Iliads without Homer - The Renaissance aftermath of the Trojan legend in Italian poetry This paper will focus on the Italian Renaissance Reception of two Hellenistic texts, originally belonging to the cultural movement known as “Second Sophistic”: Dares the Phrygian, and Dictys the Cretan. As it is well known, these texts claimed to be eye-witness accounts of the Trojan War, nothing less than war journals from the front. In Italy, in Early Modern Age, the two sides of the Dictys-Dares reception (historical and fictional) were closely intertwined and they fostered each other over the centuries: there would have been no poetical reception or fictional development of their narratives if they had not been regarded as historical in the first place. On the other hand, it was the very fictions sprung from the Dictys-Dares narratives that sometimes enhanced their value as historical sources, in a mirror-like relationship that was particularly active in Renaissance Italy, at a time when local dynasties were at pains to ground their expansionistic ambitions also by means of fantastic genealogies linking them to Trojan dynasty. In the Trecento, from the source of Dictys and Dares - via Benoit de Saint-Maure - Boccaccio’s Filostrato set the example for a whole line of “Iliads without Homer”: that is, works of self-evident fiction, completely oblivious of Homer, playing on the borders of what circulated as the shared historical truth on the Trojan matter. What is most striking though, is that in Italy all of these Boccaccian offspring developed at an unexpectedly late stage: well into the Renaissance, at a time when Homer’s Iliad had made its comeback in Europe and could be read in Greek, in Latin and in the vernacular. What was it then that kept authors from referring directly to the Homeric narrative instead of relentlessly drawing from the stale Dictys-Dares source? My argument is that two centuries of Humanism had not quite yet succeeded in filling the gap that the disappearance of Greek and the competition by the much more accessible and ‘reliable’ combined forces of Dictys and Dares had dug into Homer’s fortunes. Through an analysis of both early printings of Dictys and Dares and their resonance in Italian Renaissance poetry, this paper will explore the historiographical as well as the fictional side of the survival of Dictys and Dares as privileged sources on the Trojan War.

Iliads without Homer. The Renaissance aftermath of the Trojan legend in Italian poetry (ca 1400–1600) / Prosperi, Valentina. - 22:(2015), pp. 15-34.

Iliads without Homer. The Renaissance aftermath of the Trojan legend in Italian poetry (ca 1400–1600)

PROSPERI, Valentina
2015

Abstract

Iliads without Homer - The Renaissance aftermath of the Trojan legend in Italian poetry This paper will focus on the Italian Renaissance Reception of two Hellenistic texts, originally belonging to the cultural movement known as “Second Sophistic”: Dares the Phrygian, and Dictys the Cretan. As it is well known, these texts claimed to be eye-witness accounts of the Trojan War, nothing less than war journals from the front. In Italy, in Early Modern Age, the two sides of the Dictys-Dares reception (historical and fictional) were closely intertwined and they fostered each other over the centuries: there would have been no poetical reception or fictional development of their narratives if they had not been regarded as historical in the first place. On the other hand, it was the very fictions sprung from the Dictys-Dares narratives that sometimes enhanced their value as historical sources, in a mirror-like relationship that was particularly active in Renaissance Italy, at a time when local dynasties were at pains to ground their expansionistic ambitions also by means of fantastic genealogies linking them to Trojan dynasty. In the Trecento, from the source of Dictys and Dares - via Benoit de Saint-Maure - Boccaccio’s Filostrato set the example for a whole line of “Iliads without Homer”: that is, works of self-evident fiction, completely oblivious of Homer, playing on the borders of what circulated as the shared historical truth on the Trojan matter. What is most striking though, is that in Italy all of these Boccaccian offspring developed at an unexpectedly late stage: well into the Renaissance, at a time when Homer’s Iliad had made its comeback in Europe and could be read in Greek, in Latin and in the vernacular. What was it then that kept authors from referring directly to the Homeric narrative instead of relentlessly drawing from the stale Dictys-Dares source? My argument is that two centuries of Humanism had not quite yet succeeded in filling the gap that the disappearance of Greek and the competition by the much more accessible and ‘reliable’ combined forces of Dictys and Dares had dug into Homer’s fortunes. Through an analysis of both early printings of Dictys and Dares and their resonance in Italian Renaissance poetry, this paper will explore the historiographical as well as the fictional side of the survival of Dictys and Dares as privileged sources on the Trojan War.
978-91-554-9322-6
Iliads without Homer. The Renaissance aftermath of the Trojan legend in Italian poetry (ca 1400–1600) / Prosperi, Valentina. - 22:(2015), pp. 15-34.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11388/68558
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