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Academy of Arcadia

Academy of Arcadia

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The Academy of Arcadia or Academy of Arcadians (Italian official name: Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi) was an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 literary academy
Academy
An academy is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership.The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece. In the western world academia is the...

 founded in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in 1690.

History


The beginnings of the Arcadian Academy date to February, 1656, when a literary circle formed under the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden
Christina of Sweden
Christina , later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora...

, who had abdicated the Swedish crown in 1654, converted to Catholicism, and taken up her residence in Rome, where she spent much of the rest of her life. There she became a significant patron of music and opera, with composers including Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.-Life:Scarlatti was born in...

, Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella
Alessandro Stradella was an Italian composer of the middle baroque. He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.-Life:Not much is known about his early life, but he...

 and Arcangelo Corelli
Arcangelo Corelli
Arcangelo Corelli was an Italian violinist and composer of Baroque music.-Biography:Corelli was born at Fusignano, in the current-day province of Ravenna, although at the time it was in the province of Ferrara. Little is known about his early life...

 dedicating works to her. After her death in 1689, the Academy of Arcadia was established in her memory, electing the late Queen as its symbolic head (Basilissa, the Greek term for 'Queen'). The Academy would last for the next two hundred years, remaining a leading cultural institution into the 20th century.

The Academy of Arcadia was so called because its principal intention was to reform the diction of Italian poetry, which the founders believed had become corrupt through over-indulgence in the ornamentation of the baroque style, under the inspiration of pastoral literature, the conventions of which imagined the life of shepherds, originally supposed to have lived in Arcadia in the golden age, divinely inspired in poetry by the Muse
Muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

s, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

 and Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

. The Academy chose as its emblem the pipe of Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

 with its seven unequal reeds.

The fourteen founders selected as the first Custode di Arcadia or president of the Academy, Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni
Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni
Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni was an Italian critic and poet. Crescimbeni was born in Macerata, which was then part of the Papal States....

 who was the author of a history of Italian poetry and of various literary works. The Arcadians resolved to return to the fields of truth, always singing of subjects of pastoral simplicity and drawing their inspiration from Greco-Roman bucolic poetry. The ideal parameters for the artistic work were simplicity and a sense of measure and beauty. Common to all the poets was the desire to oppose the poetry of the Marinists
Marinism
Marinism is the name now given to an ornate, witty style of poetry and verse drama written in imitation of Giambattista Marino , following in particular La Lira and L'Adone.-Features:The critic James V...

, and return to classic poetry, embracing also the recent rationalist influence of Descartes. Norms and rituals of the Academy took their cue from classic and pastoral mythology, as in the custom of assuming 'pastoral' names; (Crescimbeni
Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni
Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni was an Italian critic and poet. Crescimbeni was born in Macerata, which was then part of the Papal States....

, for example, chose that of Alfesibeo Cario). The fourteen founder members included the librettist Silvio Stampiglia
Silvio Stampiglia
Silvio Stampiglia was an Italian poet, librettist, and founder member of the Accademia dell'Arcadia under the penname of Palemone Licurio.-Libretti:Operas...

.

The first solemn gathering of the Arcadians was held on the Janiculum
Janiculum
The Janiculum is a hill in western Rome, Italy. Although the second-tallest hill in the contemporary city of Rome, the Janiculum does not figure among the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome, being west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.-Sights:The Janiculum is one of the...

 hill, in a wood belonging to the Reformed Minorites, on 5 October 1690.

In 1692, the meetings were transferred to the gardens of Duke Orsini
Orsini family
Orsini: the origin of learning.We love Mrs. Orsini forever! ~8F Social Studies 2011The Orsini family is an Italian noble family; it was one of the most influential princely families in medieval Italy and renaissance Rome...

 on the Esquiline hill; in 1696, to the Farnese gardens
Farnese Gardens
The Farnese Gardens are a garden in Rome, central Italy, created in 1550 on the northern portion of Palatine Hill, by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese...

 on the Palatine
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

. Finally, the generosity of John V of Portugal, one of its members under the name of Arete Melleo, enabled the society to secure (1723) on the Janiculum a site known as the Bosco Parrasio or (Parrasian Grove). Here they held their meetings in summer days, in winter moving to the Teatro degli Arcadi in the Palazzo Salviati. In 1696 the Accademia admitted seven musicians including Giovanni Bononcini.

While the Academy was still on the Palatine, its Statuto or Constitution was drawn up. This constitution (the work of co-founder Gian Vincenzo Gravina) was modelled on the ancient Roman laws of the 'Twelve Tables
Twelve Tables
The Law of the Twelve Tables was the ancient legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law. The Law of the Twelve Tables formed the centrepiece of the constitution of the Roman Republic and the core of the mos maiorum...

', and was engraved on marble. Differing tendencies soon asserted themselves, following the ideas of the two founders: that of Gravina stood in the tradition of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and Dante, while that of Crescimbeni was more influenced by Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

. Because of these differences Gravina left to found the Accademia dei Quirini in 1711. Despite this loss, Arcadia retained its vigour in the following years, and created colonies in many cities of Italy. Many noblemen, ecclesiastics, and artists held membership of it to be an honour, and very soon it numbered 1,300. Much of what they produced, however, was either mediocre or pretentious (an example is Saverio Bettinelli
Saverio Bettinelli
Saverio Bettinelli was an Italian Jesuit writer.He was born at Mantua. After studying under the Jesuits at Mantua and Bologna, he entered the society in 1736. He taught belles-lettres from 1739 to 1744 at Brescia, where Cardinal Quirini, Count Mazzuchelli, Count Duranti and other scholars, formed...

's disparagement of Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

), although the Academy did receive some endorsement for its attack on the redundant Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style, then dominant in art and literature.

The celebrated opera librettist Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782) although he had his own differences with Arcadia, was a student of Gravina's, and a leading light of the Academy's second generation. His works, of which the best remembered might be Il Re Pastore because of its setting by Mozart, may represent the closest thing to a justification of its program that Arcadia achieved.

In 1795, the Academy admitted the Italian Diodata Saluzzo Roero
Diodata Saluzzo Roero
Diodata Saluzzo Roero was an Italian poet, playwright and author of prose fiction. Her work drew praise from such figures as Tommaso Valperga di Caluso, Giuseppe Parini, Ludovico di Breme, Alessandro Manzoni, Vittorio Alfieri and Ugo Foscolo, and her life served as an inspiration for the...

, as one of its first female members.

A violent anti-Arcadian reaction soon developed, and, starting from the early 19th century, Arcadianism began to be regarded as a late and unconvincing expression of the ancien régime. After the end of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, the Academy strove to renew itself in accord with the spirit of the times, without sacrificing its traditional system of sylvan associations and pastoral names. The Academy no longer represented a literary school, but a general interest in the classics, and figures like Dante came to be greatly honoured by its members. Furthermore, the Academy's field of endeavour was enlarged to include many branches of study, including history and archaeology. The new Arcadian revival was marked by the foundation (1819) of the Giornale Arcadico. In 1925 the Academy was renamed to become the Accademia Litteraria Italiana, a historical institute.

The Academy of Arcadia counted among its members some of the principal literary men of the time, including Menzini
Benedetto Menzini
Benedetto Menzini was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and poet. In his satires he assails in acrid terms the hypocrisy prevailing in Tuscany in the last years of the Medici rule.-Life:...

, Redi
Francesco Redi
Francesco Redi was an Italian physician, naturalist, and poet.-Biography:The son of Gregorio Redi and Cecilia de Ghinci was born in Arezzo on February 18, 1626. After schooling with the Jesuits, he attended the University of Pisa...

, Metastasio
Metastasio
Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi, better known by his pseudonym of Metastasio, was an Italian poet and librettist, considered the most important writer of opera seria libretti.-Early life:...

, Rolli, Guidi, and others. The famous composer George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

 is known to have often attended the meetings and symposia of the Arcadian Academics when studying in Italy, under the patronage of Ruspoli, a leading member of the Academy. There is an interesting account of the Academy's history and program in Goethe's 'Italian Journey'.

The archives of the Academy are currently housed in the Biblioteca Angelica
Angelica Library
The Angelica Library is in Rome, Italy. It is a public library located in the Piazza Sant'Agostino square, next to the church of Sant'Agostino, not far from Piazza Navona....

, next to the church of Sant'Agostino
Sant'Agostino
Sant'Agostino is a church in Rome, Italy, not far from Piazza Navona. It is one of the first Roman churches built during the Renaissance. The construction was funded by Guillaume d'Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen and Papal Chancellor. The façade was built in 1483 by Giacomo di Pietrasanta, using...

 in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. The paintings are housed in the Palazzo Braschi
Palazzo Braschi
Palazzo Braschi is a large Neoclassical palace in Rome, Italy and is located between the Piazza Navona, the Campo de' Fiori, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Piazza di Pasquino. It presently houses the Museo di Roma, the civic museum of Rome....

.

External links