Called Il Panormita (poetic form meaning “The Palermitan”), Beccadelli was poet, canon lawyer, scholar, diplomat, and chronicler born in Palermo. He generally wrote in Latin. The eldest son of the merchant Enrico di Vannino Beccadelli, who had played an active role in Sicilian politics (Praetor of Palermo in 1393), he helped his father with his business until he became consumed with enthusiasm for humanistic studies.
Between 1419 and 1429, Beccadelli traveled to numerous Italian cities (i.e. Padua, Florence, Siena, Bologna, Rome and Genoa). He finally settled in Pavia where he became a guest of Filippo Maria Visconti family (1430 – 1433) and completed his philological studies – Plautus in particular.
In 1434, he entered the service of Alfonso V of Aragon at Naples. Alfonso was a great patron of the arts, and in this city Beccadelli founded the Porticus Antoniana Academy, later known as the Accademia Pontaniana, after Giovanni Pontano. At Naples, Beccadelli began a close friendship with Pontano, and introduced the young scholar to the royal chancery of King Alfonso.
Beccadelli and Alfonso shared a great love of culture, and Beccadelli accompanied Alfonso during the vicissitudes of the king’s career. When Alfonso became a prisoner in the hands of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, in 1435, Alfonso persuaded his ferocious and crafty captor to let him go by making it plain that it was the interest of Milan not to prevent the victory of the Aragonese party in Naples. Beccadelli, with his former connection to the Milanese court, played a role in these negotiations.
After Alfonso’s death, Beccadelli remained close to the Crown of Aragon, and served Ferdinand I of Naples as Alfonso had entrusted Beccadelli with the instruction of his son and successor. Beccadelli died in January 1471 at Naples.
His collection of works includes:
1. Hermaphrodites (1425): a collection of eighty-one Latin epigrams, which evoke the unfettered eroticism of the works of Catullus and Martial.
2. Gaulish Epistles (Epistulae gallicae) (1474)
3. Campanian Epistles (Epistulae campanae) (1474)
4. The Sayings and Deeds of King Alfonso (De dictis et factis Alphonsi regis).
5. Chronicle Liber Rerum Gestarum Ferdinandi Regis (1438–1458).