Classical anti-classicism


For the ancient Romans, the past was dominated by Greece and Greek classicism, just like the Renaissance and most of our modern period were dominated by classical antiquity. In fact, our modern love affair with the classical past and classical authors starts with the Paduan scholar and poet Lovato Lovati (1241–1309). He wrote:

‘Do you despise him [the courageous, classically-minded poet] because he believes that one must follow in the footsteps of the ancient poets or because he subordinates a discourse well-formed with metric rules suited to its subject, lest the word becomes the predominant concern and the subject perish? Or because he mocks the verses of rhythmic compositions [modern poetry for Lovato, medieval for us] where rhyme distorts the meaning?’

Quod sectanda putat veterum vestigia vatum,
Despicis aut metrica quod cogit lege decentem
Sermonem servire rei, ne principe verbo
Res mutata cadat? Quod textus metra canori
Ridet, ubi intentum concinna…

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