- Borgia, Nepotism
- Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, sister and brother, were members of an unscrupulous family in which compassion and humane behavior played no part. There is little doubt in the minds of historians that they committed many murders, usually by poisoning, although this belief has never been proved by hard evidence. The Borgias were supposed to have possessed a secret, fatal recipe that they served to foes and unwanted guests alike. Drinking a toast to the health of the Borgias was chancy because the drinker might be about to lose his.Cesare (1476-1507) and Lucrezia (1480-1519) were children of Pope Alexander VI. The English word nepotism, "favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship," can be traced directly to this misuse of official position. The Latin word nepos, "a descendant, especially a nephew," was given to the illegitimate children of popes. Pope Alexander VI in civilian life was Rodrigo Borgia, and he turned out to be a good family provider. He installed his son Cesare as an archbishop when the boy was only sixteen years old. His young nephew Giovanni was given a cardinal's hat. Talk about family favoritism! To dine at the Borgias became known as a great but sometimes fatal honor. Sir Max Beerbohm noted in Hosts and Guests: "I maintain that though you would often in the fifteenth century have heard the snobbish Roman say, in a would-be off-hand tone, 'I am dining with the Borgias tonight,' no Roman was ever able to say, 'I dined last night with the Borgias.' "
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.