We sometimes take for granted that whole first amendment thing and forget that the price of a loose pen has at times been more than a mere libel suit. Take for example the case of Niccolo Franco, a bit of a wastrel, certainly too clever by half, and yet not quite clever enough to keep himself out of trouble.
He was born in Benevento in 1515 of a good family and given all the advantages that a modest but reasonably prosperous family of that time and place could give. He was quick to take it all in, mastering Latin, as one does, chiefly to get at the racier bits of Martial, Petronius and Catullus, also as one does. He combined his flair for language with a taste for the low life and contention. A good time for him was a brothel with free flowing wine and loose women and petty (and even not so petty) criminals. Continue reading