An Aristotelian philosopher and a physician, Pietro Trapolino was a professor of philosophia naturalis and medicine at the University of Padua. He studied at Padua under the Dominican Francesco Securo de Nardò and Nicoletto Vernia. He spent his teaching career there, where he was Pietro Pomponazzi’s professor and later colleague and friend. His name is mostly linked with his commentaries on Aristotelian works (Physica, De caelo, De anima), in which he kept a moderate Averroism and showed a significant Thomistic inclination.
KeywordsMedical Practice Main Theme Pure Form Natural Treatise Teaching Career
Pietro Trapolino was born in 1451 in Vigodarzere near Padua. He was the son of the aristocratic gentleman Francesco. He studied at Padua under the Dominican Francesco Securo de Nardò, Professor of metaphysics in via Thomae, and Nicoletto Vernia. There, he became Doctor artium on 11 February 1483, and Nicoletto Vernia was one of his tutors. He received, thus, the degree of Doctor medicinae on 1 December 1486 (Vedova 1836; Nardi 1958; Lohr 2010). He married Donna Maria Roselli, the granddaughter of the well-known jurist Antonio, and had five children: four males (Francesco, Giulio, Alessandro, and Antonio) and one female (Alba) (Nardi 1958).
Since 15 November 1487, thus, Trapolino linked his life with the Sacro Collegio dei Medici e Filosofi and to the Faculty of Arts and Medicine of Padua. There, he taught initially philosophia naturalis and later since 1943 medical practice and since 1495 theoretical medicine. He was professor, colleague, and also friend of Pietro Pomponazzi (Nardi 1958; Di Napoli 1963).
The Venetian war against the League of Cambrai seriously compromised the equilibrium at the Studium patavinum. On 6 June 1509, the German army of the Emperor Maximilian I entered Padua, and in the same day Trapolino died, at the age of 58, under unknown circumstances (Nardi 1958).
At his time, Trapolino was an important commentator of Aristotelian texts at the University of Padua and was the author of three still extant commentaries on Aristotle’s libri naturales: Expositio in IV libros Physicorum (Ms Modena, Biblioteca Estense, lat. 375), Quaestiones ac notabilia recollecta in libro Caeli (Ms Venezia, Biblioteca Marciana, lat. VI 301), and Quaestiones ac notabilia recollecta super libris De anima (Lohr 2010). The commentary on De anima, composed during the last decade of the fifteenth century, is preserved in two manuscripts (Ms Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale, 408 and Ms Venezia, Biblioteca Marciana, lat. VI 301) which show some differences in the text. It is possible that they are two different recollections (or reportationes) of Trapolino’s lectures transcribed by students. The Quaestiones super De anima held in the Venetian manuscript were recollected by Benedetto Tiriaca, at that time student, who is also mentioned as the scribe of the commentary on De caelo kept in the same manuscript (Nardi 1965; Bakker 2012).
He wrote also some works on medicine: Quaestiones super Hippocratis Aphorismi (Ms Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 6537); Quaestio de aequali ad pondus and De restauratione humidi radicalis (Ms Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, N. 336 Sup.) (Bakker 2012).
Trapolino, together with Nicoletto Vernia, belongs to the Paduan Averroism, which since the beginning of the fifteenth century has been represented by Paolo Veneto and Gaetano da Thiene (Nardi 1958). Averroism has arrived in Padua thanks to the spreading of Averroes’ commentary on Aristotle’s natural treatises and metaphysics. It was used to read Aristotelian texts together with those of the commentator even in comparison with other commentators (Alexander of Aphrodisias, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus). That use arose controversies between Averroists and Thomists, a debate in which even the Church of Padua took part (Nardi 1958). One of the main themes regarded the unity of intellect, which Trapolino also commented. He maintained the souls as separated, assistens et non informans, saving nevertheless the individual immortality (Garin 1947; Saitta 1966). Following Aquinas, he put the human soul between the pure forms of celestial intelligences and the formae omnino materiales entirely linked to the matter. As the student of the Dominican Francesco Securo de Nardò, Trapolino took into a greater account the Thomistic commentary, often favoring it to the Averroistic one (Di Napoli 1963; Nardi 1965; Saitta 1966; Poppi 1970; Garin 1966). He, thus, kept a moderate Averroism and did not receive any censorship from the Bishopric, whereas Vernia did (Nardi 1958).
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