Machiavelli and the Discourse of Literature by Albert Russell Ascoli, Victoria Kahn

By Albert Russell Ascoli, Victoria Kahn

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Example text

What strikes one right away is the older Verrazzano's continuous care to disguise and conceal reality by means of a complicated allegory (al­ most as if he thought that this alone was the secret key to historical interpretation), compared with the young Machiavelli's concreteness, incisiveness, and political engagement in the Decennale. A selection from the prose preface is illustrative: We have represented the Church Militant by the Supreme Pontiff; and His Most Christian King of France, by . .

Later, when Machiavelli had lost his post and was forced to seek the protection of the Medici, on the street he might have seen old Giambullari, who had stubbornly dedicated his continuation of Luca Pulci's Ciriffo calvaneo to Lorenzo de' Medici. And later still, after the publication of Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Machiavelli would see pub­ lished in Rome in 1521 the dreadful epic in ottava rima, Triompho magno nel qual si contiene le famose guerre d'Alexandro Magno Imperator di Grecia cominciando avanti sua nativita, composto per Domenico Falugi Ancisano poeta laureato ad ill.

I believe that when he thought it over again after reading Orlando furioso, a poem he described as "beautiful throughout and admirable in many passages," Machia­ velli realized that ottava rima could be something else and something greater. Neither Asino, nor similar products of Tuscany, could bear the comparison. The competition remained open to him in the field of prose (and specifically in the field of prose drama, where he would take on Ariosto himself ), but in the field of poetry he yielded the palm.

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