Italy Literature – Latin Humanism and Vulgar Humanism Part 3

Italy Literature - Latin Humanism and Vulgar Humanism 4

Great theorist of the Latin style, but unhappy writer, because the Latin based on his doctrine is completely inadequate to his original high thought of modern man, Valla is the victim of his historical moment, when the theory, which will be Ciceronianism, the so-called purity of the language is concretized in philologically established rules, and the impotence of that “pure” Latin to linear and color the visible face of the new spirit matured in a millennium of history becomes evident.

At about the same time (1436) another solemn humanist, Leonardo Bruni, claimed the rights of the vernacular vis-à-vis Latin, claiming to have “each language its own perfection”, and not matter to the greatness of a poet if he wrote “in istile litterato ( Latin ) or vulgar “. And Leon Battista Alberti, the great architect, forerunner of Leonardo in his multifaceted activity, promoted a poetry competition in 1441 ( certame coronario ), where the language of the people proved his aptitude for dealing with high matters, and defended the vulgar against his detractors, proclaiming it equal to Latin, except that the learned wanted to “eliminate and clean it”.

According to, this is precisely what Bruni did in his few vulgar writings and Matteo Palmieri, already mentioned, in  the Civil Life , a treatise on morals and politics, and Alberti himself in many of his vulgar works ( Teogenio ,  Della famiglia ,  Tranquillità dell’ima ,  Iciarchia), in which the artist’s genius gives the language a rapid efficacy of glimpses, witty approaches and original images, when the importunate awareness of the intent to file and clean it to mirror the ancient language does not hinder the refinement opaque of Latinism. Which is also the fault of too many other fifteenth-century writers and some of those who have been remembered among the representatives of the literary current of the fourteenth-century tradition.

In Florence, after the middle of the century, other works matured, in which the renewed spirit, made up of classical tradition, medieval tradition and above all of a fervent spiritual activity that both animated by canceling them in itself, was art and original poetry, perennial embellishment and comfort to human life over the centuries.

In  the Sylvae  and in more other Latin compositions, as well as in the contrived and continuous respects, the Poliziano, a very fine artist, Alexandrine willingly delves into descriptions of nature or humanity, in which the critic easily discovers the mosaic work and the reader feels an inspiration. doctrinal, which comes from outside. But when from the free and unscrupulous Latin  of the elegy In morte di Albiera degli Albizzi , of the serenely voluptuous couplets  To the violets , of the naughty  iambi Notes of profound poetry rise to his girl  , or rather, when, reading the materially unfinished and yet so spiritually one and organic poem for the  Giostra  (1475) or the improvised octaves of Orpheus  (1480) or the witty rooms of dance songs, one feels enveloped in the atmosphere of an idyllic, airy world, fresh from youth and spring, luminous, melodious, fragrant, which is the poetic world of Poliziano , joyfully dreamed of and contemplated in an astonished abandonment, to which a slight shadow of melancholy veins for the fear that it will not vanish, then to those who point to hemistichî, images, rhythms that he says taken from Virgil, Ovid, Petrarch, Boccaccio, from Dante, it can be answered that if this is true, it is no less true that those hemistiches, those images, those rhythms never had the meaning, the tone, the pearly luster, the musical lightness that they have in the verses of the most learned but brilliant friend of the Magnificent, that is, they never said what he made them say.

Notes of idyll also sound in the classical poems ( Selve ,  Ambra ,  Corinto , etc.) of the Magnificent; but there nature is contemplated and loved with an ardor of non-idealized sensuality, and is portrayed with not infrequently realistic touches; for which the unity of the creative spirit of the classical poems becomes evident, nourished by Virgilian and Ovidian juices, and of the Tuscan, bourgeois and rural realism poems (the  Hunt , the  Beoni , the  Nencia). Such is the art of Lorenzo, happily expressive of a spirit in which the estheticism that longs for the color and warmth of the ancient poets and the popular simplicity and spontaneity, is varied and animated by a joyful sense of life, by a slight tendency to comic observation and amiable skepticism. At that art Luigi Pulci winks from afar, plebeian enhancer of the realistic Tuscanity emerging or triumphant in the rhyming fantasies of his patron and friend.

Pulci ‘s  Morgante  , almost entirely based on more ancient chivalrous poems in terms of material, is certainly not a chivalrous poem in terms of inspiration, that is, spiritual essence. If its generic inspiration is the love of the cultured Florentine bourgeoisie for the art and customs of the plebs, specifically it is a stupendously representative form of a soul ready to grasp the plebeian world of coarseness, malice, cunning, violence and detect the comic aspects or felt for comedians, rarely with subtleties of irony, often with open attitudes of popular realism; a poem far removed from the refinements and eruditions of professional humanism, but full of vivid fifteenth-century and Tuscan humanity.

Italy Literature - Latin Humanism and Vulgar Humanism 4