(Re-)Reading the Classics


in The Italian Romance Epic in the Age of Humanism

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780198160151
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191716386 | DOI:
(Re-)Reading the Classics

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The would-be epic poets from the mid-14th century on were, on the one hand, drawn to the long-standing popular traditions of narrative, with their patchwork approach to the incorporation of material and a vague, generic relationship to sources and predecessors; on the other the new climate of Humanism, looking back directly to classical models, rereading them, re-evaluating them, and seeing them without the filter of medieval interpretations and urging the direct imitation and emulation of these, the clear acknowledgement of a particular master, a particular source. As they desired to establish modern, humanist credentials for their work, the choice of a model from classical literature imposed itself on all of these poets. This chapter examines the attractions, merits, and disadvantages of a series of possible models and masters, the extent to which each of them could have found in these classical predecessors an approach to epic that corresponded to his own and could be adapted to his times.

Keywords: romance epic; epic poets; Homer; narrative; Humanism; classical texts

Chapter.  18833 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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