Poet and satirist Pietro Arentino (1492–1534) was the son of a shoemaker in Arezzo, north central Italy. Later in life he pretended to be the bastard son of a nobleman, deriving his ‘adopted’ name from that of his native town – Arentino [meaning ‘belonging to Arezzo’].
Over the 60 years of his life the cobbler’s son gained fame (and notoriety) as a writer of vicious satires and lewd sonnets and a leader of dissolute society in the grand style. It was his writing, especially his five comedies, that really established his reputation as a literary figure of considerable standing. Above all his lively and amusing ‘La Cortigiana’ [Life at Court] (1534), which is an enjoyable account of lower-class life in contemporary Rome.
There exists a good deal of information about Arentino the man and his work. We even know what he looked like, for Titian painted his portrait (currently in the Frick Collection, New York). But his real name remains unknown.
Room, A. (1981), ‘Names with a Difference’, Naming Names, pp.66–67
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