Exiled Rome and August Pope

L. B. T. Houghton

in Two Thousand Years of Solitude

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603848
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731587 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Exiled Rome and August Pope

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Petrarch is rarely seen as a poet of exile, but wrote exile poetry, not to secure his own recall, but on behalf of a greater cause: the restoration of the Roman Church to its ancient seat from Avignon. In a series of letters to successive pontiffs, Petrarch presents the case for returning the Holy See to Italy; this chapter examines how, in two of his metrical epistles addressed to Benedict XII (Epystole metrice 1.5 and 1.2), the humanist uses language and imagery from Ovid’s exile poetry to cast his personified Rome in the role of an Ovidian exile, and the pope as an Augustus-figure, distracted from the exile’s pleas by weightier business. The chapter also considers how Petrarch, through programmatic allusion and self-referential vocabulary, integrates these poems within his wider, Renaissance project of restoring the Muses to their place on Helicon ‘after long exile’.

Keywords: exile; Petrarch; pope; restoration of the Roman Church; metrical epistles; restoring the Muses; Renaissance

Chapter.  7350 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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