Elisabetta Pellegrini Sayiner , University of Pennsylvania. This study provides an innovative analysis of the relationship shared by Brunetto Latini and Dante Alighieri. Traditionally, readers have used Dante's portrayal of Latini in Inferno XV among the sodomites to associate the two authors, focusing on Latini's sin or on Latini as Dante's teacher. Dante's inclusion of Latini in Inferno XV has created a powerful legacy, even today influencing critical readings of Latini's writings through a process in which many readers use Dante's representation of Latini as a starting point for the study of Latini's own work.

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See Florence in Sepia. Per l'introduzione in italiano , per il testo del Tesoretto , e per il testo del Fagoletto For Text of Tesoretto. For Text of Fagoletto. As in Giotto's portrayal of Brunetto Latino and Dante Alighieri, history has tended to pair the two poets, who were both exiled from their native Florence, with the second eclipsing the first. Dante, his student, was to be as Florence's Virgil, her poet who advocated the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire, as Vergil had upheld the Roman.

Filippo Villani says that Brunetto Latino was the 'rhetorician' of Florence, noting that he was both witty and learned, capable of moving audiences to laughter, but nevertheless governing himself with morality F.

Villani, p. Giovanni Villani likewise stresses Brunetto Latino's espousal of Ciceronian rhetoric for the sake of the Florentine commune G. Villani, VIII. The political events with which Latino was associated are woven again and again into the tapestry of Dante's Inferno , though many of these occurred before Dante's birth in Thus, it was probably Latino who taught Dante his city's history.

He was Dante's mentor, Dante's cicerone. Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Plut. We know from civic documents that Brunetto Latino was married, with a daughter named Biancia who in turn married in , this being our only means for gauging her father's age. He also had two sons, one of whom was named Perseo, and his fame came late Sundby, p.

Some of his earliest political acts were to help form the peace pact between Ghibelline Siena and Guelph Florence in Many charges have been brought against Brunetto Latino in an attempt by scholars to explain Dante's punishment of him among the homosexuals in Inferno XV. Early commentators justified Dante's charge of sodomy by noting that this was a common problem between teachers and students.

Richard Kay makes the more likely claim that Dante condemns Latino for his Guelph idolatry of Florence as a Republic, rather than being a Ghibelline advocate of Empire.

Thomas Werge states that Dante condemns Latino because Latino's Tesoro is a worldly quest for fame, for treasure laid up on Earth rather than in Heaven. Jeffrey Richards notes that Latino and his Tesoro are burned in the flames of Hell by Dante, who is jokingly carrying out his Master's instructions given in Tesoretto It is possible that Dante's charge of Brunetto's bisexuality alludes to Latino as shadowing Cicero, whose Laelius de amicitia is a treatise on masculine friendship is copied in Il Fagoletto.

Brunetto Latino explains that he wrote Li Livres dou Tresor in French because that language would reach the greatest audience. Similarly, Sir John Mandeville and Marco Polo wrote of their travels in that lingua franca , though the one was an Englishman, the other a Venetian Bennett, pp. Brunetto then translated Cicero's Rhetoric into Italian for use by the Florentine commune.

Concerning Werge's contention, it can be noted that Latino, like Dante, is clearly aware of the parable from Matthew concerning treasure laid up on earth rather than in heaven, making use of this theme in his letter sent to the Pavians about the perfidy of the Abbot Thesauro, then repeating it in the titles and themes of his French prose work and his Italian poem.

Brunetto Latini. Barcelona: Moleiro, Facsimile edition. The Ghibellines had demanded reparations from the Florentine Guelphs - which they had been unable to pay.

It is as if Latino were also saying that books such as Tresor and the Tesoretto , which fashion a a citizen's behaviour for the ethical good of the commune, are preferable to treasure chests filled with florins to be paid over to the city's enemies. The Tresor begins with the metaphor of its threefold divisions as being the golden florins it contains, the gold and gems that adorn it, and the golden chest itself.

The first encyclopedic book of the work is written in much the same manner as Isidore's Etymologies. The second book, treating vices and virtues, Brunetto likens to precious gems that adorn a chest. The third book he states to be of pure gold; it treats rhetoric and ethics Struever, p. All of this he writes will in exile in France. Quentin Skinner in his Foundations of Modern Political Thought ably discusses the relationship between rhetoric and politics in medieval Florence, and sees the figure of Brunetto Latino as of the utmost importance.

He speaks of the Guelph party as that which desired to maintain the ancient liberties of the city, yet which was of the people, having overthrown the oligarchs of the feudal aristocracy. He notes that the Ghibellines were those who hankered for the old ways, for conservative stability, for law and order, and for a strong central power.

The Ghibellines curried favour with both Pope and Emperor. Medieval Italy achieved the same political pattern of autonomous city states as had ancient Greece. Athens was governed by its own citizenry, and because of this democracy stressed the role of rhetoric, the ability of the politician to speak to the citizenry, of which he was a part, in such a way as to gain consenus.

Such classical rhetoric was later used by Cicero in the Roman Republic especially when he inveighed against the tyrannical traitor to the state, Catiline. Latino translated Cicero's Rhetoric as it was then though to be into Italian, interleaved with his own commentary, the illumination of one manuscript showing Cicero in the top part of the initial S , Brunetto in the lower part.

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Magl. In Dante's Inferno XV. Latino adds that the admixture of Catiline Fiesolan with Roman Florentine for the two groups intermarried created that discord between Ghibelline and Guelph, and Black and White, that tore apart their beloved Florence, which exiled first Latino and then Dante. However, because of the memory of Cicero, it could also serve the needs of the autonomous, sovereign and free city states Kantorowicz, pp.

Latino had penned his letter to the Ghibellines of Pavia sarcastically in the Sicilian, Vignolan, imperial style. Rhetoric could thus be Ghibelline - or Guelph. Words could be used for the purpose of tyranny - or for freedom. For Latino it was necessary to combine rhetoric, politics and ethics; to use rhetoric not for self, but rather for the common good, the Res Publica. Not only was rhetoric to be used in speeches, it was also to be employed in the writing of letters to other bodies of government.

In the medieval curriculum the ars dictaminis, the teaching of letter-writing skills, was that part of medieval education which most clearly continued classical education, and which was the most familiar with classical texts for its models Weiss, p.

In contemporary documents Latino is called 'dittatore,' meaning 'letter writer' and 'arringatore,' meaning 'one who speaks in public'. Brunetto Latino had been exiled in , following the Battle of Montaperti, learning of that exile on returning home from embassy to King Alfonso X el Sabio of Spain.

It has been thought that Latino was in the employ of the Angevin Chancery during his exile. It is more likely that Latino, hearing of the Guelph victory, then made his way home to Florence.

In the peace between the factions was sealed by such Guelph-Ghibelline marriages as that between Guido Cavalcanti, Dante's poet friend and a fellow student of Brunetto Latino's, and the daughter of Farinata degli Uberti.

There Dante presents the still-feuding parents, Cavalcante Cavalcanti and Farinata degli Uberti, as forever lodged in one tomb. The father asks Dante for news of his son, Guido Cavalcanti. The father-in-law scornfully ignores that topic. Though such Montague-and-Capulet marriages were sometimes used to propagate peace, the tragic tension between republican Guelph and imperial Ghibelline in Florence was said to have originated in the slaughter of a Guelph, Buondelmonte, who was assassinated at the foot of the statue of Mars on the Ponte Vecchio on an Easter Sunday, while on his way to his marriage into a Ghibelline family Inferno XIII.

Villani, V. During the remaining years of Brunetto Latino's life, we hear of him performing various political functions. In he is 'protonotario' for the Angevins when Guy de Montfort, vindicating the death of his father, Simon de Montfort, in turn murdered Prince Henry at Viterbo.

Dante speaks of this dark deed in Inferno XII. In Latino is called 'notarius consiliorum comunis Fiorentini'. He is Chancellor of Florence from to Then there is silence for five or six years.

The various factions of Florence were quieted by Cardinal Latino in September, In he was Prior - as Dante was later to be. In he was 'dittatore' and 'arringatore'. He continues to appear in Florentine state papers until Sundby, pp.

An episode of in which Latino is involved is of importance. In that year the Pisans revolted, led by their Ghibelline archbishop, Ruggiero, and elected Guido da Montefeltro as their captain, throwing the Guelph Count Ugolino into prisons, along with his sons and grandsons, and casting the key of the prison into the Arno River in order to leave them to die shortly thereafter of hunger. Ruggieri and Ugolino had earlier conspired to give the Count control of the city G.

Villani, VII. Neither Latino nor Dante approved of treachery to one's city state. We do not really know whether Dante was a student of Brunetto Latino's. It is said to be unlikely that such an official would also have had time for teaching. Perhaps Latino and Dante's relationship was informal - shall we say like that of Plato to Socrates and of Cicero's circle in Tusculum? Laurentian Library, Plut.

A charming sonnet purported to be by Dante and written by Brunetto accompanied a copy of his Vita Nuova. Dante probably completed that work in The young man might have given the dying man a poem celevrating his love for a dead woman. Another sonnet, this time of unknown authorship, laments Latino's death and uses images of pilgrimage from Latino's Tesoretto. It begins by expressing the poet's great grief at the death of joyous Brunetto, 'Brunetto gajoso', and then it states:.

Hans Robert Jauss has noted: 'The instance of Brunetto Latini's Tesoretto shows in an exemplary manner how an unrecognized aesthetic predecision can obscure the historical significance as well as the poetic qualities of one of the high points of allegorial representation - indeed, how it can totally exclude it from the canon of the values of tradition' pp.

Jauss would restore to Latino's Tesoretto the importance it had in the Middle Ages and in the rEnaissance. Vossler spoke there most contemptuously of Latino's dream-vision poem, a work upon which Dante based his Commedia. Il Tesoretto opens with an elaborate dedication to a noble reader, a patron so exalted and flattered that the ordinary reader assumes that it must be someone great, such as Alfonso el Sabio or Saint Louis or Charles of Anjou.

But, probably, a trick is being played on the reader which will not be cleared up until this Janus-like poem comes to its contradictory palinode: it, in most manuscripts, then tags on a Favolello , or Fagoletto , a 'little fable' concerning friendship, addressed to a scurrilous fellow poet, Rustico di Filippo - who was, to compound matters, a Ghibelline.

He asks that this patron cherish these words written with ink at this point Strozzi , usually so carefully written, gives a careless ink blot. The illumination for the dedication page Strozzi , fol. Yet the poet also asks that the work not be trhust into the hands of foolish boys, for they have taken another work of Latino's and sorely abused it.

He adds that, rather than have that happen, he would prefer to have these pages burnt in the flames of Hell lines Obviously there are discrepancies here.

Jeffrey Richards in his dissertation pp.


Brunetto Latini

Brunetto Latini was born in Florence in to a Tuscan noble family, the son of Buonaccorso Latini. He belonged to the Guelph party. He was a notary and a man of learning, much respected by his fellow citizens and famed for his skill as an orator. He expounded the writings of Cicero as guidance in public affairs.


From Brunetto Latini to Dante's ser Brunetto


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