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Friday, January 27, 2017

[GBM] Starting off on the right foot?

by ilTM + Selkis

Cominciamo bbene! they would say in Rome, meaning, "Is this supposed to be starting off on the right foot?!" In the allegedly standard invocation at the very beginning of his long poem Adonis, Giovan Battista Marino immediately breaks the rules by using a formula that is "neither pagan nor Christian," as was stressed by his main rival, Tomaso Stigliani. In fact, Marino does not invoke the classical Muses nor the Holy Spirit, but the goddess Venus. The reason why he does so is made clear by the text itself, as it is also immediately clear how deeply Marino mixes pagan and Christian languages---and views:


I call you, the one who turns and moves
the most benign and meek sphere,     just joking; see the events
holy mother of Love, Jove's daughter,     N.B. the first words
beautiful goddess of Amatunte 'n' Cythera;     in Cyprus
you whose star, pouring all grace,     Lucifer/Hesperus (classically meant)
is the messenger of night and day;     ambivalence
you whose shiny and fertile ray
calms the sky, sweetens the world. . .     lit., causes the world to fall in love

* The posts devoted to Marino will be indicated by the acronym "[GBM]" in the title. The critical edition for reference is: Giovan Battista Marino, Adone, edited by Emilio Russo, Milan: Rizzoli - BUR, 2013, pages 2,346 (in two volumes).