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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Sonnets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1427  Monday 16 August 1999.

From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Aug 1999 17:13:56 +0100
Subject: 10.1420 Re: Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1420 Re: Sonnets

>>Both Dante and Petrarch (to go back no further) predate
>>the Platonic revival in the West.  Certainly commentaries on Petrarch's
>>sonnets tend to accrete Platonic interpretations, and there are aspects
>>of this in Sidney, but ...
>Since Neo-Platonism was alive and well in Italy during St. Augustine's
>time (fourth and fifth centuries), I wonder if it ever really died, thus
>needing to be revived.
>Yours, Bill Godshalk

Certainly there's a reflection of Platonic ideas in Augustine and
Cicero, and, as documented by Klibansky, the +Timaeus+ was known in the
West in the Middle Ages, but this is wholly different to the impact of a
renewed access to the Platonic texts themselves.  This overlaps with
Petrarch, who remarked that he possessed (was it nine?) Platonic
manuscripts, but was unable to read them.

I'd feel that the change is indexed by the shift from the diffuse
idealism of women running from the dolce stil nuova through Dante to
Petrarch, and the impact of Ficino's vernacular translation of his
+Commentary+ on the Symposium, which partially introduces the interest
in specific Platonic themes.  Sidney's Platonism (documented by Partree)
is different from Petrarch.

As an aside, Neoplatonic, Neoplatonism, and Neoplatonist  are all
nineteenth century coinages ...

Robin Hamilton

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