1265-1321. Born into a family of modest means in Florence, 1265
Mother died when he was young, father when he was 18
Solid Latin education but also read French poetry
1285 married Gemma Donati with whom he had 3 sons(John, Peter, James) and a daughter (Antonia)
In 72/73, he caught sight of Beatrice and fell in love with her. Her death in 1290 unlocked Dante's poetic muse. Turbulent political life with battles between Guelfs and Ghibellines. He entered public office in 1295, exiled in 02, lived until 21 as an exile, last years in Ravenna.
Dante wrote 2 works—The Banquet and On the Eloquence of the Vernacular which sough to establish the legitimacy of Italian as a literary language (and his own authority as a poet)
Also wrote On Monarchy to defend the moral authority of the Empire and to confine the pope to the spiritual realm.
· Dante born into a family of modest means in Florence in 1265
· Mother died when he was young; father when he was 18
· We don't know too much about his education
· Solid Latin education but also read French poetry
· 1285 married Gemma Donati with whom he had three sons (John, Peter, James: the three disciples at the transfiguration) and a daughter (Antonia)
· In 1273 Dante caught sight of Beatrice and fell in love with her
o Her death in 1290 unlocked Dante's poetic muse
· Dante's lifetime turbulent politically with battles between Geulfs and Ghibellines
· Dante entered public office in 1295, was exiled in 1302, and lived until 1321 as an exile, the last years in Ravenna
● other popular works are The Banquet and On the Eloquence of the Vernacular as well as On Monarcy
1292-94. The "new life" is Dante's own, after the death of Beatrice. Dante self-consciously comments on poetry itself and reveals poet's self-education. Work consists of 42 sections, each with beautiful verse set in prose frame. Work emerges from circle of the Stilnovisti, those who wrote in il dolce stil nuovo. Basically, stilnovasti "theologized" the work of the French troubadours.
It asks: "What is love?"
Precessors said love was illusory; brings disorder, confusion, death; subjects reason to passion
Dante focuses on Beatrice--playing on her name--as bringing blessing, beatitutde; Beatrice is a miracle, an insturment of salvation
Although potentially blasphemous, the work was never censured
● The New Life, a work by Dante written before the Comedy that focuses on Dante's love, Beatrice.
● Published in 1295 written in the genre of courtly love, but Dante is definitely changing what this genre looks like. Like many of his other works, written in Italian rather than Latin. It's format is verse surrounded by prose (alternates between verse and prose)
● Dante wanted to move beyond simple love poetry towards transcendent or sacred love poetry.
He shows this change throughout the work by moving from images of love that include carnality to love of God through Beatrice (carnal love to divine love). Beatrice embodies the
type of love that is divine. Dante does not condemn romantic love, but he is integrating romantic love and divine love.
● A period from the 14th to the 17th century which links the Middle Ages and modern history. It can be thought of either as the "dawn of a new era" or the "waning of the Middle Ages" (a rise or a decline).
● The Renaissance did not arise from a period of peace, prosperity, and harmony, but from a time of crisis in almost every way. At the start of the Renaissance, the Papacy was away at Avignon (1309-1378), the Hundred Year's War was raging between France and England (1337-1453), and the Black Death was sweeping across Europe (1348-1349).
● The concept of humanism was fundamental to the Renaissance.
● The movement began in Italy due to its great urbanism and literacy, immense wealth, real and imagined proximity to classical culture, relatively few ties to feudal and chivalric culture, and
remarkable individuals (especially Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio).
● 14th Century, Predominate Origin in Italy
● Conceptual term used for many meanings, but overarching theme of talking about people and how we live; it is fundamental to the Renaissance movement that began in the14th century
● Different strokes for different folks:
○ Giovannie Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man: tied "humanism" to a
love and concern for human beings, placed humanism in a religious connotation. He
claims that God has made man so that he might soar with the angels or descend to the level of beasts. The central tension of "The Creation of Adam" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is the question of whether Adam is drawing nearer to or receding from God.
○ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince: saw humanism as more related to a concern for this world, without a religious connotation; idea of "take us as we are." Machiavelli does not write about politics ideally, dut describes it as it is (for example, he claims that it is better to be feared than to be loved, to manipulate rather than to be controlled).
○ "Civic Humanism"- republicanism; a pride in a person's city or society. Becomes a competition to construct bigger and better churches and city halls than neighboring cities.
● Humanist ideals typically featured a dedication to the humane disciplines (essentially, the Seven Liberal Arts of the Medieval period), as well as a fascination with the classical cultures of Greece and Rome
● 14th Century, Italy
● A Series of Poetic and Prosaic Works; Boccacio Italian works demonstrated the use of vernacular as legitimate for great works (like another Great Tuscan Writers, Dante)
○ Teseida- Answer to Dante's challenge of writing martial epic in Italian; 12 books, rivals the Aeneid in length; unlike Petrarch's Africa, Boccacio finished this epic
○ Filostrato- Literally "struck down by love"; follows love story during Trojan War; features Roma á clef (story within a story) for Fiametta, Boccacio's lover
○ The Decameron- just as Dante's mid-life crisis produced the Divine Comedy, Boccacio's produced The Decameron; tribute to Ambrose's Seven Days of Creation; Stories told by ten people over ten days (7 women, 3 men), each day features different themes; represents "medieval" attitude in its allegory and Church criticism, represents "renaissance" attitude in its praise of reason, love's end being pleasure, humanism, authentic female characters; critical arguments over whether Boccacio was a social reformer or not, whether the work is holistic or each story must be taken separately
● Large influence for later writers, such as Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales; Boccacio's writings provide great examples of the budding ideals of Renaissance culture, emphasized by their use of the vernacular
● Probably born in 1343; died 1400
● Lived comfortably (the black death brought his family lots of land in London)
● Scholars are uncertain when it comes to his education
○ However, he had a solid grasp of Latin and was enormously learned
○ Probably picked up his many languages through the merchants who came to London
○ Was a page in the house of Elizabeth, attached himself to the court which proved to be
● Married Phillipa (in 1366) and had two sons
● Translated Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (1386) which influenced his reflection of morality
○ Shows how he could maneuver the elegant and difficult Latin with some ease, though it
● Greatly influenced by French culture, which was dominant in his youth.
○ Romance of the Rose (most famous of medieval Romances)
● Greatly influenced by Italian Triumvirate (Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio), especially the latter two.
● War, plague, famine = constant backdrop of his life (Renaissance figure)
● Unlike Boccaccio, Chaucer reveals very little about himself
○ Social position hard to discern
○ Critical of church and clergy, but not irreligious--is this a program of his beliefs or is it
○ "Every woman's friend"--had the most interesting female figures--does he admire them
● Nicknamed the Father of English Literature (pretty lofty title)from all parts of the world a valuable learning experience and an entry into society is not clear where he learned Latin in the first place.
■ Chaucer shows appreciation for French literature just telling stories or no consistent message?
● Nicknamed the Father of English Literature (pretty lofty title)
● Thesis: Boccaccio's self-presentation as a story-teller, and the structure of the Decameron in general, are born of Boccaccio's idea that the way a story is told is more important than the content.
○ The story of Oretta and the Knight
■ A knight offers to carry Madonna Oretta and promises to tell her a great story. The story is actually very good, however, he tells it so poorly that she asks to be let down. The knight seems to understand what she meant, and so stops his current story and begins another.
■ The ending of the story seems to ironically indicate that the knight thought the problem was the story itself, but in actuality it was the way he was telling it, so switching to another story would not help. This indicates that Boccaccio believed that the knight, along with most people, would be mistaken in thinking that a story's content is more important than the teller's narration ability.
○ The structure of the Decameron
■ The way that Boccaccio structured the Decameron comports with his belief pronounced in the story of Madonna Oretta and the Knight.
● Boccaccio did not write the vast majority of the stories in Decameron, and he may not have written any of them at all.
○ Basic Plot/Formula
■ An Italian marquis marries the poor Griselde
■ Puts her through a series of horrible ordeals
■ Then finally takes it all back and they live happily ever after
■ Griselde maintains her fidelity and obedience throughout the entire work - revealing her patience and virtue
■ In both, condemnation of Marquis' actions against wife (though Chaucer's more than Boccacio's; more on that later)
■ Both told by male narrators: Dioneo in The Decameron, the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales
○ I read something about Griselda's story being a sort of joke to the institution of marriage in Boccaccio's, whereas Griselda's story in Chaucer is to be taken more seriously. But this is all I know...SOMEONE HELP!!! okay
○ Difference in Presentation
■ Boccacio's tale is shorter, about 6 pages in prose
■ Chaucer's tale is longer, around 30 pages of verse
■ Boccacio's tale has no authorial intrusions; the tale is provided through the frame of Dioneo, but Dioneo never interjects in the story (arguably, the final paragraph is out of narrative, spoken in Dioneo's voice)
■ Chaucer's tale features intrusions, both by the character of the Clerk during the telling of the tale and by Chaucer himself in an Epilogue to the tale
○ Difference in Intent
■ The ultimate message of Boccaccio's tale is muddy
● At the end, author commentary on how divine favor can be visited on people in the lowliest of stations, just as high-ranking members of society can at the same time be unfit to rule or undeserving of their status
● Despite the tacit condemnation of the Marquis' actions in the tale, little is said on the abuse the man places upon his wife
● Potential to take away message that the most prized women are totally submissive to their husbands; alternatively, admire the patience shown by Griselde, who should serve as a model in trying times
■ The ultimate message of Chaucer's tale is clearer
● As evidenced by frequent intrusions, the narrator (the Clerk, and potentially Chaucer) condemns the actions of the Marquis the actions against Griselde are labeled as improper and barbaric, unfit treatment for a wife
○ The end more strongly emphasizes the virtue of patience, as shown by Griselde, rather than emphasizing how good fortune can fall on low people, the fairness and unfairness of life
● Chaucer's Epilogue is explicit in how it derides Griselda's submissiveness to her husband, instead encouraging women to stand up to their husbands, and to use their strongest qualities to guard themselves and enforce their will
○ Reeve's tale- Simkin's (Miller) wife and daughter are treated more as property than as human beings- them having sexual intercourse (seems kind of rapey to me, tbh) was seen as insult to Miller, not their human dignity
○ The knight goes first in telling his tale - storytelling order at first outwardly conforming to social hierarchy
○ Wife of Bath subverts traditional expectations of marriage and utilizes religious logic to do so (why are sex organs pleasurable, Jacob had more than one wife, etc)
○ Miller insists on following the knight's tale instead of letting the monk go next
○ Criticizes members of the clergy like the Monk and the Friar
○ Strict justice for "sins" including homosexuality, which many today would argue is not a sin. Dante loses sympathy as Inferno goes on = very strict sense of justice in the Inferno
○ HELP guys please
○ Popes Boniface VIII, Clement V, and Nicholas III are all denounced as simoniacs in the eighth circle
○ Pity seen for Francesca and Paolo in the second circle of hell despite them technically being adulterers
○ Women are weaker and need men's guidance- seven young women in the Decameron want male guidance/leadership
○ Griselda more upheld as a role model for women in marriage than she was in Chaucer's version
○ Abraham the Jew who converts to Christianity after seeing how corrupt the Roman Catholic Church is and figuring it must be divinely blessed if the religion is still spreading
○ Tancred & Ghismonda- Ghismonda takes a lover, usually seen as a more male thing, and she isn't demonized for it
○ Cepparello/Ciapelletto completely lies to the (gullible) friar, townspeople make him a saint
Thesis: While the characters of Roland and Lancelot may understand both Boccaccio's and Chaucer's tales of Griselde, it is unlikely that both knights would enjoy the tales, at least completely. Both would see something to admire in Griselde, find her character believable in their worlds, but Roland and Lancelot would take issues with the overall tales in specific ways, whether for the character of the Marquis or for the intended messages of both texts.
● Topic 1: Knights able to grasp concept of story, understand situation described
● Topic 2: Issues with characters
○ Roland disapprove of Marquis' lowering self to peasant,
○ Lancelot disapprove of Marquis' treatment of Griselde (though likely admire Griselde's patience and suffering for love)
● Topic 3: Issues with Messages
○ Roland disagree
■ with Chaucer's commentary on women rising up against abuse, the power of their husbands
■ against the idea of patience as expressed in either work (given his tempestuous attitude)
○ Lancelot may find something commendable in both texts
■ enjoy aspect of romantic suffering in Boccacio's
■ But also find Chaucer's statements, both on patience in suffering and on the encouragement of women to command more power and individuality, utilize their charms and other qualities