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Fernando Di Cordova
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Spanish and Portuguese linguists > Fernando Di Cordova

The catalogue of Spanish linguists opens with a name hardly less marvellous than that which I have placed at the head of the linguists of modern Italy—that of Fernando di Cordova ;— one of those universal geniuses, whom Nature, in the prodigal exercise of her creative powers, occasionally produces, as if to display their extent and versatility. He was born early in the fifteenth century, and was hardly less precocious than his Italian rival, Pico della Mirandola. At ten years of age he had completed his courses of grammar and rhetoric. He could recite three or four pages of the Orations of Cicero after a single reading. Before he attained his twenty-fifth year, he was in- stalled Doctor in all the faculties; and he is said by Feyjoo to have been thorough master (supo con toda la perfeccion) of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic. Peyjoo adds, that he knew, besides, all the principal European languages. He could repeat the entire Bible from memory. He was profoundly versed in theology, in civil and canon law, in mathematics, and in medicine. He had at his perfect command all the works of St. Thomas, of Scotus, of Alexander of Hales, of Galen, Avicenna, and the other lights of the age in every de- partment of science. Like the Admirable Crichton, too, he was one of the most accomplished gentlemen and most distinguished cavaliers of his time. He could play on every known variety of instrument; he sang exquisitely; he was a most graceful dancer; an expert swordsman; and a bold and skilful rider; and he was master of one particular art of fence by which he was able to defeat all his adversaries, by springing upon them at a single, bound of twenty- three or twenty-four yards! In a word, to adopt the enthusiastic panegyric of the old chronicler on whose simple narrative these statements rest, " if you could live a hundred years without eating or drinking, .and were to give the whole time to study, you could not learn all that this young man knew." The occasion to which thus writer, quoting Monstrelet's Chronicle,t refers was the Royal Fete at Paris in 1445; so that Fernando must have been born about 1425. Of his later history but little is known. He was sent as ambassador to Rome in 1469, and died in 1480.

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