Citti , Lestringant and Naya The manuscript of the sixth book was still extant in the 18th cent.
Magnoni , p. On this humanist, cfr.
Riccioni Gordon is not aware of this translation. Favorite bits and pieces of the DRN thus crop up within works of vernacular poetry, in the form of extended, almost literal quotes; whereas in prose works, humanists linger with gusto on their translated Lucretian passages, Renaissance authors everywhere showed through their work an urge to pay homage to a text of which not even extreme ideological aversion could hide the charm. A tacit but universally shared imperative to limit access to the De rerum natura ruled its circulation in all realms of Italian culture. The presence of a dissimulatory code dictating the discourse on Lucretius in Italian culture does not need to be addressed again here; suffice it to say that it was thanks to the universal compliance with it that Lucretius avoided being put on the Index of Forbidden Books.
However, the price of bowing to the code proved particularly steep for Lucretius insofar as it thwarted all attempts at translating the De rerum natura for a disproportionately long time. Not even at the threshold of Enlightenment, nor in the wake of the great scientific European advancements of the 17th century was an Italian Lucretius a viable option.
The only acceptable option, was in fact a Christian Lucretius, that is a new poem, that would simultaneously erase the model and supplant it, appropriating its strengths to advance the orthodox, catholic cause. In Italy, the covert influence of the De rerum natura also shaped the vernacular didactic epic since its earliest appearance: the Georgics-inspired poem Della coltivazione, by Luigi Alamanni, dates exactly from the crucial decade started , published , and opens on a proem that is an almost literal translation of the Lucretian Hymn to Venus.
Later in his life, he worked on a didactic poem, possibly on the theme of creation, certainly apologetic in its purposes, whose first fragments he circulated among friends. As we shall see, the new enterprise earned him general acclaim and no small relief on the part of those who correctly read it as the palinode of his in famous Lucretian version. But the general indignation towards Marchetti for what had been perceived as an irreparable infraction to a long-standing taboo was still very much alive even in the 18th century.
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It was as if the materialization in Italy of the dreaded vernacular Lucretius immediately reactivated the long-standing quest for a Christian Lucretius. See also Preti ; Costa Italian Lucretius, Christian Lucretius Now, reading the fate of Lucretius in Italy through the lens of an ongoing antagonism between the suppressed desire for an Italian De rerum natura on the one hand, and the urge to replace and defuse the poem with a Christian alternative on the other, is all but a post-facto convenient interpretive tool.
The antagonism was very much felt by all those involved — authors, censors, and audiences — ever since the first attempts at divulging the De rerum natura through commentaries or translations started, in the 16th century. Equidem nihil legi in hoc genere perfectius: ut ne Lucretius quidem pluris apud me sit, quo cum antea propter sermonis elegantiam delectarer, utererque multum, coepit mihi jam minus esse familiaris posteaquam Capicium legi.
From to there was a flurry of neo-Latin didactic epics directly engaging with and, in varying degrees, contesting the De rerum natura. Vitali, ? All of these works shared a deep involvement with Lucretius. See Haskell , p. Rather than a fund of dangerous ideas either to be refuted or endorsed, the Roman vates seems to represent for these poets, first and foremost, the enabling genius for taking philosophical flight in verse.
This genre, of which there were more than a hundred examples over the course of the 17th century,20 included several sub-groups, from hagiographical to biblical. It was didactic in purpose, having partly stemmed from the need for Italian poets to divulge the contents of the Bible in narrative form, which the Counter Reformation had prohibited from translating or paraphrasing.
On the centrality of the Edenic myth, see the compelling account in Greenblatt Poema sacro23; Del terrestre paradiso24; Il mondo creato diviso nelle sette giornate. With this poem, Tasso provided proof of a great deal of daring, poetic and otherwise: first of all, he defied the ever incumbent risk of counter-reformed censorship when he poured into the didactic mold a doctrinal, religious content, however orthodox it may have been. For if people publish medical or scientific treatises in metre the custom is to call them poets.
Most theorists and poets of the Renaissance abided by this pronouncement: Hathaway , chap. Ma imitazione di che? To give just one example, in Mondo Creato Tasso makes use of the famous simile of the puer navita Lucr. Tasso, Mondo Creato II, For all its recognized impiety, the De rerum natura elicited the sympathy of a special audience: the clergy, and especially its high ranks. In the same years the Inquisitor and Jesuit, Antonio Possevino was tending to his monumental Bibliotheca selecta which detailed what orthodox Catholics could and could not read. Strikingly, Lucretius is not only allowed, though with obvious expurgations: he is actually recommended as being spiritually uplifting, much more so than Virgil, for instance.
Possevino distinguishes between the parts worth reading from the De rerum natura and those that should be avoided. Caput XIV, pp. This larger freedom enjoyed by the clergy34 in dealing with Lucretius translated into a more confident appropriation not only of his poetry but also of its theoretical contents, provided they could be bent to Christian purposes. Of the throngs of poemi sacri written in the 17th century, most eschewed any engagement with secular philosophy. In it, as in the Adamo, a higher entity Truth takes a male character the disillusioned Philosopher on a journey of wisdom: not the wisdom of human philosophies, that is, but the higher one of the Christian faith.
Within this narrative frame, Coppola lines up the names and deeds of thinkers in an unrelenting attack, but no one receives a harsher treatment than Lucretius, evoked as a poisoner of minds through a sophisticated reversal of his famous simile of the honeyed cup. On Lucretius as a model in Jesuit didactic poetry: Haskell It cannot be overstressed that Lucretius owed his exclusion from the index to a Cardinal, then Pope: Marcello Cervini: Prosperi , pp. On Coppola: Melfi , Rizzo n. However, Raphael comforts them and gives them hope of a future pardon from God.
The last cantos thus deal with human feebleness: the body, reproduction, passions, dreams, folly. A keen focus on material reality is constantly accompanied with reminders of our eternal soul and of the obedience we owe to God and true faith. This paves the way for Canto 19, which examines the nature of the soul, a section that we will go back to. Canto 20 abruptly deflects from the overall scientific and empirical structure of the rest of the text and depicts the transcendent City of God, with all the trappings of dogmas and miracles.
Here, the Virgin Mary offers her Son in sacrifice for the salvation of man, in a landscape thick with symbols alluding to the mystery of the Eucharist. The poem ends with the promise of eternal salvation. Several literary archetypes overlap in this vision, the main one being Aeneid 6: the archetypal vision of his descendants that Anchises offers to Aeneas. It is up for debate whether to celebrate him as a sage, or to condemn him as an atheist. And, overall, the poem strictly follows its own rules: for all its admiration and reworking of the De rerum natura, the name of the poet never once crops up without a severe warning.
But what is the necessity, at this date, for so much animosity against the Latin poet? But an equally harsh attack is aimed at the man responsible for spreading the contagion of Epicurean impiety through his translation of the De rerum natura: the Italian Lucretius, Alessandro Marchetti. Now, it is clear from the Adamo that just as in his opinion Tasso successfully replaced the Latin Lucretius, Campailla takes on the task of rebuking the new, invigorated Italian Lucretius of Marchetti. However, there is no evidence of a deliberate deception on the part of Campailla. His Zinato , the Introduction was written under the direct control of Campailla himself.
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Campailla, che voglia portargli le mie somme congratulazioni, specialmente pel suo poema. Lucretius is praised, but so are Polignac and his Italian translator, Ricci. Ghibelline and aristocrat Farinata degli Uberti, exiled to Siena, was treating with Manfred of Sicily, Frederic's illegitimate son and heir, against Florence.
In desperation, Guelf Florence decided to dispatch two statesmen, both of them also poets. They sent Guglielmo Beroardi first to Richard of Cornwall, Alfonso's rival imperial candidate, at Worms, and then to the eight-year-old Conradin, grandchild of Frederic and nephew of Manfred in Bavaria.
They sent Brunetto Latino to Alfonso el Sabio. Florence thus hoped to gain the support of all these imperial candidates against Ghibelline Siena and Manfred of Sicily. Electing Alfonso as emperor was insufficient.
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The next part of the gamble would be the imperial candidate's coming to Italy at the head of his army, running the gauntlet of the feuding city-states and their factions, tobe crowned emperor by the pope in malarial Rome. Alfonso was wise to dally with the idea but not to swallow the bait. It is most probable that Latino's instructions as ambassador were to to the effect that Florence would aid Alfonso in his coronation journey, if he in turn would wage war against Manfred and Siena.
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The Guelf republic had turned emperor-maker in desperation. In this it failed. Later the Florentine Guelf bnkers were to succeed in colluding with the pope - though they were in exile and under papal interdict for the murder of the Ghibelline abbot Tesoro of Vallombrosa - in making Charles, the count of Provence and Anjou, senator of Rome June and then king of Sicily 6 January So important was the embassy in Florentine history that Giovanni Villani, in his Cronica di Firenze , allotted to it an entire chapter, drawing his narration from archival chancery material, some of which was likely to have been generated by Brunetto Latino himself:.
In the Tesoretto , in a splendid manuscript of the Laurentian Library at Florence, we find not only this text speaking of the political context of that embassy but also a joyous and delicate illumination, in sanguine, of Brunetto at the court of Alfonso in Spain. We can approximately date that embassy from archival material, for Brunetto was deeply involved in the preparatins for was, as shown in the Libro di Montaperti, some pages of which are in Brunetto's hand.
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His dates there are 26 February, then 20, 22, 23 and 24 July. The actual battle of Montaperti itself took place on 4 September of that year. Thus, we can even place the embassy and the Tesoretto text and illumination of it in the magnificent Moorish 'Hall of the Ambassadors' of the Alcazar of Seville.
It was customary for ambassadors tobe cultured and capable of writing and exchanging poetry and prose. Up until this time, Brunetto seems to have been well acquainted with texts from the axis of Rome - of Cicero, Sallust, Lucan and Livy - texts concerning the civil war and republic and the loss of civil liberties with the coming of the Caesars. His translations of speeches made by Cicero, Cato and Catiline survive in the cancelleresca script and are found in the collections of chanceryletters begun by Frederic's chancellor Pier delle Vigne, continuing through the Florentine republic's chancellor Leonardo Bruni Aretino.