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Cellini’s Poetics I: The Rime

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Abstract

In one of his sonnets Cellini celebrates his reputation as a “whoremonger” (puttaniere) who unceremoniously abandons Fortune, presented in the guise of an earthly woman lover, for a male lover, his beloved Ganymede: “Porca fortuna,” he laments, “s’tu scoprivi prima / che ancora a me piacessi ‘1 Ganimede! / Son puttaniere ormai, com’ogni uom vede, / né avesti di me la spoglia opima” (Damn, cursed Fortune! If only you found out earlier that I also liked Ganymede. I am a whoremonger at last, as every man can see, nor did you conquer my rich spoils).1 This satirical sonnet, filled with coarse language side-by-side Petrarchan conceits, is typical of the more than one hundred poems Cellini composed during the course of his life. In this sonnet Cellini juxtaposes two different stylistic registers, mocks Petrarch, and celebrates his own polymorphously perverse sexual nature.

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Notes

  1. 6.
    Bruno Maier, “Le Rime di Benvenuto Cellini,” Annali Triestini 22 (1952), 307–58.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Giulia dell’Aquila, “Benvenuto Cellini lirico,” Rivista di letteratura italiana 18 (2000): 47–69Google Scholar
  3. Paolo Paolini, “Le Rime di Benvenuto Cellini,” Rivista di letteratura italiana 18 (2000): 71–89Google Scholar
  4. Margaret A. Gallucci, “A New Look at Benvenuto Cellini’s Poetry,” Forum Italicum 34 (2000): 343–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Michael W. Cole, “Grazzini, Allori and Judgment in the Montauti Chapel,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 45 (2001): 302–12Google Scholar
  6. 18.
    Deitlef Heikamp, “Poesie in vituperio del Bandinelli,” Paragone 15, no. 175 (1964): 59–68.Google Scholar
  7. 21.
    Zygmunt Wazbinski, “Artisti e pubblico nella Firenze del Cinquecento. A proposito del topos ‘cane abbaiante,’” Paragone 28 (1977): 15.Google Scholar
  8. 31.
    On Borghini, see Philip Gavitt, “Charity and State Building in Cinquecento Florence: Vincenzio Borghini as Administrator of the Ospedale degli Innocenti,” Journal of Modern History 69, no. 2 (1997), 230–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 34.
    The date change caused a printing error to occur: most exemplars of the book on the obsequies for Michelangelo display the actual date of the ceremony (14 July 1564), but some rare ones show the wrong date of 28 June. See Enzo Orvieto, “Un raro esemplare delle Esequie di Michelangelo nella Biblioteca dell’Università di Pennsylvania,” Library Chronicle 39, no. 2 (1973): 76–80.Google Scholar
  10. 39.
    Heikamp, “Rapporti fra accademici ed artisti nella Firenze del’ 500,” Il Vasari 15, no. 4 (1957), 140.Google Scholar
  11. 40.
    Francesco Berni, “Sonetto delle puttane (1518?),” Rime, ed. Danilo Romei (Milan, 1985), 30. A member of the “whorish sex” is not necessarily a prostitute, but the final tercet establishes her as such by associating her with disease (syphilis). On the changing vision of the prostitute, see John K. Brackett, “The Florentine Onestà and the Control of Prostitution, 1403–1680,” Sixteenth Century Journal 24 (1993): 273–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 53.
    Victoria Kirkham, “Laura Battiferra degli Ammannati’s First Book of Poetry: A Renaissance Holograph Comes Out of Hiding,” Rinascimento, 2nd ser., 36 (1996), 351–91.Google Scholar
  13. 66.
    Jonathan Goldberg, “Cellini’s Vita and the Convention of Early Autobigraphy,” MLN 89 (1974): 71–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 70.
    Maier, Opere, 953–61; Trento, Benvenuto Cellini, 51; Calamandrei, “Inediti celliniani: nascita e vendita del ‘Mio Bel Cristo,’” Il Ponte 6 (1950): 378–93Google Scholar

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© Margaret A. Gallucci 2003

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