Paolo Gattavari (UCL) - 2016-17 Students

Lucian in the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, satirical writings had an immense popularity. The notion of authority embedded in the main philosophical and scientific systems of the Middle Ages was undermined both by the development of new hermeneutic criteria and by the revival of ancient satire, especially Menippean satire. This literary genre was particularly appreciated by humanists, as its comic elements were not an end in itself, but pointed to a serious moral purpose, calling into question prejudice and closed systems of thought. My research will focus on how the Renaissance rediscovery of Lucian of Samosata played an essential role in this process, giving humanists the chance to explore genres, styles, and topics that were innovative for their age. Lucian’s dialogues, with their irreverent wit, scepticism, irony and combination of comedy and philosophy, influenced Renaissance satire more than those of any other classical author. I shall discuss the encounter between Lucian and some leading fifteenth- and sixteenth-century authors both in Italy and in the wider European context. Among the Italian humanists, special attention will be paid to Leon Battista Alberti, Giovanni Pontano, Ludovico Ariosto, Maffeo Vegio, and Pandolfo Collenuccio. Outside Italy, I will concentrate on Erasmus and Thomas More.

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