Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch)
Born: 20 July 1304, Arezzo (now in Tuscany, Italy)
Died: 19 July 1374, Arqua Petrarca, Padua (now Italy)
Petrarch's father was a clerk in an ecclesiastical court, so the family moved to Avignon when the Pope did. Francesco was to be trained in law, but preferred to write, angering his father. He became a priest for the small stipend it paid and the time it allowed him to travel and write, he searched stores of old manuscripts in what are now France, Spain, Germany, and Italy, finding important lost works of Cicero as well as some by lesser authors. In 1341 he was crowned poet laureate of Rome. Although he wrote a great deal in both French and Latin, he is most remembered for his Italian sonnets, largely devoted to a woman named Laura, apparently the wife of an official in the pontifical court, to whom he may never have spoken. Other than letters, few of his writings are assigned dates as Petrarch continually edited even his earliest work. Petrarch was a constant letter writer. He published one volume of letters in which he was critical of papal policy "sine nomine", meaning he removed the names of his correspondents. He also wrote numerous letters to long-dead literary models, notably Cicero and Virgil, and Secretem Meum which was a debate with Augustine of Hippo, despite the latter's death in 430. He has been called the Father of the Renaissance on the strength of having identified the period up to his life as the Dark Ages. The town he lived his last years in was later named in his honor and a tomb was built. Despite a marble lid weighing two tons, the tomb was raided on at least two occasions and it is now known that the major skeletal remains show injuries matching his known life, but the skull in the tomb is absolutely not from the same person.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
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- A good death does honor to a whole life. permalink
"To Laura in Life"
- A short cut to riches is to subtract from our desires. permalink
- Behold who ever wept, and in his tears
Was happier far than others in their smiles. permalink
The Triumph of Eternity
- Believe me, many things are attributed to gravity and wisdom which are really due to incapacity and sloth. Men often despise what they despair of obtaining. It is in the very nature of ignorance to scorn what it cannot understand, and to desire to keep others from attaining what it cannot reach. Hence the false judgments upon matters of which we know nothing, by which we evince our envy quite as clearly as our stupidity. permalink
- Books have led some to learning and others to madness. permalink
- Books never pall me. They discourse with us, they take counsel with us, and are united to us by a certain living chatty familiarity. And not only does each book inspire the sense that it belongs to its readers, but it also suggests the name of others, and one begets the desire of the other. permalink
- Continued work and application form my soul's nourishment. So soon as I commenced to rest and relax I should cease to live. permalink
Letter to Giovanni Boccaccio (28 April 1373)
- Do you suppose there is any living man so unreasonable that if he found himself stricken with a dangerous ailment he would not anxiously desire to regain the blessing of health? permalink
- Each famous author of antiquity whom I recover places a new offence and another cause of dishonor to the charge of earlier generations, who, not satisfied with their own disgraceful barrenness, permitted the fruit of other minds, and the writings that their ancestors had produced by toil and application, to perish through insufferable neglect. Although they had nothing of their own to hand down to those who were to come after, they robbed posterity of its ancestral heritage. permalink
- Five great enemies to peace inhabit with us: avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace. permalink
- For death betimes is comfort, not dismay,
And who can rightly die needs no delay. permalink
"To Laura in Death"
- For style beyond the genius never dares. permalink
"To Laura in Death"
- Great errors seldom originate but with men of great minds. permalink
- Hitherto your eyes have been darkened and you have looked too much, yes, far too much, upon the things of earth. If these so much delight you what shall be your rapture when you lift your gaze to things eternal! permalink
Secretum Meum (1342)
- How difficult it is to save the bark of reputation from the rocks of ignorance. permalink
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