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The poetics of ruins: Vestigia, monuments, and writing Rome in Renaissance poetry

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Andrew Hui
Abstract:
In the cultural revival of the Renaissance, ruins presented a challenge to the humanists: were they to be rebuilt, destroyed, venerated or left to rot? This dissertation proposes that the Renaissance was also a ruin-naissance --the birth of ruins as objects of contemplation that signaled the rupture from classical antiquity. Within the larger enterprise of the recovery of the antique, I focus on ruins as an artifact of cultural memory from a poetic perspective, by taking three specific test cases--Petrarch, Du Bellay, and Spenser--and explore how these three poets approached the remnants of antiquity, both literal and literary, from their respective national angles. My project uses one key word for each author-- vestigia for Petrarch, cendre for Du Bellay and monumentum for Spenser--as search agents in which their philological usages illuminate their philosophical concerns. The first chapter introduces the cultural conditions in which ruins arose. In the second, "Petrarch's Vestigia and the Desire for Presence," I argue that the Italian poet's encounter with the past can be conceived of as the search for vestigia , in the senses of tracking the footprints of Laura, comparing recovered manuscripts to mutilated bodies, and walking around the ruins of Rome. By examining his usage of vestigia in his Rerum vulgarium fragmenta , his epistolary Rerum familiarium libri , and his unfinished epic Africa --works rarely read together--I explore how Petrarch's scholarly and erotic desires operate on a logic of impossible presences: the palindrome Roma and Amor --hypostatized in the ruined remnants of the ancient capitol and the fragments of Laura--are forever absences, transcendental entities that cannot be made immanent, unattainable and unrequited precisely because they are idealized at their maximum extremes. Chapter Three, "Du Bellay's Cendre and the Development of the Vernacular" examines the frequent appearance of the word cendre in Les Antiquitez de Rome and his analogy of words and matter in his Deffence et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse . I read these two texts as paradigmatic examples of literary production in the Early Modern vernacular. Signifying ashes and usually applied to the remains of humans, cendre is used in Du Bellay, following a long literary tradition, to describe the body of Rome. Through this word, Du Bellay develops his theories of transmission, change, and the regeneration of things: the poet's task is to gather these formless decompositions and create a new vernacular literature. The meaning of monuments in the artistic process of Spenser forms the final chapter, entitled "Spenser's Moniments and the Allegory of Ruins." From his early Ruins of Time to his posthumously published Mutabilitie Cantos , Spenser is haunted by the Horatian promise of a poetic artifice that is a monumentum aere perennius , yet as a Christian he is suspicious of the claim that mortal works will outlast time. Moreover, as a Protestant, he has a vexed relationship to iconoclasm, that is, he himself has a penchant for ruin-making. The monument that is The Faerie Queene and monuments within the poem are all unstable artifices; and it is no accident that the text is composed literally under the shadow of a ruin, in Spenser's own Kilcolman Castle. I propose that Spenser, instead of offering an aesthetics of ruins, returns to the etymological origin of monuments-- moneo ∼"warning or admonishment"--and presents an ethics of monuments that is toward a moral end.

Table of Contents

Abstract iii

Acknowledgements vi

Illustrations viii

Prologue: The Art of Memory and the Tower of Babel ix

Introduction 1

1. The Ruin-naissance 11

2. Petrarch’s Vestigia and the Desire for Presence 98

3. Du Bellay’s Cendre and the Development of the Vernacular 177

4. Spenser’s Moniments and the Allegory of Ruins 249

Epilogue: Egyptian Pyramids and Cicada Skins 323

Bibliography 331

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Acknowledgements

A certain poet once said there was a special kinship between thinking and thanking—denken and danken. I never understood this gnome until I began working on this dissertation. Therefore, deepest and highest padeuteria to: Leonard Barkan, Jeff Dolven, Anthony Grafton, Simone Marchesi, and Alexander Nehamas. An earlier poet once said that he knew nothing at all and invokes the Muses for their divine knowledge. To compare the great with the small, I feel the same toward my teachers.

A later poet, signaling the transition from the oral to the textual, alphabetized his catalogue of Latin soldiers. This seems like a good idea. For conversations brief and sustained, early and late, I thank: Hans Aarsleff, Rosa Andújar, Lina Bolzoni, Adrienne Browne, Kenneth Chong, David Collier, my sister Claire, Will Evans, Andrew Ford, Leslie Geddes, Adam Gitner, Matthew Harrison, Aaron Hostetter, Christian Kaesser, Kevin Kalish, Vera Keller, Congcong Li, John Logan, Maya Maskarenic, Giuseppe Mazzotta, Lisa Marie Mignone, Joe Moshenska, Stephen Orgel, Guilio Pertile, François Rigolot, Colleen Rosenfeld, James Rutherford, Susannah Rutherglen, Mauro Scarabelli, Nigel Smith, Leah Whittington, Julianne Werlin, and Tom Zanker. A special note of appreciation to John Logan, who proofread every single page of this dissertation! (There are still a bunch of errors.) The staff in the Department of Comparative Literature—Cheryl Cantore, Anna Gerwel, and Valerie Kanka—all work with efficiency and grace. And a special shout out to my post-johnnie community: Josh Blistein, Alek Chance, Jon Cooper, John Cottrell, Evan Draper, David Geddes, Mike Mcguire, Benjamin Truesdale. So much more to say, and so much more to think about, but for now, to all, evermore thanks.

This dissertation began as I was studying for my generals and re-read, in rapid succession, Jacob Burckhardt, Thomas Greene, and Leonard Barkan. A paper on Petrarch’s Fam. 6.2, which forms part of the first chapter, was written for Anthony Grafton’s history seminar, “Renaissance Visions of the Past,” and a preliminary draft was presented at the 2006 ACLA conference in the panel “Renaissance Humanism and Critical Theory,” organized by Christopher D. Johnson. Later, I read various other flotsam and jetsam to audiences at Stanford, UPenn, Yale, Pisa, Basel, Fairfield, and Kenyon. Before all that, a fellowship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation made going to graduate school materially possible. And even before that, my teachers at St. John’s College, Annapolis and Santa Fe—Susan Stickney, Stephen Larsen, Chaninah Maschler, and Joseph MacFarland—made intellectual inquiry possible.

Lastly, to my parents. For the first poet said:

ڳዶള໡đଛዶࣾ໡b ᒾ໡྾໡đӉ໡ტ໡b ܤ໡گ໡đԛೆڴ໡b რБᆭ֣đᤍ฿ኞࠞb

My father—he begot me; my mother—she nursed me; I wish to repay their bounty, the vast sky has no boundary.

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Illustrations Page xviii: Figure A, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Tower of Babel, c. 1563, Kunsthistorisches, Vienna.

Pages 68-96: Figure 1, Sebastiano Serlio, Frontispiece of Book III of Tutte le opere d’architettura, Lyon, 1537. Figure 2, ´Etienne Du Pérac, I vestigi dell'antichità di Roma, Rome, 1575. Figure 3, Marten van Heemskerk, Römischen Skizzenbücher, 1532-1536, Berlin. Figure 4, Copy by Giuliano da Sangallo of Cyriaco's drawings of Hagia Sophia, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. lat. 4424. Figure 5, Palladio, Temple of Vesta, in I quattro libri, 1570. Figure 6, Marten van Heemskerk, Römischen Skizzenbücher, 1532-1536, Berlin. Figure 7, Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Venice, 1545. Figure 8, Sandro Botticelli, The Adoration of the Magi. 1472-1473, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Figure 9, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds, 1485, Sassetti Chapel, Santa Trinità, Florence. Figure 10 Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi, Adoration, c. 1445, National Gallery, Washington. Figure 11, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Nativity, c. 1490, San Domenico, Siena. Figure 12, Albercht Altdorfer, Nativity, c.1513, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Figure 13, Roger Van Der Weyden, Nativity, 1452, Gëmaldegalerie, Berlin. Figure 14, Vittore Carpaccio, The Meditation on the Passion, c. 1510, Metropolitan Museum, New York. Figure 15, Vittore Carpaccio, The Dead Christ, c. 1520, Gëmaldegalerie, Berlin. Figure 16, Andrea Mantegna, St. Sebastian, c. 1457, Kunsthistorisches, Vienna. Figure 17, Andrea Mantegna, St. Sebastian, c. 1480, Louvre, Paris. Figure 18, Giulio Romano, Sala dei giganti, 1530-2, Mantova, Palazzo del Tè. Figure 19, G. B. Piranesi, Ichnographiam Campi Martii Antiquae Urbis, Rome, 1762. Figure 20, G. B. Piranesi, Le Antichità Romane, Rome, 1756. Figure 21, G. B. Piranesi, Invenzioni capric di carceri, Rome, c. 1745-50. Figure 22, François de Nomé, Fantastic Ruins with Saint Augustine and the Child 1623, National Gallery, London.

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Figure 23, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Modern Rome, 1757, Metropolitan Museum, New York. Figure 24, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Ancient Rome, 1757, Metropolitan Museum, New York. Figure 25, Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with Saint John on Patmos, 1640, Art Institute of Chicago.

Figure 26, Caspar David Friedrich, Cloister Cemetery in the Snow, 1817-19 (destroyed). Figure 27, Hubert Robert, Fantasy View of the Pyramid of Cestius on a Temple Ruins, 1760-70, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers. Figure 28, Hubert Robert, Imaginary View of the Grand Galerie of the Louvre in Ruins, 1796, Louvre, Paris. Figure 29, Joseph Gandy, A Bird’s-eye View of the Bank of England, 1830, Sir John Sloane Museum, London.

Page 188: Figure 2.1. Fazio degli Uberti, Dittamondo. Paris, Bibli. Nat., MS. Ital. 81, fol 18r.

Page 192: Figure 2.2, De dissectione partium corporis humani, Paris, 1545.

Page 265: Figure 3.1 Van der Noot, A Theatre for Worldlings, London, 1569.

Page 267: Figure 3.2. Based on Hans Holbein the Younger, The Whore of Babylon, German New Testament, Basel, 1523.

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Prologue

The art of memory, it could be argued, was born from the wreckages of ruins. Its etiology, of how Simonides invented ars memoriae, exists in several versions, its most complete in Cicero’s De oratore. The anecdote deserves to the told in full. One of the characters in the dialogue, Antonius, recounts: I am grateful to the famous Simonides of Ceos, who is said to have first invented the art of memory (artem memoriae). There is a story that (dicunt) Simonides was dining at the house of a wealthy nobleman named Scopas at Crannon in Thessaly, and chanted a lyric poem which he had composed in honor of his host, in which he followed the custom of the poets (poetarum more) by including for decorative purposes a long passage referring to Castor and Pollux; whereupon Scopas with excessive meanness told him he would pay him half the fee agreed on for the poem, and if he liked he might apply for the balance to his ones of Tyndareus, as they had gone halves in the panegyric. The story runs (ferunt) that a little later a message was brought to Simonides to go outside, as two young men were standing at the door who earnestly requested him to come out; so he rose from his seat and went out, and could not see anybody; but in the interval of his absence the roof of the hall where Scopas was giving the banquet fell in, crushing Scopas himself and his relations underneath the ruins (ruina) and killing them; and when their friends wanted to bury them but they were altogether unable to know them apart as they had been completely crushed, the story goes that (dictur) Simonides was enabled by his recollection of the place in which each of them had been

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reclining at table to identify them for separate interment; and that this circumstance suggested to him the discovery of the truth that the best aid to clearness of memory consists in orderly arrangement (hac tum re admonitus invenisse fertur ordinem esse maxime qui memoriae lumen afferret, 2.86.351- 353). 1

Notice how Antonius foregrounds his story, “I am grateful” (gratiam habeo). Gratia: Simonides gives his gifts in two ways: the first, a local one, specifically for the kin of the deceased, remembering the placement of the dead so that they could have a proper burial; and second, a more general one, to future generations. From this we see the kinship between place and memory. Above all, as the story is told, the art of memory is predicated on two relationships: the poet and his patron on the one hand and locations and things on the other. Simonides was known in antiquity as a businessman; poetry is conducted as a commercial transaction. And his trade is what Leslie Kurke calls the “traffic of praise.” 2

The reciprocal relationship is clear: Scopas sustains Simonides on earth materially; in turn, the poet sustains them in memory. In our story, the birth of ars memoriae destabilizes the system of economic exchanges and pushes it to the extreme. The poet at the end provides not only verbal flourishes for dinner entertainment but something more basic: he is now the coroner who identifies the bodies of his erstwhile patron. The story suggests the inefficacy of physical remains as markers of identity and points to the privileged powers of the maker of verses: not only he can remember and commemorate the victims, but he provides them their basic identity, something that the relatives

1 Cicero, De oratore, trans. E. W. Sutton and H. Rackham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1942). 2 The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Praise (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1991). See also Anne Carson, Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Ceos with Paul Celan (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2002), 38 -39.

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themselves cannot do. The fundamental problem for us is: what does it mean to see something that is not there, say, a ruin? Whether we want to remember is another question. In a powerful reversal, another anecdote tells when Simonides offered to teach the art of memory to the Athenian general Themistocles. He replied he would rather learn the art of forgetting, for “I remember even what I do not want to remember, but am unable to forget what I want to forget” (Cic. De or. 2.299 and 351). A further question is how stories are exactly remembered. In his narrative, Antonius stresses the fact that he is only the transmitter (dicunt, ferunt, dictur). Quintilian’s version in Institutio Oratoria records the uncertainty to whom Simonides’ poem was written for. Many things are in dispute: whether the poem was written in honor of “Glaucus of Carystus, Leocrates, Agatharcus or Scopas, and whether the house was at Pharsalus as Simonides himself seems to indicate in one passage, and as Apollodorus, Eratosthenes, Euphorion, and Eurypylus of Larissa all say, or at Crannon, as according to Apollas Callimachus, whom Cicero followed when he popularized the story” (11.2.14-15). 3 There is something ironic about this story being about the inventor of the art of memory, because the provenance itself is disputed. Even the man who invented of the art of memory himself and his dedicatee are prone to oblivion. The conclusion that Antonius draws is purely utilitarian: we attach images to specific places and thereby they are easier to recall. He appropriates this poetic story to the service of eloquence. The art of memory, as the name suggests, is artificial—humans are prone to forgetfulness, and so this technique is our bulwark against oblivion.

3 Quintilian, The Orator’s Education, Books 11-12, trans. Donald A. Russell (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2001).

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Let us turn back the architectural metaphor into its literal sense. Cicero and Quintilian advocate loci and imagines as aide-mémoire in the exercise of eloquence. And these images are always an imagined construction: a house, a corner, a row of columns, an arch. Poets and orators used both their “inner vision” and textual memory to remember. What happens when they look at the real ruins? In De legibus, a character says, “For we are in some mysterious way affected by places about which carry the imprints [vestigia] of those whom we love or admire. My beloved Athens delights me not so much by the stunning monuments or the exquisite works of antiquity found there, but rather by recalling to my mind great men—where each one lived, where he used to sit and carry on disputations; why, I even enjoy looking on their graves” (2.2.4 my emphasis). 4 Ruins become not only a mnemonic device but a vision of the past and a philosophy of cultural transmission. *

The loss of memory, it could be argued too, was born from the wreckages of ruins. Everyone will recall the tale of the Tower of Babel, the biblical etiology of the confusion of tongues. Recounted most telegraphically in the eleventh chapter of Genesis, the monumental edifice did not last long. In a strict sense, the Tower of Babel was never a ruin, because it was never completed. (A question we should raise but not pursue for the moment: what is the difference between a ruin and incompletion except chronology?) Left dangling midair in the plains of Shinar, the physical incompletion of the Tower pales in comparison to the global havoc it caused in the world of men. The inexplicable question is: why this particular form of punishment for man’s apparent hubris?

4 Cicero, De legibus, trans. Clinton Walker Keyes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1928).

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The whole world spoke the same language, with the same vocabulary (Erat autem terra labii unius, et sermonum eorundem). Now, as people moved eastwards they found a valley in the land of Shinar where they settled. The said to one another, “Come, let us make (faciamus) bricks and bake (coquamus) them in the fire.” For stone they used bricks, and for mortar they used bitument. “Come,” they said, “let us build (faciamus) ourselves a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven. Let us make a (celebremus) name for ourselves, so that we do not get scattered all over the world.”

Now Yahweh came down (descendit) to see the city and the tower that the people had built. “So they are all a single people with a single language!” said Yahweh. “This is only the start of their undertakings! Now nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language there, so that they cannot understand one another.” Yahweh scattered them thence all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, since there Yahweh confused the language of the whole world, and from there Yahweh scattered them all over the world (Genesis 11:1-11; The New Jerusalem Bible, the Vulgate)

We hear of the men’s desires in three steps: first, in their command to themselves they proclaim what they are going to build with, the material cause: first, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them.” Second is the formal cause, what they want to build: “A city and a tower with its top reaching heaven.” Last we see the desire of their ends: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” The repetition of the first person plural “let us make,” “let us bake,” “let us build,” “let us make” (faciamus, coquamus, faciamus, celebremus in the Vulgate) underscores the collective nature of their enterprise. The response of God is also in three steps: it reaffirms the collectivity of their endeavor; this collectivity is perceived as a danger; as a precautionary measure, the construction is halted before it is accomplished. (And there is something ironic about God coming down to see, descendit, as if the tower was so small that the Divinity himself needed to stoop to the level of man.) Unlike the expulsion from the Garden and the Flood, this time God’s punishment is not for something that man has done. Rather, it is a

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preemptive strike, a recognition of its devastating potential. The Genesis story seems to imply that monolingualism is absolute power; and absolute power corrupts. More dangerously, it is a threat to divine sovereignty. Man’s greatest instrument for achievement and unity, then, is not so much their engineering skills, but their innate ability to speak to one another. God could have merely turned their bricks and mortar to mud or dust but he did something much more drastic: he confounded their very instrument of communication. The same tongue that ate the fruit and the same tongue with which Eve told Adam to eat is also the thing with which one constructs cities. The Babel builder’s greatest fear, to be “scattered,” came true: “The Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth: and they left off to build the city.” Their dream was fame and immortality; it was their ars memoriae. Their folly has become their very name and their names live precisely because of their failure. As Augustine glosses, “This city named ‘Confusion’ was none other than Babylon, to whose marvelous construction pagan history brings testimonies. For Babylon means ‘confusion’” (City of God 16.4). 5

The confounding of tongues marks the mythic inception of the diversity of languages. Whereas the Simonides story advocates verbal monumentalizing, the Babel story is a warning against attempts at monumentalizing. In classical literature, there are always two orders for the perpetuation of memory: one, actual physical monuments, which are always susceptible to decay, and second, the human poet’s more durable words. The Hebrew version seems to call both man’s verbal and architectural ambitions

5 Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans, trans. R. W. Dyson (Cambridge: CUP, 1998), 702. See also Arno Borst, Der Turmbau von Babel: Geschichte der Meinungen über Ursprung und Vielfalt der Sprachen und Völker, 4 vols. (Stuttgart: A. Hiersemann, 1957-1963).

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into question. Born in its aftermath, as an attempt to heal its wounds, is the act of translation. Whereas the movement of the tower was vertical—men reaching to God, the movement of translation is horizontal—men reaching toward other men. * Living in an age intensely interested in linguistic diversity and translation, Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1563 painted the Tower of Babel after a long sojourn in Rome (figure A). The viewer will immediately recognize the concentric circles of the Tower unmistakably recalling that of the famous Coliseum in Rome. In one image Bruegel coalesces the allegory of human pride in the Bible with the largest amphitheatre of ancient Rome, the site of the gladiator shows, mock sea-battles, animal hunts, mythological reenactments, and not least of all Christian martyrdom. In the ninth century, Venerable Bede writes: Quam diu stabit Colyseus, stabit et Roma: Quando cadet Colyseus, cadet et Roma: Quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.

Astonishing in its level of detail, the tower is suspended in mid-air, the very top touching the clouds, and its construction hovers in the state of both the incomplete and the already ruin. The bottom half resembles either a geological crag in which the tower is being quarried from, or the collapse of the edifice (throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance the Coliseum was regularly stripped of its valuable travertine). The top half, resembling a gigantic wound, exposes the inside of the tower, which duplicates its outside shape. A closer look also reveals a significant detail: the rings of the tower are not parallel to the ground; rather, its form is in the shape of a spiral. The cyclical form is replicated in diminishing proportion from top to bottom. Its mirroring from the inside to

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the outside induces a feeling of both harmony and confusion, as if the dizzying structural sameness is reflective of its initial impulse of universality and its subsequent confusion, as if in the labyrinthine tower man was so confident in his cleverness that he began to dupe himself. The confusion of logos—coherent architectonic thought—seems to both defy and explain the structure. Like many other Bruegel paintings, there is something deeply touching about human folly in his Tower of Babel. Teeming with dense details, the Tower literally towers over its surroundings. The painter’s move of equating Babel with Rome reveals a sixteenth-century reformation tendency to equate the caput mundi as the whore of Babylon and see the vanity of the Babel builders as similar to the pride of the ancient pagans. But the cityscape surrounding the monument also resembles Bruegel’s native Antwerp, flanked by a busy harbor teeming with ships on the right, and the retinue of Nimrod on the left. While the biblical story might be seen as antithesis to our first Simonides tale, they both share in common the desire for humans to be together, the role of language and the ambition of collective enterprise, and divine retribution at a mortal affront—allegories of human ingenuity in the face of divine retribution. Both parables in their own way spoke deeply to the anxiety in the sixteenth-century optimism in Latinity, vernacular languages, translation, empire, technology, and the art of memory in the organization of human knowledge. What they reveal to us is the crucial role of both forgetting and remembering at the site of ruins.

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Figure A, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Tower of Babel , c. 1563, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vien na.

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Introduction

This dissertation will argue that the Renaissance was a ruin-naissance, the birth of the ruin as an activating force in the artistic expression, poetic imagination, and discourse of historical consciousness in the fifteenth to sixteenth century—all of which formed the enterprise collectively known as the recovery of antiquity. I propose that the ruin is a privileged cipher, or a master-topos that marks the rupture between the present world of the Renaissance humanists and their idealized classical past. The ruin presented itself to the humanist, and, in turn, to us, as a particular epistemological problem. Were they supposed to be venerated, restored, reused, or left to rot? When humanists looked at a ruin, what did they see? What did they want to see? As the most resonant city in the European consciousness, the decaying site of Rome activated a resounding torrent of memories, for the city existed as both an idea and an actuality. Its monuments and spaces, the repository of conflicting memories and desires, charted the divergent trajectories of

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its histories. Republic or imperial, Christian or pagan, the whore of Babylon or the seat of the Holy See—its ruins radiated all these broken images. The emergence of the poetics of ruins coincides precisely with the birth of the arts of archaeology, antiquarianism, epigraphy, and philology. If antiquarians used ancient remains to decipher to past, architects utilized Roman buildings as the ideal models on which to base their own construction, and artists illustrated decaying city views as exercises in spatial and historical perspective, then I argue that poets use ancient ruins as a way to think about the nature of the production and reception of their texts. Faced with the pathos of physical destruction, poetry claims that it will build a verbal monument longer lasting than all others. Exegi monumentum aere perennius, Horace boasts and Renaissance poets repeat. My study will explore this proposition—outrageous, self- fulfilling, tautological (“my verse shall preserve my verse”). I am above all guided by two questions; first, historical: how did the poetics of ruins emerge and express itself in the period roughly between Petrarch and Spenser? Second, philosophical, what does the ruin, hovering somewhere in between absence and presence, tell us about the thingness of things? In other words, the larger problems I am concerned with are: the legibility of the past and the epistemology of the cultural artifact. I will attempt to answer these questions philologically, by taking three specific test cases—Petrarch, Du Bellay, and Spenser— and show how these poets engage with this theme from their different national angles. My entry point is even more narrow: I pick one word—vestigia for Petrarch, cendre for Du Bellay and monument for Spenser—and trace diachronically and synchronically their poetic usage. By doing so, I am attempting my own linguistic archeology of the verbal remnants to see how words and texts can be conceived of as literary ruins.

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These three authors form a larger trajectory of cultural transmission in which the figure of the ruin serves as its major topos: Du Bellay follows the Petrarchan form of a sonnet sequence in Les Antiquitez de Rome, and his apocalyptic Songe attached at the end is a clear imitation of Petrarch’s visions of destruction in Rime Sparse 323. Spenser early in his career translates Du Bellay’s Antiquitez of Rome into the Ruines of Rome as well as The Visions of Bellay and Petrarch in his Complaints. Following this poetic itinerary, the layers of translations from Italian to French to English form a literary palimpsest in which one can explore the metaphors of citation and imitation as textual spolia and fragments, revealing a multiplicity in the physical and literary figure of Rome. As Roman architectural spolia traveled all across Europe, so did the dissemination of texts, ancients as well as Petrarchan. From this vantage point we can explore ruins and the senses of nationhood in vexed relationships in between Italy, France, and England and their common ancestor: Latinity. As ruins are demolished, spoliated, or restored and made whole to their antique splendor, how are the reception of literary works—translated, rejected, imitated or simply ignored—as well as the life-cycle of each particular word analogous to this process? Are the transmissions of words and texts parallel to the temporal flux of architectural materiality? Vestigia, cendre, monumentum will be the heuristic aids in which I can think about the problems of cultural transmission and the survival of antiquity, and this practice is one that believes in ex ungue leonem, or following Leo Spitzer, Wortwandel ist Kulturwandel und Seelenwandel, “word change is cultural change and spiritual change.” 1

1 Ex ungue leonem was a commonplace in the sixteenth century: “by the claw [one imagines] the lion.” See Erasmus, Adagia I ix 34 (‘Leonem ex unguibus aestimare”) Collected Works of Erasmus, trans. R. A. B. Mynors (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1989),

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Abstract: In the cultural revival of the Renaissance, ruins presented a challenge to the humanists: were they to be rebuilt, destroyed, venerated or left to rot? This dissertation proposes that the Renaissance was also a ruin-naissance --the birth of ruins as objects of contemplation that signaled the rupture from classical antiquity. Within the larger enterprise of the recovery of the antique, I focus on ruins as an artifact of cultural memory from a poetic perspective, by taking three specific test cases--Petrarch, Du Bellay, and Spenser--and explore how these three poets approached the remnants of antiquity, both literal and literary, from their respective national angles. My project uses one key word for each author-- vestigia for Petrarch, cendre for Du Bellay and monumentum for Spenser--as search agents in which their philological usages illuminate their philosophical concerns. The first chapter introduces the cultural conditions in which ruins arose. In the second, "Petrarch's Vestigia and the Desire for Presence," I argue that the Italian poet's encounter with the past can be conceived of as the search for vestigia , in the senses of tracking the footprints of Laura, comparing recovered manuscripts to mutilated bodies, and walking around the ruins of Rome. By examining his usage of vestigia in his Rerum vulgarium fragmenta , his epistolary Rerum familiarium libri , and his unfinished epic Africa --works rarely read together--I explore how Petrarch's scholarly and erotic desires operate on a logic of impossible presences: the palindrome Roma and Amor --hypostatized in the ruined remnants of the ancient capitol and the fragments of Laura--are forever absences, transcendental entities that cannot be made immanent, unattainable and unrequited precisely because they are idealized at their maximum extremes. Chapter Three, "Du Bellay's Cendre and the Development of the Vernacular" examines the frequent appearance of the word cendre in Les Antiquitez de Rome and his analogy of words and matter in his Deffence et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse . I read these two texts as paradigmatic examples of literary production in the Early Modern vernacular. Signifying ashes and usually applied to the remains of humans, cendre is used in Du Bellay, following a long literary tradition, to describe the body of Rome. Through this word, Du Bellay develops his theories of transmission, change, and the regeneration of things: the poet's task is to gather these formless decompositions and create a new vernacular literature. The meaning of monuments in the artistic process of Spenser forms the final chapter, entitled "Spenser's Moniments and the Allegory of Ruins." From his early Ruins of Time to his posthumously published Mutabilitie Cantos , Spenser is haunted by the Horatian promise of a poetic artifice that is a monumentum aere perennius , yet as a Christian he is suspicious of the claim that mortal works will outlast time. Moreover, as a Protestant, he has a vexed relationship to iconoclasm, that is, he himself has a penchant for ruin-making. The monument that is The Faerie Queene and monuments within the poem are all unstable artifices; and it is no accident that the text is composed literally under the shadow of a ruin, in Spenser's own Kilcolman Castle. I propose that Spenser, instead of offering an aesthetics of ruins, returns to the etymological origin of monuments-- moneo ∼"warning or admonishment"--and presents an ethics of monuments that is toward a moral end.