Petrarch's Eight Years in Milan

By Ernest Hatch Wilkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
1358: January-June

The indecisive warfare that had prevailed during 1357 had come to an end by the beginning of 1358, and peace negotiations were carried on during the first half of the year.


January

It was presumably early in January, or perhaps late in the previous December, that Petrarch received from Avignon a letter that he calls a "Tricipitem epystolam," written by three friends using three different pens and three different colors of ink: thrice and more than thrice, he says, he read the letter happily. The three friends from whom it came were living in the same honorable house, apparently a house well known to Petrarch--"honesto illo sub lare degentibus"--and they were all men to whom Petrarch had often written individually-- "quibus tam multa sepe singulis." They are not named in Petrarch's reply: they were probably Socrates, Laelius, and Stefano Colonna, all of whom were connected in one way or another with the Colonna family.1

To this letter Petrarch replied, in his Fam. XX9, written in

____________________
1
Socrates lived permanently in Avignon; Laelius lived there, as far as we know, from the summer of 1355 to the winter of 1359 (see above, p. 89, and below, 165 and 203); and Stefano Colonna usually lived there: see Claude Cochin, pp. 363-364. The misunderstanding between Socrates and Laelius seems not to have developed until the spring of 1358 (see below, pp. 165-166 and 170). Fracassetti 2 suggests that the three were Socrates, Guido Sette, and Nelli (who was in Avignon at this time). There is no evidence of any close association of Guido or of Nelli with the Colonna family. Guido had a house of his own (see Wilkins 2, p. 99). While in Avignon Nelli never heard from Petrarch, and it is not likely that Petrarch would have referred to him as one of three persons "Babilone . . . habitantibus."

-159-

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