Academic journal article Annali d'Italianistica

Cast Out: The Topos of Exile in Cecco Angiolieri, Pietro De' Faitinelli, and Pieraccio Tedaldi (1)

Academic journal article Annali d'Italianistica

Cast Out: The Topos of Exile in Cecco Angiolieri, Pietro De' Faitinelli, and Pieraccio Tedaldi (1)

Article excerpt

In "Cast Out: The Topos of Exile in Cecco Angiolieri, Pietro de' Faitinelli, and Pieraccio Tedaldi," Fabian Alfie examines the theme of exile in three fourteenth-century poets, Cecco Angiolieri, Pietro de' Faitinelli, and Pieraccio Tedaldi, who suffered exile from their native cities for reasons not well know to scholars. Their personal tragedies inspired the three of them to compose sonnets that expressed their anguish. Yet, their poems are more than mere outlets for personal pain, for they are finely tuned documents that demonstrate the authors' literary self-consciousness. Thus this essay examines the intertextual relationships among the three works, showing how each author builds upon the work of his predecessors.

For several decades, scholarship has recognized the thematic similarities among the various poeti giocosi. In the introductions to their respective anthologies, Mario Marti and Maurizio Vitale enumerate some of the motifs shared by those poets, such as the complaints against fortune and poverty, the insult of others, misogynist statements, sensual loves, and political assertions. (2) At the same time, Marti and Vitale note the impact of earlier and highly influential jocose poets, such as Cecco Angiolieri, on subsequent writers of that style. For example, in his explanatory footnotes, Marti points out the similarities of several of Cecco Nuccoli's verses to those by Angiolieri. (3) Moreover, Vitale finds reminiscences of Angiolieri's "Senno non vale a cui fortuna e conta" in Giuntino Lanfredi's sonnet "Vento a levante e di meridiana" (Rimatori comico-realistici 537). One area not studied in depth by scholars, however, is the topic of exile. Several poets write about their own cases of banishment. Cecco Angiolieri, Pietro de' Faitinelli and Pieraccio Tedaldi all complain about their current situations and envision their happiness, should they ever be allowed to return to their native cities. Beyond the particular personal, biographical circumstances that may have inspired these sonnets, stylistic elements suggest a chain of direct influence among the poets in question. Intertextualities among the three writers suggest awareness of the poetic tradition of Tuscany at the time. They may express personal sentiments in their poetry but they are also self-conscious participants in a literary movement.

While other poets such as Rustico Filippi and Folgore da San Gimignano dedicate several sonnets each to political matters, (4) the Sienese poet Cecco Angiolieri (ca. 1260-1312) almost never brings up contemporary politics in his verse. Yet Angiolieri alludes to some sort of estrangement from Siena in the following lyric:

   Se Die m'aiuti, a le sante guagnele,
   s'i' veggio 'l di sia 'n Siena ribandito,
   dato mi foss'entro l'occhio col dito,
   a soffrire mi parra latt'e mele.
   E parro un colombo senza fele,
   tanto staro di bon core gecchito,
   pero ch'i' abbo tanto mal patito
   che pieta n'avrebb'ogni crudele.
   E tutto questo mal mi parrebb'oro
   sed i' avesse pur tanta speranza
   quant'han color che stanno 'n Purgatoro.
   Ma elli e tanta la mie sciaguranza
   ch'ivi farabb'a quell'otta dimoro
   che babb'ed i' saremo in accordanza. (5)


The exact cause of Angiolieri's exile, whether for political or economic reasons, is not currently known. Perhaps he imitates the goliardic motif of the clerici vagantes in this sonnet (Waddell, 177-191); the twelfth-century Latin poets frequently used their positions as impoverished outsiders to castigate vice and the corruption of social and political institutions. (6) Angiolieri's appropriation of goliardic topoi has been well documented by scholarship (Marti, "Cecco Angiolieri" 85-94). While the possibility exists that Angiolieri had in mind the goliardic literary movement when he wrote this sonnet, he also reiterates the idea of banishment in other poems. In his sonnet, "Dante Alighier, s'i' so' buon begolardo," he seems to contrast Dante's meanderings to his own current condition: "s'io so' fatto romano, e tu lombardo" (v. …

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