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Wed, 10.30.1518

Juan Latino, Professor, and Poet born

Austrias Carmen by Juan Latino (copy)

*The birth of Juan Latino c1518 is celebrated on this date.  He was a Black Spanish professor, poet, and writer in Grenada during the sixteenth century.  

Born Juan de Sessa in Baena, he was the son of black slaves of the second Duke consort of Sessa since 1520; Luis Fernández de Córdoba, Latino, went to Grenada, where he was educated together with his master's son Gonzalo II Fernández de Córdoba and with the grandson of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba.  Latino excelled in classical languages and music and studied with grammarian Pedro de Mota. The Duke commented on his talent: "a rare bird, black like a crow."  

The University of Grenada opened in 1526 and began to confer degrees in 1533. In 1545, in the presence of the Archbishop, the listener of the Real Chancery, and many other gentlemen, Latino received the degree of Bachelor. He was 28 years old at that time.  He was set free, and in Grenada, he received the Chair of grammar and Latin language of the Cathedral; he held that post for 20 years.  

One of the houses where he taught his varied grammatically was the property of the Duke's administrator, Licenciado Carleval, whose daughter Ana Carleval, famous in the city because of her extraordinary beauty and fiancée of Don Fernando de Valor, received classes. Latino published three volumes of poems between 1573 and 1585.  

His poem Austrias Carmen was published in 1576 (see image).  It was dedicated to John of Austria after his victory over the Morisco insurrection in Grenada, known as the War of the Alpujarras.  Latino has been affirmed as one of the first writers to have used signifying.  Juan Latino died in Grenada in 1596. 

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