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1 - Dressing down the muses: the anxiety of volgarizzamento

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2011

Alison Cornish
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
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Summary

There is a short story in Franco Sacchetti's Trecentonovelle that depicts a Florentine citizen of the previous generation seated at a table reading Livy's history of Rome (Titolivio) on a Saturday afternoon. The episode of the Roman women's protest at the Capitoline against the Oppian law that limited their use of luxury clothing sends this wise man into a rage.

There was once a citizen in Florence, wise and very well-to-do, whose name was Coppo di Borghese, and he lived across from where the Leoni are now, and he was having his house worked on. Reading one Saturday afternoon in Titolivio, he came upon a story of how the Roman women, against whom a law had been made recently against their ornaments, had run to the Capitol, asking and pleading that that law be lifted. Coppo, although wise, was also haughty and irascible, and he began to fly into a rage, as if the events were happening in front of him.

He bangs book and hands on the table and is moved to address the Romans directly, exhorting them, as rulers of the world, to maintain their sovereignty over their own women: ‘Alas, Romans, will you suffer this, you who have suffered that no king or emperor be greater than you?’ In his apoplexy, he tells masons who come for payment for their work on his house that he would rather the whole edifice collapsed on top of him, and raves about miserable, shameless whores whom he would have burnt as a lesson to the others.

Type
Chapter
Information
Vernacular Translation in Dante's Italy
Illiterate Literature
, pp. 16 - 43
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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