Speaking Spirits: Ventriloquizing the Dead in Renaissance by Sherry Roush

By Sherry Roush

In classical and early glossy rhetoric, to jot down or converse utilizing the voice of a useless person is named eidolopoeia. no matter if via ghost tales, trips to a different international, or dream visions, Renaissance writers often used this rhetorical gadget not just to co-opt the authority in their predecessors yet in an effort to exhibit partisan or politically harmful arguments.

In "Speaking Spirits", Sherry Roush provides the 1st systematic examine of early smooth Italian eidolopoeia. increasing the learn of Renaissance eidolopoeia past the well known situations of the colours in Dante's "Commedia" and the spirits of Boccaccio's "De casibus vivorum illustrium", Roush examines many different appearances of recognized ghosts - invocations of Boccaccio by way of Vincenzo Bagli and Jacopo Caviceo, Girolamo Malipiero's illustration of Petrarch in Limbo, and Girolamo Benivieni's ghostly voice of Pico della Mirandola. via shut readings of those eidolopoetic texts, she illuminates the $64000 function that this rhetoric performed within the literary, criminal, and political historical past of Renaissance Italy.

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In thinking more deeply about the motives for evoking the dead, I look at an example of the use of the spirit of St Thomas Aquinas to articulate a surprisingly secular Florentine political prophecy in a vision by Antonio da Rieti; and I reassess one well-studied but as yet not fully understood example of private, non-authorial eidolopoeia. Giovanni Morelli wrote of communicating with his dead nine-year-old son in his merchant diary, Ricordi. The explicitly restricted audience for his text (addressed to his surviving progeny), as well as the contrast in tone with another example of eidolopoeia of a dead child (Boccaccio’s eclogue Olympia), help to clarify Morelli’s undeclared purpose for writing it.

Boccaccio concludes that he would do better to seize the days that remain to him and enjoy himself rather than toil too mightily for possible recognition, which he would not be able to accept post-mortem: “Desine igitur et quod datur vite residuum, voluptatibus deditus et pro temporis qualitate pretereas” (Therefore stop, and what little is left of your life, pass it in enjoying yourself, according to the opportunities that you are offered). Nevertheless, Boccaccio, who serves both as the author of De casibus and as a character within the narrative who sees the spirits, listens to their tales, and writes in order to commemorate their lives, completes seven books before he returns to reassess his project.

57 Moreover, fame produces yet another good, according to the spirit: it renders splendid and majestic even those virtuous ones who were hunchbacked, crippled, and otherwise deformed: “Agit et in preteritos istud desiderabile bonum fama, ut gibbos claudos, torvos et quacunque vis deformitate deformes, decoros, splendidos augustosque posteritati demonstret” (658; Fame with respect to ancient people also produces this positive effect: by representing to posterity the hunchbacked, crippled, cross-eyed, and the deformed of any deformity as beautiful, splendid, and stately).

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