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Title: National poets and viri illustri, from fourth-century Athens to quattrocento Florence
Authors: Hanink, Johanna
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Johanna Hanink, “National poets and viri illustri, from fourth-century Athens to quattrocento Florence”, in: CentoPagine, III (2009), pp. 20-29
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.
Type: Article
ISSN: 19740395
Appears in Collections:CentoPagine 2009

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