THE END OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE.
By A. J. BUTLER, M.A.
Continuity of the Renaissance . 456
The Cinquecento not really a poetical age . 457
Petrarchianism. Bembo. An age of verse . 458
Berni and Bernesque verse. Oapitoli 459
Folengo. Ariosto . 460
Boiardo and Ariosto. The ottava rima . 461
Castiglione : II Cortegiano . 462
Machiavelli: II Principe . 464
The Inquisition and the Index . 465
Execution of Carnesecchi. Speroni . 466
Cinthio and other novelists . 467
Didactic poetry: Alamanni . 468
Rise of Academies . 469
The Accademia della Grusca. The Italian language perfected. . 470
Translations. Bernardo Tasso . 471
Torquato Tasso . 472
The Gerusalemme Liberata. Vasari's Lives of the Painters. . 473
History ; biography ; letters . 474
THE END OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE.
THE period, or movement, which has in comparatively recent times come to be termed "the Renaissance," must of course in many senses be said not to have reached its end to this day; nor does it seem as if anything short of a new inroad of the barbarians could check or reverse the impulses which many causes combined to stimulate in the fifteenth century, or could arrest the development of thought, in all its branches, ethical, political, social, religious, scientific, along the lines then traced out-the lines, namely, of free and fearless enquiry, untrammelled by à priori conceptions or implicit deference to authority. If we consider the matter from the most obvious point of view, that of the revival of classical study, we find that the most modern scholar has done no more than enlarge the boundaries of the territory first acquired for learning by such men as Filelfo and Valla; while speculation and enquiry, which then first in modern times claimed the right to roam freely over the whole domain of possible knowledge (and sometimes beyond it), are still as unfettered as ever in western Europe.
Local and temporary reactions, however, there have doubtless been ; and of these Italy affords the most conspicuous example. It was safer in 1500 to teach that the soul was mortal, than it was in 1550 to maintain the doctrine of justification by faith. Dante, with his ideal of a universal monarch ruling in righteousness, under whom each man should be free to develop his own faculties in the way he deemed best, might even have regarded Machiavelli's possibly more practicable conception of a State, in which, whether one man or a majority ruled, expediency should be the only motive and force the sole method, as a sad reaction towards the barbaric community.
Yet, though the seeds of political and moral decay were abundant in Italy when the sixteenth century opened, to outward appearance all was brilliant enough. This century, known to Italians as the Cinque-cento, is regarded by them as the golden age of their literature. It is dangerous for foreigners to criticise this estimate; and, if quantity
One great merit must be conceded to the men of the Cinquecento, the restoration-for Italy, it may almost be said, the introduction-of the vernacular to its rightful place in literature. Two hundred years before, Dante had both by precept and by example made an effort in this direction ; but the flood of Humanism had quickly swept it out of sight, and even Petrarch based his hopes of fame far more on his Latin writings than on the vernacular poetry by which alone he is remembered, but which forms hardly more than an infinitesimal portion of his entire work. The tradition of Italian prose was indeed kept alive almost
We need only glance at any of the numerous anthologies compiled towards the middle of the sixteenth century, to be assured that the faculty of producing verses, more especially sonnets, for the most part faultless in form, was then enjoyed by almost every cultivated person. Now and again one comes across verses bearing the stamp of sincerity, as in the case of Michelangelo (who however was not a favourite with the anthologists, and whose poems had to be "re-made" in order to win any popularity), and his friend Vittoria Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara (1492-1545); but such are rare, and rather than in these, or even in the lyrics generally, the true spirit of the age is to be found in the so-called capitoli, or burlesque essays in verse on every sort of subject, mostly trivial and frequently indecent, though more perhaps in the way of allusion and double meaning than in outspoken obscenity. That the metre in which these jocosities were composed was the terza rima, invented (as it would seem) by Dante for his sacred poem, and used by Petrarch for his Triumphs, possibly added to their piquancy.
This metre, which, save for a metrical chronicle or two, seems to have almost dropped out of use in the fifteenth century (Boccaccio's ottava rvma being found more available for long narrative poems), had towards the close of it been revived by Lorenzo de' Medici for short, religious meditations, as well as for idylls in the classical style, and by the Venetian Antonio Vinciguerra for satires more or less after the manner of the Romans, in which kind it was presently used by Ariosto, Alamanni, and others. From the Horatian satire to the capitolo, at least in its more respectable form, is no very long step ; and it is perhaps not surprising that this form of poetic recreation should have attained the popularity that it did.
For a time everybody wrote capitoli-prelates, artists, scholars, poets. The most notable exponent of the art was perhaps Francesco Berni (1497-1536), who has given his name to the spirit embodied in this class of literature. Berni is one of the most curious figures of the time, and in some respects typical of the forces at work during the later Renaissance, which, combined with the political conditions, were to bring about the change noticeable after the middle of the century. For the Petrar-chians he had little respect. Unlike his contemporary Molza, who could turn out with equal facility an amatory sonnet and an indecent capitolo, Berni as a rule avoided any display of sentiment, whether real or fictitious. Even when he is serious the reader is never certain that he will not at any moment fly off into a tissue of whimsicalities. His capitolo "In Praise of Aristotle,"" containing much sane and sensible eulogy of the philosopher, is addressed to a cardinal's French cook, and ends with burlesque regrets that Aristotle had not left a treatise on " roast and boiled, lean and fat." Yet Berni was more than a flippant cynic. His sincere attachment to such men as Gian Matteo Giberti, the reforming Bishop of Verona, to whom he for a time acted as secretary, or the grave and pious Pietro Carnesecchi, shows that he could appreciate goodness ; while the scathing sonnet, couched in a tone of unwonted ferocity, which he hurled at Pietro Aretino, at a time when that infamous personage was in high favour with powerful princes, proves that in the matter of cynicism he was prepared to draw a line. His words on Michelangelo, already quoted (which, curiously enough, he uses also of Aristotle), are evidence that he could respect seriousness in others ; and he had a vein of it in himself. For the work by which he is perhaps, or for long was, best known, the rifacimento, or recasting, of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato into a style more congenial to the fastidious taste of the Cinquecento, he wrote (about 1530) some stanzas, couched, in spite of a few outbreaks of his usual mirthfulness, in what seems a tone of genuine piety. Though we cannot, with Vergerio, regard the lines as evidence of anything in the nature of "conversion" on Berni's part, or, in spite of the phrase "Lutheran means good Christian," of any definite adhesion to Protestant views, they show that
Another writer of this period, who has received perhaps less attention than he deserves, is Teofilo Folengo, of Mantua (1492-1543). The mocking spirit which was as powerful in him as in Berni, but manifested itself in a somewhat cruder form, led him to make sport both of the romances of chivalry, long popular in northern Italy, which Boiardo and Pulci had lately brought back into the realm of literature, and of the classical revival, if, as seems probable, the "Macaronic" style, of which he was, though not the inventor, the most conspicuous exponent, was intended to burlesque the achievements of the fourteenth century scholars. Folengo, who began and after an intervening period of reckless and vagabond living ended his career as a Benedictine monk, also had his moods of spiritual perplexity. He has given an allegorical account of his own aberrations, moral and speculative, and of his subsequent conversion (which, as with Dante, appears to have come about at the age of thirty-five) to the right way, in the curious and highly enigmatical work called Chaos del Triperuno-a strange farrago of prose and verse, Latin, Italian, and Macaronic, abounding in anagrams and other fanciful devices, with passages of remarkable beauty interspersed here and there, justifying the author's claim that his verses, if not Tuscan, are sonorous and terse. Folengo had written his Macaronic poems under the name of Merlino Cocaio, and later a burlesque Italian epic, the Orlandino, under that of Limerno Pitocco. In the Chaos he introduces Merlino and Limerno debating the question of Latin versus the vernacular, and makes it clear that his sympathy is with the latter. Yet he could turn out a good Latin verse, and was well read in the Classics. The Macaronea, or romance of Baldus, has the credit of having given suggestions to Rabelais, and perhaps for that reason has alone preserved the fame of its author; but the Chaos is far better worth perusal by anyone who desires to understand a remarkable phase of later Renaissance thought. In the Orlandino the author had ventured upon some plain-spoken criticism of the Church and the Orders, such as was safe enough in the early years of Clement VII ; in the Chaos the censure is repeated, though more covertly, and "evangelical" theology is favourably contrasted with " peripatetic."
No spiritual difficulties disturbed the mind of the one poet of that age whose name is known outside the circle of the closer students of its literature. Ludovico Ariosto, the son of a Ferrarese nobleman, was born in 1474 at Reggio, where his father was governor of the citadel. His natural bent towards letters was not encouraged by his father, a somewhat arbitrary person, who made him study law; and he was twenty before he had a chance of learning at all events classical Latin,
The ottava rima, which had become the recognised medium for the romance of chivalry, was just the vehicle suited to an intellect like his : humorous, sensible, devoid alike of enthusiasm and of rancour. In this metre it is impossible to be pathetic, or even serious, for more than a very few lines together ; the periodical recurrence at short intervals of the sudden interruption to the flow of the verse caused by the rhyming couplet with which each stanza concludes, by cutting the sense into lengths produces a monotony which would be intolerable, did not the same structure lend itself so readily to epigram, or to some quip in the form of a calculated piece of bathos. Of its admirable adaptability to avowed burlesque, Pulci in the last generation had given some evidence, and Tassoni a century later was to give full proof. The oblivion into which, in spite of the efforts of scholars to resuscitate it, Boiardo's really great poem has fallen, is not improbably due to the fact that he took himself too seriously ; its best chance of surviving was probably due to Berni's treatment. Apart from the fluency of his diction and the felicity of his phrase, Ariosto lives, because (if the term may be allowed) he kept his tongue in his cheek. From his agreeable Satires, to a modern taste perhaps the most readable of all his works, we learn more about the character and circumstances of Ariosto than we know of any great poet since Horace, whom in some respects he resembles. He reveals himself as a sensible, tolerant, ironical man of the world ; studious of his own comfort, though without any taste for luxury ; devoid of ambition or enthusiasm ;
Two writers indeed of this age leave an impression of absolute sincerity. Baldassare Castiglionè (1478-1529) was one of the few men of his time of whom it can be said that all we know of him whether in public or in private life is wholly to his credit. As a young man he was for some years attached to the Court of Urbino, at that time, under Guidubaldo of Montefeltro and his Duchess Elizabeth Gonzaga, standing highest both in culture and in morals of any in Italy. There the best wits of the day, with Bembo at their head, met and debated questions of art, letters, ethics ; soldiers, scholars and poets, churchmen and laymen- not always perhaps very distinguishable from one another-were alike welcome. Guidubaldo died in 1508; and a little later (but certainly before the date usually assigned, 1516), Castiglionè, doubtless foreseeing that times were at hand which would end these cultivated recreations, set down his reminiscences of them in the form of a book, which he entitled II Cortegiano-"the Perfect Courtier." Purporting to be an answer to a request from one Alfonso Ariosto, a kinsman (it is said) of the poet, for some account of the qualifications required to form a perfect courtier, it professes to narrate a discussion on this subject held at Urbino in the spring of 1506. How far it is founded on anything that had really taken place is uncertain, and the author had selected a date for it when he himself was absent in England ; but we may safely assume that similar conversations were a common form of
Castiglione's ideal of civil government is, it will be seen, not very unlike that expounded by Dante two hundred years before in the De Monarchia, and somewhat later sketched by Petrarch in his treatise addressed to Francesco da Carrara. Petrarch's maxims, "Nothing is more alien to the nobility of princedom than the wish to be feared," "Love, if you would be beloved," "Love your neighbour as yourself," are all implicitly contained in the idea which the interlocutors of the Cortegiaru) have formed of a good prince. The spirit of medieval chivalry (too seldom, it may be feared, exemplified in the practice even of the Middle Ages, but at any rate recognised and respected) pervades the whole book. The Cortegiano was privately circulated for many years before it was published. When it did appear in 1528 it was received with the applause of Christendom. Within a generation it had been
A very different destiny awaited another book written almost at the same moment. The Prince and its author have been fully dealt with in an earlier volume. Here it is only needful to recall that this work also, circulated for many years in manuscript before it was given to the press ;. that, though it was then reproduced with fair frequency, its popularity never came within a long distance of that enjoyed by the Courtier ; that it became at once the mark for a storm of criticism, and long before the century was out had made its author's name a by-word in Europe for all that was unscrupulous and dishonest in politics ; while its maxims are those which have governed the practice of statesmen in general for the last three hundred years. Machiavelli, it may be noted, knows nothing of chivalry, and even less of the Sermon on the Mount. Do to others, not as you would they should do to you, but as you suspect they would like to do to you, is his principle of government.
From the publication of the Prince more than from the Sack of Rome, or the religious troubles in Germany, or any other of the events to which it has been referred, the end of the Renaissance may be dated. Both on its weaker and its stronger side it was countered by such views of social and civil relations as those which Machiavelli formulated. It had depended largely on make-believe ; Machiavelli insisted on looking facts fairly in the face. It set a high value on a lettered and studious life, which Machiavelli, though enjoying it himself, held in small esteem. It encouraged individualism; and with individualism raison d'état, of which Machiavelli was the first great exponent, has never made any terms. The maxim, " It is expedient that one man die for the people," would have commanded his instant adhesion.
Machiavelli at any rate was in earnest ; Humanism had never been entirely so ; still less, as we have seen, the greatest writers in the revived vernacular. The Renaissance had eaten enough, drunk enough, and played enough; it was time for it to be gone. Italy, too, had now begun to reap the full fruit of the fatal policy begun by Urban IV, when he called in Charles of Anjou to make an end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in Naples. For nearly three hundred years the rivalry had
Other causes too were at work, arising doubtless more or less directly out of this. With the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis wars ceased for the time to be waged for the acquisition of territory. Such as were waged during the remainder of the century were fought in a cause which preeminently withdraws men's interest from all other topics-that of their right to hold their own opinions. A man of letters can go on comfortably enough with his work, so long as he knows that the defeat of his own side will merely mean that he will have to pay court and taxes to another Prince ; it is otherwise when it may involve the termination not of his literary labours only but of his life and liberty as well. Italy was indeed free from the actual war which in the course of the century devastated Germany, France, and the Netherlands ; men had not even the opportunity of fighting for their opinions. But the danger was none the less pressing. The Church, which presently condemned Machiavelir& writings, showed itself an adept in his methods. That the end justifies the means, and that the prudent ruler will seek to be feared rather than loved, were maxims in favour no less with the spiritual than with the temporal powers. The Inquisition, imported from Spain by Paul III in 1542, and its companion institution, the Index of Prohibited Books, were not compatible with an independent literature. " The study of the liberal arts is deserted, the young men wanton in idleness and wander about the public squares." Such is the observation of Aonio Paleario, a scholar who in later years had good reason to know all about the Holy Office. Paul IV, to whom, as Cardinal Caraffa, the inception of the new system had been due, wielded its weapons with fresh vigour. The publication of one heretical work rendered all books issued by the same publisher liable to prohibition. Nor was the use of this " poniard drawn against men of letters" confined to official initiative. To shout or, better, whisper " heretic " was an effective way of getting rid of a literary rival. It was in this way that Ludovico Castelvetro of Modena (1505-71), the most eminent critic of his day, was driven to fly for his life and seek
By the middle of the century most of the more eminent names in the literature of its early years had disappeared. Ariosto, Berni, Molza, Machiavelli, Castiglione, had all been dead a longer or a shorter time. Bembo became a Cardinal in old age, and lingered till 1547. Among the veterans surviving was Giovanni délia Casa, now Archbishop of Benevento, who atoned for the laxity of his earlier life and writings by the zeal he displayed in the suppression of heretics. He had yet five years to live ; and it was three years longer before his most popular work, the Galatea, a manual of good manners, not devoid of humour, made its appearance. The long life of Sperone Speroni (1500-88) constitutes him a link between the age of Ariosto and that of Tasso, and perhaps accounts for the reputation which he enjoyed in his lifetime, but which posterity has not sustained. He received his education under Pomponazzo,
The offensiveness of the subject does not appear to have struck the author (who, it must in justice be said, has treated it as decently as was possible) or his critics, as in any way unsuited to dramatic representation. This however is but characteristic of the period. The tragedies of Giovanbattista Giraldi, called Cinthio (1504-73), as well as his novels, afford constant testimony to the appetite of the contemporary public for sanguinary and horrible fiction. It would seem as if the taste of the age, seared by the horrors which it saw around it in actual life, required something very drastic to secure the purging of the passions which, its trusted authority had told it, was the aim of tragedy. One who had lived through the Sack of Rome would hardly obtain from the most revolting situations of the Orbecche or the Selene anything more than an agreeable shudder. For anything like true pathos or real insight into the human heart the reader of these productions will seek in vain. The artificiality which taints the whole imaginative literature of the time is here also conspicuous ; and the heroes and heroines of tragedy are as conventional and as unlike the human beings whom we know as the shepherds and nymphs of the pastorals. Even the novels, in which the Italian genius is perhaps seen to most advantage, are full of "common form " and often wearisome from mannerism. Besides Cinthio, the most noted writers in this line were Matteo Bandello (1490-1561), a Dominican who became Bishop of Agen, and is judged by Italian critics to be the most successful imitator of Boccaccio ; Anton Francesco Grazzini, called II Lasca, who was also a copious writer of capitoli in the Bernesque style, and who, living from 1503 to 1584, forms another link between the days of
This remarkable output of fiction points to a certain stagnation in speculative and other serious modes of literary activity. But the fiction itself illustrates the change that had come over society. From Boccaccio to Firenzuola every novelist had drawn much of his most popular and most scandalous material from the alleged doings of the clergy, both regular and secular. This had now become too risky a source of entertainment; and of the writers just named (with one exception in the case of Parabosco), only Bandello, who when his stories were published was safe in his French see, and Grazzini, who, as has been said, did not entrust his to the press, have ventured to avail themselves of it. In point of morals they are in no way better than their predecessors; and the taste for horrors already referred to is conspicuous, especially in the case of Cinthio, whose work, by the way, passed no less formidable a scrutiny than that of Cardinal Michèle Ghislieri, the future Pope Pius V ; but the Church is left alone. The principle was carried to its furthest point when a few years later the Decameron of Boccaccio was twice "reformed" by the substitution of lay for clerical personages throughout; the incidents, even the most indecent, remaining otherwise unchanged. Some outward improvement in morals probably did take place in the latter half of the century; it may be imputed as a merit to Pius V that he hung Niccolo Franco, once the friend, in later days the enemy, always the rival in obscenity, of Pietro Aretino ; but the reputation which, as is proved by contemporary memoirs and letters, Italians enjoyed in a country so far from strait-laced as France, is enough to show that little-real amendment of morals had been brought about.
Didactic poetry, so far as the modern languages are concerned, may be said to have been an invention of this period. Among the earliest of the didactic poets is the Florentine Luigi Alamanni (1495-1556), who in early years took a part in the heated politics of his native city, which led to his exile. He took refuge in France, where he spent the latter half of his life, and enjoyed the favour of two Kings. Here he published in 1546 his poem, La Coltivazione, which, though the Apl of Rucellai-had preceded it by a few years, may be regarded as practically the first example in this kind. For Rucellai's poem belongs more properly to another class, which was to become increasingly popular, as direct imitation of the classical authors in their own tongue went out of fashion-that is to say, the rendering of their works into the vernacular. Le Api, though expanded, it may be said diluted, by additions of the author's, is in substance, a translation of the Fourth Géorgie. Alamanni, on the other hand, while borrowing freely from Virgil wherever his
Something has already been said of the tendency shown by literature in the days of its greatest vigour and brilliancy to centre itself in the Courts of the various Italian Princes. To the Courts the custom was no doubt beneficial, humanising and refining a society which otherwise might not improbably have found its sole recreation in the coarser forms of animal enjoyment; but to letters it was not an unmixed advantage. The desire to please and amuse a patron, or to earn the immediate applause of a coterie, does not conduce to the production of the highest and most durable class of work. When the change in the political circumstances of Italy had shorn the Courts of their brilliancy, and at the same time rendered independent thinking dangerous, the tendency to fall back on the coterie for encouragement becomes more conspicuous ; and it is from this time that we may date the widespread development of Academies in Italy. The idea was of course not new. Soon after the middle of the fifteenth century a number of humanists had founded an academy at Rome for the purpose of research and learned intercourse. For one or another reason, however, this had fallen under suspicion, and its members were severely treated by Paul II. It revived again in the
It is significant that among the host of translations from Italian into English which were made during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, a very small proportion consists of works published after 1560. On the other hand, translations from ancient authors into Italian become increasingly popular. Anguillara's Metamorphoses, Annibale Caro's jEneid, Davanzati's Tacitus, have done as much for the fame of those translators as all their other works ; while Francesco Strozzi's Thucydldes, the architect Andrea Palladio's Csar, and Lorenzo Vendramin's translations from Cicero are examples of the same kind of work by less known writers. Even the Latin works of Italian authors began to appear in a vernacular dress. Thus Sansovino made a new version of the treatise of Peter Crescentius on agriculture, stating in his dedication to Duke Guidubaldo of Urbino that, though the Duke knew plenty of Greek and Latin, he was sure that he preferred "this most sweet and most honoured tongue," and reedited Acciaiuoli's translation of Leonardo Bruni's History of Florence, the Latin original being yet unprinted. A similar fate befell Dante's treatise De Vulgari Eloquentia, a translation of which by Giovan Giorgio Trissino appeared in 1529, while the original had to wait yet half a century for publication. The revenge of the vernacular may be said to have been complete.
The change which passed over literature in the period under consideration is perhaps nowhere better illustrated than in the careers of Bernardo and Torquato Tasso, father and son. Their joint lives almost exactly coincide with the century, extending from 1493 to 1595. Bernardo, the father, lost his own parents early, but showing literary promise was educated at the cost of his uncle, a bishop. Following the usual practice of men of letters, he attached himself in course of time to various persons of rank. In 1528 he was with the Duchess Renée of Ferrara, and was thus at that Court during the later years of Ariosto's residence in the city. Afterwards he was for many years attached to Ferrante Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno, with whom, or in his service, he went at various times to Tunis, Spain, Flanders, and Germany. At forty-six he married, and began to set seriously to work on the romantic epic which was the ultimate ambition of every poet at that time-more than sixty works of the kind are said to have appeared in the course of the century. He had already a reputation as a writer of the fashionable pastorals and sonnets. He had also experimented not unsuccessfully with various forms of stanza, shorter than those of the old canzone, including the Spanish guintillas. For the theme of his great work, at the instance of certain Spanish nobles, he adopted the tale of Amadis de Gaula, which in both Spanish and French versions had achieved such a popularity that the sage La Noue a little later felt obliged to inveigh against it as the type of the romances on which in his view his countrymen wasted their time. Its influence on the career of Don Quixote will also be remembered. Much of Bernardo Tasso's Amadigi was composed under
Torquato Tasso (1544-95), when his father died, had already achieved some reputation by his Rinaldo, published, somewhat to his father's regret, when he was but eighteen. He was then in the service of Cardinal Ludovico of Este. For him, as for so many of his predecessors, the Court of Ferrara provided shelter and livelihood during the greater part of his troubled existence ; and, if his relations with its lord were less happy than those of earlier poets, there seems no reason to ascribe the fact to any intentional unkindness on the part of his patron, still less to any voluntary misbehaviour of his own. Tasso's life has been recorded more frequently and more minutely, perhaps, than that of any other poet ancient or modern ; while his character and conduct, his personal affairs generally, have given rise to an all but unparalleled amount of discussion. Tasso was a man of true poetical genius, of a singularly refined and sensitive nature. His early life, surrounded by domestic troubles, -and largely spent in wandering with his father from place to place, furnished the worst training possible for a nervous lad of precocious intellect. As he grew up, the prospect must, to a man of imagination, have been profoundly depressing. The only career open to ' a young man in Italy by which any fame could be earned was that of letters ; and even there the chances were not very promising, with the inquisitor on the one hand, and the pedant on the other, ready to pounce upon all that showed boldness of thought or originality of expression. From the latter we gather that Tasso suffered much ; of the Inquisition he had a constant, though causeless dread. In 1575, and again in 1579, we find him going out of his way to consult inquisitors as to some imagined heterodoxy which he fancied himself to have detected in his own opinions. Self-consciousness, the constant anxiety to know what people think of you, was the malady of the age; and Tasso
Montaigne praises Tasso for judgment and ingenuity. The former quality he showed very clearly in his selection of the theme for his great poem, and in his decision to adopt for its treatment the epic rather than the romantic manner. The Carolingian and Arthurian cycles had not perhaps possessed much "actuality," even for the generations which welcomed and enjoyed the Morgante and the two Orlandos; but they lent themselves admirably to the sub-flavour of burlesque, in which, as has been seen, those generations delighted. What could be made of them when treated seriously and with reverence the Amadigi was there to show ; and Tasso, dutiful son though he was, could not but be aware that such success as his father's poem had had was due less to its own interest than to the personal esteem in which the writer was held by some whose verdict would set the fashion, and that it was not likely to be repeated. The Crusades, on the other hand, were sufficiently remote to have become heroic, yet sufficiently recent to retain some vital interest, especially at a moment when the Muslim power was a real and pressing terror to Christendom. It was characteristic of the age, but perhaps a testimony to the enduring qualities of the poem, that a controversy, futile but none the less animated, at once arose as to its merits in comparison with the Furioso. It lasted for at least two hundred years ; by the end of which time critics began to see that the two were not in pari materia, and that personal preference was no fit canon of judgment.
If the Renaissance, with its materialism, its self-satisfaction, its reluctance to look facts in the face, had led to the decay of imaginative literature, it may claim, perhaps in virtue of these very qualities, to have cleared the ground in other directions, and made possible the development of other branches of literary composition, which in their modern form took their rise in the latter half of the century. Vasari's Lives of the Painters appeared in 1550, when its author had just entered on his fortieth year. Modern research may have detected blunders