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Saint FRANCIS OF Assisi, son of Pietro Bernardone, a merchant of Assisi. In youth he devoted himself to the pursuit of pleasure, but in 1202, after distinguishing himself in the war against Perugia, he was taken prisoner and, during an illness contracted shortly after his release, is said to have beheld a vision warning him to " take up arms for Christ." Thereupon he gave his possessions to the poor and, wedding "holy poverty," wandered over the countryside preaching the gospel of Christ. He founded the Order of the Franciscans, whose ideal was a life of service as distinguished from one of contemplation; his followers took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Between 1222 and 1226 he wrote in Latin the Laudes Creatoris, of which an autograph fragment is preserved in Assisi. The Laudes Creaturarum is probably a contemporary translation from the Latin in rhymed prose rather than in verse. Saint Francis died in 1226, and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX. in 1228; he was a mystic, poet, and lover of nature; his compelling personal charm contributed towards the incalculable spiritual influence he exercised over the Europe of his day.
Cielo Dal Camo, a poet of the Sicilian Court, who probably tried, as did the poets of Frederick's Court, to avoid the crudest dialectal forms. His Contrasts resembles in its general lines the French Villanelles, and is perhaps the sole surviving representative of a group of similar poems.
Frederick II., Of Souabia (Hohenstaufen), Holy Roman Emperor; son of Henry W. and Constance of Sicily, born at Jesi, near Ancona; succeeded his father to the throne of Naples and Sicily in 1212, and on the excommunication of Otto IV. was elected Emperor; was at constant strife with the Papacy; an enlightened patron of science and of art; called by Dante " cherico grande" (learned scholar); scholars, players, troubadours, and story-tellers of all nationalities flocked to his court; he founded the University ■ of Naples; died at Ferentino, near Foggia.
Rinaldo D' Aquino, a " falconiere" (hawker) of Frederick II.; died probably in 1279 or 1280. The poem quoted was probably written in 1242 when Thomas of Aquino was sent to the East as Frederick's representative at the head of a small army.
Ciacco Dell'Anguillaia, a Florentine, and probably to be identified with the Ciacco of Dante's Inferno (c. VI, 52), see also Boccaccio (Decameron IX, 8); a gluttonous jester. The poem quoted is clearly modelled on the French Pastourelles.
Guittone Del Viva Di Arezzo, born at Santa Firmina; entered the Order of the "frati gaudenti " in 1269; his poetical activity is divided into two distinct periods, the first characterized by amorous, the second by didactic style; he founded the monastery "degli angeli " in Florence, where it is thought that he died. His epistles, written to many famous Tuscans, are interesting examples of early Italian prose.
Compiuta Donzella, a Florentine, of whom nothing is known. Rustico Di Filippo, a Florentine; some 60 sonnets of his are extant, chiefly burlesque.
Iacopone Da Todi (Ser Iacopo Benedetti), a lawyer until the sudden death of his wife at a banquet, when he entered the Franciscan Order and wrote religious poems of a passionate asceticism. He is chiefly known as a writer of Laudi and of Laudi in dialogue form, which exercised a considerable influence on the development of Italian drama; he inveighed against Pope Boniface, and sided with the Colonnas in their struggle against him; he died at Collazzone. The authorship of the Stabat Mater has been attributed to him.
Guido Guinizelli (Guido di Guinizello di Magnano), born at Bologna; became a judge in his native city, and in 1270 podesta of Castelfranco; learned in law and well-read in philosophy, he was exiled as a Ghibelline in 1274; the father of the " dolce stil nuovo," called by Dante " il saggio "; in him we first find science wedded to art—he began by imitating the Provencal poets, then substituted a philosophical conception of love for the feudal service of knight to lady on which the poetry of the Langue d'Oc was based. His influence on the love poetry of his day was immense.
Guido Cavalcanti, born in Florence of a noble Guelf family; Dante calls him "the first among my friends "; a student of philosophy, and a disciple of Guido Guinizelli, whom he surpassed. After Dante, he is the most distinguished exponent of the " dolce stil nuovo "; he excelled in writing ballads filled with a wistful sadness; he was exiled to Sarzana as a White Guelf in 1300, was recalled, but died soon after of fever.
LAPO GIANNI (Ser Lapo di Gianni Ricevuti), a Florentine lawyer and a friend of Dante and Cavalcanti; he belonged to the group of poets of " dolceTstilJnuovo."
Folgore Da San Gimignano, a town-crier (landstore); wrote cycles of sonnets on the months of the year, the days of the week, and their relative knightly pursuits.
Cecco Angiolieri, son of a banker, born in Siena; a merry fellow who tells us that "women, the tavern, and dice" are the best things in life; his sonnets, some 120 in number, are humorous, and fully bear out the above assertion. He knew Dante and corresponded with him.
Dante Alighieri, born at Florence of a well-to-do Guelf family; fought for the Guelfs at Campaldino in 1289, and was present at the capture of Caprona from the Pisans in the same year. When nine years old he first saw Beatrice Portinari, and in the Vita Nuova collects the sonnets he had written for her and tells the story of his youthful love. Beatrice married Simone de' Bardi in 1288, and died in 1290, but, though Dante's love for her was unreciprocated, it was the inspiration of his whole life and work. Dante married Gemma di Manetto Donati about 1295, by whom he had four children. From 1295 to 1300 he took an active part in the public affairs of Florence, and in 1300 was elected to a Priorship. In 1301 he went on an embassy to Rome, and in 1302, on the rise of the Black Guelfs, with numerous other White Guelfs, was sentenced to a heavy fine and banishment. The White Guelfs joined forces with the exiled Ghibellines, but Dante, nauseated by their perpetual dissensions, spent the rest of his life in wanderings throughout Italy. He never returned to Florence, though in 1316 accorded permission to do so, but, since the terms offered him were dishonourable, he refused them. Dante's last refuge was at the Court of Guido Novello da Polenta at Ravenna, where he died and his remains lie to this day. His works are: Vita Nuova, Canzoniere, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Convivio, Monorchia, Latin Epistles and Eclogues, minor compositions, and the Divina Commedia, which occupied him at intervals during some 15 years and is the greatest epic of Christendom.
Cinodapistoia (Guittoncino de' Sigibaldi), a nobleman, born at Pistoia; educated at Bologna, where he fell in love with Selvaggia, probably the daughter of Filippo Vergiolesi; was exiled with the Black Guelfs in 1301, and returned with them to power in 1306; lectured in various towns of Italy, and died in Pistoia; wrote legal works and lyrics, and corresponded with Dante, who was his friend; Petrarch wrote a sonnet bewailing his death. He belongs to the group of the poets of" stil nuovo," but added a note of melancholy introspection to their poetry and is a link between them and Petrarch.
Francesco Petrarca, born at Arezzo. His father was exiled with the White Guelfs in 1302; he went to Avignon in 13 n, where he joined the Lesser Orders in 1326. On Good Friday, April 6th, 1327, he first saw Laura, probably the wife of Hugo de Sade; she was to be the inspiration of all his love poetry. From 1333 to 1337 he travelled in Europe, and in 1337 retired to Vaucluse. In 1340 he was offered the Laureate's crown of the University of Paris and the Roman Senate, and was crowned in the Capitol on Easter Day, 1341. In 1348 Laura died, and in 1353 he left Vaucluse for good; he was sent on various missions by the Visconti family, and finally settled at Arqua in the Euganean Hills, where he died on January 19th, 1374. His works are, in Latin: Africa, an epic on the second Punic War; twelve Eclogues of the Carmen Bucolicum; 77 Epistolae Metricae; the De Contemptu Mundi; the De Vita Solitaria; the De Ocio Religiosorum; the De Remediis utriusquc fortttnae; and various other compositions. His Letters, 1326-74, are an invaluable record of the author and his day. In Italian he wrote the Trionfi and the Canzoniere; this last, excepting for some sublime patriotic inspirations, consists of love lyrics (inspired by Laura), of exquisite beauty and perfection of style. Petrarch's supremacy as a lyrical genius remains unchallenged to-day; he is the first and greatest of the humanists: an ardent patriot.
Giovanni Boccaccio (Giovanni di Boccaccio da Chellino), born at Paris, the son of a Florentine merchant. He came to Florence at an early age, studied commerce in Naples, but soon abandoned this for literature. About 1334 or 1338 he fell in love with Maria d' Aquino, a natural daughter of King Robert of Naples, who, as "Fiammetta," inspired a number of his works. In 1349, on his father's death, he returned to Florence, where he entertained Petrarch, with whom he formed a close friendship. About 1362 he was so influenced by a priest called Gioacchino Ciani as completely to change his moral views and mode of life. He spent the rest of his days at Certaldo, near Florence. In 1373 he read and commented in public the Divina Commedia. His chief works are, in Italian: the Rime, the Amorosa Visione, Filostrato, Teseide, and the Ninfale Fiesolano (verse). In prose: Filocolo, Ameto, Fiammetta, Corbaccio, the Vita di Dante, followed by his Commento sopra la Commedia, and finally the Decameron, which reveals him creator of Italian prose and is his greatest title to fame. He wrote, in Latin: De casibus virorum illustrium, De clans mulieribus, the Bucolicon in 17 Eclogues, and the De genealogiis deorum gentilium in 15 books.
Franco Sacchetti, born at Florence of a Guelf family; a merchant and politician; became one of the Priors of the city; podesta of Bibbiena, San Miniato, and Faenza; Governor of the Florentine Romagna. He wrote a number of characteristic novelle and a quantity of verse, charming ballads and madrigals; also some interesting poems called "cacce." His love poems are of little merit.
Matteo Maria Boiardo, Count of Scandiano; born near Reggio, in Emilia; a favourite at the Court of Ferrara during the reigns of Borso d' Este and Ercole I.; Governor of Reggio, Modena, and again of Reggio. His poetical fame rests chiefly on his Orlando Irmamorato, the story of which Ariosto continued in his Orlando Furioso. Other works are: Amorum liber, Capitoli sopra el timore, Eclogues; Timone, a comedy; translations from Herodotus and Xenophon; also some Latin poems. His lyrics, though imitated from Petrarch, are robust and sincere: they deal mainly with his unhappy attachment to Antonia Caprara of Reggio (14691471).
Lorenzo Devmedici, born at Florence; son of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni; has been surnamed "the Magnificent "; one of the most distinguished scholars of his age; well versed in every branch of art and science, and no mean poet both in Latin and in the vernacular. He succeeded his father in 1469 and, on the death of his brother Giuliano in the Pazzi conspiracy, became the supreme power in Florence. He preserved peace and a balance of power in Italy for 23 years, and kept his Florentines contented and amused by repeated festivities. The most reputed scholars and artists flocked to his court; he died at Careggi, and is buried in Florence. He wrote a quantity of secular verse, some Laudi, and a Sacra rappresentazione di San Giovanni e Paolo. His love lyrics strike a personal note, and his Canti Carnascialeschi were imitated by Politian and other poets of his court.
Angiolo Poliziano (Angiolo Ambrogini da Montepulciano), born at Montepulciano; tutor to the sons of Lorenzo de' Medici; in 1480 Professor of Greek and Latin Literature at Florence; held many benefices, which were withdrawn from him on the death of Lorenzo de' Medici in 1492; died two years later. He wrote