The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton by J. Christopher Warner

By J. Christopher Warner

The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton rewrites the historical past of the Renaissance Vergilian epic by means of incorporating the neo-Latin facet of the tale along the vernacular one, revealing how epics spoke to one another ''across the language gap'' and jointly comprised a unmarried, ''Augustinian tradition'' of epic poetry. starting with Petrarch's Africa, Warner bargains significant new interpretations of Renaissance epics either well-known and forgotten—from Milton's Paradise Lost to a Latin Christiad by way of his near-contemporary, Alexander Ross—thereby laying off new mild at the improvement of the epic style. For complex undergraduate scholars, graduate scholars, and students within the fields of Italian, English, and Comparative literatures in addition to the Classics and the heritage of faith and literature.

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1521–41)] By repeating the Vergilian simile—as if Carthage itself were being destroyed by ‹re—Petrarch invites us to perceive an equivalence between the two calamities, the death of Carthage’s queen and the destruction of its ships. 50 At the start of Aeneid 5, Aeneas and his ›eeing shipmates look back to see that the walls of Carthage are aglow with the ›ames of Dido’s funeral pyre. Interea medium Aeneas iam classe tenebat certus iter ›uctusque atros Aquilone secabat moenia respiciens, quae iam infelicis Elissae conlucent ›ammis.

But where do we ‹nd subtle circumlocutions, and to what truths do they bear witness? 18 Its Punic allegory remains to be detailed, so to this task I now turn. 5),19 Vergil’s Aeneid is subjected to an allegorical interpretation that is generally described as thoroughly traditional, in that it seems to depart little from earlier explications of the Aeneid 34 the augustinian epic, petrarch to milton < that have come down to us from medieval times. 20 But in fact, in one startling respect, Petrarch departs signi‹cantly from other commentators on Vergil, and the next chapter will suggest that this difference may have had more of an in›uence on Renaissance epic poetry than scholarship has yet allowed for Vergil commentaries generally.

But Petrarch does not claim this. The Africa’s justi‹cation resides instead in its Christian allegory, whose ‹rst clue is the poem’s un‹nished state. The Africa’s apparent “abandonment,” in other words, indicates a strategically advertised—rather than any actual—“paralysis” or “crisis” in Petrarch’s soul. As Pier Paulo Vergerio and Hieronimo Squarza‹co both point out in their biographies of the poet that prefaced most early editions of Petrarch’s collected works, there is hardly anything missing that would interfere with the progress of the poem’s narrative, even though whole segments of the Second Punic War are passed over.

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