Abstract: In the Renaissance admiration for Lucretius was widespread, but it nevertheless had to comply with a set of unwritten rules in order for the De Rerum Natura to be read and allowed into humanist culture. Spared from the index of forbidden books, humanists had to be particularly careful when handling this epicurean, materialistic, soul’s-immortality-denying poem. The key factor was probably the prohibition on translating the poem into the vernacular: the fate met by Alessandro Marchetti’s belated attempt is usually proof enough of the perils that awaited the transgressors. What became explicit in Marchetti’s case had implicitly been the rule since the poem’s unearthing: this only partially discouraged humanists enticed by the charm of Lucretius’ poetry. Not only did the DRN serve as model for vernacular or neo-Latin poetry in general, but also literal translations of Lucretian lines or groups of lines appear everywhere in Italian vernacular poetry of the time. Not surprisingly then, the scholarship keeps tenuous trace of not one but two complete, unpublished sixteenth-century vernacular translations of the DRN: one by Neapolitan aristocrat Giovan Francesco Muscettola, the other by professional letterato and philosopher Tito Giovanni Ganzarini from Scandiano. Nothing remains of either translation, but much can be inferred regarding their quality, relevance and circulation from the two authors’ circumstances, their epistolaries, their surviving writings. The aim of this paper is to outline this neglected but all-important episode within the history of Lucretius’ Renaissance reception.
Lost in Translation: The Sixteenth Century Vernacular Lucretius / Prosperi, Valentina. - (2020), pp. 145-166.