Brunetto Latini, an Italian scholar and poet, born in Florence about 1230, died there in 1294. He was the son of Bonacorso Latini, and became a leader of the Guelphs, after whose downfall he was exiled (1260), and spent many years in Paris in teaching philosophy and letters. After the overthrow of the Ghibellines he returned to Florence, where he became a friend and teacher of Dante, and in 1284 held the office of syndic. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria Novella, and he is one of the four personages commemorated by medallions in the cupola of Dante's tomb at Ravenna. His didactic poem Tesoretto, which he wrote, as he said, when " Florence was in her splendor," was published in Venice in 1553, besides which he composed various other works in Italian. But his fame rests on his Livre du tresor, a philosophical compilation, written in French, because, as he says, "he happened to be in France, and the language was more agreeable and usual than any other," Italian being as yet little used in prose at that period. The first part relates to history, theology, geography, and other subjects, and contains a remarkable allusion to the mariner's compass. The second part treats of ethics, and the third of rhetoric and the art of government.
Editions of Buono-Giamboni's Italian translation were published from 1474 to 1824. The French bibliographer, F. A. P. Chabaille, who died in 1863, published Latini's manuscripts extant in the national library of Paris in his Documents inedits de l'histoire de France. A project of Napoleon I. to nominate a commission for publishing the Litre du tresor at public expense, with commentaries, was not taken up till May 15, 1855, when it was recommended by the minister of public instruction. Dante, though praising Latini for teaching him how immortality is achieved by man, represents him as having committed a crime, which, according to one of the commentators, refers to a charge of forgery, but which had been indignantly denied by Latini in his Tesoretto. - See Ortolani's essay, included in his Penalites de l'Enfer de Dante (Paris, 1874).