Cosmopoiesis: The Renaissance Experiment (Toronto Italian Studies)

Bibliography of Italian Studies in North America
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Philosophy and Literature For there is something unmistakably Vichian in Mazzotta's "reading" of the Renaissance as it has been revealed in his Cosmopoiesis. As a matter of fact, it is in the "Preface" to his book that Mazzotta explicitly gives a number of reason why Giambattista Vico's philosophy of history could be taken as a valuable and quite promising starting point for a better understanding of "the Renaissance experiment": "The first is that he theorized art as poiesis or making and as the work of the imagination.

The second reason is that he lucidly understood the Renaissance as the ambiguous time of both extraordinary achievements and inexorable decadence. The third reason is that Vico obliquely suggests how we can move beyond the limits in our current understanding of the Renaissance" pp. Mazzotta is deeply sympathetic with this cluster of Vichian insights, which insights will constitute, so to speak, the primum movens behind his own interpretative approach to the Renaissance world, and he takes as his major task in Cosmopoiesis to creatively develop and boldly expand them.

These are the imaginative elements that characterize the paradigm shift from the Middle Ages to the modern ages ushered in by the Renaissance" p. As such, the Renaissance marks, in Mazzotta's view, the spectacular emergence of the myth of world-making cosmopoiesis , a myth with a tremendously wide success, a myth that was eventually to become one of the very foundations on which our own world is built.

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Free Shipping All orders of Cash on Delivery Pay for your order in cash at the moment the shipment is delivered to your doorstep. Log In. Love staves off chaos, within which love finds itself, and it expresses itself as desire for beauty. De amore provides also a general inventory of the themes connected with love: the passions, the two Venuses, the power of love, the her- maphrodite, the immortality of the soul, the spirituality of beauty, the relation of love to necessity in V, xi , the role of the imagination in mediating between soul and body in VI, vi , Guido Cavalcanti's views, and the madness of love.

De amore comes to an end with the re- statement of the four furores VII, xiii by which the soul discovers and reaches the unity of creation. Thefurores are linked with four dif- ferent divinities VII, xiv : Poetry is linked with the muses; the mys- teries with Dionysius or Bacchus; divination with Apollo; and love with Venus. His books bear witness to it VII, xiv. Lafabula di Orfeo, which focuses on Orpheus's and Aristeus's love possession, on their poetic songs, on Orpheus's prophecy, and the final Bacchic mysteries, grapples squarely with Ficino's fundamental question: the ambiguities of the Jurores and their problematical rela- tionship to death or immortality.

Seeing Poliziano at odds with Ficino is not unusual. By making reference to the Centuriae, Poliziano, so Vives says, is a philologist and a grammarian bent on deciding the right spelling of 'Vergilius' or 'Virgilius.

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On the other hand, Ficino and Pico saw Scripture as the resting point of all the arts. According to Vives, they were disgusted by all other writings. Vives's partiality toward Ficino and Pico is understandable, but is not accurate. Yet, Vives's dismissal of Poliziano's philology as pure pedantry misses the point. From Poliziano's perspective, Vives, as much as Ficino or Pico, with their schemes of the unbroken chain of causality linking God and the natural world, did not understand historical reality.

Poliziano's historical sense - embodied by his phi- lology and his awareness of Florentine politics as a demonic posses- sion - leads him to question the grand metaphysical frameworks that obliterate history. La fabula di Orfeo is the critical narrative of Poliziano's scepticism toward Ficino's optimistic belief in harmony, his theory that the essence of reality can be controlled by the magic powers of Neoplatonic rationality.

The play opens with Mercury, god of speech, laws, and psycho- pomp, leading the shades to Hades. The presence of the god marks a shiftfrom the conventions of sacred representations to a secular con- cern. The change of direction inaugurates a tragic world.

It adum- brates Poliziano s pursuit of a new art, the art of music and poetry, in order to probe the tragic nature of Renaissance humanism and Flo- rentine Hellenism. Mercury's speech announces the Testa. More substantively, the speech recalls Apollo and Aristeus, who loved Eurydice with 'sfrenato ardore' unbridled desire. The reference to Aristeus's desire as transgressive of boundaries leads to a pastoral scene that is modelled - predictably, given the Mantuan context of the performance - on Vergil's Eclogues and Geor- gics.

But Poliziano alters the tradition.. The idyllic pastoral tradition evokes an ideal world of nature that is constructed on the false premise of man's possible mastery of nature. In this sense, the pasto- ral world blazes trails that later scientific projects of Utopias i. The pastoral representation of nature, however, runs the risk of trivializ- ing the natural world by the optimistic view of man's power over it.

In Poliziano's pastoral landscape there is no harmony. There are discordant voices and viewpoints. The old shepherd Mopsus, who stands for the pastoral ethics of containment of desire, has lost his calf and asks Aristeus if he has seen it. Aristeus replies as if he were Iulio in the Stanze: He has seen a nymph more beautiful than Diana and is possessed by a love mania. Poliziano, in effect, asks what the pastoral always if implicitly asks: What is man's place in nature?

The question presupposes that we know what nature is. For Mopsus, the pastoral describes a world where there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place. He endorses the implications of the humble style-. Man can have mastery over animals. Mopsus's moral certitudes are grounded in humility.

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He asks questions about a lost calf and has an answer for Aristeus's desire he should flee from it. His humility cannot account for Aristeus's passion for beauty.

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Thus Mopsus's version of the pastoral marks the death of the imagi- nation. Nonetheless, Aristeus's imaginative desire or uncontrolled furor has its own self-deception. Aristeus's underlying belief is that the unbounded natural world is his place. He cannot imagine, therefore, the indifference of nature to his love pangs. The song, however, does not bend Eurydice. Aristeus is a deluded, Petrarchan lover. He rejects Mopsus's ethos of containment and believes in the power of song to establish a harmo- nious bond between himself and nature.

He believes language can conjure up the world as he wishes it to be. He does not really grasp the nature of the love that possesses his mind. During his chase of Eurydice, he wishes Love would give him wings to catch up with her. But he is unaware of the Platonic reso- nance of his language: His love is not the Platonic mania leading up the ladder of being. His love quest remains within the horizontal plane of the 'selve,' a term Cristoforo Landino glosses as the embod- iment of materiality.

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Further, Aristeus's love ravishes his mind, 'mente' 1. In Ficino's lexicon, the word describes the highest part of the soul the other two are ratio and phantasia. Aristeus's mind, instead, pursues vanishing phantasms. The whole pastoral world reveals itself as a deluded fiction in Poli- ziano's representation. Its assumption of order is wishful thinking. Tirsi, Mopsus's servant, has been looking for the lost calf and finally finds it.

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It unveils the shepherds' mastery over the natural world as an exercise of violence. In contrast to the turbulence and disorder beneath the seductive simplicities of the pastoral surface of the natural world, there is the world of Orpheus. He appears singing and playing on the lyre.

The stage direction places us in the world of the court.

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The reference to Aristeus's desire as transgressive of boundaries leads to a pastoral scene that is modelled - predictably, given the Mantuan context of the performance - on Vergil's Eclogues and Geor- gics. But it also alludes, as is also widely known, to the title of one of Seneca's tragedies, Hercules fiirens. There is an innate drawing power - he thought - in poems, songs, and prayers, and - as they vibrate - they shape the felt harmony of similar and opposite things. Faust, in his quite unorthodox work as a translator, was looking for an "appropriate" equivalent of Logos , as it appears in St. These cookies allow us to monitor OverDrive's performance and reliability.

Orpheus's carmen meaning both song and oracle is unlike his earlier Iusus, the playful love games of Aristeus's idyllic interlude. It is as if the pastoral were a false aesthetic game. Orpheus's new song is vatic and it stems from Apollo, the god of prophecy:. Phoebe, quae dictas rato fac precamur. Phoebus, bring thou to fulfilment, we pray, thine inspiration.

The Apollinian world, which is also Aristeus's world, accounts for Orpheus's prophetic-political voice. Like the Mantuan prophet Ocnus, who founded the city of Mantua, Orpheus wishes to usher in a new political order.