Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

The most distinguished letterato of his generation, Giangiorgio Trissino was a grammarian, critic, poet, and diplomat as well as a dramatist. His most serious literary endeavor stemmed from his desire to break the romance tradition in Italian literature and to replace it with the epic. Scorning Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (1516, 1521, 1532; English translation, 1591), he worked for twenty years on his national epic, La Italia liberata da Gotthi (1547-1548; Italy liberated from the Goths), in twenty-seven books. He took his story from Procopius’s history of the war of Belisarius against the Goths in order to recapture Italy for the Byzantine Empire, and he strove to imitate Homer according to Aristotle’s De poetica (c. 334-323 b.c.e.; Poetics, 1705). The epic, written in the blank verse of a medieval chronical, encumbered by intricate subplots and fulsome passages of praise for noble Italian families, and full of Lombardisms, failed to interest the Italian public, whose enthusiasms were more religious than heroic and would await Torquato Tasso’s epic Gerusalemme liberata (1581; Jerusalem Delivered, 1600) some thirty years later. The fact that Trissino admitted pagan deities into the Christian hierarchy (such as the “Angel” Neptune) seemed to offend everyone. The topic lacked relevance for Italians: Italy delivered from the Goths was only Italy delivered to...

(The entire section is 522 words.)