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A part of this book’s story shows how four poets sought to create an institution of poetry because other paths to recognition and power in the civic space were blocked to them. The defense of poetry and laurel crowning were modes of political empowerment. By the end of the fourteenth century, with the increasing bureaucratization of cities like Florence, the intellectuals who take up the cause of poetry no longer do so to defend their own role in society. The authority of the poet is reabsorbed by the authors of the works read by these functionaries, who shared a similar training in grammar, rhetoric, and law with these poets, but whose effective authority in the city required no defending. As a concluding example, the epilogue examines the first defense of poetry of Florentine Chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), which takes place in a series of private letters written to Bolognese Chancellor Giuliano Zonarini in 1378–79. It suggests that the previous poets’ concern for situating themselves vis-à-vis political power is translated into a role for poetry itself.
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