Chapter 10 Conjugal Mourning in French Neo-Latin Poetry: A Reading of Louis Des Masures’s Carmen 29

In: Grief, Identity, and the Arts
Caroline Supply
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Following a Neo-Latin poetic tradition rooted in Quattrocento Italy and established in France by Jean Salmon Macrin (1490–1557) during the 16th century, the French poet Louis Des Masures (c. 1515–1574) composed various poems dedicated to his wife, Diane Baudoire, who died in childbirth. They appeared in Des Masures’s Carmina and Œuvres poétiques (1557). Carmen 29, entitled “Dianae Baldoriae uxoris epitaphium,” is the most important poem of this poetic cycle devoted to conjugal mourning. Analysis of the epitaph—especially, the second half of the poem—reveals rich intertextuality, particularly with Virgil’s Aeneid—a work Des Masures was very familiar with, as he was a translator of the epic. This paper highlights how Des Masures borrowed textual components and themes from the Aeneid and integrated them into Carmen 29, in order to give voice to a personal experience. The study of the reception of Virgil’s epic in the second part of the poem shows that these textual borrowings form a coherent network, creating a system of correspondences between Virgil’s heroes and Des Masures’s life experience and Christian ideas.

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Grief, Identity, and the Arts

A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Expressions of Grief

Series:  Death in History, Culture, and Society, Volume: 1


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