The Judgment of Palaemon

The Contest between Neo-Latin and Vernacular Poetry in Renaissance France


In Virgil's third Eclogue, Palaemon concludes the poetry competition between Menalcas and Damoetas by saying that he cannot choose between them, a judgment that is emblematic of the contest between Neo-Latin and vernacular poetry in Renaissance France. Both forms of poetry draw on similar roots, both are equally accomplished, and the contest between them is largely amicable. The Judgment of Palaemon illustrates the almost symbiotic relationship between Renaissance Latin and French poetry, while exploring poets' motivation for choosing one language over another, the different challenges each form of writing involved, and the extent of the collaboration between different language communities. It focuses on some of the major writers of the period, as well as less well known ones, and on genres specific to humanist poetry. It shows that composing in Latin was often considered more natural, at a time when many Frenchmen's mother tongue was a non-standard French dialect or distinct language.

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Philip Ford, PhD (1977), University of Cambridge, is Professor of French and Neo-Latin Literature at that University. He has published monographs and articles on Renaissance literature and on the classical tradition, and is an editor of The Encyclopaedia of Neo-Latin Studies (Brill, 2013).
List of Tables and Figures ... ix
Acknowledgements ... xi
Preface ... xiii

1. Introduction ... 1
2. Joachim Du Bellay: Language and Culture ... 23
3. The Neo-Catullan Revolution ... 55
4. Martial, Marot, and ‘le petit mot pour rire’ ... 97
5. Epitaphs and tombeaux ... 127
6. The Latin Ronsard ... 159
7. The Morel Salon: A Microcosm of the Res publica litterarum ... 203

Conclusion ... 227

Appendix: List of French Authors ... 235
Bibliography ... 257
Index ... 265
This book will interest all students and specialists of French Renaissance and neo-Latin literature, especially poetry.
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