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By Michaela Paasche Grudin
Boccaccio's Decameron and the Ciceronian Renaissance demonstrates that Boccaccio's difficult masterpiece takes on natural consistency while considered as an early glossy variation of a pre-Christian, humanistic imaginative and prescient.
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Additional info for Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Ciceronian Renaissance
Di che da capo vi dico che qui non ha festa né vigilia, laonde io intendo di starmi . ” (II. 37–41) [“As for my honor, now that it is too late, I do not intend for anyone to be more jealous of it than I am. Would that my parents had been more concerned over it when they gave me to you! But since they were unconcerned about my honor then, I do not intend to be concerned about theirs now, and if I am at present living in mortar sin, I would also be so with a cold pestle, so do not be any more tender with my honor than I am.
17 In unison with his other principal topics— ratio, natura, jus, lex, humanitas, amor, communitas, eloquentia, libertas, res publica—ingenium became part of the overreaching natural and moral matrix that framed the Ciceronian polity. But the same thinker who created ingenium as a concept also problematized it. Cicero’s De inventione sounds a warning that “low cunning supported by talent” (ingenio freta malitia) has created a “depraved imitation of virtue” ( prava virtutis imitatrix) that warps popular judgment and subverts society: postquam vero commoditas quaedam, prava virtutis imitatrix, sine ratione officii dicendi copiam consecuta est, tum ingenio freta malitia pervertere urbes et vitas hominum labefactare assuevit.
60–61) Emilia’s passion (vaghezza) refers us to strong positions taken by Dante and Cicero. In the Convivio Dante declares that the lovely ladies and physical beauties he so poetically extols are to be interpreted as symbols of the philosophical quest: E così, in fine di questo secondo trattato, dico e affermo che la donna di cu’ io innamorai appresso lo primo amore fu la bellissima e onestissima figlia de lo Imperadore de lo universo, a la quale Pittagora pose nome Filosofia. 15 Boccaccio, who communicates with Dante throughout the Decameron, would seem to be following him here as well: the singer of the canzone represents the delight of the mind (“quel ben che fa contento lo ’ntelletto”) or, perhaps more specifically, the human capacity for selfknowledge and creativity.