Petrarch's Eight Years in Milan

By Ernest Hatch Wilkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
The Mission to Paris1

Before leaving Milan Petrarch must have written at least a draft of the oration that he was to deliver in Paris: for it contains some fifty quotations (the longest is a sixteen-line quotation from the Thyestes of Seneca), and in almost every case the quotation is followed by an exact reference to its source.

As text Petrarch took from II Chronicles, XXXII, 13, the words--there used of the return of King Manasseh from captivity in Babylon--"Exaudivit orationem ejus, reduxitque eum Jerusalem in regnum suum." The body of the oration is divided into three parts, in each of which a portion of the text is applied to the captivity and the liberation of King John: the first part is based on the words "Exaudivit orationem ejus," the second on the words "reduxit eum Jerusalem," and the third on the words "in regnum suum." In the first part Petrarch notes that many different opinions have been expressed as to the reality and the nature of Fortune--"an sit aliquid, et quid sit." He will not express his own opinion now; but he says that there could be no stronger evidence for the reality and the power of Fortune than that afforded by the recent experiences of the King:

Sic fidenter hoc dicam, quod nullo modo alio evidentius nostra aetas probare poterat, Fortunam esse magnum aliquid et magnae potentiae, quam in concutiendo statum ac requiem summi regis et regni omnium maximi.

He then speaks of the prayers for the liberation of the King that had been offered, doubtless by the King himself and cer

____________________
1

On this mission see Barbeu du Rocher; Hortis 1, pp. 205-217; and Delachenal, II, 270-272. On the capture of King John in 1356 and on the letters of sympathy then written by Petrarch for Galeazzo see above, p. 127.

-220-

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