The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature

By Juliana Schiesari | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Appropriating the Work
of Women's Mourning:
From Petrarch to Gaspara Stampa,
and from Isabella di Morra to Tasso

While he was still alive the fame of Marsilio spread throughout almost the whole world." So spoke Giovanni Corsi in his 1506 biography of the great melancholic philosopher Ficino. 1 By the time Ficino died in October 1499, his celebrity and institutional importance warranted the pomp of a public funeral. Corsi's description of this funeral is brief but telling: "All his friends attended the funeral as well as many of the nobility. Marcello Virgilio made the funeral speech away from the general gathering. Marsilio was buried in the church of the Santa Reparata in the sepulchre reserved for canons. The people of Florence attended, with grief and tears" (p.148). While Corsi's account depicts the dead philosopher as both a notable citizen and a popular hero, it also sketches powerful social and symbolic differences. The eulogy made by the humanist scholar Marcello Virgilio Adriani, then chancellor of Florence, takes place distinctly apart from the "general gathering," presumably made up of the same grieving and tearful populo who attend the burial. In other words, humanist and neo-Latin eloquence pronounced in the company of noblemen and friends of the philosopher contrasts with and takes place in a space exclusive of the inarticulate

____________________
1
" ' The Life of Marsilio Ficino' by Giovanni Corsi," in The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, trans. Language Department of the School of Economic Science, London, American ed. ( New York: Gingko Press, 1985), 3: 147.

-160-

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