National poets and viri illustri, from fourth-century Athens to quattrocento Florence
In this paper I explore a striking parallel in the early biographical traditions for two very different poets, Euripides and Dante. In life both of these poets had difficult relationships with their native cities: while Dante was exiled from Florence, Euripides is said to have sought a kind of 'selfexile' in Macedon because of his mistreatment in Athens. Nevertheless, in early biographical material for Euripides and Dante alike it is possible to identify a certain rhetorical strain which sought to reclaim the poet for his native city by casting him in civic terms as an ideal citizen. While there seems to be no direct relationship between the two traditions, fourth-century Athens and quattrocento Florence do hold in common an interest in cycles of 'viri illustres', and in both cases this interest in great men of the past seems to guide the application of pointedly civic rhetoric to lives of the poets.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Johanna Hanink, “National poets and viri illustri, from fourth-century Athens to quattrocento Florence”, in: CentoPagine, III (2009), pp. 20-29