Mart Lamentations

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)

Text of Mart Lamentations

Mourning Laura in the "Canzoniere": Lessons from Lamentations Author(s): Ronald L. Martinez Reviewed work(s): Source: MLN, Vol. 118, No. 1, Italian Issue (Jan., 2003), pp. 1-45 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 10/12/2011 04:17Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

The Johns Hopkins University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to MLN.

Mourning Laura in the Canzoniere: Lessons from LamentationsRonald L. Martinez

Readers now recognize that the first words of Petrarch's Canzoniere"Voi ch'ascoltate in rime sparse . . ."-are modelled in part on Lamentations 1.12, which is spoken by a personified Jerusalem lamenting her captivity and abjection: "O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, adtendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus."' Beginning a sonnet with the citation of this verse was domesticated for Italian vernacular lyric especially by Cavalcantiand Dante;2Dante in particularSee, for example, Gianfranco Contini, Letteraturaitaliana delle origini, 6th ed. Petrarca: ed. (Florence: Sansoni, 1991): 580. The notes in Francesco Canzoniere, by Marco Santagata (Milan: Mondadori, 2nd ed., 1997: notes to sonnet 1 are pp. 5-12) are indispensable. This edition is used for all citations of text and commentary. I have also relied on FrancescoPetrarca: Trionfi, Rime estravaganti, codice degli abozzi, ed. Marco Santagata (Milan: Mondadori, 1996) and on the edition of Petrarch's Codice degli Abbozziby Laura Paolino (Turin: Einaudi, 2000); earlier traditions including some Renaissance commentators are digested in the edition by Giosue Carducci and Severino Ferrari, Francesco Petrarca: Rime (Florence: Sansoni, 1899): 3-4. Le 2 Cavalcanti's uses of Lamentations are studied in Giuseppe De Robertis, "I1caso di ed. G. Barblan (Longo: Ravenna, Cavalcanti," in Dante e la Bibbia (Atti del congresso), 1989): 341-350. De Robertis's Il librodella Vitanuova (Florence: Sansoni, 2nd ed. 1970) and his edition of the Vitanuova (Milan-Naples: Ricciardi, 1980) have documented the importance of Lamentations for Dante. For Dante, see Nancy Vickers, "Widowed Words: Dante, Petrarch, and the Metaphors of Mourning," in Discoursesof Authorityin Medievaland RenaissanceLiterature, Kevin Brownlee and Walter Stephens (Hanover, ed. N.H.: Universities of New England Press, 1989): 97-108; also Ronald L. Martinez, "Mourning Beatrice: The Rhetoric of Lamentations in the Vita nuova," MLN 115 (1998): 1-29 and "Cavacalcanti'Man of Sorrows,"'forthcoming in the Acta of the 2000 New York Cavalcanti conference. For precedents in Guittone, see Guittone d'Arezzo, I Canzoniere: sonetti d'amoredel codicelaurenziano,ed. Lino Leonardi (Turin: Einaudi, 1994): 188-90 and the notes in Santagata, Canzoniere (pp. 6-7). Many other allusions MLN 118 (2003): 1-45 ? 2003 by TheJohns Hopkins University Press



begins the second sonnet of the Vita nuova "O voi che per la via d'amor passate."3And as Giovanni Pozzi has recently pointed out, the beginning of the sestet of Petrarch's proemial sonnet, "Maben veggio or si come al popol tutto / favola fui gran tempo," also draws on Lamentations, in this case 3.14: "factus sum in derisum omni populo meo, canticum eorum tota die" [I am made a derision to all my people, their song all day long]:4 in this way, allusion to the book of laments attributed to Jeremiah articulates the principal parts of the poem.5have been discerned in Petrarch's lines, including a pattern of echoes of Dante outlined by Roberto Mercuri, "Genesi della tradizione letteraria in Dante, Petrarca e italiana. Storia e geografia,ed. A. Asor Rosa, I. L'etamedievale Boccaccio," in Letteratura (Turin: Einaudi, 1987): 359-61; for classical echoes, see Francisco Rico, "Pr6logos al Canzoniere.(Rerum vulgariumfragmenta, I-III)" in Annali della Scuola Normaledi Pisa. Classedi lettere efilosofia, serie III, XVIII (1988): 1071-1104. 3 For discussion, see de Robertis, Libro,35-36 and his edition of the Vita nuova, 52; Guglielmo Gorni, ed., Vita nova (Turin: Einaudi, 1996): 35-37; and Martinez, "Mourning Beatrice": 10-12. The influence of Boccaccio's early Filostrato (c. 1335) on Petrarch's uses of Lam. 1.12 is also probable; see 1.6, 5-6; 5.1, 7-8; 8.28, 3-4; and ed. proemio,p. 63. Passages cited from Giovanni Boccaccio, Caccia di Diana e Filostrato, V. Branca (Milan: Mondadori, 1990). 4 See Giovanni Pozzi, "Petrarca, i padri e soprattutto la Bibbia," in Studipetrarcheschi 6 (n.s.) (1989): 125-69, esp. 159-62. Pozzi also cites, for sonnet 1, parallels from Psalms 43.14 and 68.12 ("factus sum illis in parabolam") and there are related texts including Psalms 21.7-8, Psalm 30.12, and Job 30.1-9; these are also texts associated with the in Art Passion; see John Marrow, Passion Iconography Northern European of theLate Middle Ages and the Renaissance(Kontrijk, Belgium: 1979): 40-49, 111, 149; and Ann Derbes, Picturing the Passion in Medieval Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 105-108. See note 16 below. In his index of texts cited by Petrarch, Santagata notes that Canz. 88.9-10 (". . voi che siete in via / volgete i passi") and 161.12 ("O anime gentili et amorose ... et voi nude ombre .... deh ristate a veder quale e'l mio male") are adaptations of Lam. 1.12 as well; the latter possibly echoing Dante Vitanuova 40.10 ("se voi restaste .. ."), from "Deh, peregrini," a poem heavily influenced by Lam. 1.12 (see De Robertis, Libro, 56; also Martinez, "Mourning Beatrice": 11-13), and several passages from the Inferno(10.24, 27.23). The anonymous 16th century annotator who wrote the marginal comment to Canzoniere sonnet 133 in the Aldine Petrarch prepared by Bembo ("Amor m'a posto come segno a strale") had no difficulty hearing the text of Lamentations behind Petrarch's lines: "Heremia. Posuit me quasi signum ad sagittam." See The 1501 Editionof Le CoseVolgari Messer di Francesco revisedand amendedby Petrarcha, Master PietroBembo, VenetianNoble,with intro. by Jeremy Parzen and Luigi Balsamo (Great Britain: Alecto, 1997): f. 60. 5 There are precedents in both Cavalcanti and Dante for this articulatory function of the citation. Dante's canzone begins with an incipit that adapts Lam. 1.12 ("Voi ch'intendendo ... / udite .. .") and continues in the sirmawith an adaptation of Lam. 1.18 ("pero vi priego che lo mi' ntendiate"). Alfred Noyer-Weidner, "II sonetto I," Lectura petrarce4(1984): 327-353, esp. 330, notes Petrarch's imitation of Dante's ballata "Voi che savete ragionar d'amore / udite .. ." which is itself an imitation of Lam. 1.1. For examples in Cavalcanti, see de Robertis, "IIcaso" and Martinez, "Cavalcanti 'Man of Sorrows,"' forthcoming.



In his reliance on the text of Lamentations, Petrarch was unlikely to be citing unadorned scripture merely. He was arguably drawing on the sacred text as it was received, adapted, and even performed by late medieval culture.6 For late medieval readers, whose Bibles were often provided with commentaries, Lamentations was thought to be a poetic text in Sapphic meter.7 From the 12th century onward it had been held up as a rhetorical treasury for topics of conquestioand indignatio, figures adapted to excite the sympathy, pity, or righteous indignation of the listener, reader, or spectator.8And since the time of Gregory the Great, Lamentations exegesis had also made it plain that the moral sense of Lamentations (among numerous other meanings) dramatizes how the sinful soul, signified by the besieged Jerusalem, suffers in its alienation from God.9But probably the most consequential6 For the importance of glosses and commentaries in the medieval reception of the Bible, see, at least, Beryl Smalley, Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2nd edition 1964) and MedievalLiteraryCriticism,c. 1100-1375: The Commentary Tradition,ed. A. J. Minnis, A.B. Scott, with David Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988); although the 13th and 14th centuries saw increasing use of Bibles without commentary, glossed Bibles were by no means rare or obsolete (see Christopher de Hamel, The Book:A Historyof the Bible [London: Phaidon, 2001]: of 91-115. By Petrarch's day the performance scripture had long been widespread in the form of liturgical drama, religious pageants and mystery plays and, in Italy, laudi. The attribution to the Virgin Mary of Lam. 1.12 probably begins in the early Trecento; for examples, see Karl Young, Drama of the Medieval Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933, 2 vols): I, 496-539, esp. 500-503; 507-512; and Sandro Sticca, ThePlanctusMariae in the Dramatic Traditionof the Middle Ages (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1988): 118-47. 7 The determination of Threni as lyric, and its "sapphic" meter, is found in most important commentaries from Paschasius Radbertus in the 9th century to John Pecham and PeterJohn Olivi at the end of the 13th; for a modern account of how the medieval church treated Hebrew poetry, see James L. Kugel, The Idea of BiblicalPoetry (New Haven and London, 1981), esp. 135-71. 8 As Beryl Smalley showed (Study,59-63), in making his digest of Paschasius for the Glossaordinariaversion of Lamentations as supervised by Anselm of Laon, Gilbert the Universal drew directly from Cicero's De inventioneand the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica and indignatio:in those works, they are ad Herenniumfor t