UCLA Carte Italiane Title Publication Date LEON BATTISTA ALBERTI ON VIRTÙ ANB FORTUNA
In writing the first Italian grammar, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) illustrateci the similarities between Latin and Italian based on the theory of the latter evolving from the former. In accomplishing this, and in writing many of his own works in Italian, he was a key figure in elevating the vernacular fiom its subservience to Latin. His accomplishments in architecture, both in theory and practice, are better known, as, to a lesser extent, are his contributions to painting, e.g., a
... g, e.g., a mathematically based theory of perspective and insights into composition and content that would influence the course of renaissance painting. He found time to devote his considerable attention to literature, the theory of education, satire, sculpture, map-making, mathematical games, and even a foolproof code for papal messages! As other renaissance men of letters, Alberti was concerned with the problem of virfù and fortuna. To what extent are our lives the result of our own efforts and desires, of our own moral qualities (virtù), and to what extent are they determined by factors outside our control-by birth, or in Alberti's case by illegitimacy, education, naturai disasters, disease-in short, hy fortuna? As Alberti moved from his young student days to early manhood to middle age and into old age, his views on this problem seem to have changed. At least different emphases 10 CARTE ITALIANE are found in his writings, and these in turn reflect the circumstances in which he lived. In this paper, I trace these changes upon the larger background of his life, itself a product oi virtù 2inà fortuna.