Africa (Petrarch)

Africa (Petrarch)

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Africa is an epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 in Latin hexameter
Hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

s by the 14th century 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...

 poet 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"...

 (Francesco Petrarca). It tells the story of the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, in which the Carthaginian
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

 general Hannibal invaded Italy, but Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 forces were eventually victorious after an invasion of north Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

, the epic poem's hero.

Background


Africa and De viris illustribus
De Viris Illustribus (Petrarch)
De viris illustribus is an unfinished collection of biographies, written in Latin, by the 14th century Italian author Francesco Petrarca. These biographies are a set of Lives similar in idea to Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The works were unfinished however he was famous enough for these and other...

 were partially inspired by Petrarch's visit to Rome in 1337. After returning from his grand tour, the first sections of Africa were written in the valley of Vaucluse
Vaucluse
The Vaucluse is a department in the southeast of France, named after the famous spring, the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.- History :Vaucluse was created on 12 August 1793 out of parts of the departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, and Basses-Alpes...

. Petrarch recalls
The fact that he abandoned it early on is not entirely correct since it was far along when he received two invitations (from Rome and from Paris) in September 1340 each asking him to accept the crown as poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

. A preliminary form of the poem was completed in time for the laurel coronation April 8, 1341 (Easter Sunday).

Petrarch spoke of this
It could easily be inferred from this wording that the epic poem was far enough along to receive this flattering colloquy. By 1343 the work was provvisoriamente finished as we have it today worldwide. Petrarch had been with the court of Cardinal Giovanni Colonna in the days he lived at Avignon around 1330. He was ordained in the Catholic priesthood, as capellanus continuus, in the lower ranks. He received additional support from the Roman Colonna dynasty for his work on Cornelius Scipio.

Examination



Petrarch's epic poem was dedicated to Robert of Naples
Robert of Naples
Robert of Anjou , known as Robert the Wise was King of Naples, titular King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence and Forcalquier from 1309 to 1343, the central figure of Italian politics of his time. He was the third but eldest surviving son of King Charles II of Naples the Lame and Maria of Hungary...

, king of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. The king gave him a three-day oral examination at his residence a few days prior to see if he was qualified to receive the laurel crown. King Robert's examination and the legal document privilegium laureations shows the ceremony was a medieval academic event; however, Petrarch intended this grand event to be a new age - the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, a time of rebirth of the Roman classical traditions of twelve hundred years before. The symbolism of the event among the loco ipso (ruins of classical Rome) was a resurrrection event, a day to start bringing back the classical era.

Coronation


Petrarch's "Coronation Oration" (a.k.a. Collatio laurcationis) is the formal public speech of acceptance by him of the title poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

 on April 8, 1341 (Easter Sunday), for his work on Africa about Cornelius Scipio. Petrarch's speech, given in the form of a medieval sermon, demonstrates the gradual transition from the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 to the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. It is considered the first manifesto
Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

 of the Renaissance. Petrarch looked at his laureateship as political. In his grand speech he said of the description of his laurel that it was ...equally appropriate of Caesars and poets. It was a triumphal event where trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s were blared. King Robert gave Petrarch a special robe to wear in honor of this event. He was given the titles of "poet," "master," "professor" of poetry and history and "the most famous private citizen then living." At the time of the coronation, the Africa consisted of just a few books (maybe four out of the nine written).

Petrarch points out his work needed some final touches, because in the Metrical Letter at the coronation he wrote

The little book itself, now growing bold,
Burns with desire to run and cast itself
Before those sacred feet,
and day and night,
pleads for release


Petrarch speaks of other famous poets in his "coronation oration" (privilegium laureationis)

Influences



Historical foundation


Petrarch's reference to Livy places much value in the historical integrity of his Africa and sets the groundwork as being true past events. The main plot, being the ancient historical events of the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, are taken directly from Livy's extensive Roman work of the "Foundation of the City"
Ab Urbe condita (book)
Ab urbe condita libri — often shortened to Ab urbe condita — is a monumental history of ancient Rome written in Latin sometime between 27 and 25 BC by the historian Titus Livius. The work covers the time from the stories of Aeneas, the earliest legendary period from before the city's founding in c....

 Books 21 to 30. The coronation for the historical work of Cornelius Scipio and the Second Punic War in the Africa shows the creditability and trust for Petrarch. He was later labelled "father of humanism" for the reconstruction of Livy's records that he did on various previously lost versions. The Africa has particular historical value because it contains Petrarch's ideas about Roman history and the current state of Italian life then.

Virgil's Aeneid


Petrarch intended his epic poem to be a new Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, which was an epic poem about the hero Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 written in the first century B.C. The general theme of the Aeneid is followed by Petrarch's story of the hero Cornelius Scipio. The Aeneid not only provided Petrarch with a rhetorical cultivation, but also with a collection of epic emotions to work from. The Aeneid and the Africa compliment each other, the first describes the foundation of Rome and the latter is about Rome's rising again to absolute world power.

Scipio's Dream


Livy and Cicero's version of the Dream of Scipio
Dream of Scipio
The Dream of Scipio , written by Cicero, is the sixth book of De re publica, and describes a fictional dream vision of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus, set two years before he commanded at the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE.Upon his arrival in Africa, Scipio Aemilianus is visited by his...

, which are rebuilt in the poem, complement each other and are sources of the Africa. The dream shapes the context from which the poem is to be understood. Scipio's love for justice drove him to avenge his father's and uncle's death by the Carthaginians.

Divine Comedy


Petrarch very likely was influenced by Dante's Divine Comedy for his Africa. Dante's prestigious work was well known and surely a challenge to him. Dante's remarks of praise of medieval heroes in his Comedia, Convivio, Espitole and De monarchia also had an influence on Petrarch.

Sophonisba


Livy (30.12.11-15.11) is the historical source of Sophonisba
Sophonisba
Sophonisba was a Carthaginian noblewoman who lived during the Second Punic War, and the daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco Gisgonis...

, however the poetic design is based on Virgil's Aeneid. Petrarch intentionally did this to increase the importance of Sophonisba to the level of a new Dido (queen of Carthage). In Book 6 Sophonisba is captured by the poem's hero, Cornelius Scipio. She commits suicide so she does not become Scipio's nor Rome's war prize. Here she shows her love for Massinissa. There is a fundamental difference between Virgil's Aeneid and Petrarch's Africa. Virgil's Dido blames Rome for the ruin of herself as does Sophonisba. In Petrarch's poem the hero, Scipio, does not come to an end.

Africanus


Petrarch could have chosen between Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and Cornelius Scipio
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

 for a great Roman hero to write about and decided on Scipio. Caesar's life did not represent Christian values that he wanted to convey to the reader. Cornelius Scipio, the hero of the poem, received the agnomen
Agnomen
An agnomen , in the Roman naming convention, was a nickname, just as the cognomen was initially. However, the cognomina eventually became family names, so agnomina were needed to distinguish between similarly named persons...

 (nickname) of Africanus for defeating Hannibal and the Carthiginians. The title for the poem Africa is based on the nickname of the hero. The adopted grandson of the poem's hero is Scipio Aemilianus, also known as Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus - receiving his like agnomen for destroying Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War
Third Punic War
The Third Punic War was the third and last of the Punic Wars fought between the former Phoenician colony of Carthage, and the Roman Republic...

.

Ecerinis


Petrarch's irresistible desire to imitate the ancients was probably influenced by Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato was an Early Renaissance Italian statesman, poet, historian and dramatist credited with providing an impetus to the revival of literary Latin....

's Latin tragic play Ecerinis, which was modeled on Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

's tragedy works.

Composition


Petrarch's Africa was conceived as a classical Latin poetic counterpart and the highlight of his similar De viris illustribus about famous men of ancient times. Many of the subjects of Africa are also found in De viris illustribus which is based on Livy's extensive History of Rome
Ab Urbe condita (book)
Ab urbe condita libri — often shortened to Ab urbe condita — is a monumental history of ancient Rome written in Latin sometime between 27 and 25 BC by the historian Titus Livius. The work covers the time from the stories of Aeneas, the earliest legendary period from before the city's founding in c....

. Petrarch wrote his historical Latin epic in the spirit of the main character of De viris illustribus, Cornelius Scipio Africanus. In the De viris illustribus he wrote a Vita Scipionis (Life of Scipio) to serve as a historical backdrop for the main character. Cornelius Scipio
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

, the hero of Petrarch's epic poem, also appears in other of Petrarch's works such as Rhymes, Triumphs, and De otio religiosorum.

Petrarch conceived his Africa as a poetic parallel of his De viris illustribus
De Viris Illustribus (Petrarch)
De viris illustribus is an unfinished collection of biographies, written in Latin, by the 14th century Italian author Francesco Petrarca. These biographies are a set of Lives similar in idea to Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The works were unfinished however he was famous enough for these and other...

 ("Illustrious Men"), that he was working on simultaneously. The Africa was inspired by Virgil and depended heavily on information that he was able to get from Livy and Cicero. He was at the high point of presenting himself as the poet historian intellectual of his time. There were two Scipios spoken about in Petrarch's epic poem. They were Scipio the Elder (235 B.C. - 183 B.C.) and his grandson Scipio the Younger (185 B.C. - 129 B.C.). Cornelius Scipio the Elder is the main character and is the victor of the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

. He had the reputation of a chaste and temperate man. Scipio the Younger is the victor of the Third Punic War
Third Punic War
The Third Punic War was the third and last of the Punic Wars fought between the former Phoenician colony of Carthage, and the Roman Republic...

 and razed Carthage. Both had the nickname "Africanus". Petrarch added the "bio" of Julius Caesar, De gestis Cesaris ("On the Deeds of Caesar"), later as the twenty-fourth and last character in the 1360s as an afterthought as the others were done in 1342-43 at Vaucluse. He mentions in letters from Vaucluse around 1350 that he was working on a De viris illustribus that was wholly committed to those who were illustrious "from every country" and that he was "bringing together illustrious men from all lands and centries." This is referenced in his Familiares 8.3 edited in 1351-52. This is known to scholars as an "all-ages" plan. Because of this research for De viris illustribus and the Africa,
encyclopedic and other sources refer to Petrarch as the first geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

 and cartographer of modern times.

Petrarch conceived his first plan for De viris illustribus of biographies of illustrious men of Jewish, oriental, Greek and Roman famous figures in 1337 before that of the Africa. Scholars say Petrarch more than likely conceived Africa in 1338 based on this initial research of Lives for De viris illustribus. He wrote up his list of "Illustrious Men" from Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

 to Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and Romulus
Romulus
- People:* Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome* Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor* Valerius Romulus , deified son of the Roman emperor Maxentius* Romulus , son of the Western Roman emperor Anthemius...

 to Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

 in 1337-38, about the same time as he was writing his Africa (1338–39). Petrarch's earliest reference to writing a series of biographies of Lives can be found in the third book of his work Secretum
Secretum (book)
Secretum is a trilogy of dialogues in Latin written by Petrarch sometime from 1347 to 1353, in which he examines his faith with the help of Saint Augustine, and "in the presence of The Lady Truth"...

 which was originally written up around 1337. St. Augustine speaks to Petrarch
It seems like Petrarch had the idea to write up a list of biographies of Roman leaders ("Illustrious Men") from the republican period before that of the Africa. Petrarch was preoccupied with this idea of a series of biographies of Lives of ancient heroes (De viris illustribus) of generals and statesmen for almost forty years until his death and can be viewed as part of his total intellectual development. There were several plans of De viris illustribus. In 1348-49 Petrarch made a larger version of Lives in his work on these Famous Men. Petrarch then went from these Lives of "Illustrious Men" into his work on the Africa using the research of De viris illustribus as the bases. Petrarch writes a letter to Luca Cristiani in 1349 concerning these Lives for De viris illustribus and his epic poem Africa that he was doing in the valley at Vaucluse;
Petrarch saw his task in writing these two great endeavors as describing illustrious men, not lucky ones. He wanted to depict events that were controlled by them, not events that happened by luck or fortune. He wanted to be a critical historian and convey these illustrious men in dignity. For these reasons he is considered the first historian of the Renaissance.

Poetic structure


Petrarch wrote his nine book epic poem in hexameters, a popular Latin literary and poetic form consisting of six metrical feet. Petrarch probably intended his incomplete poem to be twelve books total based on Virgil's Aeneid, which also happened to be written in hexameters. The main story centers around the time period of the Spanish campaign (205 BC) to the end of the Battle of Zama
Battle of Zama
The Battle of Zama, fought around October 19, 202 BC, marked the final and decisive end of the Second Punic War. A Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus defeated a Carthaginian force led by the legendary commander Hannibal...

 (202 BC). This is based on Livy's third decade of his History of Rome.

Petrarch uses the Dream of Scipio as a beginning point to his epic poem in Books 1 and 2. He presents Scipio as the center figure. From here in Books 3 and 4 he gives the history of Scipio's friend Gaius Laelius
Gaius Laelius
Gaius Laelius — also Caius Lelius — general and statesman, was a friend of Scipio Africanus, whom he accompanied on his Iberian campaign...

 being sent to Syphax
Syphax
Syphax was a king of the ancient Algerian tribe Masaesyli of western Numidia during the last quarter of the 3rd century BC. His story is told in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita .-Biography:...

 to negotiate becoming a Roman ally and break off the relations with the Carthaginians. Book 5 and 6 then gives the history of Sophonisba
Sophonisba
Sophonisba was a Carthaginian noblewoman who lived during the Second Punic War, and the daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco Gisgonis...

, a new Dido (Queen of Carthage). Book 7 gives the history of the Battle of Zama
Battle of Zama
The Battle of Zama, fought around October 19, 202 BC, marked the final and decisive end of the Second Punic War. A Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus defeated a Carthaginian force led by the legendary commander Hannibal...

. Book 8 gives the history of the defeat of Carthage which concludes the Second Punic War. Book 9 shows Scipio returns to Rome for his triumphal victory celebration at the steps of the Capitol.

Synopsis


Petrarch's original conception as a goal for his epic poem was to bring back the glorious days of ancient Rome. There was a clash however between this fame for glory at his coronation and Christian values he was trying to impart to his readers. The story of the death of Mago Barcid (Book 6) and the Dream of Scipio
Dream of Scipio
The Dream of Scipio , written by Cicero, is the sixth book of De re publica, and describes a fictional dream vision of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus, set two years before he commanded at the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE.Upon his arrival in Africa, Scipio Aemilianus is visited by his...

 (Books 1 and 2) entered in at this point. In the 1350s Petrarch reworked the Africa extensively to reflect this. These events ultimately established the main concepts of the poem. Petrarch was writing his third book of the Secretum
Secretum (book)
Secretum is a trilogy of dialogues in Latin written by Petrarch sometime from 1347 to 1353, in which he examines his faith with the help of Saint Augustine, and "in the presence of The Lady Truth"...

, a sort of self investigation of moral values especially as it related to fame, also in the 1350s. From this developed the Secretum's Africa, a conflict between the vanity of the glory for Rome and Christian values.

Petrarch also set the rewritting in the 1350s in relation to events that recently happened. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 pandemic killed many of his friends, including his former patron and master Cardinal Stefano Colonna the Elder
Stefano Colonna
Stefano Sciarr-illo byname of Colonna was the name of several members of the Italian family of Colonna. The most important include:*Stefano Colonna the Elder was son of Giovanni Colonna and one of the most important political figures in Rome in the first half of the 14th century. He was heir of...

 in 1348. In the revised version of his epic poem he makes references to his close friend king Robert of Naples
Robert of Naples
Robert of Anjou , known as Robert the Wise was King of Naples, titular King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence and Forcalquier from 1309 to 1343, the central figure of Italian politics of his time. He was the third but eldest surviving son of King Charles II of Naples the Lame and Maria of Hungary...

 (Book 9, 423-427). He portrays the concept that because of king Robert's death in 1343 that all hope is lost for a continuation of a renaissance that was initiated at the coronation sponsored by the king. Petrarch griefs over the momentum king Robert initiated for a "rebirth" of cultural values that is now lost. He gives hope, however, that in future centuries that the Africa will be rediscovered and enjoy its own "rebirth" and the glory of ancient Roman moral pursuits.

Critical reception and impact


Petrarch worked on his epic poem 1338-39 and 1343–44, however guarded it with his life and did not allow it to be circulated since he considered it unfinished. Petrarch continued to work on the Africa even after the coronation when he was crowned poet laureate. He worked on his epic poem to the end of his life in 1374. There was then a literary struggle as to who would have the honors of bringing out an authoritative version of Petrarch’s famous poem after his death. The project of being the first to publish Petrarch's unfinished work became an area of intense literary activity, especially between the humanists of Florence and Padua.
The text was finally made public by Pier Paolo Vergerio in 1396-1397, over two decades after his death. He officially published the first text of the Africa. There are 17 extant fifteenth century copies of the Africa, which shows how widely popular the poem was as a school textbook.

Generally speaking however, the literary world gave little attention to Petrarch's epic poem and it was viewed as just a minor curiosity. The first publication to the public was not until 1397. When Silius Italicus epic poem Punica
Punica (poem)
The Punica is a Latin epic poem in seventeen books in dactylic hexameter written by Silius Italicus comprising some twelve thousand lines . It is the longest surviving Latin poem from antiquity...

, also about the Second Punic War, was discovered in the fifteenth century it overshadowed Petrarch's medieval style Africa because the audience then loved classical works like Italicus'. Various editions of Petrarch's Opera Omnia (collected Latin works) from 1501 onward were little acknowledged or read.

Leon Pingaud produced the first serious scholarly edition in Paris in 1872 and even it was done with little thought. Needless to say his work did little to the already long time tarnished reputation of the Africa. Francesco Corradini also put out a scholarly edition and it was more sympathetic, but did little to improve the already blemished reputation. Nicola Festa published a massive edition in 1926 and also a thesis Saggio sull’ Africa del Petrarca. His edition was clearer and much more like what Petrarch intended. These works by Festa received high marks in scholarly journals. Petrarch's Africa has had an increase in interest in Latin countries, however little reader interest elsewhere. A serious English scholarly work was done by Aldo Bernardo in 1962. Thomas Bergin and Alice Wilson published their English translation and commentary in 1977. The Renaissance scholars Bergin and Wilson have the only complete English translation. Other than these works few articles have been written on Petrarch's epic poem in English, however there have been various serious scholarly works written in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in French, Italian, and German.

To Petrarch, his Africa was his croce e delizia for the rest of his life. Petrarch set great store by Africa and his other classicizing works, but the epic was not particularly well-received because of the literary transposition from Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

; only the two parts of the death of Magone and the love story of Sofonisba are generally considered as touching examples of elegiac
Elegiac
Elegiac refers either to those compositions that are like elegies or to a specific poetic meter used in Classical elegies. The Classical elegiac meter has two lines, making it a couplet: a line of dactylic hexameter, followed by a line of dactylic pentameter...

 lyrics.

Historians show how it was quite likely that Petrarch met Chaucer
Chaucer coming in contact with Petrarch or Boccaccio
Contact between Geoffrey Chaucer and Petrarch or Boccaccio has been proposed by scholars for centuries. More recent scholarship tends to discount these earlier speculations because of lack of evidence...

 and that the Africa and other of Petrarch's works influenced works of Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

, especially certain episodes of Canterbury Tales.

Scholar Aldo Bernardo in his book Petrarch, Scipio, and the Africa argues emphatically that Petrarch's chief thought considerations were not of Laura, but that of his epic poem's hero - Cornelius Scipio.

Publication history


The editio princeps of the Africa was first published and printed, as part of Petrarch's collected works (Opera omnia) at Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 in 1501. Petrarch's epic poem was printed again as a Venetian edition in 1503. There were also in 1554 to 1558 Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 editions printed which forms the basis for all later editions. In 1872 it received special treatment in Paris by L. Pingaud. In 1874 came an edition by Francesco Corradini from Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

. Nicola Festa produced an Italian translation in 1926, L'Africa, in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. The only complete English edition of the twentieth century is Petrarch's Africa translation and annotated by Thomas G. Bergin and Alice S. Wilson of Yale University Press (1977).

Partial translations and commentary editions
  • German, 1558. Bucolica, Africa, Epistolae ... Basel

  • English, 1570. L'Africa del Petrarca ... in ottava rima insieme col testo Latino, ... tradotta da by F. Marretti. [Containing only books 1 to 3.].

  • English, 1776. Dell'Africa di Francesco Petrarca libro primo, volgarizzato da Egle Euganea. by Fratelli Conzatti: Padua
    Padua
    Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

    .

  • English, 1874. Africa Francisci Petrarcæ nunc primum emendata curante, by Francesco Corradini, Padua.

  • English, 1874. L'Africa recata in versi italiani dal dottor, edited by A. Zardo, Padova.

  • English, 1874. L'Africa, poema epico in esametri latini ... into Italian verse by G. B. Gando.

  • French, 1880. Pétrarque. Sophonisbe, épisode du poème de UAfrique ; traduit pour la première fois by Victor Develay. Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...


  • Swedish, 1889. Afrika : episk dikt. Publisher: Göteborg : Göteborgs Handelstidnings Aktiebolags Tryckeri

  • Italian, 1904. L'Africa recata in versi italiani by Agostino Palesa, Società editrice Sonzogno Milan

  • Italian, 1925. Antologia petrarchesca : Canzoniere, Trionfi, Secretum, Epistole famigliari e senili, Africa, Egloghe, Epistole metriche by Giuseppe Morpurgo. Milan
    Milan
    Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...


  • Italian, 1926. L'Africa / dc Franceso Petrarca ; edizione critica per cura di Nicolo Festa ; corredata di un ritratto e cinque tavole fuori testo by Nicola Festa. Florence, Italy

  • English, 1930 L'Africa. Recata in versi italiani dal dottor Agostino Palesa, edited by Vittorio Serra, Milan

  • Italian, 1933 L'"Africa" di Francesco Petrarca, in versi italiani di Agostino Barolo (con introduzione), by Agostino Baroli, Torino

  • English, 1962. Petrarch, Scipio and the "Africa"; the birth of humanism's dream by Aldo S Bernardo, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press

  • English, 1973. Africa et Bucolica by Johannes, de Vellate. East Ardsley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Microform Academic Publishers

  • English, 1979 Review of Petrarch's Africa. Review of Francesco Petrarca: Canzone from First to Final Version by Janet L Smarr. JSTOR - Renaissance Quarterly, Autumn, vol. 32, no. 3, p. 364-367

  • Multiple languages, 1998. L'Africa : edizione critica, Florence

  • French, 2002. L'Afrique : 1338-1374 by Rebecca Lenoir. Publisher: Grenoble : J. Millon.

  • German, 2007. Africa: Kommentarband by Bernhard Huss and Gerhard Regn, Dieterich'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung

  • English, 2007 Petrarch's Africa I-IV : a translation and commentary by Erik Z D Ellis, Waco, Texas. Baylor University

Cicero


  • De re publica
    De re publica
    De re publica is a dialogue on Roman politics by Cicero, written in six books between 54 and 51 BC. It is written in the format of a Socratic dialogue in which Scipio Africanus Minor takes the role of a wise old man — an obligatory part for the genre...

     (Somnium Scipionis, or Dream of Scipio), Book 6

Livy


  • From the Founding of the City
    Ab Urbe condita (book)
    Ab urbe condita libri — often shortened to Ab urbe condita — is a monumental history of ancient Rome written in Latin sometime between 27 and 25 BC by the historian Titus Livius. The work covers the time from the stories of Aeneas, the earliest legendary period from before the city's founding in c....

    , Books 20-30

Petrarch

  • Canzoniere
    Il Canzoniere
    Il Canzoniere , also known as the Rime Sparse , but originally titled , is a collection of poems by the Italian humanist, poet, and writer Francesco Petrarch....

     ("Rhymes")
  • Secretum
    Secretum (book)
    Secretum is a trilogy of dialogues in Latin written by Petrarch sometime from 1347 to 1353, in which he examines his faith with the help of Saint Augustine, and "in the presence of The Lady Truth"...

     ("My Secret Book")
  • Bucolicum carmen ("Pastoral Poems")
  • De vita solitaria
    De vita solitaria
    is a philosophical treatise composed in Latin and written between 1346 and 1356 by Italian Renaissance humanist Petrarch...

     ("On the Solitary Life")
  • De viris illustribus
    De Viris Illustribus (Petrarch)
    De viris illustribus is an unfinished collection of biographies, written in Latin, by the 14th century Italian author Francesco Petrarca. These biographies are a set of Lives similar in idea to Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The works were unfinished however he was famous enough for these and other...

     ("On Illustrious Men")
  • Liber sine nomine
    Liber sine nomine
    The is a collection of nineteen personal letters written in Latin by the fourteenth century Italian poet and Renaissance humanist Petrarch. The letters being harshly critical of the Avignon papacy, they were withheld from the larger collection of his Epistolae familiares and assembled in a...

     ("Book without a name")
  • Letter to Posterity
  • De otio religiosorum ("On Religious Leisure")
  • Rerum memorandarun libri ("Books on Matters to be Remembered")
  • De remediis utriusque fortunae
    De remediis utriusque fortunae
    De remediis utriusque fortunae is a collection of 253 Latin dialogues written by the humanist Francesco Petrarca , commonly known as Petrarch...

     ("On Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul")
  • Invectivae contra medicum quendam ("Investives against a Certain Doctor")
  • Epistolae familiares
    Epistolae familiares
    Epistolae familiares was originally called by Petrarch Epistolarum mearum ad diversos liber , which was shortened later to the current title....

     ("Letters to Familiars")
(Based on edition of Le familiari, Vittorio Rossi and Umberto Bosco, Le Lettere, 1997, ISBN 8871663411)

Secondary sources

  • Bergin, Thomas G. and Wilson, Alice S., Petrarch's Africa English translation. New Haven. Yale University Press 1977. ISBN 0-300-02062-7
  • Bernardo, Aldo S., Petrarch, Scipio, and the "Africa": the birth of humanism's dream‎. Johns Hopkins Press, 1962. pp. 127–167
  • Biese, Alfred, The development of the feeling for nature in the Middle Ages and modern times, G. Routledge & Sons, ltd., 1905
  • Brown, Virginia, Famous women translation, Harvard University Press, 2001, ISBN 0674003470
  • Corradini, Francisco, Africa Francisci Petrarchae nunc primum emendata, In Padova a Francesco Petrarca net Quinto Centenario dalla sua morte. Padova: Premiata Tipografia del Seminario, 1874.
  • Develay, Victor, L'Afrique, Gautier, 1893
  • Develay, Victor, Le Livre, volume 6, 1885, pp. 278–288. French translation of Petrarch's Coronation Oration.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, Volume 13 (edition 9), Maxwell Sommerville, 1894
  • Ellis, Erik Z D, Petrarch's Africa I-IV : a translation and commentary eBook online by Baylor University, 2007
  • Everson, Jane E., The Italian romance epic in the age of humanism: the matter of Italy and the world of Rome, Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0198160151
  • Festa, Nicola, Saggio sull' "Africa" del Petrarca‎, Volume 113 of Biblioteca Sandron di scienze e lettere, H. Sandron, 1926
  • Giordano, Antonio and John, Francesco Petrarch and Africa‎ (Literary Criticism), Typography Gentile, 1890
  • Hortis, Attilio, Scritti inediti di Francesco Petrarca Latin text of Petrarch's Coronation Oration, Trieste, 1874.
  • Howard, Donald R., Chaucer, His Life, His Works, His World, E. P. Dutton, 1987, ISBN 052524400X
  • Jackson, William T. H., European Writers, The Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Volume 2 (Petrarch to Renaissance short fiction), Charles Scibner's Sons, 1983, ISBN 0-684-165-94-5
  • Kirkham, Victoria, Petrarch: a critical guide to the complete works, University of Chicago Press, 2009, ISBN 0226437418
  • Marretti, Fabio, Le rime e L'Africa, E. Perino, 1890
  • Marretti, Fabio, L' Africa: in Ottava Rima insieme col testo Latino, Farri, 1570
  • Morley, Henry, English writers: an attempt towards a history of English literature, Volume 4, Cassell & Company, 1889
  • Palesa, Agosa, Africa: visited Italian verse by Dr. Augustine Palesa F. Sacchetto, 1874, translated by Google translate toolbar.
  • Robinson, James Harvey, Petrarch, the first modern scholar and man of letters: a selection from his correspondence with Boccaccio and other friends, designed to illustrate the beginnings of the Renaissance, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907
  • Scanlon, Larry, Narrative, Authority and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition, Volume 20 of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature, CUP, 2007, ISBN 0521044251
  • Tillyard, Eustace Mandeville Wetenhall, The English epic and its background, Chatto and Windus, 1954
  • Toffanin, Giuseppe, History of humanism, Las Americas Publishing, 1954
  • Wade, Herbert Treadwell, The New international encyclopaedia, Volume 18, Dodd, Mead and company, 1922
  • Warner, James Christopher, The Augustinian epic, Petrarch to Milton, University of Michigan Press, 2005, ISBN 0472115189
  • Wilkins, Ernest H., The making of the "Canzoniere" and other Petrarchan studies, Chapter II "The Coronation of Petrarch", Edizioni di Storia e letteratura, 1951
  • Wilkins, Ernest H., Petrarch's coronation oration, Modern Language Association of America., 1953
  • Wilkins, Ernest H., "Descriptions of pagan divinities from Petrarch to Chaucer" in Speculum vol. 32 (1957) pp. 511–522.

External links