MÜRET, Marc-Antoine

Marc-Antoine Muret, a learned French humanist and member of the Pleiade, taught classics and included among his admiring pupils the noted essayist Michel de Montaigne.* Muret was born in 1526 in Limoges, France. Muret's father, a famous jurist, inspired in him a love of study and sent him to Poitiers for formal study, but he could not stand having teachers, so at the age of twelve he took charge of his own studies. In 1545, at eighteen, he became a professor at Auch, but he continued his peripatetic ways, moving on to being a private tutor to a wealthy family, then returning to Poitiers to resume his legal studies, where he formed his friendship with the poet Joachim Du Bellay.* While he was teaching at the College de Guyenne in Bordeaux in 1547, he put on his Latin tragedy, Julius Caesar, in which Michel de Montaigne played a role. Muret personally tutored Montaigne until the latter left at the age of thirteen. Montaigne later said of Muret that he was "the best stylist of his age."
In 1551 Muret moved to Paris, teaching at the College du Cardinal Lemoine and the College Royal. While he was in Paris, he joined the famed poetic group the Pleiade through his connection with Du Bellay. The members of the Pleiade, headed by Pierre de Ronsard,* distinguished themselves as champions of the French language based on classical models of poetry. Muret wrote a Commen­tary on Ronsard's Amours, explaining the mythological allusions in the poems. He became famous for his orations, frequented by the French king and queen, Henri II and Catherine de Medici.*
But Muret's career was marred by scandal; whether this was due to envious rivals or actual excesses is unclear. He left Paris after having been incarcerated in the Chatelet for unnatural vices; he had resolved to die from hunger, "but God had pity on his soul." He moved to Toulouse, where he was accused of being a Huguenot and a sodomite. His enemies burned him in effigy, but he escaped in disguise.
He lived in Venice, Padua, and Ferrara, eventually becoming the official or­ator for Cardinal Ippolito d'Este and the French at the papal court in Rome. Muret made a point of his "implacable hatred" of heretics in an oration at the funeral of Pius V in 1572. Later that year he glorified the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre before the new pope, Gregory XIII: "During the night I imagine the stars shone more brilliantly and the Seine had greater waves to carry and vomit the bodies of the impure men into the sea more quickly." After having held the chair of humane letters for many years in Rome, he retired in 1584 and died the following year. Pope Gregory XIII called him "the torch and pillar" of the Roman school.
Muret is best known as a learned French humanist and celebrated Latin stylist. In addition to the play Julius Caesar, he is remembered for his French com­mentary on the Amours of Ronsard, his editions of classical authors, and his multivolume Variae lectiones.
C. Dejob, Marc Antoine Muret: Un professeur francois en Italie, 1881, rpt., 1970.
Elaine Kruse

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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