Brunetto Latini Criticism - Essay

Francis J. Carmody (essay date July 1936)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Carmody, Francis J. “Latin Sources of Brunetto Latini's World History.” Speculum 11, no. 3 (July 1936): 359-70.

[In the following essay, Carmody surveys the source texts of Brunetto's The Book of the Treasure, regarding the work as an excellent example of thirteenth-century scholarship despite certain corruptions in the sources used.]

Originality or artistry in an encyclopaedia are likely to defeat the purpose of science, which seeks accuracy, simplicity, and convenience. These last virtues are those of Vincent's Speculum Naturale and of Brunetto Latini's Trésor (1268 a.d.),1 at least in accordance with thirteenth-century...

(The entire section is 5486 words.)

Patricia M. Gathercole (essay date December 1966)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Gathercole, Patricia M. “Illuminations on the Manuscripts of Brunetto Latini.” Italica 43, no. 4 (December 1966): 345-52.

[In the following essay, Gathercole details the artistry of the illustrations and miniatures found in fourteen manuscript copies dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, of Brunetto's The Book of the Treasure.]

“Sieti raccomandato il mio Tesoro,
Nel qual io vivo ancora.”

(Dante, Divina Commedia, Inferno, XV, 119-120)

Brunetto Latini's Livre du Trésor,1 a vast compendium of knowledge written between 1262 and...

(The entire section is 2986 words.)

James R. East (essay date October 1968)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: East, James R. “Brunetto Latini's Rhetoric of Letter Writing.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 54, no. 3 (October 1968): 241-46.

[In the following essay, East stresses the historical significance of Brunetto's writings on vernacular rhetoric contained in his The Book of the Treasure.]

In thirteenth-century Florence Brunetto Latini gained prominence as a notary and as a literary figure who, possibly as an associate and certainly as a writer, strongly influenced Dante. In the Inferno, Canto XV, Dante immortalized Latini by referring to him as his master. Some readers take this reference to mean that Latini was Dante's teacher, but in actuality Dante refers...

(The entire section is 3362 words.)

Thomas Nevin (essay date 1978)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Nevin, Thomas. “Ser Brunetto's Immortality: Inferno XV.” Dante Studies 96 (1978): 21-37.

[In the following essay, Nevin argues that Dante's placement of Brunetto in the seventh circle of hell in the Inferno, alongside the sodomites, usurers, and blasphemers, is meant to suggest the Florentine scholar's embodiment of the “sterility of intellectual pride” rather than his guilt for engaging in the physical sin of sodomy.]

In the Pilgrim's meeting with Brunetto Latini (Inferno XV), Dante creates an episode of poignant intimacy unsurpassed in all of the Commedia. Clearly, it seems, Dante intends that, like the hapless Pier...

(The entire section is 6477 words.)

Ronald G. Witt (essay date spring 1983)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Witt, Ronald G. “Brunetto Latini and the Italian Tradition of Ars Dictaminis.Stanford Italian Review 3, no. 1 (spring 1983): 5-24.

[In the following essay, Witt examines Brunetto's adaptation of the rhetorical principles found in Cicero's De Inventione to the practice of letter-writing in his La Rettorica and The Book of the Treasure.]

Living in exile in France early in the 1260's, cut off from the public life of Florence, Brunetto Latini, the learned dictator and former politician, spent a portion of his free time translating into Tuscan and commenting on Cicero's De inventione, one of the two most popular manuals of...

(The entire section is 8713 words.)

Sally Mussetter (essay date fall 1984)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Mussetter, Sally. “‘Ritornare a lo suo principio’: Dante and the Sin of Brunetto Latini.” Philological Quarterly 63, no. 4 (fall 1984): 431-48.

[In the following essay, Mussetter considers Dante's repudiation of Brunetto as a sodomite in his Inferno within the context of the differing approaches to politics and secular knowledge represented by these two writers.]

It is not easy after nearly seven hundred years' familiarity with Inferno 15 to persuade ourselves that Brunetto Latini has not been condemned as a sodomite in the usual sense of the term. The sterility of the burning sand, the searching of one man's eyes for those of another, the...

(The entire section is 8926 words.)

Spurgeon Baldwin (essay date spring 1986)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Baldwin, Spurgeon. “Brunetto Latini's Tresor: Approaching the End of an Era.” Corónica 14, no. 2 (spring 1986): 177-93.

[In the following essay, Baldwin discusses the tradition of medieval encyclopedic writing, summarizing the structure and textual history of Brunetto's The Book of the Treasure—a pivotal late work of this genre.]

Dante's teacher, immortalized in Canto 15 of the Inferno, was born in Florence around the year 1220. Notwithstanding the moral cloud which hangs over him, he achieved public prominence in his native city, figuring in documents from as early as the year 1254. Of central importance for our purposes was his...

(The entire section is 7116 words.)

Elio Costa (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Costa, Elio. “From locus amoris to Infernal Pentecost: The Sin of Brunetto Latini.” Quaderni d'italianistica 10, nos. 1-2 (1989): 109-32.

[In the following essay, Costa investigates the main philosophical and literary themes of The Little Treasure in relation to Dante's evocation of Brunetto in his Inferno, maintaining that Dante's condemnation of Brunetto was mainly based upon his opposing view of Florentine politics.]

The fame of Brunetto Latini was until recently tied to his role in Inferno 15 rather than to the intrinsic literary or philosophical merit of his own works.1 Leaving aside, for the moment, the complex...

(The entire section is 8652 words.)

Lillian M. Bisson (essay date 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bisson, Lillian M. “Brunetto Latini as a Failed Mentor.” Medievalia et Humanistica n.s. 18 (1992): 1-15.

[In the following essay, Bisson underscores the intellectual rather than physical nature of the sin ascribed to Brunetto in Dante's Inferno XV, suggesting that the scene demonstrates Dante's artistic rejection, rather than moral denunciation, of his former mentor.]

Dante's educational development took place in the context of the Florentine revival of classical ideals concerning the importance of participating in civic and communal life. No one played a greater role in the initial stages of this movement than Brunetto Latini, who argued that...

(The entire section is 6149 words.)

Paul Barrette and Spurgeon Baldwin (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Barrette, Paul, and Spurgeon Baldwin. Introduction to Brunetto Latini: The Book of the Treasure (Li Livres dou Tresor), translated by Paul Barrette and Spurgeon Baldwin, pp. vii-xvii. New York: Garland Publishing, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Barrette and Baldwin survey Brunetto's life as well as the structure, content, and textual history of his The Book of the Treasure.]

It is fair to say that the name of Brunetto Latini will be familiar to most modern readers only because he was Dante's teacher; in the well-known passage in Canto 15 of the Inferno Dante remembers him with affection, but nevertheless condemns him to suffer among the Sodomites. The...

(The entire section is 3036 words.)

John M. Najemy (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Najemy, John M. “Brunetto Latini's ‘Politica.’” Dante Studies 112 (1994): 33-51.

[In the following essay, Najemy explores Brunetto's treatment of political issues in The Book of the Treasure and The Little Treasure within the dual context of thirteenth-century Florentine civic responsibility and economic exchange.]

A curious aspect of Brunetto Latini's fate is that, despite what Dante has him say (Inferno XV, 119-120) about living on in his writing (“… il mio Tesoro, / nel qual io vivo ancora”), Brunetto's general reputation has in fact been shaped more by what others wrote about him than by his own texts. The imaginary...

(The entire section is 8894 words.)

Massimo Verdicchio (essay date 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Verdicchio, Massimo. “Re-Reading Brunetto Latini and Inferno XV.” Quaderni d'italianistica 21, no. 1 (2000): 61-81.

[In the following essay, Verdicchio concentrates on the irony with which Dante depicts Brunetto in Inferno XV, contrasting Dante's strongly negative assessment of Brunetto and his writings with Brunetto's own words on the subjects of sin and repentance in The Little Treasure.]

One of the enigmas of the Commedia, beside the Veltro and the DXV, has been the status of Brunetto Latini and his supposed role as Dante's teacher, and his punishment as a sodomite.1 In a way, we have always known an answer to these...

(The entire section is 7667 words.)

Cristiana Fordyce (essay date 2001)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fordyce, Cristiana. “The Pro Ligario: Volgarizzamento as a Means of Profit.” In The Politics of Transition in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, edited by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Luise von Flotow, and Daniel Russell, pp. 107-20. Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Fordyce studies Brunetto's updating of Cicero's Pro Ligario in his La Rettorica, a translation and commentary on Cicero's De Inventione.]

In 1267, the illustrious citizen Brunetto Latini was allowed to return to victorious Guelf Florence after six years of exile in France. The notary and chancellor, who had served the city...

(The entire section is 5535 words.)