Jean Antoine de Baïf was a French poet and member of the Pléiade.
He was born in Venice, the natural son of the scholar Lazare de Baïf, who was at that time French ambassador at Venice. Thanks, perhaps, to the surroundings of his childhood, he grew up an enthusiast for the fine arts, and surpassed in zeal all the leaders of the Renaissance in France. His father spared no pains to secure the best possible education for his son. The boy was taught Latin by Charles Estienne, and Greek by Ange Vergèce, the Cretan scholar and calligraphist who designed Greek types for Francis I.
When he was eleven years old he was put under the care of the famous Jean Daurat. Ronsard, who was eight years his senior, now began to share his studies. Claude Binet tells how young Baïf, bred on Latin and Greek, smoothed out the tiresome beginnings of the Greek language for Ronsard, who in return initiated his companion into the mysteries of French versification.
Baïf possessed an extraordinary facility, and the mass of his work has injured his reputation. Besides a number of volumes of short poems of an amorous or congratulatory kind, he translated or paraphrased various pieces from Bion, Moschus, Theocritus, Anacreon, Catullus and Martial. He resided in Paris, and enjoyed the continued favor of the court. In 1570, in conjunction with the composer Joachim Thibault de Courville, with royal blessing and financial backing, he founded the Académie de musique et de poésie, with the idea of establishing a closer union between music and poetry; his house became famous for the concerts which he gave, entertainments which Charles IX and Henry III frequently attended. Composers such as Claude Le Jeune, who was to become the most influential musician in France in the late 16th century, and Jacques Mauduit, who carried the Academie's ideas into the 17th century, soon joined the group, which remained secretive as to its intents and techniques.
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