Luigi Pulci’s Morgante and that reversal of traditional values

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The Morgante from Luigi Pulci (1461-1483) is the forerunner of the chivalric epic poems of the Italian literary tradition. Often with comical and satirical tones, it overturns the traditional values ​​of chivalry representing the protagonists as street brigands. The atmosphere is that of a fairy-tale escape, the sender is a popular audience, who loves fun and jargon.

Pulci’s successors

After Pulci, it will be boyar With the’Orlando in love (1476-1491) to fix the type of chivalric poem and to constitute the model of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. Unlike the Morgante by Luigi Pulci, celebrates a chivalrous feudal world that no longer exists but whose values ​​are still felt alive in courtly society, and in particular in Ferrara.

And finally the third brilliant interpreter of the sixteenth century is Torquato Tassoauthor of the Jerusalem liberatedthe poem it narrates the conquest of the Holy Sepulcher at the end of the first Crusade (1096-1099). Behind the clash between Christian knights and Saracens, the internal conflicts of a complex and restless personality such as that of Tasso are hidden, on which the heavy climate of the Catholic Counter-Reformation influenced.

Luigi Pulci, an eccentric personality

Luigi Pulci was born in Florence in 1432 from a noble and ancient family, already quite ruined. Her training is literary, even if she does not get to know Latin at the refined levels of humanist colleagues. Due to the huge economic difficulties family members, he finds himself forced to face and overcome difficult moments from a young age.

Around 1461 he began frequenting the Palazzo dei Medici and became intimate friendship with Lorenzo de’ Medici, the future “sir”. Within the Medici brigade he was immediately loved and admired for his bizarre humor and playfulness. His taste is increasingly oriented towards the burlesque deformation.

This out-of-the-box attitude consistently affects the entire court. It is a clear example of this Nencia da Barberino del Magnifico, to which Pulci replies a further parody of pastoral and love literature, the Beca from Dicomano.

The turning point for the author’s life occurred in the years between 1473 and 1474. In that period the climate of the Medici circle began to change. The influence of the Platonic philosophers of the Academy begins to take hold in an ever more profound way, until the establishment of an attitude pervaded by depth and religious piety.

Luigi Pulci, with his whimsical positions and his heterodox curiosities in religious and philosophical matters, he immediately came into conflict with such positions, at the cost of losing the affectionate bond with his friend Lorenzo de’ Medici.

In 1476 leave Florence to bind to the mercenary captain Roberto Sanseverino. These will be the years in which the first and second edition will be published Morgante. Eight years later Luigi Pulci will die of fever in Padua and will be buried in deconsecrated ground since accused of magic, impiety and heresy.

The Morgante by Luigi Pulci

Luigi Pulci’s Morgante is a chivalrous epic poem that draws inspiration from the Carolingian legends that for centuries had enjoyed great fortune on Italian soil. It narrates the adventures and loves of Orlando, Rinaldo and other paladins in the farthest countries, accompanied by the comic vicissitudes of the naive giant Morgante and of the half-giant, cunning and roguish, by name Marguette.

The Morgante di Pulci is made up of the presence of characters apparent to the Carolingian cycle than in fact are completely transformed, often behaving like scoundrels, prey to the most intense bodily passions. For example, King Charlemagne is described as a victim of scams by Gano di Maganza (the traitor par excellence of the poem), unable to understand its true fraudulent nature.

While more epic and series in the Morgante by Luigi Pulci look like the figures of Orlandothe champion of Christians, the cousin Rinaldo and the son of the king of England Astolfomainly engaged in various military enterprises and only occasionally in mischief.

There is then Morgante, a gentle giant, who gives the poem its title, Orlando’s squire who is presented as a Hercules of immeasurable strength. Morgante then has her complement in the “half-giant” Marguttea paradoxical figure who presents himself as an inveterate sinner and who declares a bizarre culinary “creed”, in which there are several blasphemous elements.

The Morgante: a heroic poem

The Morgante by Luigi Pulci, not only for the characterization of the characters, but also for the linguistic and stylistic choice, could be defined as a heroic poem. In fact, the author feels a disproportionate taste for parody and for popular and realistic tones. With great skill he manages to overturn the traditional values ​​of chivalric epic narration, giving life to a story out of the ordinary canons.

The narrative seems to take on the semblance of a version of the great past, in a plus key humorous and lively. Nor the Morgante the primary attention is no longer directed to the classic heroic deeds of the paladins of France, but to the more marginal episodes, those of a comic and grotesque nature.

The Morgante it is an open space in which they coexist amusement, irreverence, laughter and derision. The contents of the traditional epic are almost emptied and re-semanticized from within, offering anew opportunity to see. Fundamentally grasping all the weaknesses and prejudices of a mentality still anchored to past heroic models.

Martha Barbera

Luigi Pulci’s Morgante and that reversal of traditional values