The “father of humanism” did understand a bit about self-promotion. So Francesco PETRARCA (Ger., Eng.) worked his connections, notably via Dionigi di BORGO SAN SEPOLCRO (Eng.), an old friend who once gifted him with a valuable  copy of Augustinus’ confessiones that he had read on the Mount Ventoux (Eng., text), his connections I say to the king of Naples Robert d’Anjou (Ger., Eng.). He wanted to become a crowned poet, a poeta laureatus. And since the popes had left Rome, this crumbling village belonged to the domain of Robert il saggio. Francesco surely intended to become the official poet at the court of Naples; he even wrote  on a long and winding epos dedicated to Robert, Africa, but all this came to an end when the king died in January 1343. PETRARCA indeed was crowned in Rome in April 1341 (Ger.). The king couldn’t come by, so the senator count Orso dell’ANGUILLARA (It.) put the laurel on the poets head – he just jumped in because the king’s representative Giovanni BARILLI had fallen in the hand of robbers, travelling was always a bit of an adventure.
Because nobody had a real idea about how such a ceremony should proceed PETRARCA designed it the way he wanted it to be. He was allowed to keep the crimson cloak the king had sent over, maybe he simply didn’t need it anymore. Rumour has it that PETRARCA was very tall, 184 cm I read somewhere, what would have made him a giant in his time, so the coat may have been a bit tight-fitting around the shoulders.
This laureatio was based on weak foundations, after all it should honour the poetic œvre of the man, and Francesco’s was not that large at the time. He was busily writing letters, a clever diplomat, and one of the first European intellectuals who described (and mystified) his own life, but he was not good at writing an epos. As ALIGHERI (Ger., Eng.) had done. As the venerated antiqui had done – think Virgilius (Ger., Eng., works); as stands at the beginning of it all, an opus magnum of the calibre of a Homeros (Ger., Eng., Bav.): He never had read the Greek originals, he not even possessed a text, the old one would laugh on the daddy of humanism. This had to change.
In 1348 PETRARCA met the byzantine ambassador Nicola SIGER in Verona, who was on his way to Avignon. In the course of the conversation Francesco mentioned his Greek teacher BARLAAM (Ger., Eng.), who had been the teacher of BOCCACCIO (Ger., Eng.) in Naples too, and whom SIGER surely knew. PETRARCA wanted to possess a codex with the original text of Iliad and Odyssey, and either in the end of 1353 or the beginning of 1354 he received the promised (and valuable) gift. Still, he couldn’t read it.
Accidentally on a visit to Padova in 1358 he was introduced to a Greek-speaking man from Calabria, who just had returned from Byzanz, a disciple of BARLAAM called Leonzio PILATO (Ger., Eng.), who knew his Homer pretty well. One of the early Greeks who became important for the so-called renaissance (Eng.). PETRARCA grabbed the chance and charged PILATO with a test translation. In spring 1359 PETRARCA met BOCCACCIO in Milano and both of them decided that PILATO should translate both works, Iliad (Ger., Eng., Bav.) and Odyssey (Ger., Eng., Bav., listen in German, listen in English). BOCCACCIO managed to install PILATO as professor for Greek in Firenze, the first professorship of this kind in Western Europe, and put him to work. PETRARCA seems to have chipped in some money too. After three years the work was completed, and in 1363 PILATO travelled from Venice to Constantinople  – to deal in manuscripts. Three years later, 1366, Francesco learns to know that Leonzio was struck by lightning and killed while on the ship on his voyage back to Venice; in this year he finally received the copy of the translation BOCCACCIO had initiated, his beloved Homer.
PETRARCA retreated himself into the loneliness of Arquà (Ger., Eng.), near Padova, in Petraracadia, a last play with names. Here he found his last Arcadia, busy working, writing and translating, until the ark made of stone, the petrarca, would become his final resting place. The monumental stone sarcophagus stands on four pillars in front of the church of Arquà to this day.
When the box was opened the last time it was found that the skull belongs to a woman. The resurrection men (Ger., Eng.) did it all get wrong.

19 thoughts on “Laurel

  1. Ja, my comment was going to be about mortsafe as I had seen those on TV recently. But I saw that they were covered by your links already. I will be looking for the examples at Greyfriars Kirk.

  2. Sadly no grave is safe. I worked at an archeological site close to Germersheim if I remember correctly. This was right after graduating from University of Texas in austin. It was a merowingean gravesite that had been discovered when bulldozers were grading land for a Neubaugebiet. You knew for sure the grave had been violated when you were carefully scraping away and then all of a sudden you’d discover a toothy grin peeking through the ground where normally the pelvic bones should be.

    Petrarch lived a long life for the times too. He also had te misfortune of having a crush on a married lady from what I read.

  3. And all of a sudden, thick iron bars were a la mode, MacLX! I did not know the word Mortsafe. And that the Icelanders have different ideas about the number 4 I didn’t know also – the cited book seems to be an interesting read – thank you for the tip! What would one get when ordering fjorir Bier?

    Or they were Vampires. Like recently found in Poland – in Gliwice, Gleiwitz, for heavens sake: The faked attack on radio Gleiwitz stood at the beginning of WWII.
    Ei, de Palz – they have webcams at their site, so you can have a look into Gimmeldingen … I never had a Meerspinne – today I will have to look for the Lage Mandelgarten. Sounds also very promising!

  4. Oh I forgot Laura, Gipsbeinschaum. His poems are great, but whether “Laura” is a real person may be questioned. Boccaccio hat his “Fiammetta”, maybe the Vorbild was a real noble woman. I tent to think that it is a projection, an ideal, and a must have for a real Dichterling in these days.

  5. Very interesting article, thank you Gipsbeinschaum. Yes I think the author is right and the stone was stuck into her mouth by diggers. Riding a mass grave for profit, what a job … Now I have to walk to the superette and see whether I find some Meerspinne there. Otherwise some plonk will have to do.

    Is “the rounded bottom glass” by chance somewhere here? I’m just curious, I like glass.

    PS Here examples from the BM via the mentioned site.

  6. “Merowingischer Glockenbecher” – a language … I think it could also be called a Sturzbecher, because it has no foot, so when you want to put it on the table you first empty it and then put it “upside down” on the surface, gestürzt.

    “Bell-beaker” equals Glockenbecher, what is equally the name of the pan-European late-neolithic-cooper-time culture, ended circa 1800 bC – so I first was a bit confused when I read “merovingian bell beaker”, sorry.

    I regularily flip through (the two) magazines dealing with archeology here in South Germany, Bodendenkmalpflege in Bavaria and BW. Staff, money … they do mostly Notgrabungen, save things, like you did when new constructions are done. They keep an eye on what is going on, what is planned, etc. – and happily let known sites untouched, the soil is the best preservation. It’s mostly passive re-action, not active doing a “program”. Staff, money. Es derf halt nix kost’ …

    Re glass – this could be interesting.

  7. Looks like a beautiful museum in Rosenau.
    I was told at the time, that these Glockenbecher were also used in drinking establishments. You held your drink until you were done ‘und dann wurde es gestürzt’ so that the Dienstmädel knew to refill it.
    Es darf halt nix kosten .. Same here .. And then miracles are expected on a peanut budget.

  8. I have not seen this new museum, it’s years since I was in the area for the last time … twenty years at least.
    People started to think and invent when it comes to drinking. A lot of ceremonial drinking devices, trick glasses, Pokale were developed – and used.

    I think I never went to such an establishment you mention, and never had the pleasure to be served by the Dienstmädchen. The party ends when you can’t lift the beer bottle anymore or you can’t remember the marque of yer car … then it’s time to sleep a bit.

    The peanut budgets are for “soft” things, like “something like culture ‘n stuff”, where you can not by any means trick numbers into showing a Rendite. Erkenntnisgewinn is no value. I was and still am so grateful for the bookmines, They are the only people over all the years I try to make my living with such nonsense like research, cataloguing and archiving (geisteswissenschaftliche DienstleistungenHA, my arse!), the only organisation that really wanted it, because they want to cover their own history, because they take a pride in their own history – as chequered as it was. I bridge these empty (and poor!) months only because they promised that I will finish the job in autumn. And there is always their Archiv in the basement. And those who did not pay me – ach, zu Grundgenug* geheult.

    *Thanks to mate LX.

  9. I’ve not been to a drinking establishment like that either .. :-).

    Researching, archiving, cataloging geisteswissentschaftliche Dinge sounds interesting.. Working in a Keller sounds interesting. Of course, that is if one gets paid what one is owed.

    I work with a peanut budget. I am a Kunstlehrerin..

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