Irish Epic Poem in 33 Cantos

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Stigliani worked on this book for his whole life, from when he started drafting it in Milan in , until his death in There are two editions of the poem, one partial first 20 cantos published in Piacenza in and dedicated to the duke of Parma and Piacenza Ranuccio I Farnese; and one complete 34 cantos , published in Rome in dedicated to Philip IV of Spain. The poet was planning also a new edition of the poem that should have followed the Roman edition. A copy of the Mondo nuovo densely annotated by Stigliani in preparation of this third edition is preserved in the National Central Library of Rome All the quotes from the Mondo nuovo in this thesis are from the Roman edition, As attested to by numerous scholars such as Giovanni Caserta 40 , Angelo Colombo , and Marco Arnaudo , this mythical figure was used by Stigliani to make fun of his competitor Giovan Battista Marino, who was appointed knight in the order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in The Mondo nuovo is certainly the Italian epic poem that deals most with the New World mythology, and as such it has a preponderant role in my investigation.

As I have shown in my MPhil thesis , the Mondo nuovo is as serious and precise in its historical and geographical components, as it is parodic through its mythological references. Mauro Padula is the only scholar to define the Mondo nuovo a mock-heroic poem, and in the following chapters I will validate his thesis through the study of the New World myths used by Stigliani. Di Somma planned to publish at least six cantos as the poet wrote to his friend Fabrizio Ricci,21 but only the first two cantos appeared on the book market. The letter has been transcribed in Paudice Amongst the warriors gathered by King Attabila identifiable with the Sapa Inca Atahualpa , appears the queen of the Amazons Oronta with her companions.

The queen is involved in a paradoxical situation where she fights against her own son Ormeno without being aware of the identity of her rival. In this poem, dedicated to the duke of Savoy Carlo Emanuele I, the Tassian hero Tancredi narrates the adventures he experienced after the conquest of Jerusalem to the Byzantine emperor Alexios.

After crossing the Pillars of Hercules, Tancredi tells how he sets free a young black girl who was taken prisoner by a sea monster. The daughter of Norte personification of the Atlantic Ocean and Platia representing the Rio de la Plata , America was born with black skin because of a poison the evil Sur the Pacific Ocean made her parents drink. Thanks to the baptism by Tancredi, America was able to recover her original white appearance, converting herself and her people to the Christian faith.

Ezra Pound and his Italian Critics

Aprosio The America presents two different points of view about the process of conquest: one given by the Spanish sailor Oristano, and the other by the ghost of the cacique Guancanarillo. This suggests a desire in the author to give an objective and impartial view of the event, an approach that is unique in the Columbian corpus. American Amazons are only mentioned in the poem with didactic purposes, highlighting as such the end of the presence of New World warrior women in the Italian epic production.

This switching of roles is not accidental but, as we will see, has the precise goal of creating a promotion of Florence and of Bartolomei himself. According to Bianchini , the delay was due to the fact that the geographical discoveries did not have the same value for all the Italian states for example, the journeys of the Venetians Cadamosto and Contarini were important for Venice, but not for the other states. Lorenzo Bianchi concentrated on the difficulties of poets in creating poetical marvel when this marvel was already part of the topic itself. More recently, Elisabetta Selmi b: considered that this delay was connected with the Church discrediting Columbus, while Eva Tostini 19 suggested that it could have been due to publishing issues as a result of the restrictions imposed by the Inquisition.

Erin McCarthy-King 42 instead proposed that the discoveries were not viewed in a positive manner by some famous humanists such as Pietro Bembo Istoria venetiana, IV, , and this could have discouraged the poets from dealing with such a topic.


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The literal authority of poets such as Matteo Maria Boiardo and Luigi Pulci made it difficult for the poets of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries to distance themselves from the successful and fortunate Carolingian poetic cycle, that continued to be in vogue for the entire early modern period.

There are elements of truth in each theory outlined above, though for the sake of this thesis I would like to make a different point. Despite the slow uptake of the detail of New World myths in Italian epic poetry, there was a gradual incorporation of isolated themes, tropes and characters. There is, indeed, a delay in the official poetic treatment of the American theme, but the New World was more present than expected in the early modern Italian poems.

Whilst it is true that it took a long time for an epos based on the New World to be created in Italy, it is also true that elements connected to the discovery of the Americas were already present in Italian works that did not engage at all with the theme. In this thesis, I will show that the New World myths were already present in literary works not explicitly dedicated to the New World. It is for this reason that to the poems of the Columbian corpus quoted above, I will add two poems that have at first sight nothing to do with the New World theme.

The pygmies section can be considered a case study, as the same analysis could also be applied to the other New World myths.

The poem was analysed from a strictly philological point of view, applying a close textual analysis to the text. The dissertation was particularly focused on the editorial history of the poem, and the sources used by Stigliani to describe his American enterprise. Moving to the University of Birmingham in for my MPhil degree allowed me to take into consideration different methodological approaches. While the focus of the Italian MA had been on the editorial history and evolution of the poem, the MPhil broadened its focus to include a study of how the text reflected and was influenced by the precise historical time and place in which it had emerged.

My work showed how the Americas described by Stigliani were influenced by the literature emerging from the New World conquests, but that they were most of all a mirror of Europe, where characters and situations were borrowed from the Old World. Further reading of comparable epic poems led to the realisation that this was a widespread phenomenon worthy of study.

It is in response to this discovery that I began this PhD. I adopt extensively the philological approach - or close textual analysis - that I have used during my Italian formation, balancing it with interdisciplinary readings of the works selected. In my previous works, philology enabled me to have a good knowledge of the texts I was working on, but not to locate them in a cultural and social discourse.

Audioboom / Irish Epic Poem in 33 Cantos - Canto 32 - read by the poet Paul O'Mahony

As widely known, the philological approach is the canonical method used in Italy - as well as in Germany - to analyse all forms of art and poetry starting from primary school. It consists in closely look at the artistic or literary work by considering all its denotative and connotative meanings. Through examining the inner-working devices that build its framework, the object of analysis is analytically assessed: larger themes or concerns are discussed by considering the text as a whole, and by studying how the single features work together.

In , Richard Scholar advised a return to traditional close textual analysis, and the restoration of the study of the words as crucial for the historical and political comprehension of a text. Humanism and Democratic Criticism is both a call for a return to philology, and an exercise in philological reading. I will apply the close reading suggested by these literary critics to my epic poems, putting an emphasis on the words used by my authors through a close textual analysis of the works in my corpus.

Words will be used not only as tools to interpret the poems, but also as keywords to understand better the context in which these texts were produced and their relation with each other. Keeping the philological approach central to my investigation, I briefly touch upon cultural studies that are useful when it comes to contextualising the poems within a specific cultural context and to valorising non-canonical texts in my search for contextual evidence.

I was especially influenced by Stephen Greenblatt, whose studies of the New World marvelousness in Marvellous Possessions have shaped some of the questions this thesis addresses. This work is also in debt to other cultural scholars who, like Greenblatt, dealt with the themes of wonder and the New World.

The crucial role played by the court society in the construction of wonder has been particularly useful in the section about the Canadian pygmies, where the exotic objects preserved in the Medici cabinet of curiosities are presented as cultural and social artefacts. In the same vein, the volume Curiosity and Wonder from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment edited by Robert John Weston Evans and Alexander Marr offers a well-rounded take on the theme.

The introductory essay by Marr with an overview of the current research in the area of curiosity and wonder has been a guide during my research. My thesis suggests in fact that in these poems, Canadian pygmies are described as collectible objects in an early modern Wunderkammern. This workshop extensively discussed the relationship between materiality and culture, encouraging me to consider the New World myths in my poems through the lens of materiality.

Although Williams does not speak explicitly about the New World, his monsters migrated from the margin of the maps to the pages of poems and romances are indicative of the importance that monsters increasingly acquired in early modern society. They were, for Williams, the bearers of allegorical meanings helpful for understanding the society that created them. Finally, in my treatment of New World or New World-inspired cartography and art, I move into the province of art history and cartography. Applying a non-conventional reading to the texts, I will show how literature and arts are strictly bound in their representation of the New World myths, and of the Americas in general.

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I refer in particular to the comparative method used by the authors working on the connections between cartography and literature, such as Theodore J. Cachey Jr. Their discussion about the role that cartography could have had in poetry has been crucial for my interpretation of the New World myths as visual data.

Although the original intention for visiting these libraries was to define my primary literary sources and access the poems not available in a digital form or published in a modern edition, I combined my studies on the poems with research of the New World myths on visual sources. One of the most interesting works of cartography encountered is an underrated and spectacular compendium of early modern maps preserved in the Huntington Library known as the Huntington Library Rare Book As noticed by Bruce P.

Lenman , these maps and charts have various origins, and were produced at different times, possibly collated after by a French compiler. This atlas is one of the primary sources for the study of the myth of Patagonian giants in cartography, as Patagonians are depicted or labelled in almost all the maps depicting South America in this early modern atlas. In addressing the question of how Italian epic poetry appropriates and adopts New World myths for propagandistic, political and cultural reasons, I will use terminology drawn from the field of Translation Studies that was already adopted by Wes Williams.


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They provide useful insights into the processes through which epic poets translate, interpret and adapt the New World materials and myths, as I articulate the uneven way in which the New World mythology appears in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century epic poetry. It may be surprising to note the absence of mythological and archetypal criticism in a thesis about myths. However, this thesis is not concerned with the archetypes and motives that underlie human behaviour and that are expressed in myths. Unlike Northrop Frye and mythological critics in his wake, this thesis is not interested in finding mythemes and archetypes that can be adaptable to many literary texts.

In the poems analysed, New World myths are consciously inserted, and they are not the result of a critical reading of the poems. He was convinced that the lands where he landed during his four voyages were near Cipango Japan , and in front of the Golden Chersonesos Malaysia , and as such he imaginated the mirabilia that the Europeans believed to be in Eastern Asia located there.

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Columbus was not the only one to bring his cultural baggage derived from the classical and medieval traditions to bear on his descriptions of the New World. The classical myths and medieval monstrous races continued to be transferred to the Americas, even when it was clear that the lands discovered in the West were part of a new unknown continent. Some of the myths had never had a precise location in the Old World, and the discovery of the Americas was perceived as a sort of confirmation of the ancient stories reporting the existence of marvellous creatures and places.

Other myths, even if exactly located in the ancient paradoxography, were moved to the New World to enrich the new lands with fascinating mirabilia. This attracted the attention of European sovereigns and personalities financing the explorations who were unquestionably fascinated by the potential health benefits and wealth offered by the Americas.

This is the case, for example, of the fountain of youth that Herodotus clearly placed in Ethiopia Histories, III, , but that after the discovery of America began to be sought in present-day Florida Conti, ; Greenberger, My aim is to clarify in this chapter what this mythology is, and why it is worth considering it in early modern Italian epic poems. As the concept of New World mythology is not widely known, I will provide my readers with some definitions that will be helpful to engage with the next chapters.