COLLOQUIUM: Luke Roman, Memorial University, "Humanist topographies: the classical poetics of place in quattrocento Florence and Naples"

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

This paper explores the reception of the classical poetics of place and space by humanist authors within the context of the broader renewal of classical spatiality that was being carried out in literary and architectural media in the cities of Renaissance Italy. Specifically, it examines the Silvae of Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), and the Lepidina and De hortis Hesperidum of Giovanni Pontano (1429-1503). Poliziano, who alludes in his poetry to the Medici villas at Fiesole and Poggio a Caiano, combines intertextual density with richly erudite topological memory in his collection entitled Silvae. His culminating silva, the Nutricia, at once confers extraordinary privilege on Florence as the “mother of poets” and reflects more broadly on the contingency and mobility of literary locations. Giovanni Pontano pursued his career in Aragonese Naples and owned villas in the region that feature prominently throughout his poetry. His epithalamial eclogue entitled Lepidina draws on a range of classical models in tracing a neo-mythological map of contemporary Naples. The De hortis Hesperidum, a Virgilian didactic poem on the cultivation of orange and citrus trees, employs spatial figures to challenge the supremacy of classical poetry. In both Poliziano and Pontano, the humanist rhetoric of restoration (instauratio) accompanies the boldly irreverent ambition of replacing the revered loci of antiquity with contemporary poetic places.