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By J. Christopher Warner

The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton rewrites the heritage of the Renaissance Vergilian epic by way of incorporating the neo-Latin aspect of the tale along the vernacular one, revealing how epics spoke to one another ''across the language gap'' and jointly comprised a unmarried, ''Augustinian tradition'' of epic poetry. starting with Petrarch's Africa, Warner bargains significant new interpretations of Renaissance epics either recognized and forgotten—from Milton's Paradise Lost to a Latin Christiad via his near-contemporary, Alexander Ross—thereby laying off new gentle at the improvement of the epic style. For complex undergraduate scholars, graduate scholars, and students within the fields of Italian, English, and Comparative literatures in addition to the Classics and the background of faith and literature.

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Traditionally, the story of Aeneas’s affair with Dido represents the stage of adolescent abandon, of youthful lust that is brie›y indulged before being controlled, but Petrarch extends that allegory of man’s battle against lust from the ‹rst to the very last event in the poem. ” He continues: “For if anyone were to perceive her as she is, no doubt terri‹ed by that one glimpse he would run away, for as nothing is more attractive than lust, so too nothing is more foul. . 29 At the end of book 2, Aeneas loses track of his wife, Creüsa—“that is, the one joined to his mind in the habit of pleasure from an early age”30— during the panicked ›ight from burning Troy.

45 What Petrarch most desperately needs to save himself, says Augustine, is a Scipio to defend him from Hannibal—that is, the exercise of the virtue given him by God’s grace to drive out the lust that invades his soul. I pro- 38 the augustinian epic, petrarch to milton < pose that this passage in the Secretum invites us to discern in the Africa an allegory that works not only as a general morality tale and admonition to defeat one’s carnal passions, as Petrarch reads the Aeneid, but also as an autobiographical allegory.

Sic urbis origo Oppetiit regina ferox. Iniuria quanta Huic ‹at, si forte aliquis—quod credere non est— Ingenio con‹sus erit, qui carmine sacrum Nomen ad illicitos ludens traducat amores! 418–27) [Later a queen, ›eeing to these parts from Tyre, built within vast walls the great city of Carthage. 12 Soon after, having spurned marriage with a neighboring king, never forgetful of her former husband though her subjects’ prayers were urging her to wed, she redeemed her virtue in death. Thus the ‹erce queen, founder of the city, perished.

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