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 thedifferent 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 CardinalGiacomo 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 mentionthat 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).
Even Aprilhas a hidden signification: April, month of spring, spring marking the beginning of love-affaires, of courtly-love.
He wrote for almost his entire live about an unreachable love, his sonnets having an interesting Christian coloration and a strong Greek influence.
Laura, Greek influence, symbolism of her name, laurels, poet laureatus are the main themes of this paper and I will start withLaura’s existence.
2. Laura, another myth?
Is Laura just a product of Petrarch’s imagination? A poetic invention?
Laura's status as fictive, symbolic, historical, or otherwise has intrigued many critics.
Petrarch’s Laura might have been Laure de Noves, married to Hugues de Sade and whose existence is documented. But was she also Petrarch’s Laura?
Petrarch wrote about his unfulfilled andunattainable love and dedicated most of his sonnets to it, but she is mentioned only in his letter to Cardinal Giacomo Colonna (Familiares II, IX) and probably another time in his letter to Posterity.
Still, Petrarch thanks Simone Martini, a painter, in two of his sonnets for Laura’s portrait, which Petrarch took with him when he went for long journeys.
But Laura could also embody the ideasof other poets and philosophers on which Petrarch relied on meaning that she was existent only in Petrarch’s poetry world. Is she than just another myth?
I said another myth because it is obvious that Petrarch used an Ovidian myth, the myth of Apollo and Daphne, of metamorphosis (very clear present in sonnet 34), in order to show the distance between him and the person he loved.
Apollo was theGod of poetry, Daphne after being transformed in a laurel tree became his muse and his frustration became poetry. So it can also be possible, that Petrarch made such a parallel putting himself on the level of a god of poetry and Laura as his muse.
And here is where my paper becomes more interesting.
This parallel Daphne-Laura, daphne in Greek means nothing different than laurus in Latin (N....
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