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Febo del Poggio
(ca. 1510 - ?) Italy

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Michelangelo lover

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In the early 1530s Michelangelo was sustaining a relationship with his much younger model Febo del Poggio. He calls Febo "that little blackmailer," because Febo adopted Michelangelo as "my honorary father" and steadily demanded money, clothes, and love-gifts from him. On a page containing financial calculations, Michelangelo wrote:

Michelangelo

Here with his beautiful eyes he promised me solace,
And with those very eyes he tried to take it away from me.

Their passion raged through 1533-34, but ended when Michelangelo discovered that the mignon had "betrayed" him - perhaps by actually stealing money or drawings from his sugar-daddy. The artist felt humiliated by his subservience to the model.

Several poems pun upon the boy's name - "Febo" equals Phoebus, and poggio is the Italian word for "hill" - and suggest physical consummation:

Blithe bird, excelling us by fortune's sway,
Of Phoebus' [Febo] thine the prize of lucent notion,
Sweeter yet the boon of winged promotion
To the hill [poggio] whence I topple and decay!

But such a topple was sweet:
Easily could I soar, with such a happy fate,
When Phoebus [Febo] brightened up the heights [poggio].
His feathers were wings and the hill [poggio] the stair.
Phoebus [Febo] was a lantern to my feet.

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Source: excerpts from: Rictor Norton, "The Passions of Michelangelo", Gay History and Literature, updated 14 June 2008

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