People in fifteenth-century Europe couldn’t get enough of his Latin novella Historia de duobus amantibus. An article in a scholarly publication on literature claims that Historia “was undoubtedly one of the most read stories of the whole Renaissance.” The Oxford edition gives a Cliff Notes version of the storyline: “The Goodli History tells of the illicit love of Euralius, a high official in the retinue of the [German] Emperor Sigismund, and Lucres, a married lady from Siena [Italy].”
It was probably written in 1444, but the earliest known printing is from Antwerp in 1488.… Read the rest