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Isaiah Richardson
Isaiah Richardson

La Canzone Di Achille Epub

While the Italians thus continued the rhetorical and legal studies ofthe ancients, they did not forget that they were representatives anddescendants of the Romans. The Republic and the Empire were for them thetwo most glorious epochs of their own history; and any attempt whichthey made to revive either literature or art, was imitative of the past.They were not in the position to take a new departure. No popular epic,like the Niebelungen of the Teuton, the Arthurian legend of the Celt,the Song of Roland of the Frank, or the Spanish Cid, could have sprungup on Italian soil. The material was wanting to a race that knew its ownantiquity. Even when an Italian undertook a digest of the Tale of Troyor of the Life of Alexander, he converted the metrical romances of themiddle ages into prose, obeying an instinct which led him to regard theclassical past as part of his own history.[3] In like manner, therecollection of a previous municipal organization in the communes,together with the growing ideal of a Roman Empire, which should restoreItaly to her place of sovereignty among the nations, proved seriousobstacles to the unification of the people. We-6- have already seen thatthis reversion of the popular imagination to Rome may be reckoned amongthe reasons why the victory of Legnano and the Peace of Constance werecomparatively fruitless.[4] Politically, socially, and intellectually,the Italians persisted in a dream of their Latin destiny, long after thefeasibility of realizing that vision had been destroyed, and when themodern era had already formed itself upon a new type in the federationof the younger races.

la canzone di achille epub

It must moreover be remembered that during the eleventh and twelfthcenturies the force of the Italian people was concentrated upon twogreat political struggles, the contest of the Church with the Empire,and the War of Lombard Independence. In the-7- prosecution of thesequarrels, the Italians lost sight of letters, art, theology. They becamea race of statesmen and jurists. Their greatest divines andmetaphysicians wandered northward into France and England. Their mostfavored university, that of Bologna, acquired a world-famed reputationas a school of jurisprudence. Legal studies and political activityoccupied the attention of their ablest men. It would be difficult tooverrate the magnitude of the work done during these two centuries. Inthe course of them, the Italians gave final form to the organism of thePapacy, which must be regarded as a product of their constructivegenius. They developed Republican governments of differing types in eachof their great cities, and made, for the first time since the foundationof the Empire, the name of People sovereign. They resuscitated Romanlaw, and reorganized the commerce of the Mediterranean. Remaining loyalto the Empire as an idea, they shook off the yoke of the German Cæsars;and while the Papacy was their own handiwork, they, alone of Europeannations, viewed it politically rather than religiously, and so weakenedit as to prepare the way for the Babylonian captivity at Avignon.

A rhyming chronicler of Pisa compared the battles of the burghersagainst the Saracens with the Punic wars. The tomb of Virgil at Napleswas an object for pilgrimage, and one of the few spots round which agroup of local legends clustered. The memory of Livy added luster toPadua, and Mussato boasted that her walls, like those of Troy, hermother-city, were sacrosanct. The memory of the Plinies ennobled Como,that of Ovid gave glory to Sulmona, that of Tully to Arpino. Florenceclung to the mutilated statue of Mars upon her bridge with almostsuperstitious reverence, as proof of Roman origin; while Siena adoptedfor her ensign the she-wolf and the Roman twins. Pagan customs survived,and were jealously maintained in the central and southern provinces; andthe name of the Republic sufficed to stir Arnold's -13-revolution in Rome,long before the days of Rienzi. To the mighty German potentate, KingFrederick Barbarossa, attended with his Northern chivalry, a handful ofRomans dared to say: "Thou wast a stranger; I, the City, gave thee civicrights. Thou camest from transalpine regions; I have conferred on theethe principality."[10] It would be easy to multiply these instances.Enough, however, has been said to show that through the gloom ofmedieval history, before humanism had begun to dawn, and while the othernations were creating legends and popular epics, Italy maintained a dimbut tenacious sense of her Roman past. This consciousness has here to beinsisted on, not merely because it stood in the way of mythopœicactivity, but because it found full and proper satisfaction in thatRevival of Learning which decided the Renaissance.

Petrarch, called to perform another mission, had a-87- different training.Brought up from earliest infancy in exile, transferred from Tuscany toFrance, deprived of civic rights and disengaged from the duties of aburgher in those troublous times, he surveyed the world from his studyand judged its affairs with the impartiality of a philosopher. Without acity, without a home, without a family, consecrated to the priesthoodand absorbed in literary interests, he spent his life in musings atVaucluse or in the splendid hospitalities of the Lombard Courts. Throughall his wanderings he was a visitor, the citizen of no republic, but thefreeman of the City of the Spirit. Without exaggeration he might havechosen for his motto the phrase of Marcus Aurelius: "I will not say dearcity of Cecrops but dear city of God!" Avignon, where his intellect wasformed in youth, had become through the residence of the Popes thecapital of Christendom, the only center of political and ecclesiasticalactivity where an ideal of universal culture could arise. Itself inexile, the Papacy still united the modern nations by a common bond; butits banishment from Rome was the sign of a new epoch, when the hegemonyof civilization should be transferred from the Church to secularcontrol. In this way Petrarch was enabled to shape a conception ofhumanism which left the middle age behind; and when his mind dwelt onItaly at a distance, he could think of her as the great Italic land,inheritor of Rome, mother of a people destined to be one, born to rule,or if not rule, at least to regenerate the world through wisdom. Fromhis lips we hear of Florence nothing; but for the first time thepassionate cry of Italia mia the appeal of an Italian who recognizedhis-88- race, yet had no local habitation on the sacred soil, vibrates inhis oratorical canzoni. Petrarch's dreams of a united Italy and aresuscitated Roman republic were hardly less visionary than Dante'sideal of universal monarchy with Rome for the seat of empire. Yet in hislyrics the true conception of Italy, one intellectually in spite ofpolitical discord and foreign oppression, the real and indestructibleunity of the nation in a spirit destined to control the future of thehuman race, came suddenly to consciousness. There was an out-cry intheir passion-laden strophes which gathered volume as the years rolledover Italy, until at last, in her final prostration beneath SpanishAustria, they seemed less poems than authentic prophecies.

Con gli orecchi intenti al suono, cominciò ad andare in quellaparte ove il sentiva; e giunto presso alla fontana, vide ledue giovinette. Elle erano nel viso bianchissime, la qualebianchezza quanto si conveniva di rosso colore era mescolata.I loro occhi pareano mattutine stelle, e le picciole bocche dicolore di vermiglia rosa, più piacevoli diveniano nel muoverlealle note della loro canzone. I loro capelli come fila d'oroerano biondissimi, i quali alquanto crespi s'avvolgevano infrale verdi frondi delle loro ghirlande. Vestite per lo grancaldo, come è detto sopra, le tenere e dilicate carni disottilissimi vestimenti, i quali dalla cintura in sustrettissimi mostravano la forma delle belle mamme, le qualicome due ritondi pomi pignevano in fuori il resistentevestimento, e ancora in più luoghi per leggiadre apriture simanifestavano le candide carni. La loro statura era diconvenevole grandezza, in ciascun membro bene proporzionata.

Boccaccio died in 1375, seventeen months after the death at Arquà of hismaster, Petrarch. The painter Andrea Orcagna died about the same period.With these three great artists the genius of medieval Florence sank tosleep. A temporary torpor fell upon the people, who during the next halfcentury produced nothing of marked originality in literature and art.The Middle Age had passed away. The Renaissance was still inpreparation. When Boccaccio breathed his last, men felt that the eldersources of inspiration had failed, and that no more could be expectedfrom the spirit of the previous centuries. Heaven and hell, thesanctuaries of the soul, the garden of this earth, had been traversed.The tentative essays and scattered preludings, the dreams and visions,the preparatory efforts of all previous modern literatures, had beencompleted, harmonized and presented to the world in the master-works ofDante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. What remained but to make a new start?This step forward or aside was now to be taken in the Classical Revival.Well might Sacchetti exclaim in that canzone[129] which is at onceBoccaccio's funeral-138- dirge and also the farewell of Florence to thefourteenth century:

Franco Sacchetti carries us to somewhat different scenes. The best ofhis madrigals and canzonets describe the pleasures of country life. Theyare not genuinely rustic; nor do they, in Theocritean fashion, attemptto render the beauty of the country from the peasant's point of view. Onthe contrary, they owe their fascination to the contrast between thesimplicity of the villa and the unrest of the town, where:

While dealing with the Novelle and the semi-popular literature of thistransition period, I have hitherto neglected those numerous minor poetswho continued the traditions of the earlier trecento.[158] There aretwo main reasons for this preference. In the first place, the novellewas destined to play a most important part in the history of theRenaissance, imposing its own laws of composition upon species so remoteas the religious drama and romantic epic. -159-In the second place, thedance-songs, canzonets and madrigals of Sacchetti's epoch lived upon thelips of the common folk, who during the fifteenth century carriedItalian literature onward through a subterranean channel.[159] Whenvernacular poetry reappeared into the light of erudition and the Courts,the influences of that popular style, which drew its origin fromBoccaccio and Sacchetti rather than from Dante or the Trovatori,determined the manner of Lorenzo de' Medici and Poliziano. Meanwhile thelearned poems of the latest trecentisti were forgotten with the lumberof the middle ages. For the special purpose, therefore, of this volume,which only regards the earlier stages of Italian literature in so far asthey preceded and conditioned the Renaissance, it was necessary to givethe post of honor to Boccaccio's followers. Some mention should,however, here be made of those contemporaries and imitators of Petrarch,in whom the traditions of the fourteenth century expired. It is notneedful to pass in review the many versifiers who treated the old themesof chivalrous love with meritorious conventional facility. The true lifeof the Italians was not here; and the phase of literature which theSicilian School inaugurated, survived already as an anachronism. Thecase is different with such poetry as dealt immediately withcontemporary politics. In the declamatory compositions of this age, wehear the echoes of the Guelf and Ghibelline wars. The force of thatgreat struggle was already spent; but the partisans of either faction,passion enough sur-160-vived to furnish genuine inspiration. Fazio degliUberti's sermintese on the cities of Italy, for example, was writtenin the bitter spirit of an exiled Ghibelline.[160] His ode to CharlesIV. is a torrent of vehement medieval abuse, poured forth against anEmperor who had shown himself unworthy of his place in Italy[161]: 350c69d7ab


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