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Giuseppe Passi

Giuseppe Passi (1569–1620) was an Italian author.

Passi was born in Ravenna, but there is little surviving information about his education or background. In his native city, he was a member of the Accademia degli Informi (Academy of the Formless), taking the pseudonym ‘l’Ardito’ (the Daring). He later attended the Accademia dei Filoponi in Faenza (Academy of the Filoponi in Faenza) and the Accademia dei Ricovrati (Academy of the Recovered) in Padua.

In 1599 Passi published I donneschi difetti [The Defects of Women], a misogynistic treatise which defends the subjugation of women by men based on their natural inferiority and many vices. He explores these vices at length, dividing them into over thirty chapters, such as “Delle donne ambitiose” [On Ambitious Women] or “Delle Donne Iraconde, Coleriche, e Furibonde” [On Irate, Choleric and Furious Women]. This work, which would go through at least four different editions between 1599 and 1618, prompted a swift response from the Second Venetian Academy. One of its members, Niccolò Doglioni, published Il merito delle donne [The Worth of Women] (1600) written by his late niece, Moderata Fonte, along with her biography. Another member probably commissioned the rebuttal of Passi’s work by Lucrezia Marinella, who explicitly and systematically addressed his claims in her treatise, La nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne, co’ difetti et mancamenti de gli huomini [The Nobility and Excellence of Women, with the Defects and Shortcomings of Men] (1600). In 1601, the Accademia degli Informi actually disavowed and distanced itself from Passi’s misogyny by publishing a philogynous, Neoplatonic lettura which includes a dedicatory letter addressing the hostility faced by the academy in the wake of I donneschi difetti. In 1603, Passi published La monstruosa fucina delle sordidezze de gl’huomini, also referred to as I difetti degli uomini [The Defects of Men], perhaps to atone for his earlier controversial work or due to pressure from the Academy in Ravenna.

In 1616 Passi retired to the Benedictine monastery of San Michele in Murano, taking the vows and the name Pietro. He died in 1620.



Boni, Fabio, (2011) “‘VII: Foetorem in lecto’. Una Lettura de I donneschi difetti di Giuseppe Passi Ravennate”, Studia Litteraria Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis 5: 25­–36.

Everson, J E, Denis V. Reidy, and Lisa Sampson. The Italian Academies 1525–1700: Networks of Culture, Innovation and Dissent. Abingdon : Legenda, 2016. Print.

Kolsky, Stephen, (2001) “Moderata Fonte, Lucrezia Marinella, Giuseppe Passi: An Early Seventheenth-Century Feminist Controversy”, The Modern Language Review 96:4, 973–989.