Petrarch Born Francesco Petracco; changed to Petrarca; also referred to as Francis Petrarch Italian poet, philosopher, and biographer. One of the most prominent and influential poets in world literature, Petrarch is a major figure in humanist philosophy and the early Italian Renaissance. Through his Canzoniere begun sa collection of poems expressing his unrequited love for a woman named Laura, he popularized the Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet and influenced poets throughout Europe with his imagery, themes, and diction for more than three hundred years.
Few names in literature have been more widely and permanently distinguished than that of Petrarch. He was one of the great poets, and yet, except to those who are conversant with the Italian language, Petrarch is little more than a bright name.
Few have read his works. Doubtless, much of his fame is due, not to his writings, but to the fact that he was foremost among the great scholars who awakened the world to the knowledge and the literature of antiquity after the long sleep of the Middle Ages.
He loved the Roman poets, orators, and philosophers—Virgil, Cicero, Seneca—with a perfect love. He was indefatigable in his search for manuscripts, rummaging in libraries and archives and copying the texts with his own hand, and he discovered among other works the Institutes of Quintilian and some of the letters and orations of Cicero.
Of his voluminous writings all except the Canzoniere or Song Book are in Latin, but although these constituted, during his lifetime, his chief title to distinction in scholarship and literature, they are now, with the exception of his personal letters, mostly forgotten.
It is those poems in the Italian tongue, which he at one time depreciated, that are still read and admired wherever that tongue is spoken.
What is there in this collection of poems which gave to their author such widespread and lasting renown? Macaulay insists that their popularity is largely due to a curious tendency of human nature to enjoy in literature that egotism and revelation of personal characteristics and sufferings which we detest in conversation and of which the popularity of Rousseau, Wordsworth, and Lord Byron are such obvious illustrations.
The poems of Petrarch are little more than the expression of his feelings upon a subject in which the world is greatly interested—the love of a woman. He was, moreover, if we except Dante, the first distinguished writer of amatory verse in modern times, after woman had assumed that new claim to veneration and respect which had been allowed to her by Christianity, by chivalry, by the tourney, and by the courts of love.
He imitates in many places the formal and artificial style of the troubadours as well as the more natural methods of some of his Italian predecessors, and he engrafts upon this modern poetry much that he has drawn from his rich classical resources. But at their best, the lyrics of Petrarch are indescribably beautiful and entitle him to a high place among the immortals.
Petrarch lived, moreover, close to the dawn of Italian literature; he had much to do with giving to the Italian language its present poetical and polished character.
He had also the good fortune, which even Dante did not possess, to have such distinguished commentators and critics as Muratori, the creator of critical and diplomatic history in Italy, and four poets of distinction, Tassoni, Foscolo, Leopardi, and Carducci.
Samuel Johnson, that the interest which attaches to the man has greatly enhanced the reputation earned by the merit of his writings. It seems singular, considering this reputation, that except among those who are acquainted with the Italian language, there are comparatively few to-day who have any considerable personal acquaintance with his works.
The knowledge of Homer and the Greek dramatists, of Virgil and Horace, of Dante and Boccaccio, of Cervantes and Goethe, is widely disseminated in every civilized country, but the poems of Petrarch are still largely unknown in other lands than his own.
The main reason undoubtedly is that the beauty of these poems has not been and perhaps cannot be adequately communicated by any translation. No kind of literature is more difficult to translate than lyric poetry, and this is because its beauty depends so largely upon its form, including the metre and the rhyme employed.
In epic and dramatic poetry as well as in all prose other things predominate—the story to be told, the thing to be described, the character to be delineated. The translation of Homer may be almost equally good whether made in rhyme, in blank verse, or in rhythmical prose, and if made in verse, the particular kind of metre is not very essential.
But lyric poetry cannot be well rendered in a prose translation nor even in verse which differs very greatly from that of the original.
This is no doubt one of the reasons why Pindar, one of the greatest of the Greek poets, is not so widely known as the dramatists. The difficulty of adequate translation is especially great in the case of lyrics in rhyme, and most of all in the case of those where the system of rhyme employed is complex and artificial.
Unless the translation reproduces something of this, it cannot faithfully represent the original. Now no lyric poems ever depended more for their beauty upon their form and the metre and the rhymes employed than those of Petrarch.
He was not so much distinguished for originality of conception, liveliness of narrative, wealth of imagery or faithful portraiture of character, as for his delicate taste and the exquisite form in which his thoughts are embodied. It is said of him that each of his poems is like an enamel.
The translator of Petrarch, therefore, if he would seek to give a true notion of these lyrics, should employ forms of verse and rhyme similar to the original, yet the restrictions which this involves are often fatal to an adequate rendering of the poetry itself. Too many repetitions of the same rhyme are required.
The Italian language lends itself to the rhymes demanded by the Petrarch sonnet in a way that English does not, and certain licences are permitted in Italian and forbidden to us; for instance, the so-called equivocal rhymes or the use of identical words with different meanings for rhyming purposes.
These were often employed in the Canzoniere. Petrarch himself occasionally varies the form of his sonnets, but all the forms he employs are usually difficult to reproduce exactly in English, and the effect in most cases seems to be quite well retained in the Shakespearean sonnet.
I have therefore generally used the latter. In the one sestine translated, the form of the original has been exactly reproduced, although it is extremely artificial and not at all adapted to modern poetry. In two of the madrigals I have followed the original metre exactly.
In the canzoni the original form has in some cases been closely, and in one or two instances exactly imitated. There seemed no object in giving this double assonance, and the stanza is quite as harmonious in English without it.Latin final on Petrarch’s letter to Cicero.
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The final image of this mediate condition is that of the letter itself, whose role, of course, is one of the communicative mediation between a writer and a reader, displaced from one address to another, con- serving and disseminating meaning across space and time But our recognition that "The Ascent" was in fact written long after the date.
The writings of Petrarch and Pico exemplify humanist thought by displaying the values of self-knowledge, individualism, and studying lessons from the past; appealing to the authorities of the Greek and Latin classics by Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Plato and Livy.
The image of the crossroad is a recurrent theme in Petrarch’s texts, as for instance in the famous letter about the ascent of Mont Ventoux (Famil- iares IV, 1), where his younger brother, the Carthusian monk Gherardo, went straight to the top, while he himself was erring downhill.9 In this case, however, the letter Y demonstrates that both.
essay revisits Petrarch’s letters on his discovery to reconsider the distance between Dante and modern. See Minnis, , , who locates in Petrarch’s letter to Cicero a new attitude toward authority, while also noting that the medieval attitudes toward Solomon and David - In the Labyrinth of the Library Petrarchs Cicero.
SophiaOmni 1 ashio-midori.com P HILOSO P HY A RCHIVES ohia roect Introduction to Cicero’s De Finibus (On Final Ends) H. Rackham T he de Finibus Bonorum et Matorum is a treatise on the theory of ashio-midori.com expounds and criticizes the three ethical systems most prominent in Cicero’s day—the Epicurean.