Galeotto Marzio, Matthias Fountain, Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

Matthias Fountain, Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary

Meet Galeotto Marzio da Narni, 15th century chronicler. Born in Italy, Marzio led a peripatetic life, studying medicine in Padua, becoming professor of poetry and rhetoric at Bologna, tutoring Pope Sixtus VI and washing up in Hungary as head of the royal library and general court flatterer in King Matthias’s court. In 1477, he was accused of heresy and unceremoniously imprisoned in Venice.

Which is where we learn that the sculptor of the Matthias Fountain was being more than a little flattering in his depiction. Because Marzio was fat. Grossly, obscenely fat. So fat that a Venetian was heard to exclaim:

O che porco grasso! (“Oh, what a fat pig!”)

To which Marzio replied:

E meglio essere porco grasso, che becco megro (“Better to be a fat pig than a skinny goat.”)

Thanks to the intercession of Sixtus VI, Marzio survived his Venetian sojourn, but couldn’t outrun fate. According to Paolo Jovi, he died near Este, suffocated by his own fat.


Hazlitt, William Carew. The Venetian Republic: Its Rise, Its Growth, and Its Fall 421-1797, Volume 2. p. 539.
Thorndike, Lynn. A History of Magic and Experimental Science, Volume 4. p. 399.