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Friday, March 2, 2018

Turin-Paris: The Golden Bough

Carlo Emanuele I di Savoia

We now meet the first, and surely not last, praise of Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy in G. B. Marino's Dicerie sacre. Born in 1562, he ruled from 1580 to 1630, when he fell ill and died in, incidentally, my hometown Savigliano* (in the current Piemonte Region, NW Italy) during the war against Richelieu's France after having claimed rights over the geographic area of Monferrato (Piemonte). Here Marino likens the Duke to the "golden bough" of the Aeneid (6.143-4), that seems to imply more layers of meaning -- beside the fact, as stated, that it grew again when it was torn off. In fact, the golden bough allowed its owner to pass unharmed through the realm of death; and it was a sign given to Aeneas as the founder of an empire, see Dante, Inferno 2.13-21. So, in 1609, the poet blesses Charles Emmanuel with an apotropaic 'charm,' and at the same time, exalts the past, present, and future political glory of the Savoys.

* He died inside the Cravetta Palace (see); his body was then kept in the Church of Saint Dominic (see) for forty years before being moved to Vicoforte (see). The Duke's portrait has been painted in the main hall of the Taffini Palace (see) in Savigliano. With many thanks to Nadia & Sergio for the info.

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, 19

But, what greater highness might be longed for, in this earthly heaven, than being set in the apex of highness itself? I mean this Most Serene Highness [Altezza Serenissima, the Duke's title], the supreme and, so far, last step in the long and straight stairway of his race; a race out of whose fertile bosom—not unlike the golden bough in Cumae, out of which new, precious shoots kept budding—a steady and continuous sequence of most invincible heroes and most glorious rulers has always sprouted.