Petrarch’s secret, laura and his canzoniere
Paper for the Seminar
Laura, another myth? 4
Symbolism of Laura’s name 7
In this paper I am going to, at least try to; give an overview over the different hypotheses which argue with the existence of Petrarch’s Laura and the symbolism of her name.
I have to start by saying that Petrarch is the creator of the great cycle of 366 poems now usually known as the Canzoniere (1374) but also known as Rerum vulgarium fragmenta (Vernacular fragments) or Rime Sparse.
Love at first sight made him a poet – that is what he wrote to his patron Cardinal Giacomo Colonna and I quote N. Mann: “love drives him to poetry; poetry creates and preserves love.” (63)
His love at first sight towards a woman called Laura and this narrative love-affair as also his Latin works made him famous and brought him a laurel crown as poet laureatus.
A striking fact in Petrarch’s work is the way he chose the dates which mark Canzoniere’s development. I have to mention that Canzoniere is written in 2 parts, the first as Laura was still alive and the second after her death.
He is supposed to have met Laura on 6 April 1327 on a Good Friday service in the Church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon, but the real fact is that the Good Friday of that year was on 10 April and that means that their first encounter had to be on 10 April 1327.
Why did he choose this date? Why six?
As we find out in Frederic J. Jones work, 6 was Petrarch’s numerical symbol for Laura, 6 as a “symbol of civilized virtue” (Bernardo, 19).
His coronation as poeta laureatus was in Rome on 6 April 1341 and 6 April 1348 marks Laura’s death, 6 April as one of the dates of Christ’s death, “traditionally considered the day on which man was created and Adam sinned” (Bernardo, 11).