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Prospero Farinacci
(1554 - 1618) Italy

Prospero Farinacci

Criminologist

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Farinacci was among the most important lay personalities in 16th century Rome. As a political figure, he held various positions in the Papal States, and as a lawyer he participated in several sensational trials.

Prospero FarinacciAs a man of letters, Farinacci authored numerous works on jurisprudence and gained fame for a most ambitious project: to write a compendium for magistrates and lawyerswhich would sum up all previous works on the subject and make reference to any other volume almost superfluous. Farinacci was also known to contemporaries for his inhuman severity as a judge - he invariably imposed the harshest sentences to offenders.

Farinacci condemned sodomy with great severity in his work, notwithstanding which he was implicated in activities which could have cost him life if they had been brought before his court. A particular scandal occurred in 1595, when he was accused of having sodomized, on several occasions, 16-year-old Berardino Rocchi, a page in the Altemps palace, where Farinacci lived. The intervention of pope Clement VIII, who pardoned him, saved Farinacci's life.

In signing the pardon, the pope made a pun on Farinacci's surname - "La farina è buona, ma il sacco che la contiene è cattivo" (The flour is good, but the floursack is bad) - which became famous.

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Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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