Boccaccio's Naked Muse: Eros, Culture, and the Mythopoeic by Tobias Foster Gittes

By Tobias Foster Gittes

Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) experimented with this type of big range of genres that critics have tended to concentration extra at the adjustments between his works than on their underlying similarities. even though, a extra complete exam of his corpus unearths that hid underneath this awesome range of topic and style there's a coherent mythology, a digital catalogue of cutting edge myths designed to extra effectively replicate his cultural adventure and higher handle the desires of his age.

Exploring the main major of those myths, Boccaccio's bare Muse provides a author who solid himself because the apostle of a brand new humanistic religion, one who could honour God through exalting his construction. Tobias Foster Gittes argues that Boccaccio didn't easily reproduce Golden Age schemes in his works. fairly, he subtly altered and tailored them to be able to produce a version of human beatitude extra fitted to his conviction that cultural fulfillment and human dignity are indissolubly associated. Gittes evaluations universal conceptions of Boccaccio's passivity, or his readiness to talk dismissively of his personal paintings and to solid himself as a sufferer of vicious critics. as a substitute, Gittes exhibits that Boccaccio intentionally assumed this posture of passivity to align himself with a chain of martyrs who, like him, had willingly suffered torments within the curiosity of cultural advancement.

By venturing outdoors the Decameron to the Latin works, and outdoors the standard textual and intertextual readings of Boccaccio to extra extensively cultural and anthropological fabric, Boccaccio's bare Muse deals clean insights in this highly major literary determine and his lifelong crusade to rework mythological traditions right into a reward for all humanity.

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Extra resources for Boccaccio's Naked Muse: Eros, Culture, and the Mythopoeic Imagination (Toronto Italian Studies)

Example text

If, Virgil remarks, the passing of this period of natural bounty is to be lamented, it is equally certain that the development of human arts necessitated by this loss is hardly to be despised. Agriculture is here viewed as both a precursor to and prerequisite for all loftier forms of culture, and a direct correlation is established between human contentment and the various amenities made available through technology. In the second book of the Georgics (458ff), Virgil associates the Golden Age with a pastoral present (it is among husbandmen, Virgil maintains, that a fugitive Justice left her last traces).

Boccaccio’s modesty has tended to blind readers to his originality. His affirmation that he simply reports and does not shape myths has, as I Introduction 21 have already insisted, too often been taken at face value. Confronted with an unwieldy and often discrepant array of myths, Boccaccio’s scholarly and critical instinct impelled him to collate, organize, and weigh the relative merits of these different variants (the objective of the Genealogie); his poetic soul, however, inspired him to fashion new myths from these fragments.

Even this brief synopsis of the first part of the Allegoria confirms both Boccaccio’s profound interest in the Golden Age motif and his syncretistic methodology. Just as Ovid encapsulates and integrates the Greek, Hesiodic, sequence of ages into his broader, Latin, scheme, Boccaccio absorbs Ovid’s pagan pattern into a Christian, moral scheme, thereby, fittingly enough, ‘restoring’ the Golden Age paradigm itself. That Boccaccio had this idea of the six ages of sacred history in mind when writing the Allegoria is suggested not only by the internal evidence presented above, but by the existence of a fully fleshed-out exposition on the six ‘Augustinian’ ages of the world written in approximately the same years.

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