," say they, "after giving a very circumstantial account of one contested with great obstinacy by a great and small species on the trunk of a pear tree," adds that "this action was fought in the pontificate of Eugenius the Fourth, in the presence of Nicholas Pistoriensis, an eminent lawyer, who related the whole, history of the battle with the greatest fidelity." A similar engagement between great and small ants is recorded by Olaus Magnus, in which the small ones, being victorious, are said to have buried the bodies of their own soldiers, but left those of their giant enemies a prey to the birds.
The subject of this book is the Commentarii rerum memorabilium quae temporibus suis contigerunt, the thirteen-book account of the life, pontificate, and age of Pope Pius II, known as Aeneas Sylvius
Piccolomini before he assumed the papacy.
Among their topics are Aeneas Sylvius
Picolomini and Leonardo Bruni's translation of Aristotle's Politics, the Byzantine social elite and the market economy from the 11th to the middle 15th century, Renaissance sources in medieval mirrors for princes: Petrarch and Andreas Pannonius, the quest for certainty in fact and faith: Pierre-Daniel Huet and Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum, the reception of Xenophanes' B34 in heathen and Christian antiquity and its sequel in Byzantine thought, and notes from a nominalist in a new incunabulum by Symphorien Champier.
And if Aeneas Sylvius
(the future Pope Pius II) is to be believed, Basel was a raucous assembly filled with cooks and grooms bent on bringing down the papacy.
One of the laymen at the council was Aeneas Sylvius
Piccolomini, diplomat and poet, in his capacity as secretary to the Bishop of Fermo.
Especially important for the biography are six texts under the heading "The Hercules of the Eugenians," Aeneas Sylvius
's title for Nicholas as advocate for Pope Eugenius IV.
When Aeneas Sylvius
visited Tabor thirty years later, communism had long been extinct.
First is Nikolaos Sekoundinos's Defamilia Otthomanorum epitome ad Aeneam Senarum episcopum, a short work on the Ottoman sultans written for Aeneas Sylvius
Piccolomini two years before he became Pope Pius II in 1458.