1. The present dialogue first appeared in the 1555 Basel edition of Polydore Vergil’s philosophical dialogues. Otherwise, the volume was nothing more than a reprint of the 1545 Basel edition of his first four such dialogues. In the present volume it is printed first, no doubt because the printer thought that the novelty value of a newly-added dialogue would help sales. But it was probably written considerably before 1555. In the dedicatory epistle preceding De Iureiurando ac Periurio Polydore points out that it and one of the dialogues first printed in 1545, De Veritate et Mendacio, naturally go together to make up a pair, just as his De Vita Perfecta was written as a companion-dialogue to De Patientia et eius Fructu. This is underscored by the fact that the two of them are prefaced by a dedicatory epistle covering them both. There may therefore be a presumption that this dialogue was written in reasonably close proximity to the one on truth and falsehood; if so, the reason which it was not included in the 1545 collection cannot be ascertained.
2. The speakers in this dialogue are the author’s elder brother Gian Matteo Virgilio and his uncle Teseo Pini. NOTE 1 Gian Matteo was also the addressee of the dedicatory epistle written for the greatly expanded 1521 Basel edition of Polydore’s De Inventoribus Rerum. Teseo is already a familiar figure to readers of Polydore’s dialogues. In De Patientia et eius Fructu and De Veritate et Mendacio he is portrayed as a young and callow man, whereas in De Veritate et Mendacio he displays considerably more intellectual maturity and at §10 of that dialogue frankly acknowledges his advanced years. The fictive date of the two former dialogues (and, not unlikely, their actual date of composition) must have been quite early, written either while Polydore was still living in Italy or soon after his migration to England in 1502, and De Veritate et Mendacio considerably later, probably not long before its 1545 publication. In this latter dialogue Teseo is described as residing at Polydore’s villa outside London. NOTE 2 Since at §33 of this present dialogue Teseo displays familiarity with the English legal system, it is likely that its fictive date is during this same visit, which is further reason for suspecting that these two dialogues were written during the same time-frame. If the date of Gian Matteo’s death could be ascertained (something I have unable to do with the resources at my disposal), this period might be defined with greater accuracy.
3. One minor feature of this dialogue is not without literary interest. At §26 Polydore gives us a brief thumbnail sketch of the career and death of Richard III. This contains no factual statements not included in vastly greater detail in Book XXV of his Anglica Historia, but he discovers a different meaning in Richard’s downfall, here interpreting it as God’s vengeance for violating the oath of loyalty to Edward V he had taken at York.
NOTE 1 The speakers were originally identified by Catherine Atkinson, Inventing Inventors in Renaissance Europe: Polydore Vergil’s De Inventoribus (Tübingen, 2007), who provides more information on Polydore’s family connections, pp. 70ff. According to William J. Connell’s O. D. N. B. biography, Teseo (a clergyman and also a lawyer) was the author of Speculum Cerretanorum, a treatise on vagabonds mentioned by Erasmus in his Ecclesiastes and printed at Wittenberg in 1528 with a preface by Martin Luther.
NOTE 2 As far as I know, nothing is known about Teseo’s visit to England, but it may not be irrelevant to note that Polydore had another brother, Girolamo, a merchant involved in trade with England.