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Poetry and Exorcism in Gianfrancesco Pico’s Hymns

Sat, April 1, 8:30 to 10:00am, Palmer House Hilton, Floor: Seventh Floor, Clark 1


This paper seeks to analyze Gianfrancesco Pico’s poetic invocations in light of the Italian hymnic tradition of the 15th and early 16th century. Determined to convert rulers and intellectuals to the Savonarolan cause and save them from the malevolent influence of pagan deities awaken by the resurgence of ancient philosophies and religious practices, Pico decided to transform the classic invocation to the Muses into a ritual of cleansing in glory of Christianity. Deeply connected with the diatribe on antiquity that inspired poets such as Michael Marullus (1458–1500) and Baptista Mantuanus (1447–1516), Pico’s counter-invocations reveal themselves as a poetic attack against any kind of paganizing poetry and as a peculiar voice in the contemporary philosophical and theological dispute regarding the legitimacy of pre-Christian knowledge and religion.


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