Chapter 7 Language and Idiom in Sforza Pallavicino’s Trattato dello stile e del dialogo

In: Sforza Pallavicino
Eraldo Bellini
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In 1644, Sforza Pallavicino attempted to demonstrate through the four books of Del bene how, in the practice of writing, the rigour of moral subject matter could be reconciled with the informality of the dialogue genre. This reconciliation could be ideally sustained through phrasing that was elegant but not so splendid and ornate as to make one forget that in scholarly works the word has to fulfil the primary function of transmitting knowledge.*

If the possession of worldly and material goods always represents a loss for many or all people, then, as one reads in Del bene, ‘wisdom is revered by everyone’ precisely ‘because the state of her being possessed by one person does not impede—but rather facilitates—her possession by others’. Solitary study should therefore not wear itself out in a private and self-sufficient environment; the acquisition of knowledge can never be separated from its transmissibility. Such an attitude consequently steers Pallavicino’s reflections on the privileged channel ‘of language, through which means we communicate learning to others without lessening it in ourselves’.1

But in the very act of furnishing readers with a text that exemplifies the possibility of reconciling the ‘subtlety of doctrine with the elegance of style’, Pallavicino refers them to a theoretical work that is about to be published, in which he promises a specific treatise ‘on the style to use in scholarly matters’, employing the adjective ‘scholarly’ (‘scientifico’) here, and always thereafter, as referring above all to philosophical-moral disciplines.2 The work was published two years later, in 1646, under the title Considerazioni sopra l’arte dello stile e del dialogo (‘Considerations on the Art of Style and of the Dialogue’), which became Arte dello stile (‘The Art of Style’) in the new, slightly expanded, and modified edition of 1647, and finally Trattato dello stile e del dialogo (‘A Treatise on Style and the Dialogue’) in the third and definitive edition, heavily revised and expanded, which appeared in Rome in 1662.3

The game of mirrors continues in the opening of the Trattato, where, in the “To the reader” (“A chi legge”) section, Pallavicino explains how these pages are the outgrowth of an in-depth meditation on the reasons for the ‘ancient quarrel between the uncultivated and the ornate style’ (‘antica lite fra lo stile incolto e l’ornato’) that he could not escape while drafting the four books of Del bene. Yet, if there is a close relationship between these two texts, the ambition of the author is to actually develop a ‘philosophy’ of style within his theoretical work. Bearing in mind the specific differences among disciplines, this philosophy would demonstrate, with the light of reason and not solely on the basis of changing experience, the rules by which a book of ‘science’ that desires to be simultaneously rigorous and elegant must abide.

Pallavicino again informs us in his note to the reader that the idea was initially to divide ‘the work into two discourses: one on style, the other on dialogue’; but during the act of drafting,

due to various additions, the first of these discourses eventually grew by so much that the second one of the pair would have looked like an emaciated dwarf. It was then that I decided that it would be better to merge the two into one entire book with no other divisions but chapters.4

In addition to this macroscopic bipartition, which in chapter 30 initiates a de facto, self-contained discussion on dialogue, Pallavicino splits the work up by breaking down the discourse on style into three successive stages: (1) ‘whether the ornaments of eloquence befit scholarly treatises’ (chapters 4–19); (2) ‘whether the candour of elegance is to be demanded of them’ (chapters 20–28); and (3) ‘whether we ought to make use of barbarian terms introduced by the early scholastics, and, following their example, introduce even more new ones when it pleases us to do so’ (chapter 29).5

As in the case of Del bene, the Trattato was anthologised in the late nineteenth century with Benedetto Croce’s repositioning of Pallavicino’s place in the baroque canon as a significant voice in the hitherto-unexplored universe of baroque treatise literature. Subsequent studies have contributed decisively, and with a mature theoretical awareness, to this critical reappraisal.6 Reclaiming Pallavicino as a ‘theoretician’ of literature has led to the examination in particular of chapters 4 to 19 of the Trattato, which examine ‘whether the ornaments of elegance are proper to scholarly treatises’ (‘se a’ trattati scienziali convengano gli ornamenti dell’eloquenza’), as well as chapters 30 to 31, on dialogue. In the latter, Pallavicino—prior to stressing the specificity of dialogic imitation—confronts the question of poetic imitation, while in the first chapters about style, he dwells extensively on the ‘splendours of eloquence’, asking whether the figures and tropes that constitute the essence of poetic language could likewise be put to good use in the style of scholarly promulgation. This endeavour entails a dense dialogue with poets and treatise writers. His imposition of what are ultimately fairly strict limitations on the use of such rhetorical expedients in scholarly writing makes it possible to reconstruct more than a few bits of the physiognomy and taste of the literary Pallavicino. Such reconstruction, however, entails the obvious though not always acknowledged risk of considering, in absolute terms, recommendations and prohibitions that are valid exclusively with regard to ‘scholarly’ prose.7

1 ‘Philosophising Well’ and ‘Speaking Well’

The scant attention Italian culture has paid to scholarly prose until only a few decades ago is the likely cause of the veil that has been draped, in contrast, over the two successive points, mentioned in the previous section, of Pallavicino’s reflection on scholarly style in the Trattato, in which his inquiry lowers itself from the apogee of eloquence to the level of ‘elegance’. Elegance no longer refers to the ‘wording’ of poets, but rather to common usage, to the search for a language that ought to avoid the low and the trivial, while nonetheless remaining comprehensible and communicative in a noble manner. These pages thrash out problems that had their origins in humanistic disputes—particularly the famous one between Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Ermolao Barbaro—whose vitality seems to have continued into periods far closer to our own. Here, too, it becomes possible to identify new connections in place of hypothetical areas of (historical) discontinuity.

From the very first chapter of the Trattato, containing his dedication to Giovan Battista Rinuccini (Archbishop of Fermo in 1646, recently dispatched by Innocent X to resolve the fate of Catholicism ‘in the torn but glorious kingdom of Hibernia [Scotland]’), Pallavicino explains the sense of his speculation, claiming an inseparable unity between rational, mental processes and the language codifying them; that is, between ‘reasoning well’ and ‘speaking well’. He thus underscores the fundamental value of words as the communication of thought and knowledge, and, at the same time, argues against those men of every period who, ‘all devoted to the study of clear understanding, disregard, as though [it were] a childish exercise, the disciplines of speaking well’.8

Drawing on Cicero’s Tusculanae, Pallavicino points out that if learning is not to remain the sterile possession of the few, then it is necessary to use correctly those linguistic and rhetorical techniques that assure its transmissibility through means that require little effort. Just as Lucretius and Torquato Tasso had already noted with regard to poetry, in their famous comparison of the rims of vases, so too Pallavicino laments that when it comes to the scholarly disciplines, ‘bare knowledge’ does not draw us in:

Since the claim that truth is beautiful in itself, that any simple extraneous thing soils rather than adorns her cheek, that all embellishments and a thousand similar provisions are unbecoming of her honesty, this amounts indeed to a desire to embellish the lie with metaphors so that it may appear as truth to unenlightened minds. If, like angels, men could instantly manifest their ideas, words would be superfluous. But inasmuch as it is necessary for us to paint them in some perceptible colour so that they may be mutually exchanged, why choose the squalid black of coal rather than a more pleasant shade of ultramarine blue? Inasmuch as one may have mastery over a vessel for transporting this liqueur from one mind to another, what is the advantage of demanding that the healthier juice, that is, the teachings of wisdom, be served to drink in a filthy and stinking bowl that induces nausea rather than in a fragrant gold cup that draws lips to itself?9

Though deriving quite a few polemical goads from Pico’s provocations, the claims proposed here are quite significant precisely because they seem to respond in an emphatic manner to certain rationalistic and anti-rhetorical tendencies, which, reproposed with Cartesian force, characterise literary reflections in France at the height of the seventeenth century.10

Explaining how in his opinion the mastery and correct use of rational gifts can suffice without any study of eloquence in the Discours de la méthode (1637), Descartes had written that

those who possess the strongest reason, and who best digest their thoughts so as to render them clear and comprehensible, are always the best at persuading [others] of what they propose, even if they speak only Low Breton or if they have never learned rhetoric.11

Implicitly, Pallavicino offers a nearly ideal comment on this passage. He still had to admit in his Trattato ‘that, in short, philosophising well is a rather more sublime thing than speaking well’, and that ‘had the books of Aristotle been written in the coarsest language of Valtellina, they would still be preferrable’ to those of the Latin golden age that flourished under Augustus, even—he concludes, reiterating his initial claim—if one cannot deny that refined and elegant phrasing is more appropriate for important writings.12

Pallavicino seems to clearly indicate and anticipate by several decades the terms of the querelle that arose in the second half of the seventeenth century between the literary culture of France, ever more determined to push the era towards rationalist positions, and that of the Italians, drawn up in a strenuous defence of their tradition, which most famously peaked in the polemic between Lelio Orsi and Dominique Bouhours, flanked by the decisive clarifications Ludovico Muratori furnished in his Perfetta poesia italiana. If, for Pallavicino writing in the 1640s, shifting all attention to ‘understanding well’ and away from ‘speaking well’ incurred grave risks, then, similarly, the basic accusation that Italian men of letters levelled against Dominique Bouhours’ Manière de bien penser (1687) was that it overly privileged the logical-intellectual fact over the moment of stylistic-rhetorical elaboration, and dismissed even the most modest colours, essential to comprehension, as fard (make-believe or deceit). The opposition of the Italian men of letters against Northern criticism originated precisely from the latter’s neglect of ‘speaking well’ to the full advantage of ‘thinking well’ (Pallavicino’s ‘understanding well’); of their having considered as false and repugnant the abundant fruit that could instead grow from the union of logic with rhetoric.13

2 The Philosophical Renaissance in the ‘Barbarous’ Centuries

For Pallavicino, the question as to whether ‘obsolete and barbarous wording’ (‘dicitura negletta e barbara’) befits scholarly writing cannot even be set on a level with the two classical literary traditions. After all, Greek and Latin authors placed great emphasis on stylistic elaboration, and though Aristotelian texts may seem sloppy and abstruse, this is due above all to the inexperience of copyists and the mediocrity of translators.14 The divide, the unbridgeable gap between scholarly formulation and linguistic consciousness, occurs instead at the moment of the ‘Carolingian Renaissance’ (late eighth–ninth centuries), immediately after the arts and sciences reawakened, according to Pallavicino. After the passage of so many barbarous peoples and after so many shifts in regimes, the arts and sciences could not escape the rough embrace of a bristly and inelegant language:

But when, after the unfortunate ignorance of many centuries, the sciences began to blossom once again through the efforts of Charlemagne and other generous rulers, it happened that these new births occurred at a time when they could not be received in the arms of any other harvester than that of the most barbarous and unadorned language. Italy, the sole haven of literature in the West, had been inundated by stolidly savage people that had stripped not only the laurel from her brow, but also, so to speak, the tongue from her mouth. The illustrious Latin language, after a miserable decline, had stopped living in mouths; nor was it possible to form any other orderly idiom from the confusion of the various howls that this mish-mash of so many beastly nations used as words. And finally, from the writings, along with elegance, one may still see a certain colour delegated of figures and a certain meter in sentences that was preserved for some time in the learned compositions of the Holy Fathers. Whence there remained just enough knowledge of speaking and writing as was absolutely necessary for human conversation.15

Such divarication thus had its origins in the fact that though ‘doctrine’ and the rhetorical-linguistic awareness of past centuries were still lacking, ‘wit (ingegno), which is a gift of nature’, nevertheless soon blossomed again, and therefore there came to exist scholars and philosophers devoid of elegance—astute men, but bad writers. While Petrarch—as much in the vernacular as in Latin—served as a decisive and precocious example of a clear reversal of this trend, in the centuries preceding him ‘those first restorers of wisdom, content with things, disregarded words’ and tried to fix the insufficiency of language and their culture through an unrestrained use of neologisms, ‘so that slowly, slowly a particular idiom of this scholastic nation, so to speak, composed partly of new terms, partly of ancient words, began to take shape, though stripping them of all elegance and nearly all respect for grammatical rules’.16

It is at this point of the argument that Pallavicino recalls the famous epistolary exchange that pitched Pico della Mirandola against Ermolao Barbaro in the late fifteenth century, using the claims of the former as an argumenta ficta around which the internal articulation of the Trattato is modelled. As concerns eloquence, in Pico’s view its resources falsify truth, winning approval more through their devious ability to persuade than through the power of simple argument. Regarding, in turn, the ‘purity of language’, to which pertains Pallavicino’s discussion of elegance as well as his treatment, rather less well developed, of technical jargon, Pallavicino sums up Pico’s claims, duly selecting those relevant to the overall purpose of the Trattato:

As concerns the purity of language, he [Pico] argues that we presuppose either that words signify fixed things by their nature or through human convention. Where we have this by nature, then we must believe that their nature has been better discerned by philosophers, than by rhetoricians or grammarians, as it is proper to them [philosophers] to know the nature of objects. Were this to occur by human convention, as when it became permitted to so many different communities to decree a particular language for themselves, it would not be denied to the community of philosophers. And just as the same truth does not lose its value by being expressed in the Egyptian or Chaldean language rather than in the Latin one, so it should not lose it by being expressed in the language of philosophy, a language not shaped by the idiot masses just like all other languages at their birth, but by a legion that was the flower of human intellect, in terms of both acumen and erudition.17

On the one hand, the confutation of Pico’s thesis, which reduces to forgery every rhetorical intervention applied to scholarly writing, will force Pallavicino on a long trajectory of argumentation that will lead him, as noted, to what almost amounts to a theory of genres, in direct engagement with treatise writers, orators, and poets. On the other hand, his objection to Pico’s subsequent claims (in the previous quote) opens the path to a more exquisitely linguistic reflection, whose essential passages will now be explored.

3 Eloquence and Elegance

The elegance of style in writing differs from splendour and the major ornaments of eloquence ‘exactly as cleanliness does from splendour and luxury in the cultivation of the person and in homes’; ‘the purity of elegance’—as is explained here with an effective image drawn from observations made through a telescope, reported in the Sidereus Nuncius—‘is like that of the Milky Way, that is to say, composed of many tiny lights, each of which is barely visible to the unperceptive eyes of the multitude’.18 In its splendour, eloquence directs the attention of readers to the powerful luminous intensity radiating from the figures. Elegance, in turn, serves as a uniformly distributed patina that—more than its ostentatious sister—seems to need a cultivated and discerning reader in order to be identified and understood.

In it, according to Pallavicino, two distinct levels must be taken into consideration. The first lies in the simple observation of grammatical rules. The second resides in the study of ‘the kind of suitable style of writing that departs from trivial wording, but not by a great margin’ (‘un tal dettato acconcio che si diparte dalla trivial dicitura, ma non di grand’intervallo’), which is paired with the use of average figures of speech neither too conspicuous nor overly compromised by plebian usage, in keeping with the model proposed by Cicero in the style known as ‘Attic’.19

Such a definition of ‘elegance’ naturally implies that it can be achieved only in the case of an already mature and firmly stabilised language, of a ‘grammar’, against which the slight but frequent excursions that establish an elegant style will constantly be measured. Just as the ancients admitted that even barbarians could be splendid and eloquent but only the Greeks and Latin-speaking people could truly be elegant, so Pallavicino is ready to recognise an abundance of ‘dynamic and elevated figures [of speech]’ (‘pellegrine e sollevate figure’) in poetry written in the Sicilian, Venetian, Genoese, and ‘even Bergamesque’ dialect. Nevertheless, he emphasises that ‘elegance, in common belief, is restricted solely to the Tuscan dialect, or, according to the opinion of many, also to that of the court of Rome, as Calmeta [Vincenzo Colli] would wish’.20

On the level of custom, it is possible that in certain nations even eminent personages ‘abound in pomp, not caring for polish’ (‘abbondino di pompe, non curando la pulitezza’) (and here Pallavicino seems to justify Alessandro Manzoni’s caustic definition of the seventeenth century as ‘the filthy and gaudy age’ [‘età sudicia e sfarzosa’]). Applied to linguistics, his observation implies by analogy that when ‘an ingegno is born of a fertile and sublime nature’ (‘nascendo un ingegno per natura facondo e sublime’) within a population still lacking a stable and much vaunted language, then this ‘barbarian’ not ‘lacking in ingegno’, as one might say along with Manzoni, will be condemned by necessity to a splendid and simultaneously vulgar style.21

Pallavicino thus seems to raise the koinè, or lingua franca, of the papal court nearly to the level of the Tuscan language, albeit with an indirect and tentative formula, following lines of thought that may have had their distant point of origin in Calmeta’s positions but that had nonetheless been recovered and revitalised in the wake of the polemics raised by the initial publication of the Vocabolario della Crusca in 1612. Significant in this respect is the testimony of a ‘disillusioned’ member of the Crusca such as Alessandro Tassoni, a frequent participant and moving spirit—like the younger Pallavicino—of the Accademia degli Umoristi. Annotating his own mock-heroic poem under the pseudonym Gasparo Salviani, Tassoni remarks of the word pitale,

The poet used this word, as do many others at the court of Rome, thanks certainly to the licence to use various languages that Aristotle granted to epic poets, but much more so because he was of the opinion that the idiom of the Roman court was as good as the Florentine one, and better understood by all.22

4 Respect for Grammatical Rules

As for the first element of elegance, identified as the observation of grammatical rules, at the beginning of chapter 21 Pallavicino asks himself whether one must adhere to these closely, since sufficient communication can occur equally well in the absence of perfect grammar. The answer is that strict observation of these rules protects language from ‘mutation’, which for Pallavicino is harmful in every situation—as much in the civic realm as in that of linguistic facts. The acceptance of such norms makes it possible to communicate with the living, and their permanence allows men of every era to take to heart the wisdom of those who have preceded them. This principle of stability is so inviolable that in Pallavicino’s opinion not even grammarians should be allowed to take on prospective initiatives. Indeed, ‘as languages hinge on man’s judgement as much in terms of being introduced as in being altered’, the function of grammarians is not comparable to that of ‘legislators, as some think’, yet to them alone is assigned the role of ‘compilers of those laws that the authority of convention has prescribed in advance’.23 Grammarians do nothing more than codify and rationalise, reducing changes already introduced through use to a rule. Respect for these precepts thus becomes a brake on the linguarum diversitas that dissociates one man from another. Within the unregulated variety of languages, it is useless for man to be unable to communicate with his peers because of such external appearances, to the point that, when he is unable to communicate with others, he will more readily seek the companionship of his own dog than that of another man, as one may read in Augustine’s De civitate dei (City of God):

The diversity of languages separates one man from another. For if two men, each ignorant of the other’s language, meet and are compelled by some necessity not to pass on but to remain together, then it is easier for dumb animals, even of different kinds, to associate together than for them, though both are human beings. For where they cannot communicate their views to one another, merely because they speak different languages, so little good does it do them to be alike by endowment of nature, so far as social unity is concerned, that a man would rather have his dog for company than a foreigner.24

And this is truly divine punishment, inasmuch as man, Pallavicino claims in Del bene, succeeds in surpassing his original unfavourable position in the order of the universe thanks precisely to ‘company’—to interactive relationships, above all linguistic ones, that he establishes with his peers. Though those relationships had their origins in his ‘insufficiency’, they nevertheless permitted him to assume supremacy over the other animals and nature at an early stage of his history:

Ordinarily the slow-witted stupidity that hinders the spirit of brute creatures is such that in that dark night every spark of knowledge comes to reflect like a sun. Let us take the most uncouth Patagonians or Icelanders, on the one hand, and the cleverest monkeys and shrewdest elephants on the other, then let us consider whether there is any basis of comparison between the works of the former and the latter. What nation of beasts ever knew how to clearly depict all the ideas and all the objects that could be created by the hand of God with sounds formed by various movements of the mouth, or to feign the boldness of imagination, then use this mutual expression of the inner thoughts in order to bond with other individuals of its species, and by means of such an association, practically threaten to attack the stars with his constructions, sack the treasures of nature buried at the [earth’s] core, knock down towers, and land on the islands swarming with elephants and whales, and thus render captive under his dominion adversaries a hundred or a thousand times superior to himself in terms of stature and force? And still even the most inept barbarities amongst men can boast such feats.25

But the fixed nature to which Pallavicino seems to condemn linguistic facts is more apparent than real. The call for a rigid observation of rules presupposes, in fact, the acute observation of the unfortunate yet incessant transformation that speakers and writers continually activate through linguistic communication. Thus, with good reason, the grammarian’s job is that of governing this transformation, of slowing it down, if anything, and ensuring an organised graduality that will guarantee cultural exchange among different generations. It is therefore a matter of cutting back on losses in a war that records its silent defeats in each era:

And because languages do not change all together at one point, but deteriorate slowly, imperceptibly, as do garments and stones, it is necessary for the public good that citizens be on the watch for every tiny alteration, because, multiplying little by little, these in the end totally corrupt the ancient manner of speaking.26

Nevertheless, a type of innovation that is not only beneficial but surely desirable may exist within the linguistic space, as, for example, in the case of granting names to ‘new things’ through ‘new terms expressive of their nature’ (‘vocaboli nuovi espressivi della loro natura’). While neologism may be necessary, the creation of new words must be regulated by ‘prudent judgement’ (‘prudente giudicio’). Such judgement suggests an endolinguistic solution, or one drawn from a related language, and Pallavicino’s communicative perspective on dealing with linguistic phenomena allows us to distinguish ample spaces of growth ‘because such innovation does not make business difficult, but truly more effortless’ (‘poiché tale innovazione non difficulta, anzi agevola più veramente il commerzio’), and is thus destined to sustain the progress of knowledge. Therefore, when a ‘new term’ has been introduced to the code of a language and is accepted as a matter of course, even if for no reason, the goal of facilitating human commerce will prevent its rejection.27

The openness to neologism that Horace seems to endorse in Ars poetica (verses 55–62) must, however, be applied with moderation.28 Words, Pallavicino observes, are not really like the leaves of trees that fall each year in autumn only to grow back exactly the same in spring. Linguistic transformation generates something that is, in fact, different from that which has died out. The evolution is always the equivalent of loss and corruption; but though the fading of Latin in national vernaculars was a mistake, and it would be a mistake to wish to corrupt the by now established languages of our day, ‘he who uses any of the languages already introduced does not err’ (‘non erra però chi delle lingue già introdotte si vale’).29 And thus in the polemic that opposes Ludovico Castelvetro to Annibal Caro, reason was on Caro’s side, Pallavicino says, not so much because of the authority of Horace’s example of the leaves, to which Caro clung on principle, but rather far more modestly, ‘because the words over which there were disputes were already accepted (although the adversary denies them with all his might)’ (‘per esser quelle voci delle quali si disputava già ricevute [benché l’avversario ad ogni potere li neghi]’).30

Vastly different criteria must be followed when it comes to extending neologism to the Latin language. Far from considering Latin a living language at this point, as it had been by necessity in the Middle Ages, due also to the inadequacy of the vernacular until the sixteenth century, Pallavicino sees it as a language that has become fixed and immobile, no longer subject to the process of evolution and corruption that usage inevitably triggers in living languages. It is precisely because it is ‘dead in the mouths of the masses’ (‘morto nelle bocche del volgo’) that Latin can assume the function of a supranational language of culture, making it possible, at least on an elevated level, to repair the damage done by linguistic diffraction. Its function ends up being irreplaceable in the cultural exchange among the learned figures of Europe. In order that it may remain complete and unspoiled, Latin will be preserved in its rigid fixity; indeed, immobility alone grants it the most universal comprehension. From this premise, it will become clear that any Latin neologism will be rejected. A term born of necessity in a circumscribed and limited place, and often under the influence of a particular vernacular, will remain incomprehensible or at least ambiguous in other linguistic areas, and will thus hinder rather than facilitate the transmission of knowledge.

Although Latin is denied the path of provincial neologism, by its very function as the language of culture it requires a linguistic equivalent that makes it possible to register the advances of human thought and knowledge. For Pallavicino, this must be attained through the establishment of common paraphrases: ‘It is better to define this thing in old Latin terms that have already made themselves at home throughout the world, than to express it briefly with a new term whose nature is unknown anywhere save the province in which it was born’. By force of logic, the names of ecclesiastical rituals and civic institutions introduced only recently should not be subject to such a universal rule. Rather than writing ‘litare Diis manibus’ (‘sacrifice the spirits of the Manes’) for ‘celebrar le messe di requie’ (‘celebrate requiem masses’), or defining nuns as ‘vestales virgines’—expressions that in their hybridity generate ‘that monster that would create nuns with turbans’ and that correspond to the linguistic practice of a Bembo or a Giovio—in such situations Pallavicino authorises the insertion of vernacular words, ‘as in things that have no more explicit name in any other region than they do in their fatherland’.31

In the concluding section of chapter 21, Pallavicino proposes to clarify the criterion according to which we judge whether words and constructs of language are noble or base, elegant or barbarous. His answer calls for approved use, comparable to the consensus eruditorum found in Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria I, 6:45). The purified and elegant style is, in fact, established because it is preferred by ‘personages more excellent in knowledge and ingegno’ (‘personaggi più eccellenti di sapere e d’ingegno’). In other words, it is the obligation of a given category of speakers or writers to make terms or constructs either elegant or vulgar.

The greatest power of conditioning will be that derived from the usage of poets and writers who, through their illustrious example, are able to ennoble even conceptually compromised terms that ‘signify vile and obscene subjects’ (‘significano suggetti vili e laidi’). As an example, Pallavicino points to the term lorda (foul or tainted), used commendably by Tasso in that magnificent verse, ‘And I know with language / in my tongue / that I too am of foul [or tainted] blood’.32 Another example is the verb vomere. Although the corresponding word in Italian is sordid, it was adopted with sublime and splendid intention by Virgil: ‘If there the palace high raised with proud gates / does not vomit from all its apartments a vast tide of morning visitants’ (‘Si non ingentem foribus domus alta superbis / Mane salutantum totis vomit aedibus undam’).33 On the other hand, the coercive power of the ‘usus eruditorum’ (‘use of the educated’) is so absolute as to expunge papa (the pope) from every lofty composition, in which, on the other hand, words such as ‘yokel, commoner, dust, stench, rot, and sore, which mean despicable or disgusting things, are perfectly integrated’ (‘bifolco, plebe, polve, lezzo, puzzo, piaga, che signifícano cose o abiette o stomachevoli’). The lexical deposit of a linguistic codex must therefore be broken down into three categories of terms: the first, used by the cultured classes to express elevated conceptual values; followed by a second with a nearly universal use, of a heritage common to both the better classes and the masses; next to which, finally, there is a third group of terms that never succeed in rising above their common use and low meanings. This, Pallavicino concludes, establishes that

one of the principal delights begotten by elegance is that, being composed of words and phrases that do not grow dusty in the conversations of the mob, it appears to us with a certain glow of polish, immediately drawing our imagination to those types of characters and subjects to which we have always found them related.34

It is worth emphasising that in the linguistic universe of the codifier, words, when they are selected, not only obey the patterns of lexical or grammatical convenience, but are chosen or discarded on the basis of socio-cultural associations activated by our imagination. Far from being relegated to the abstract realm of a vocabulary, every word already contains within itself, in the act of communication, its own particular ‘evocative’ value.

5 ‘A Multitude of Minute Figures’

In addition to grammatical purity and a lexical and syntactic choice modelled on the most accredited linguistic models, elegant wording also requires a particular colour that renders communication both ‘perceptible’ in some sense and tenuously personalised. This will be achieved through Pallavicino’s second element of elegance:

It is a multitude of minute figures, and chiefly of little metaphors derived from perceptible material, which render the knowledge of the signified object more alive and distinct than it could be with its proper name. In that the proper name neither represents the object with any visual image, nor reminds us of the similarity that it has in any of its properties with some other thing distinct from itself, our imagination receives both these benefits from the aforementioned metaphorical terms.35

These important claims obviously rest on the theoretical structure of Aristotle’s deliberation over the arbitrary relationship binding the signifier to the signified, the acoustical image to the designated conceptual fact.36 Elsewhere in the Trattato, Pallavicino will indicate the proprium of poetry with the metaphor ‘audace’ (‘audacious’), compared to the less splendid style of scholarly communication.37 But even there he reiterates, albeit on a more modest level, the primacy of metaphor, subverting the belief that would see ‘proper’ language as typical of learning, and the ‘figurative’ kind as confined solely to poetic writing. To be fully activated, cognitive mechanisms must go beyond the confines of a purely mental reception, such as that of the disconnected but ‘proper’ term. It is imperative to appeal to the force of the imagination as well, which, thanks to the metaphorical ‘discharge’, discerns a ‘perceptible image’ of the object. Thanks to the effect of ‘transportation’ proper to the metaphor, this image then connects itself immediately to a reality ‘distinct from itself’, establishing thereby a quite solid chain of relationships that greatly facilitates comprehension and learning. The clarity that must distinguish scholarly writing nevertheless dictates that this particular colour be obtained through ‘tiny’ metaphors, that is, those that have by now entered the linguistic praxis of the best speakers, or have been retrieved from semantic fields in close proximity, or finally, suggested by necessity, as in the case of catachresis. Only under such circumstances can one avoid, in fact, ‘the evil of other metaphors, that is, of overtaxing the intellect to grasp the signified fast’ (‘il male dell’altre metafore, cioè d’affaticar l’intelletto per intender con velocità il significato’). It is not therefore the strongly individualised metaphor, the difficult unravelling of which occurs simultaneously with the recognition of its creator’s ingegno, that Pallavicino is theorising in these pages, but rather a slight elevation of the wording that renders the word more conspicuous, or ‘perceptible’. He illustrates how this can be done with a modest formula that pertains to the genre of dialogue. The expression ‘he stung him with these words’ (‘lo punse con queste parole’), used in lieu of the more denotative ‘he caused him displeasure with these words’ (‘gli cagionò dispiacer con queste parole’), is equally clear but nevertheless underscores the ‘similarity between the sting of a touch, the most sensitive of the senses, and the vexation that a spirit feels in hearing itself berated’ (‘la somiglianza tra la puntura del tatto, ch’è il più vivo di tutti i sensi, e la molestia che prova un animo in udirsi proverbiare’). Then again, the metaphor’s domain extends to surprising regions of our linguistic baggage, Pallavicino stresses; the very words that we refer to as ‘abstract’ are actually fairly often constructed in part out of metaphorised materials:

Actually, most words that signify things that do not fall under the senses, [if] observed carefully, will be found to be in themselves or by derivation metaphors drawn from perceptible things, and above all from a local impulse, which is a thing common to many senses, or rather to common sense, such as perire, interire, occidere, potere, appetere, intelligere, cogere, cogitare, contendere, flectere, aversari, aggredi, exultare, componere, producere, corripere, promittere, reprehendere and countless others. Which is something that each person will see for himself by picking the many simple verbs that concern movement, such as eo, ago, tendo, peto, do, statuo, fluo, verso, fundo, cedo, caedo, prebendo, vado, mitto, pono, lego, gradior, duco, sero, spargo, rapio, salio, and many others, and with them the frequentative ones, and by observing the various compounds with all their prepositions, and finally by noting the current and common meaning of each of these compounds. And this occurs in all languages.38

The common speaker does not notice such transfers between ‘proper’ and ‘figurative’ because the line dividing them is never sharp; on the contrary, the border will transform continuously. The figure is condemned to gradual assimilation; indeed, usage flattens and corrupts the tension proper to the metaphor, inserting it without its explosive power into the circuit of common language. In this way, for example, the optative formula ‘Oh, may it please God that I be cured’ (‘Deh, piacesse a Dio ch’io risanassi’), from the original idea of submission to divine will, has become nothing more than an expression of an autonomous desire for a cure. Thus, Pallavicino observes, ‘not only simple words but compound phrases [that] do not really signify anything but what men, following custom, wish to explain through their means’, are disempowered and reduced to their purely conventional significance.39

This power of homogenisation forces the reader to a choice already directed at a future reader in an attempt to slow down the relentless softening and flattening of words. But this process can also be obstructed through an act of linguistic correction, an operation that Pallavicino undertook in the definitive revision of the Istoria del Concilio di Trento, which appeared in 1664. There, the reader should note Pallavicino’s efforts to unite instruction with pleasure, and, in particular, as the author asserts in his “Letter to the reader”,

to stay away, more than he [Pallavicino] did in his first work [the first edition], from that form of language that is used for praise in the letters of secretaries and in the expressions of public conversationalists. Such compositions, just like those that either imitate familiar speech or intend to gain the approval of listeners, require forms that are both expressive and usual to the ears and mouths of the multitude, which certainly has its metaphors and other incisive and concise figures [of speech], but of a vulgar kind, without having begged a place, if not rarely and nearly by stealth, in patrician writings.40

In 1663 Pallavicino recommended similar corrections for metaphors degraded by popular use to the Jesuit preacher Paolo Segneri, who was busy with the publication of his ‘panegyrics’, and Pallavicino alluded to his own work on the revision of the Istoria: ‘The work can be polished by stripping away some of the expressive, but habitual, hence popular metaphors, which grant vigour to the oration, but a vigour more typical of the peasant than the gentleman, in which I invested an enormous care in the second edition of my history’. Indeed, in a slightly later letter to the same Segneri, Pallavicino seems to elucidate a true and proper theory of the metaphor, behind which his effort to polish his History is again discernible:

There are three types of metaphors: some are uttered from necessity, those are the ones that are introduced in the absence of a proper name, as when calling items, for example, scafe (‘hulls’) due to their similarity to the figure of little boats called ‘scafe’ in Latin; and these metaphors are no longer metaphors because they are like proper names. Others are metaphors by convention, and for this reason the flavour of one language differs from that of another. Thus, in Tuscan one may simply say far testa (‘make a fuss’) in place of resistere (‘resist’); whomever were to use this metaphor in Latin would be committing an Italianism, while conversely, in Latin, one says demandare hanc provinciam for commettere una cura (‘to request a cure’), which among us would be a Latinism. Nowadays there are two kinds of conventional metaphors: some are used only by the masses, others by refined and noble writers; both types lend to purity, but not in the same manner to the elegance and prestige of language; of the first I have utterly cleansed my History [of the Council of Trent]. Some, finally, are called artistic metaphors, that is, contrived by each particular author according to the teachings of rhetoric, and these are common to all languages and grant the foremost praise to what is said, whence I am notified that such are the ones that Your Reverence commends to me by your goodness.41

As regards vernacular prose, a myriad of subtle metaphors is only one of many aspects of elegance, and yet Pallavicino highlights the way in which figurative locution is in his day the sole means ‘left to us for embellishing Latin writings with some elegance that has not been slavishly copied from authors who lived when that language was alive’. The use of such metaphorical expressions must be fairly careful and sagacious, since, given the unalterable fixity of Latin, these new metaphors are subject to risks that have already been pointed out in the case of the neologism: they are by necessity modelled on the vernacular typical of a single location, and in this sense serve as a contrast to the koinè developed from that language. Every nation, in fact, has its own exclusive baggage, as much for ‘its proper words and phrases’ as for ‘the translated and figurative ones’, Pallavicino emphasises. He continues, conveniently inserting some examples that can nonetheless be read only in the 1662 edition:

Thus, there, where in order to figuratively express ‘nothing’, the Latins created the word nihilum, which, according to its original property, meant to exclude the husk of a bean as ultimately the smallest thing in the world; the Lombards invented negotta, which excludes even a drop; and the Tuscans, considering the point as indivisible, being that it is less than any entity and deviates from nothing, instituted the phrase non è punto tale (‘not in the least’) to completely negate something; but the French, seeing that a step (passo) is the smallest thing in our path, are accustomed to saying Io non son passo allegro (‘I am not even one step happy’), where the Tuscan would say, Io non son punto allegro (‘I am not even one point happy’).42

Recognising that metaphors vary across languages obviously has tangible repercussions on the practice of translation. Already in Del bene, Pallavicino notes with praise those translations of Latin poets prepared by the interlocutors of the dialogue (Del bene is written as a dialogue between four speakers), who operate by ‘still rendering their words according to weight, not number, and expressing their ideas not in the forms used by them in that language, but rather in those in which it is likely that these have been dressed when writing verse in our own [language]’43—affirmations that seem to pave the road for the modern concept of ‘functional translation’.

But it was certainly the translations of the ‘second’ Istoria, which were being prepared quite rapidly, that forced Pallavicino into further analysis and reflection on the problem of the different metaphoric colours of languages and the translatability of different metaphoric fields. Highly significant in this respect is an unpublished letter, probably also from 1664, addressed to the Jesuit ‘Father Michel d’Elizzalda’, who had offered to translate the Istoria into Spanish. Though claiming that his warnings would be superfluous considering the refined culture of the aspiring translator, who was preparing himself for the long and difficult undertaking, Pallavicino nevertheless offered a series of specific ‘tips’:

There are two types of concetti in writings: some are of the kind that the author decides on before thinking about corresponding words for explaining them, and others depend on the disposition of the words that he finds in his own language, to which he will conform himself, choosing these rather than those, according to which ones he sees as having the more appropriate attire for making one concept rather than the other appear. The first are the foundations of the work, and the translator must faithfully represent them in the new language. The second belong to ornament, and are subject to epicheia, whence he who translates must retain, omit, or change them, as the author would have done had he agreed to write in that language.44

Even from these preliminary observations, it is clear to what extent ‘judgement’ enters the practice of translation, in Pallavicino’s opinion, and particularly when dealing with the writings of an astute author, capable of preparing a culturally stratified and rhetorically controlled text, as he implicitly and without false modesty believed his Istoria to be. He then continues, shifting attention from concetti to the linguistic modes that codify them:

So much for concetti. As for the forms for explaining them, it is good to refrain from those that belong to the language from which one is translating and that are foreigners in the house where the child enters for adoption. And in order to avoid this error one must observe that in languages there are proper words, conventional metaphors, and artistic metaphors, just as there are conventional and artistic figures of speech. Neither with proper words nor with artistic metaphors or figures of speech is there much danger of failing, as everybody knows that the proper word can be used only in its own language; and, on the contrary, metaphors or artistic figures of speech hinge on the teachings of rhetoric, which, since they are based on natural discourse, are common to all languages. But, aside from this, every language has its own innumerable conventional metaphors and figures of speech that are also adopted by people through mere usage and without any artificial instruction. But these, if carried over into another language by the translator, as often happens, often cause cold formality and abstruseness, and always barbarism. It is true that conventional metaphors and figures of speech that are specific to the Italian language, and not derived from Latin, remain in very rare use in my newly revised History for reasons that I list in the “Letter to the reader”.45

6 Brevity

Pallavicino defines the third element of elegance as ‘brevity’. Just as on the highest plane of the writings of poets, concetto, or ‘acuity’, was defined as a ‘marvellous observation concentrated in a short aphorism’, so in the more modest domain of elegance brevity plays a decisive role, as it ‘renders the concept more acute and more incisive, like the sharpness of the arrow’s point’.46

Brevity can be achieved in two different manners: through ellipses, that is to say, by suppressing certain words normally present in the verbalisation of a concept, or through the ‘propriety of words’. In the case of the ellipsis, Pallavicino refers without fail to the observations of Vossius, ‘the most learned (I could also add most religious) Gerardo Vossio, who did not deem it beneath the eminence of his renowned literature, manifest in other works, to let his white head pore over statements on grammatical minutiae’. Dealing with the ‘propriety of the words’, however, demands further reflection.47 Impropriety is, in fact, typical of those who do not know the resources of a language and must proceed to a gradual demarcation of a semantic field while calling on ‘many generic words, each of which is common to other things, but all of them together are not suitable for anything but the object that they are meant to signify’, a method normally employed when new terms, such as ‘artillery’, for example, need to be introduced into Latin.48

So significant is ‘propriety’ that the perfection of a language is measured directly by how little or how much of it that language possesses. Indeed, propriety is an index of the wealth of words that permits the precise naming and thus the precise identification of the multiple components that constitute the reality and culture of people. Frequent recourse to generic terms by a poor language, such as Hebrew, ‘that often uses a single generic name in order to signify spice, or the name of one spice to signify another’, is, on the contrary, responsible for not a few difficulties in biblical exegesis. But even ‘usage, the supreme master of languages’, participating in the incessant labour of human turmoil, often promotes the transition from a common to a proper term, as occurred with ‘Normans’, ‘Provincia’ (Provence) or ‘Campania’; ‘and in Spain [with] Medina and Guadalchivir, which in Arabic amount to city and large river, now signify a particular city and river’.49

Universal and generic words should thus be avoided for two reasons. On the part of the user, these words generate confusion in the act of decoding. Also, because loosely defined terms are more common and widely used, they do not contain that rarity, however subtle, that can alone obtain the recognition of ‘elegance’. What will also play an important part in achieving this, Pallavicino clarifies, is the judicious deployment of prepositions,

in the case of which, much is determined of the significance of the principal verbs to which they are added. Thus it is more elegant, because it holds more meaning, to use prospicere with an object in the distance, suspicere with an object that stands above us, respicere with an object previously seen or that stands behind us, than to use videre in a general sense with the addition of other words, all of which together form the specified meaning. In sum, as with coins, so with sentences: an equivalent value consisting of less bulk demonstrates the greater nobility of the matter.

In addition to the traditional comparison between ‘word’ and ‘coin’, Pallavicino’s insistence on the significative value of elegance (‘it possesses more elegance because it holds more meaning’) points to that instrumental attention to idiom that marks the boundary between poetic and scholarly writing and that has made it possible to situate his stylistic study in the realm of a ‘functional hedonism’ that avoids the shoals of a sterile and abstract formalism.50

7 Variety

The fourth component of elegance in Pallavicino’s proposed taxonomy is variatio, or ‘variety, which ought to be pleasing to all cognitive powers, nor can any other form of perfection merit the title of beauty without it’. As in attire, so too in language variety ‘produces the marvellous and is the companion of wealth’. Within the practice of communication, variety is actually only attainable with knowledge and thus with the possession of the innermost resources of language, a treasure that one inherits from the example of the most highly esteemed writers, and that allows one—Pallavicino continues, insisting on the word–coin relationship—‘to spend’ words and expressions that are always different, but ‘are of equal value, that is, capable of expressing the same object’. Although in theory variety can be unlimited in the ancillary aspects of an argument, Pallavicino nonetheless observes that in the event that one needs ‘to mention the subject that one disputes by profession many times’, one will have to maintain a terminological stability that guarantees the cohesion of the text and ensures a logical progression of the discussion through the correct use of the anaphor.51

Variety will have to be observed mainly at a loftier level of communication, above all in poetic writing. It will not be by accident, therefore, that in addition to including more narrowly ‘linguistic’ observations, chapter 25, which is devoted to the ‘sources of variety’, once again brings up in broad strokes the genre of the dialogue, and draws an abundance of examples from poetry. Pallavicino identifies the first possibility of variation in synonyms, with which ‘one varies in no other way than through the external sound of the word with which such a thing is signified, but the internal concept created through these various words, is, in fact, the same’. These statements, however, were significantly developed only in the 1662 edition of the Trattato, in which Pallavicino continues as follows, refashioning the preceding conclusions: ‘if not to the degree that the sound, together with the image of the signified object, transmits its own [quality] to the mind, and accordingly the intellectual picture is varied in the listener’.52 The insertion notably develops the reflection in that it actually denies that perfect synonyms are possible, inasmuch as sound—at the moment at which it conveys the conceptual image of the object—‘transmits its own [quality] to the mind’. If anything, it is precisely this autonomy of the ‘acoustical image’ that allows the decodifier to recognise the variance and the codifier to activate it.

The use of synonyms will be of particular significance in the euphonic systemisation of the period, for the correct alternation of rhymes, as well as for the reduplication typical of the language of passion. However, rather than offering an easy opportunity for variation, their correct use presupposes a controlled exercise of reason. After all, with regard to synonyms, the most egregious abuses are found precisely ‘in those writers who are poorest in philosophy: as it is proper to the philosopher both to properly distinguish one subject from another and not to pour out words at random, but to allocate them with reason’.53

It is possible to obtain a second kind of variation through an ‘indirect effect’—a type of metonymic rapport that ‘leads the listener, as if along a different road, to information about the same object, and impresses on the mind various images that indirectly represent it’.54 Examples are drawn almost exclusively from the poets, since it is up to poetry above all to elevate simple temporal observations, such as in the third book of the Aeneid, by means of oblique images that all depend on it: Asia agitated by divine desires, the cruel end of Priam’s descendants, Troy smoking and destroyed.55

The method offers nearly unlimited possibilities of variety inasmuch as ‘innumerable are those effects that have their origin in an event, or are manifestly joined to it’ (‘innumerabili son quegli effetti che hanno origine da un successo, o che sono con lui manifestamente congiunti’); and thus, appealing again to poets, daybreak can be designated with one of the many elements that are associated with and refer back to it—so much so, Pallavicino observes, that it was not difficult for Bernardo Tasso to transform dawn a hundred times in just as many cantos of the Amadigi. Such apparently boundless freedom must be used, however, with prudence; an effect that is totally inadequate to indicate the cause from which it derives will never be chosen, even if, in principle, the effect indicated by the cause shall be preferred to the cause indicated by the effect. Searching for the cause attracts more attention to itself, because the cause is more noble than the effect, and the cause can more easily be deduced from its effects than vice versa. However, it is only in the 1662 edition that Pallavicino inserts two rules that articulate more explicitly the terms of the rhetorical instrument explained here:

Regarding which two rules may be given: that to signify the cause, those effects are mentioned that ought to bring [human] understanding immediately to the consideration of the cause; and that such an effect may be given, and in such circumstances, that the reader may easily understand that one does not present him with that effect as if it were a face to be contemplated in itself, but rather as if it were a finger that points at something else.56

In other words, the effect ought to lead rapidly to the cause. It is not allowed to attract attention to itself, to live an autonomous life, as its goal is exclusively that of ‘indicating’, ‘pointing at’ the cause—observations that obviously move the reflection from poetic language to scholarly communication, where the word is an instrument, not an end.

Halfway between synonyms and ‘joined effects’, Pallavicino places the third form of variety, ‘where by saying always the same thing it may nonetheless be obtained that the image formed by the mind of the listener will be different’. He goes on to explore four rivers from which this source branches out: giving ‘the definition for that which is defined, as if instead of birds, I were to say the animals that fly in the air’; the substitution of the passive for the active form; the use of double negation for affirmation; and the exchange of the concrete for the abstract. But more important is the conclusion of chapter 25, with the section on the ‘anatomy of elegance’, as it expands in the next chapters into a sustained reflection on the possibility of the real use of the various elements of elegance ‘for functions fit for doctrinal works’.57

8 Elegance in Scholarly Writing

In all three editions of the Trattato, Pallavicino pays particular attention to the transition from the ‘anatomy of elegance’ to the ensuing discussion on the practical utilisation of its elements in instructional writings. The thirty-eight chapters of the 1662 edition, as opposed to the thirty-seven of the 1646 and 1647 editions, were obtained, in fact, by expanding and splitting up chapter 26 of the first two editions into chapters 26 and 27 of the definitive one. Here the new chapter 27, in which ‘it is established what authors ought to be followed in scholarly materials from among those who write in Italian or Latin’, and which, save a few minor additions, corresponds to the old chapter 26, is preceded by a (nearly) new chapter 26. The new chapter 26, which asks ‘if and what sort of elegance is appropriate for scholarly writings’,58 presents six new pages (pages 250–256) and re-uses passages from the old chapter 26.

Before identifying the models of scholarly prose, Pallavicino, with the insertion of this new section, seems to acknowledge the need to justify the legitimacy and pertinence of elegance in this type of writing through a more thorough discussion of the criteria of word choice. He does not hesitate to reaffirm that the violation of grammar was unacceptable even to the scholastics. He believes that the comparison used by both Lucretius and Tasso, on the need to sweeten at least the rim of the cup into which the bitter medicine is poured, denounces as ‘minor drivel’ the claims of Pico, according to whom philosophy resembled ‘the sileni of Alcibiades, crude and uncultured on the outside, but with breasts full of jewels’. Nor, on the other hand, should one adhere to ancient barbarism simply because excellent minds also adopted it. Pallavicino harbours no doubt that, far from having been freely chosen by writers, its origins lay instead in ‘ignorance’ or ‘negligence’;59 rather than forming and establishing a tradition of a philosophical style, the coarseness of these writers’ language actually did nothing but debase philosophy.

However, the conspicuous additions in the new chapter 26 begin primarily from an Aristotelian reflection that is applied more broadly. Indeed, Pallavicino extends Aristotle’s advice (Rhetoric, III.2: 1404b, 25) from the orator to ‘the teacher’: ‘namely, imitating Euripides, to choose the best words from those that are commonly used and vernacular’ (‘cioè che, imitando Euripide, scelga le voci migliori tra l’usitate e volgari’).

The response to some hypothetical objections that such a novel application of Aristotle’s rhetorical precepts might arouse prompts Pallavicino to specify the relevant points in his theory on the style appropriate for teaching. To begin with, some limits are placed on the absolute authority of use; if, in fact, the ‘quality of words’ were to be determined entirely by use, what would the criterion be for choosing the best among them? For Pallavicino, beyond the tyranny of use lies, for instance, the phonic quality of the word, ‘seeing that the best sound is a native and non-arbitrary quality of one sound rather than of another’; in addition, however, on the level of the signified, the same ‘authority of use’ (‘arbitrio dell’uso’) contributes to distinguishing between specialised and generic terms, thus differentiating them on the basis of their non-equivalent conceptual precision.

What is important above all in scholarly language is that words be characterised by ‘double use’, that they be common as much to ‘common people’ as to ‘those who speak well’; from the first, in fact, they receive the gift of ‘clarity’, from the second, that of ‘respectability’. Strenuously observing the criterion of ‘double use’ and attending rigorously to the ‘average crowd’ also prevents such writings from appearing plebian and lowering the level of communication, even when interwoven with popular words, thus greatly expanding their range of benefit.60

According to Pallavicino, the Aristotelian precept can be extended from the orator to the teacher precisely because of ‘the greater clarity that all popular words possess’ (‘nella maggior chiarezza che hanno tutti i vocaboli popolari’). If the orator requires the clarity such words entail in order to persuade, that is all the more reason for scholarly communication to dazzle with clarity, much like a light that disperses the shadows of ignorance. Scholarly prose does not use language hedonistically; its greatest asset is that it displeases no one, rather than greatly pleasing only the few. Thus, the demand for a middle style becomes primary. This is the way in which Pallavicino expressed himself in Del bene when trying to define the stylistic profile of the lyric poems of Antonio Querenghi, one of the interlocutors in the dialogue:

He nonetheless used to compose, as his Latin and Tuscan poems demonstrate, in a somewhat thin and dry style, wholesome rather than vigorous, highly polished but not very sumptuous, and in which there was much to praise but little more to admire than the fact that nothing reproachable could be found in it. For this reason they were approved rather than read; and their example demonstrated how true is that which one often hears from the Pindar of Savona, Gabrielle Chiabrera, namely, that poetry is obliged to raise eyebrows.61

Poetry is measured according to the criterion of the marvellous; scholarly communication, on the contrary, imposes rhetorical moderation. In the rotation of genres, the mere absence of defects, conscientiously observed, becomes the most sought-after merit.

9 Against Linguistic Archaism

The explicit of chapter 26 already introduces some bits of advice for those who intend to write in the vernacular. This advice ideally allies itself with the ample treatment of stylistic models that Pallavicino will develop in chapter 27, and thus makes it possible to recognise the original discursive unity behind the new order adopted in the 1662 edition. Here, in fact, is placed the controversial question of linguistic archaism, regarding which Pallavicino’s position appears clear:

Whoever writes in a living language ought rather to choose the forms and voices of his own time than those of the past alone. The same happens with words as with coins: the ancient ones are admired, the modern ones are spent.62

Words that have become defunct, he continues, arguing from a distance against Bembo’s famous claims, are appropriate for those who wish to converse with the dead, not with the living; thus better a neologism that is destined perhaps to settle in than an archaism that has fallen out of use precisely because it did not find favour. The book, like a building, must be able to accommodate a future visitor, and the writer must place all his attention on those admonitions that seem to guarantee an ‘untarnished’ language—to the degree that this is possible; rules which, as has been seen, appeal to an innate superiority through their ‘sound’, to a use reinforced by that which pertains to ‘propriety’ and ‘efficacy’, and, finally, to an unfortunately less diffuse and more recent use that is nevertheless guaranteed by the praxis of ‘writers with greater fame in the refinement of style’ (‘scrittori di maggior nome in pulitezza di stile’).

There is only one case, in Pallavicino’s opinion, in which it is possible to waive such rules, and that is when ‘the living language is already in a state so close to corruption that one may foresee that posterity will have to learn its ancient rather than its present form’. Indeed, as in the case of the long demise of the Roman Empire, during the decline of a civilisation and its language archaisms will offer sounder safeguards than neologisms, since future generations are the privileged recipients of any piece of writing. This is the sole concession—one carefully delimited by the circumstances of a particular time—that Pallavicino seems disposed to admit in debates over the theses expressed by Bembo, especially in Book I of the Prose (Prose Works). Although Bembo too calibrated linguistic choice according to ‘posterity’, he nonetheless encouraged the use of ancient writers rather than the living language towards this end. Pallavicino, starting from the same presuppositions, certainly expresses the need for an energetic purification of words, but always within those ‘used in their times’, with no sense of inferiority towards ancient authors, whose linguistic modes are to be approved only in so far as they are legitimised by use.63 The ancient and eminent model ceases to be the object of deferential citation, and is set on the same level of koinè, inasmuch it was no longer the case that writings had to aspire solely to the praises of the learned, as they had for Bembo. In the new functions that a more widespread culture assigned to writings, their task was also that of drawing non-specialists to disciplines from which they had been hitherto excluded. A little less than a century after Bembo, Pallavicino could grasp the impracticality of Bembo’s proposition because of the fair number of ‘phantoms’ or ‘archaisms’ returned to circulation with the recent publication of the Vocabolario della Crusca, to the great scandal of the ‘moderns’, even without taking into account the innovative turn of the Marinist seventeenth century and the emergence of new disciplines that required the power of impositio nominum.

It is above all in chapter 27, however, which specifies models in both ‘Italian’ (the adjective is not arbitrary) and Latin, that Pallavicino unequivocally expounds his position against Bembo. Already in the opening, before a brief excursus in which the disputed history of the vernacular is retraced, Pallavicino declares his disapproval of the opinion of those ‘gentlemen who recommend writing according to the usage of Tuscany in 1340, as if before then our language was too young a girl, and afterwards no longer a virgin’. Easily accepting the primacy of fourteenth-century Tuscan not only over the language in use previously, but also over the vernacular of the fifteenth century—less cultivated because Petrarch had restored lustre and splendour to Latin, which maintained its superiority over the vernacular until the age of Charles V—Pallavicino nevertheless identifies the sixteenth century as the golden age of the Italian language:

But if we include the excellent writers of this language from the beginning of the seventeenth century, as much in unmetered discourse as in every genre of poetry, not only to me do they seem equal to64 those that honoured the fifteenth century, but I deem them barely inferior to those that rendered the age of Augustus famous.65

The indubitable nobility of the linguistic base of the fourteenth century will have to be paired with the richness contributed by the great figures of the sixteenth century, not only because this richness is bound to new realities or disciplines, but also because it reminds us of the need to make up for so many words from that era that have now dropped from use: ‘It is no less beyond ambiguity that we should not restrict ourselves to words and manners solely of this century’, the preface to the 1664 Istoria explains, ‘as seeing that many of these have already fallen out of use, it is part of the profession to replace them with new ones if we do not wish the language to perish, losing its robustness little by little’.66 Pallavacino’s clear position obviously draws sustenance from the heated debate over the first editions of the Vocabolario della Crusca. Many men of letters formulated haughty and not always justified rebuffs to the archaic Tuscanism that informed the 1612 and 1623 editions. Thanks to these polemics, this archaism was considerably toned down in the third edition of 1691, while also broadening the linguistic and cultural horizons of the new academics of the Crusca.

But at the height of the 1660s Pallavicino seems to have sensed the still timid steps that members of academies were taking towards lexical and syntactic expansion through the insertion of modern authors into the corpus of the Vocabolario. Indeed, such enrichment registers with sensitivity and as if inviting even more courageous choices; ‘[…] in both teachings and works, in its writings the Academia della Crusca itself [is] a custodian as severe as it is worthy and a wet-nurse of the native Tuscan purity and candour’.67

However, the rejection of archaism over the course of the argument in chapter 26 of the Trattato seems to reveal a deeper cultural attitude, open to ‘innovation’ and ‘the modern’, which rejects, at least within the field of linguistic facts, any principle of ‘authority’. The first category of defenders of archaism are indeed identified as ‘those who do not judge problems by weighing the arguments on this side or that’, and who instead sacrifice their own judgement to those authors who valued the language of the fourteenth century above that of any other, but who also, Pallavicino argues, ‘never weighed it against that which they have not seen and which came into being after their death’. The infinite mutations to which language is subject, even in the course of a few centuries, do not support definitive preferences or condemnations; in the free field of human expression, the nearly absolute master is usage, and the principle of authority must therefore make space for more inclusive and balanced historical judgement. That the rejection of linguistic archaism assumes a broader meaning that opposes every static vision of civilisation and culture is confirmed by the second class of champions of archaism identified by Pallavicino—those

who in their youth, and dependent in their opinions more on other authorities than on their own speculation, spent much of their research observing the language of these ancients, for which reason later, although they were intellectually capable of discerning the misunderstanding, [they] could not lead themselves to any belief that diminished, in their own opinion, the value of the goods purchased by them so dearly.68

From the particular perspective of linguistic reflection, Pallavicino seems to describe with a subtle analysis the reluctant attitude of a generation of scholars outpaced by the speed of time. They take refuge in auctoritates as if in the bastions of memory rather than in the intellect, and behind their rejection of a new culture they conceal what is certainly a psychological if not existential discomfort.

10 Modern Language and New Culture

The transition from linguistic innovation to a new scholarly–cultural mentality, even if not entirely unwarranted, is in any case not explicit in Pallavicino. The relationship is instead clearly expressed by the ‘Galileian’ Giovanni Ciampoli, for whom ‘in human matters, as in doctrines, as in expressions, innovation is not only legitimate, but can be wonderful’; in this, which ‘is the realm of reason, not authority […], respect for authority often jeopardises the discovery of truth’. In his passionate eulogy on ‘innovation’, Ciampoli seems to oppose ancient words to new things: ‘What malicious ingratitude’, he laments, ‘is it to profess enmity towards one’s own century and always to wish to prefer hoary old terms to freshly born innovations?’ To Galileo’s loyal friend, the moderns have therefore improved on the ancients in every field, and only he who lacks the ‘patrimony of ingegno’ seeks citations from the mouths of the past.69

Although Pallavicino lacks the pioneering fervour of Galileo’s friends and pupils, his stance towards new disciplines is never one of rejection or a priori preclusion. As argued elsewhere, although the primary concern of the would-be ‘leader’ of the Lincean Academy, later turned Jesuit and cardinal, was the justification of faith and piety, he made no less effort to know and assess the limits of the new science.70

In the Tratatto, in any case, this open attitude towards linguistic innovation does not lead to extreme positions. It is thus that ‘when things are equal’ (‘in condizione di parità’), the expressions of uninterrupted tradition will be preferred to more grafted modifications only the moderns use, both because they have been tempered by the forge of time and because they ‘plainly demonstrate a certain something of an Italian air, whereas those written in the modern manner present more of a foreign origin’.71

Pallavicino seems almost to lament the diminution of the capacity of the vernacular to assimilate and transform later insertions. This vernacular that had once succeeded in mutating not only ecclesia into chiesa, claro into chiaro, Sublaco into Subiaco, but even Clemente into Chimento, and Flavio into Fiovo, could now accept ecclesiastico with no transformation and not succeed in smoothing out the inconsistency of fiore–florido. Antiquity of origin should not, however, dictate preference when words ‘employed by illustrious pens explain the meaning with greater correctness and brevity’, as these qualities are too necessary to the elegant phrasing to which Pallavicino aspires; one may therefore conclude that, in such a case, ‘nobility carries less weight than value’.72

Pallavicino assumes an analogous attitude of well-meaning generosity towards Latin. The golden language is certainly to be identified with that of the age of Augustus, but when expressivity so demands, Pallavicino does not exclude the integration of terms drawn from the recentiores, and even from modern Latin writers, albeit with a note of caution. Just as the archaising purity advocated by Bembo had been rejected in the case of the vernacular, so Pallavicino rejects a rigorous conformity to Cicero in the name of a liberty that not even the admirers of the ancient orator had given up entirely:

Nor would I want to grant to that century, and especially to Cicero along with Bembo, that crown over Latin culture that was not conceded even by Quintilian himself, who practically adored his [Cicero’s] pen, or any of those after him who added splendour to that language when it was still alive.73

But to draw some important conclusions, Pallavicino once again grants Latin, the artificial language of culture, a purely instrumental respect. From such a practical point of view, any attention to verifying whether a Latin term is attested among writers of the golden age makes absolutely no sense. As language depends on use and convention, for every language, it can, in fact, be affirmed ‘that which is true is what is believed to be true’, to the extent that also for those merely communicative ends that only Latin should fulfil, ‘if a word, or a manner of speaking is now Latin, it is the same as it being believed to be Latin’. The symbolic function of the remedium Babelis proceeds in fact from the idea of a dead language that nonetheless serves to communicate with the living and with posterity, ‘so that all the beauty of Latin composition now depends on the opinion of those who understand it today, and not at all on its true use and the true opinion of ancient Latin speakers’.74 It is due to this non-aesthetic but rather practical and instrumental use that Pallavicino can legitimately prepare a Latin text that from a historical linguistic perspective is absolutely unfounded and that interweaves, without fear of rebuke, the vocabulary of Plautus with that of Martial or Pliny.

Synchronically speaking, the operation is absolutely legitimate inasmuch as it is concluded in the wake of Castelvetro’s decisive observations:

[W]e write in Latin to those living men of letters for whom all these words, as they are learned by them exclusively in schools, constitute a single language, [and] not to those ancient Romans, for whom the aforesaid words form two languages in two ages.75

Analogous attention directed at facilitating cultural interchange informs the somewhat less developed reflection that Pallavicino devotes to the question of technical languages. As a matter of principle, Pallavicino seems to endorse the clear position expressed by Pico in favour of an absolute liberty on the part of philosophers and scholars to fabricate their own specific jargon, a conviction already found in Cicero’s own De finibus (III: i–ii). A prime limitation on the use of technical jargon thus forces one to refrain wherever one can from ‘bringing about unclear feelings and causing shadows instead of light’. In Pallavicino’s opinion, to correct this not uncommon inconvenience in the writing of the scholastics, it is necessary, first and foremost, to interpret the technical word according to current custom. This makes it possible to evaluate its actual utility and necessity with respect to the common language, to avoid—and here we have come to the second, though not final, limitation—‘making use of these terms merely for the exhibition of learning’. The purpose of language is to transmit knowledge from man to man in a straightforward manner, and the measure of its superior nobility and power is perfect communication. The most painful betrayal for anyone who professes a discipline will be the use of the gift of language for the sterile ends of self-celebration, and thus obfuscate rather than illuminate the truth that is the right of every man. Above all, anyone who sets off on the path of knowledge should have the ability to learn, obligating the learned man to argue in a manner that is scientifically correct, but also candid and sincere:

Now and then certain Thrasons of philosophy articulate concepts known by everybody as if they were doctrines nearly beyond belief, having nothing exceptional about them other than what they would have in the mouth of an idiotic man if not possibly the most obscure expression. Oh, what a miserable deception this is—one by which studious youth is betrayed! It uses gold, time, the labour to be mastered by philosophers to illuminate the intellect, and often it obtains nothing else than obscuring the language.76

Having rejected every form of coarse and inelegant subtlety or hollow abstruseness, Pallavicino comes to fix the point of equilibrium between wisdom and its verbalisation with the assistance of ‘a reminder’ headed in a direction—already identified at the beginning—of respectful collaboration between logic and rhetoric. Spending too much of our brief life ‘on the study of words’ is undoubtedly a waste inasmuch as a substantial number of them have no other function than communicating ideas and concepts already obvious in themselves. Thus in scholarly writings the very ‘rules’ proposed in the Trattato are to be applied ‘with a careful study that does not encroach on the space necessary to reason’. Nevertheless, ‘to give all thought to things, [having] neglected all concern for style as if it were worthy only of a child or pedant’, concludes Pallavicino, ‘is a way of forgetting that the tables of guests do not differ from those of noble innkeepers in the quantity of their victuals, but solely in their seasoning’.77

The illusory construct of words must never replace the precise mechanisms that regulate ‘the discovery of truth’, but the sole gifts of nature do not give nuda veritas the right to raise its voice over the hubbub with which human existence consumes itself in every age.


This essay is the English translation, with a slightly modified title and considerable cuts to the text and notes, of “Linguistica barberiniana. Lingue e linguaggi nel Trattato dello stile e del dialogo di Sforza Pallavicino”, Studi Secenteschi 35 (1994) 57–104. Translated by Irina Oryshkevich and Maarten Delbeke.


Pallavicino Sforza, Del bene libri quattro (Rome, Appresso gli Eredi di Francesco Corbelletti: 1644) 565, 567: ‘la sapienza è venerabile a tutti’; ‘perché l’esser ella posseduta da uno non impedisce, anzi agevola, il possederla anche agli altri’; ‘della favella, per cui mezzo comunichiamo altrui la scienza senza scemarla in noi’.


Del bene 338, and the preamble to the unpaginated preface, Á lettori: ‘sottigliezza di dottrina e gentilezza di stile’; ‘intorno allo stile da usarsi nelle materie scientifiche’.


Pallavicino Sforza, Considerazioni sopra l’arte dello stile e del dialogo con occasione di esaminare questo problema: se alle materie scientifiche convenga qualche eleganza ed ornamento di stile, e quale (Rome, Per gli Eredi del Corbellettí: 1646); Arte dello stile, ove nel cercarsi l’idea dello scrivere insegnativo discorresi partitamente de’ vari pregi dello stile sì latino come italiano (Bologna, Per Giacomo Monti: 1647); Trattato dello stile e del dialogo, ove nel cercarsi l’idea dello scrivere insegnativo discorresi partitamente de’ vari pregi dello stile sì latino come italiano, e della natura dell’imitazione e dell’utilità del dialogo […] ed in questa terza divolgazione emendato ed accresciuto (Rome, Nella Stamperia del Mascardi: 1662). All citations, except when indicated, are drawn from the definitive edition of 1662.


In Trattato, Pallavicino’s statements appear in the unpaginated preface: ‘L’autore a chi legge’: ‘l’opera in due discorsi: l’un dello stile e l’altro del dialogo’; ‘il primo di questi discorsi per varie aggiunte crebbe poi tanto, che ’l secondo postogli a coppia sarebbe sembrato uno sparuto pigmeo. Quindi elessi per lo migliore il formar d’ambedue un intero libro non con altra distinzione che di capitoli’.


Trattato 20–21: ‘se a’ trattati scienziali convengano gli ornamenti dell’eloquenza’; ‘se in lor si richiegga il candore dell’eleganza’; ‘se dobbiamo e valerci di que’ termini barbari che da’ primi scolastici furo introdotti, e, con l’esempio loro, introdurne ancora de’ nuovi quando n’aggrada’.


Croce’s comments are in “I trattatisti italiani del ‘concettismo’ e Baltasar Gracián”, in Atti e memorie dell’Accademia Pontaniana (Naples: 1899) 1–32 (later brought together in Problemi di estetica [Bari: 1923] 311–348); Estetica (Bari: 1941) 211–212 and 220–221; Storia dell’età barocca in Italia (Bari: 1929) 183–188. Those influenced by Croce’s own direction include Volpe L., Le idee estetiche del cardinale Sforza Pallavicino (Castelvetrano: 1930) and Marrocco C., Un precursore dell’estetica moderna: il card. Sforza Pallavicino (Palermo: 1930). Fundamental in more recent times is the essay by Croce F., “La critica dei barocchi moderati [1955–1956]”, in his Tre momenti del barocco letterario italiano (Florence: 1966) 161–220 (on Pallavicino); see also Croce F., “Le poetiche del Barocco in Italia”, in Momenti e problemi di storia dell’estetica, vol. 1 (Milan: 1959) 555–562, as well as the pages dedicated to Pallavicino in Cecchi E. – Sapegno N. (eds.), Storia della letteratura italiana, vol. 5 (Milan: 1967) 494–500. Likewise useful is Costanzo M., “Note sulla poetica del Pallavicino”, in his collection of essays, Critica e poesia del primo Seicento, vol. 2 (Rome: 1970) 129–167. Brief but relevant observations are in Barilli R., Poetica e retorica (Milan: 1969) 168–175; Conte G., La metafora barocca. Saggio sulle poetiche del Seicento (Milan: 1972) 123–126; and above all in Battistini A. and Raimondi E., “Retoriche e poetiche dominanti”, in Letteratura italiana, vol. 3, 1 (Turin: 1984) 117–119. A balanced profile of Pallavicino is presented by Carmine Jannaco and Martino Capucci in “Il Seicento”, in Storia letteraria d’Italia Vallardi (Padua: 1986) 69–72. In terms of anthologies of Pallavicino’s writings, aside from Pallavicino Sforza, Pensieri e profili, ed. M. Ziino (Naples: 1927), see the exceptional selection of excerpts drawn from Del bene and the Trattato dello stile e del dialogo in Raimondi E. (ed.), Trattatisti e narratori del Seicento (Milan: 1960) 193–262, and Pallavicino Sforza, Storia del Concilio di Trento ed altri scritti, ed. M. Scotti (Turin: 1962). A more comprehensive reconstruction of the Trattato was already anticipated by Trabalza C., La critica letteraria nel Rinascimento (Milan: 1915) 307–313.


A tentative rereading of these sections of the Trattato can be found in Bellini E., “Scrittura letteraria e scrittura filosofica in Sforza Pallavicino”, in Scarpati C. – Bellini E., Il vero e il falso dei poeti. Tasso, Tesauro, Pallavicino, Muratori (Milan: 1990) 73–189, esp. 95–164.


Trattato 6 and 1–2: ‘tutti rivolti allo studio del ben intendere, trascurano, quasi fanciullesco esercizio, le discipline del ben parlare’.


Ibid. 36–37, 39: ‘Poiché il dire che la verità è tanto bella per sé medesima, che ogni estraneo liscio le imbratta e non le adorna le guance, che alla sua onestà disdicono tutti i belletti e mille simiglianti dettati, è un voler appunto imbellettar con metafore la bugia perché apparisca verità a gl’ingegni di poca vista. Se gli uomini potessero come gli angeli manifestarsi immediatamente i loro concetti soverchie sarebbono le parole. Ma già che a fine di palesarcegli scambievolmente ci è necessario il dipingerli con qualche sensibil colore, perché sceglier a ciò più tosto la negrezza sordida d’un carbone che le tinte più graziose d’oltremare? Già che fa mestieri di qualche vaso per trasportar questo liquore da una mente nell’altra, qual convenienza richiede che ’l sugo più salutifero, cioè gl’insegnamenti della sapienza, sia dato a bere in una ciotola sucida e puzzolente, che muova nausea, e non più tosto in tazza d’oro tutta odorosa che inviti ad accostarvi le labra?’ It was thus that Pallavicino vernacularised some excerpts from Tusculanae disputationes I.iii: 6, in the Trattato (35–36): ‘Può ben avvenire che taluno intenda saggiamente e poi non sappia con pulitezza esprimere ciò ch’intende; ma il consegnare alla scrittura i propri concetti senza saperli o disporre o illustrare, o con qualche giocondità allettar chi legge, è un intemperatamente abusarsi e dell’ozio e della scrittura. E perciò—segue egli [Cicerone] con senso pur troppo adattato all’età presente—leggono questi i libri loro solamente co i loro, né alcuno gli apre, se non chi vuol che gli sia permessa la licenza di scriver allo stesso modo’ (It could well happen that someone thinks soundly and then does not know how to express what he has heard with polish; but entrusting one’s own ideas to writing without understanding how to organise and to entice the reader with some sort of delight is an intemperate abuse of both leisure and writing. And for this reason—he [Cicero] continues with a message all too adapted to the present age—these [people] read their books solely among themselves, and no one opens them unless he wants to be granted permission to write in the same manner’).


On the polemic that pitched Giovanni Pico della Mirandola against Ermolao Barbaro in the late fifteenth century, one need only return to the documentation and observations in Garin E. (ed.), Prosatori latini del Quattrocento (Milan – Naples: 1952) 805–823 and 845–863; see also Garin E., L’umanesimo italiano (Bari: 1973) 119–123. Useful sources—also from a comparative perspective—on literary reflections in France in the second half of the seventeenth century include Bray R., La formation de la doctrine classique en France (Paris: 1951); Pizzorusso A., Teorie letterarie in Francia. Ricerche sei-settecentesche (Pisa: 1968); Tocanne B., L’idée de la nature en France dans la seconde moitié du XVIIe siècle. Contribution à l’histoire de la pensée classique (Paris: 1978); Brody J., “Constantes et modèles de la critique anti-‘maniériste’ à l’âge ‘classique’”, Rivista di letterature moderne e comparate 40 (1987) 95–121.


Descartes René, Discours de la méthode, in Oeuvres et lettres, ed. A. Bridoux, Bibliothèque de la Pleiade 40 (Paris: 1958) 129–130: ‘ceux qui ont le raisonnement le plus fort, et qui digèrent le mieux leurs pensées, afin de les rendre claires et intelligibles, peuvent toujours le mieux persuader ce qu’ils proposent, encore qu’ils ne parlassent que bas-breton, et qu’ils n’eussent jamais appris de rhétorique’. Still useful on the circulation of Descartes’ ideas in Italy is Maugain G., Étude sur l’évolution intellectuelle de l’Italie de 1657 à 1750 environ (Paris: 1909) and Berthé de Besaucèle L., Les cartésiens d’Italie. Recherches sur l’influence de la philosophie de Descartes dans l’évolution de la pensée italienne aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: 1920). Knowledge of Descartes’ Discours among Jesuit scholars in Italy prior to 1642 is documented in Costantini C., Baliani e i Gesuiti. Annotazioni in margine alla corrispondenza del Baliani con Gio. Luigi Confalonieri e Orazio Grassi (Florence: 1969) esp. 119–133.


Trattato 46–47: ‘che in somma il ben filosofare è pregio assai più sublime che ’l ben parlare; e che i libri d’Aristotile, quando ben fossero scritti nella più grossa lingua di Valtellina, dovrebbono esser preferiti’. The polemical reference most likely alludes to certain claims attributed to Pietro Pomponazzi in Sperone Speroni’s “Dialogo delle lingue”, in which Peretto seems to decisively take the side of the primacy of naked philosophical truth, while deeming as irrelevant the linguistic and stylistic modes in which it is transmitted (Speroni Sperone, “Dialogo delle lingue”, in Trattatisti del Cinquecento, ed. M. Pozzi, vol. 1 (Milan – Naples: 1978) esp. 620–631).


An excursus on the relationship between the ‘two cultures’ in the sixteenth century in Franco-Italian circles can be found in Preti G., “La polemica antiumanistica del Seicento”, in his Retorica e logica. Le due culture (Turin: 1968) 61–144.


Trattato 10–11. Here Pallavicino seems to echo Aristotle’s judgement of style, which appears in De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia: ‘Equidem fateor me stilo viri illius, qualis est nobis, non admodum delectari, quamvis cum in sermone proprio et dulcem et copiosum et ornatum fuisse, Grecis testibus et Tullio auctore [De orationes III: 35, 141], didicerim, antequam ignorantie sententia condemnarer. Sed interpretum ruditate vel invidia ad nos durus scaberque pervenuta ut nec ad plenurn mulcere aures possit, nec herere memorie’, Petrarch Francesco, Prose, ed. G. Martellotti et al. (Milan – Naples: 1955) 742–744. The ‘Galilean’ Giovanni Ciampoli is somewhat less tolerant of ‘la scortesia della locuzione aristotelica’ (‘the rudeness of Aristotelian locution’), which can be censured for ‘una brevità maligna, che, vendendo caligine per luce, porge campo a i commenti e nutrisce perpetuità alle controversie. Quando anco ti vuol beneficare con una verità, te la fa stentare con molti enigmi’ (‘a malign brevity, which vending fog as light, hands the field to comments and feeds perpetual controversies. Even when it desires to bless you with a truth, it complicates it for you with many enigmas’), Dei fragmenti dell’opere postume di Monsig. Gio. Ciampoli. Saggio primo (Bologna, Presso Gio. Battista Ferroni: 1653) 67–68.


Trattato 12–13: ‘Ma quando, dopo l’infelice ignoranza di molti secoli, cominciarono per opera di Carlo Magno e d’altri generosi principi a ripullular le scienze, accadde loro d’aver questi nuovi natali in tempo che non potevano esser accolte nelle braccia d’altra ricoglitrice che della favella più barbara e più disadorna. L’Italia, unico albergo della litteratura nell’Occidente, era stata inondata da popoli stolidamente feroci che le avevano estirpati non pure i lauri di fronte, ma eziandio, per dir così, la lingua di bocca. L’inclito idioma latino, dopo un’ignobile decrepitezza, avea finito di vivere nelle bocche, né dalla confusione d’urli sì vari, che per sue voci adoperava, quel mescuglio di tante nazioni bestiali s’era potuto formare alcun altro regolato linguaggio. E dalle scritture, insieme coll’eleganza, vedeasi finalmente ancor dileguato un certo color di figure ed una certa misura di periodi che s’era pur conservata per qualche tempo nelle composizioni erudite dei Santi Padri. Onde appena rimaneva tanta notizia di parlar o di scrivere, quanta era assolutamente necessaria per l’umana conversazione’. Tesauro’s assessment of the decisive contribution by “barbarians” to Latin’s transition into the vernacular is no different: ‘Questa fu adunque la rancida e cadente vecchiezza della lingua latina, laqual’essendosi andata per alquanti secoli trascinando qua là, dove le vittorie de’ Cesari la chiamavano, e principalmente nella Gallia Cisalpina, dove la seggia dell’Imperio fu transportata, finalmente, tra per la commestion de’ Galli, da’ quali apprese le fogge del parlare e del vestire, e per l’inondamento de’ Goti e Vandali e Longobardi, tra’ ferri e tra le fiamme con l’Imperio medesimo si morì’ (‘This therefore was the rancid and rickety old age of the Latin language, which, having for several centuries dragged itself here and there, wherever the victories of the emperors called it, and principally in cisalpine Gaul, where the seat of the emperor was moved, finally, through the commingling of the Gauls, from whom manners of speech and dress were learned, and through the inundation of Goths and Vandals and Lombards, died amid iron and flames along with the Empire itself’), Tesauro Emanuele, Il cannocchiale aristotelico (Turin, Per Bartolomeo Zavatta: 1670) 239 (the passage is the same as in the Cannocchiale edition published by Sinibaldo in 1654, 305). On the problem, see Marazzini C., “Le origini barbare nella tradizione linguistica italiana”, Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 104 (1987) 396–423 (later compiled by the author in Storia e coscienza della lingua italiana dall’Umanesimo al Romanticismo [Turin: 1989]).


Trattato 13–17: ‘que’ primi ristoratori della sapienza, contenti delle cose, trascurarono le parole’; ‘sì che pian piano venne a formarsi un particolar idioma di questa nazione scolastica, per così nominarla, composto in parte di nuovi termini, in parte delle parole antiche, ma rimossane ogni eleganza e, per poco, ogni rispetto delle leggi grammaticali’.


Ibid. 19–20: ‘Quanto poi s’aspetta alla purità della lingua, o presupponiamo (argomenta egli) che i vocaboli significhino determinate cose di lor natura, o per convenzione degli uomini. Ove ciò abbiamo per natura, doversi creder che la natura loro sia stata meglio spiata, che da’ retori e da’ gramatici, da’ filosofi, di cui è proprio il conoscere le nature degli oggetti. Ove ciò avvenga per convenzione degli uomini, sicome è stato lecito a tante altre comunità statuirsi un idioma particolare, così non esser ciò stato disdetto alla comunità de’ filosofi. E come la medesima verità non perde il suo pregio per esser espressa nella lingua egizia o caldea, più tosto che nella latina, così non dee perderlo per esser espressa nella lingua filosofica, lingua non formata da un volgo idiota come tutte l’altre ne’ lor natali, ma da una moltitudine ch’era il fiore degli umani intelletti, sì per acume, sì per dottrina’. The arguments of Pico that Pallavicino summarised in the Trattato can be found in Garin, Prosatori latini del Quattrocento 818.


Trattato 189–190: ‘come appunto nel culto della persona e delle abitazioni distinguesi la pulitezza dalla splendidezza e dal lusso’; ‘il candore dell’eleganza’; ‘è come quello della via lattea, cioè composto di molte minute luci, ciascune delle quali è poco visibile agli occhi non perspicaci del volgo’.


Trattato 193.


Ibid. 188–189: ‘eleganza, per comun parere, è ristretta o al dialetto sol de’ toscani, o, per opinion di molti, anche a quello della corte romana, come volle il Calmeta’. On Calmeta’s position on language, see Mengaldo P.V., “Appunti su Vincenzo Calmeta e la teoria cortigiana”, La rassegna della letteratura italiana 64 (1960) 446–469; Mazzacurati G., La teoria cortigiana come dottrina critica in Baldassar Castiglione, in his collection Misure del classicismo rinascimentale, 2nd. ed. (Naples: 1990) 62–110; Campana A., Dal Calmeta al Colocci, in Tra latino e volgare. Per Carlo Dionisotti, vol. 1 (Padua: 1974) 267–315 (esp. 302–310).


Trattato 191–193. Manzoni’s references appear in chapters 22 and 7, respectively, of Promessi sposi.


The footnote is in Tassoni Alessandro, La secchia rapita, L’oceano e le rime, ed. G. Rossi (Bari: 1930) 235: ‘Usò questa voce il poeta, e molt’altre della corte di Roma, sì per la licenza che concede Aristotile ai poeti epici d’usar varie lingue, ma molto più perché egli ebbe opinione che la favella della corte romana fosse così buona come la fiorentina e meglio intesa per tutto’. On the controversial relations between Tassoni and the Crusca, see Masini A., “Le postille tassoniane alla prima Crusca”, Lingua nostra 45 (1984) 97–106; Puliatti P., “Il pensiero linguistico del Tassoni e la Crusca”, Studi Secenteschi 26 (1985) 3–23; Diffley P.B., “Tassoni’s Linguistic Writings”, Studi Secenteschi 33 (1992) 67–89. On the debate caused by the first but also subsequent editions of the Vocabolario della Crusca, see the valuable reconstruction by Vitale M., La questione della lingua (Palermo: 1978) 155–212. Specific studies by the last of these authors on the most important printings of the Vocabolario are compiled in Vitale M., L’oro nella lingua. Contributi per una storia del tradizionalismo e del purismo italiano (Milan – Naples: 1986).


Trattato 31: ‘dipendendo i linguaggi dall’arbitrio degli uomini, tanto nell’introdursi, quanto nell’alterarsi’; ‘legislatori, come alcun pensa’; ‘compilatori di quelle leggi che per avanti la signoria dell’uso ha prescritte’. On the arguments relative to chapter 21, see Trattato 194–197.


De civitate Dei XIX VII, cited in Trattato 196: ‘Linguarum diversitas hominem alienat ab homine: nam si duo sibimet fiant obviam, neque praeterire, sed simul esse aliqua necessitate cogantur, quorum neuter norit linguam alterius, facilius sibi animalia muta, etiam si diversi generis, quam illi, cum sint homines ambo, sociantur. Quando enim quae sentiunt, inter se communicare non possunt propter solam linguarum diversitatem, nihil prodest ad consociandos homines tanta similitudo naturae, ita ut libentius homo sit cum cane suo, quam cum homine alieno’. Translation from Augustine, City of God, trans. W.C. Greene, vol. 6: Books 18.36–20, Loeb Classical Library 416 (Cambridge, MA: 1960), However, modern editions of Augustine’s work offer a variant of the text used by Pallavicino, as in Aurelii Augustini Opera, pars XIV-2, Corpus Christianorum series latina XLVIII (Turnhout: 1955) 671: ‘In quo primum linguarum diversitas hominem alienat ab homine. Nam si duo sibimet invicem fiant obviam neque praeterire, sed simul esse aliqua necessitate cogantur, quorum neuter linguam novit alterius: facilius sibi muta animalia, etiam diversi generis, quam illi, cum sint homines ambo, sociantur. Quando enim quae sentiunt inter se communicare non possunt, propter solam diversitatem linguae nihil prodest ad consociandos homines tanta similitudo naturae, ita ut libentius homo sit cum cane suo quam cum homine alieno’.


Pallavicino, Del bene 376–378: ‘Ingombra per l’ordinario una stolidità sì ottusa l’anime de’ bruti, che in quella notte cimmeria ogni favilla di conoscenza viene a spiccar come un sole. Prendiamo i più rozzi de’ Patagoni, o degli Islandi; prendiamo dall’altra parte le più astute scimmie e i più scaltri elefanti, e consideriamo se v’ha paragone d’ingegno fra l’opere di questi e di quelli. Qual nazione di bestie seppe già mai col suono formato da’ vari movimenti della sua bocca dipinger altrui chiaramente tutti i pensieri e tutti gli oggetti che può creare il braccio di Dio, o finger l’audacia dell’immaginazione, servendosi poi di questa espression vicendevole degl’interni pensieri per collegarsi con gli altri individui della sua specie, e, per mezzo d’una tal confederazione, minacciar con le fabriche quasi assalto alle stelle, saccheggiar i tesori della natura sepolti nel centro, atterrar le torri, e l’isole vive degli elefanti e delle balene, e così render cattivi sotto alla sua padronanza avversari superiori cento e mille volte a sé di statura e di forza? E pure ogni più inetta barbarie d’uomini può vantarsi di queste prove’.


Trattato 197: ‘E perché i linguaggi non si cambiano tutti insieme in un punto, ma si logorano piampiano, insensibilmente, come le vesti e le pietre, conviene al ben publico che i cittadini guardinsi da ogni picciola alterazione, peroché queste, multiplicandosi a poco a poco, finalmente corrompono affatto il parlare antico’. On the evolution of the concept of linguistic mutation (corruptio, alteratio, generatio), see Faithfull R.G., “The Concept of ‘Living Language’ in Cinquecento Vernacular Philology”, Modern Language Review 48 (1953) 278–292, and idem, “Teorie filologiche nell’Italia del primo Seicento con particolare riferimento alla filologia volgare”, Studi di filologia italiana 20 (1962) 147–313, esp. 211–212 and 238–255, which should be combined with the subsequent caveats voiced by Tavoni M., Latino, grammatica, volgare. Storia di una questione umanistica (Padova: 1984) 165–169, and idem, “Sulla difesa del latino nel Cinquecento”, in Morrogh A. (ed.), Renaissance Studies in Honour of Craig Hugh Smyth, vol. 1 (Florence: 1985) 493–505. Also extremely useful is idem, “La linguistica rinascimentale: L’Europa occidentale”, in Lepschy G.C. (ed.), Storia della linguistica, vol. 2 (Bologna: 1990) 169–245, esp. 219–233.


Trattato 197–198.


Pallavicino cites the Horatian analogy in part in Trattato 198–199: ‘Ego cur, acquirere pauca / si possum, invideor, cum lingua Catonis et Enni / sermonem patrium ditaverit et nova rerum / nomina protulerit? Licuit semperque licebit / signatum praesente nota producere nomen. / Ut silvae foliis pronos mutantur in annos, / prima cadunt: ita verborum vetus interit aetas, / et iuvenum ritu florent modo nata vigentque’.


Trattato 200.


Trattato 201–202. The origins and development of the polemic, along with essential bibliographical entries are clearly delineated in Vitale, La questione della lingua 92–94, 139–140.


See Trattato 202–204: ‘È meglio il circoscrivere quella cosa con le vecchie voci latine già fatte paesane di tutto il mondo, che il significarla brevemente con un vocabolo nuovo, non conosciuto di volto se non in quella provincia dov’egli è nato’; ‘quella mostra che farebbono i monaci col turbante’; ‘come in cose le quali appresso tutte l’altre regioni non hanno il più manifesto nome che quello della lor patria’.


Tasso, Gerusalemme Liberata, XIII, 10 v. 3: ‘E so con lingua / anch’io di sangue lorda’.


Georgics II, 461–462. Translation from Davidson J., The Works of Virgil: Translated Into English Prose, vol. 1, 2 (London, Joseph Davidson: 1770) 110.


Trattato 206–210: ‘uno de’ principali diletti che partorisce l’eleganza è ch’essendo ella composta di parole e di frasi non impolverate nella conversazione del volgo, ci compare con un certo lustro di pulitezza, tirando subito la nostra immaginazione a quel genere di personaggi e d’argomenti co’ quali le abbiamo sempremai trovate congiunte’.


Ibid. 211–212: ‘una moltitudine di minute figure, e principalmente di metaforette prese da materia sensibile, le quali ci muovon più viva e più distinta conoscenza dell’oggetto significato che s’egli col suo nome proprio ci fosse proposto. Imperoché il nome proprio o non cel rappresenterebbe con veruna sensibile immagine, o non ci rammenterebbe la somiglianza ch’egli ha in qualche sua proprietà con altra cosa da sé distinta, dove amendue questi benefizi riceve la nostra immaginazione da’ predetti vocaboli metaforici’.


Pallavicino clearly adheres to the theories Aristotle develops in the opening of De interpretatione, as is apparent in Pallavicino Sforza, Arte della perfezion cristiana del card. Sforza Pallavicino. Divisa in tre libri (Rome, ad instanza di Iacomo Antonio Celsi, libraro appresso al Collegio Romano/Angelo Bernabò: 1665) 254: ‘Si dee avvertire che ci ha due maniere di segni: altri naturali altri per patto, o tacito, o espresso degli uomini. I segni naturali sono gli stessi per tutto, sempre e in ciascuno. Tal segno è l’impallidire della temenza, l’arrossire della vergogna, il piangere della mestizia. I segni patteggiati si variano secondo i tempi, i luoghi e le genti. E quindi Aristotile prova che le parole significano questo o quello, determinatamente de’ nostri interiori concetti, non per natura, ma per patto; diversificandosi la significazione di esse a diversità di paesi e di secoli’ (‘It is necessary to note that there are two types of signs: some are natural, others exist by negotiation, or implication, or the declaration of men. Natural signs are the same everywhere, always and to everyone. Such a sign [for example] is to grow pale with dread, to blush with shame, to cry with sadness. Negotiated signs vary according to time, place, and people. So, therefore, Aristotle proves that words signify this or that, the determining factor being our internal concepts, not nature, but negotiation; the meaning of these changes in different countries and centuries’). Likewise, in the unfinished Trattato sulla Provvidenza, Pallavicino notes how through ‘la lingua e la bocca’ (‘the tongue and mouth’) it is possible ‘a grandissimo agio articolare innumerabili voci, a cui poscia, imponendo gli uomini arbitrarie e particolari significazioni, vagliono a manifestarsi scambievolmente i loro concetti’ (‘to articulate innumerable words very easily, with which thereafter men imposing arbitrary and particular meaning [on them] are able to manifest their ideas to each other’), in Opere edite ed inedite, ed. O. Gigli, vol. 1 (Rome: 1844) 83.


See, in particular, chapter 7, 79–93: ‘Delle comparazioni o similitudini, sì delle tacite e delle ristrette, come dell’espresse e delle spiegate: doppia loro utilità, e quando vagliano a provare o a rispondere’.


Trattato 212–215: ‘Anzi le più delle voci significatrici d’oggetti che non cadono sotto il senso, rimirate attentamente, si troveranno esser o in sé, o per derivazione, metafore prese da cose sensibili, e massimamente dal moto locale, ch’è oggetto comune di molti sensi, anzi del senso comune, come perire, interire, occidere, potere, appetere, intelligere, cogere, cogitare, contendere, flectere, aversari, aggredi, exultare, componere, producere, corripere, promittere, reprehendere ed altre sopra ogni numero. Il che ciascuno per se stesso potrà vedere pigliando i moltissimi verbi semplici che importano movimento, quali sono eo, ago, tendo, peto, do, statuo, fluo, verso, fundo, cedo, caedo, prebendo, vado, mitto, pono, lego, gradior, duco, sero, spargo, rapio, salio, con altri assai e co’ loro frequentativi, ed osservandone i vari composti con tutte le preposizioni, e notando poi di ciascun composto il presente e comune significato. E ciò avviene in tutti i linguaggi’.


Trattato 216–218: ‘non solo i vocaboli semplici, ma le composte frasi eziandio non significano se non quello che gli uomini per costume intendono d’esplicare col mezzo loro’.


Pallavicino Sforza, Istoria del Concilio di Trento, ove insieme rifiutasi con autorevoli testimonianze un’Istoria falsa divolgata nello stesso argomento sotto nome di Pietro Soave Polano. Nuovamente ritoccata dall’Autore, 3 vols. (Rome, Per Biagio Diversin e Felice Cesaretti/Angelo Bernabò: 1664) (the editio princeps, likewise published in Rome, came out in 1656–1657): ‘di slontanarsi, più che non fece nel primo suo lavorìo, da quella foggia di lingua che s’usa con lode nelle lettere de’ segretari e nelle dicerie de’ publici favellatori. Tali componimenti, sì come quelli che o imitano il dir familiare, o intendono a guadagnare l’assenso degli ascoltanti, richieggono forme insieme espressive e consuete all’orecchie e alle bocche della moltitudine, la quale ha certe sue metafore e altre figure nervose e compendiose, ma d’ordine volgare, senza ch’elle abbiano impetrato luogo, se non di rado e quasi di furto, nelle scritture patrizie’. For the cited passage, see Lettera a chi legge appartenente alla seconda publicazione, n.p.


From two epistolary documents in Lettere del cardinale Sforza Pallavicino, edizione corretta e accresciuta sopra i mss. Casanatensi. Opere edite ed inedite del cardinale Sforza Pallavicino, ed. O. Gigli, vol. 20 (Rome: 1848) 163–165 and 168–170: ‘Il pulirli si può far da lei con levare alcune metafore espressive, ma consuete, e perciò popolari, che danno nervo all’orazione, ma nervo più da villano che da cavaliere, nel che ho posta una cura inesplicabile in questa seconda stampa della mia istoria’; ‘Le metafore son di tre sorti: alcune diconsi di necessità, le quali son quelle che s’introdussero in difetto del nome proprio, chiamando, per esempio, le scafe così per la similitudine che hanno con la figura delle barchette denominate scafe in latino; e queste metafore già non son più metafore, perché vagliono di nome proprio. Altre sono metafore di consuetudine, e per esse il sapor d’una lingua si distingue da quel dell’altra. Così dicesi puramente in toscano far testa per resistere; chi usasse in latino questa metafora commetterebbe italianismo e, per converso, in latino dicesi demandare hanc provinciam per commettere una cura, il che fra noi sarebbe latinismo. Or queste metafore di consuetudine son di due sorti: alcune usitate solo dal popolo, altre dagli scrittori forbiti e nobili; amendue le sorti conferiscono alla purità, ma non così all’eleganza e al lustro della favella: delle prime io ho assai mondata la mia istoria. Alcune finalmente son dette metafore d’arte, cioè trovate da ciascuno speciale autore secondo gl’insegnamenti retorici, e queste sono comuni a tutti i linguaggi e danno la precipua lode al dettato, onde io m’avviso che tali siano quelle delle quali V.[ostral] R.[everenza] per sua bontà mi commenda’.


Trattato 219–220: ‘che a noi rimanga per ornar le scritture latine con qualche eleganza non ricopiata servilmente dagli autori che vissero in vita di quella lingua’; ‘osì là dove i Latini per esprimere fíguratamente il nulla formarono la voce nihilum, che secondo l’originaria sua proprietà valeva ad escludere infin ad una scorza di fava, come la minor cosa del mondo, i Lombardi fabricarono il loro negotta ch’esclude ancora una goccia, e i Toscani, considerando che ’1 punto è un indivisibile, il qual perciò men d’ogni ente si discosta dal niente, per negare in tutto istituirono questa frase: non è punto tale; ma i Francesi, veggendo che nel nostro camino un passo è la minima cosa, dove il toscano direbbe: Io non son punto allegro, soglion dire: Io non son passo allegro’.


Pallavicino, Del bene 89: ‘rendendo tuttavia le loro parole a peso, non a numero, ed esprimendo i loro concetti non già colle forme da loro usate in quell’idioma, ma con quelle ond’è verisimile ch’essi gli arebbon vestiti verseggiando nel nostro’.


Rome, BC, ms. 4983, containing Lettere del cardinal Pallavicino alle quali per più rispetti non s’è data la luce della stampa; the letter, which is undated, but follows on another of 28 March 1664 that is likewise related to the project of translating the History by Elizalde, appears on fols. 70v–72v: ‘Due essere i generi de’ concetti nelle scritture: alcuni son tali a cui l’autore si determina prima di pensare alle voci corrispondenti per ispiegarli, altri dependon dall’attitudine delle parole ch’egli trova nel suo linguaggio, alla quale si va conformando per elegger più questi che quelli, secondo che vede aver più acconce vesti per far comparire gli uni che gli altri. I primi sono il fondamento dell’opera e il traslatore dee fedelmente rappresentarli nel novello idioma. I secondi appartengono ad ornamento, e son suggetto d’epicheia, onde chi traduce ha da ritenerli, da tralasciarli o da mutarli, come intende che arebbe fatto l’autore se gli fosse convenuto scrivere in tal favella’. On Miguel de Elizalde (1616–1678), professor of theology at Valladolid, Salamanca, and Rome, as well as rector of the Jesuit College in Naples, see Sommervogel C. – De Backer A., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, vol. 3 (Louvain: 1892, repr. 1960), ad vocem, and Sven Knebel’s essay in this volume. The catalogue of Elizalde’s works does not list any Spanish translation of the Istoria del Concilio di Trento.


Continuing from the letter in Rome, BC, ms. 4983, fols. 70v–72v: ‘Ciò quanto a’ concetti. Quanto alle forme d’esplicarli, convien guardarsi da quelle che son proprie della favella dalla qual si traduce e pellegrine in quella casa dov’entra il figliuolo per adottivo. E per ischifar quest’errore è da osservare che nelle lingue sono i vocaboli propri, i metaforici di consuetudine e i metaforici d’arte; come anche le figure di consuetudine e le figure d’arte. Ne’ propri, ne’ metaforici d’arte e nelle figure d’arte non è gran rischio di fallire, peroché ognun sa che i vocaboli propri non possono usarsi salvo nella propria lor lingua; e, per contrario, le metafore, o le figure d’arte, dependendo dagl’insegnamenti della rettorica, fondati in discorso naturale, son però comuni a tutte le lingue. Ma oltre a ciò, qualunque idioma ha innumerabili sue metafore e figure di consuetudine adoperate eziandio dal popolo per mera usanza e senza veruno artificiale ammaestramento. Or queste, se dal traslatore fossero portate nell’altro linguaggio, come frequentemente interviene, cagionerebbono spesso freddezza, spesso oscurità, sempre barberismo. Vero è che tali metafore e figure di consuetudine che sieno particolari della lingua italiana, e non discendenti dalla latina, sono rimaste in uso rarissimo nella mia Istoria nuovamente riformata, per le ragioni che ne assegno nell’epistola a’ lettori’.


Trattato 115 and 221: ‘osservazione meravigliosa raccolta in un detto breve’; ‘rende il concetto piu acuto e più penetrante, come altresì fa la sottigliezza della punta nelle saette’.


On the comments by Vossius, see Gerardi Ioannis Vossii De arte grammatica libri septem (Amsterdam, Apud Guilielmum Blaeu: 1635) (the Index libri septimi de re grammatica, qui est “De structura” points out the multiple possibilities of ellipses listed and discussed by Vossius on the basis of literary examples).


Trattato 221–222: ‘il dottissimo (così potessi io aggiugnere ancora religiosissimo) Gerardo Vossio, che non ha stimato inferiore all’eminenza della sua celebre litteratura, palesata in altre opere, inchinar la canizie alla dichiarazione delle minutezze grammatica’; ‘a molte parole generiche, ciascuna delle quali è comune ad altre cose, ma tutte insieme non convengono se non all’oggetto ch’essi intendono di significare’.


Trattato 222–224: ‘si valeva spesso del solo nome generico per significar la spezie, o del nome d’una spezie per significar l’altra’; ‘l’uso, supremo signor de’ linguaggi’; ‘e nella Spagna Medina e Guadalchivir, che in arabico tanto montano quanto città e gran fiume, ora significano una città e un fiume particolare’. ‘The excellent use of languages’ is a rather explicit echo of Ars poetica vv. 70–72: ‘Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque / quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet usus, / quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi’. (Horace’s line is also specifically cited in Trattato 251).


Trattato 225: ‘per le quali molto viene a determinarsi il significato de’ verbi principali a cui sono innestate. Sì dunque ha più eleganza, perché ha più significazione, il dire prospicere d’un oggetto lontano, suspicere d’un oggetto che ci sta sopra, respicere d’un oggetto altre volte veduto, o che ci sta dietro, che dir generalmente videre con aggiunta d’altre voci, le quali tutte insieme formino quella significazione determinata. In somma, come nelle monete, così nelle frasi, egual valore in minor mole dimostra maggior nobiltà di materia’. On the multiple points of correspondence between ‘word’ and ‘coin’, see the useful study by Weinrich H., “Moneta e parola. Ricerche su di un campo metaforico”, in his volume, Metafora e menzogna: la serenità dell’arte (Bologna: 1976) 31–48. The synthetic definition of ‘functional hedonism’ used by Ghilli G., “Strutture ritmico-sintattiche nella prosa del Pallavicino”, Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 83 (1966) 518–556, at 526, is conceptually based on the conclusions of Raimondi E., “Polemica intorno a1la prosa barocca”, in his Letteratura barocca. Studi sul Seicento italiano (Florence: 1961) 238–243.


Trattato 226–227 and 273: ‘la varietà, la quale a tutte le potenze conoscitive suol esser gioconda, né senza di lei qualunque altra perfezione può meritar il titolo di bellezza’; ‘produce la maraviglia ed è compagna della dovizia’; ‘che sieno di pari valuta, cioè atte all’espressione del medesimo oggetto’; ‘di rammemorar più volte quel suggetto di cui si disputa per professione’.


Ibid. 228: ‘variasi non altro che ’1 suono esterno della parola con cui tal cosa è significata, ma il concetto interiore che per mezzo di quelle varie voci si crea è lo stesso affatto’; ‘se non quanto il suono, insieme con l’immagine dell’oggetto significato, manda all’animo ancor la sua propria, e secondo ciò si diversifica l’intellettual dipintura nell’uditore’.


Ibid. 232: ‘in quegli scrittori che hanno maggior povertà di filosofia: essendo proprio del filosofo e il distinguer bene l’un suggetto dall’altro, e il non versar le parole a caso, ma distribuirle a ragione’.


Ibid.: ‘conduce l’uditore, quasi per diverso camino, alla notizia d’un medesimo oggetto, e imprime al pensiero varie immagini che rappresentino obliquamente lo stesso’.


In Trattato 232–234, Pallavicino annotates verses 1–3 of the Aeneid III: ‘Postquam res Asiae Priamique evertere gentem / immeritam visum superis ceciditque superbum / Ilium et omnis humo fumat neptunia Troia’.


Trattato 234–236: ‘Nel che due regole posson darsi: che a significar la cagione si dicano quegli effetti i quali tosto soglion portare l’intendimento alla considerazione di lei; e che si dica tale effetto, ed in tali circostanze, che il lettore scorga di leggieri, non porsegli innanzi quell’effetto quasi una faccia da contemplarsi per se stessa, ma quasi un indice ch’altro additi’.


Trattato 242–247: ‘per cui dicendo sempre la stessa cosa ottiensi contuttociò che l’immagine formata dall’intelletto di chi ode sia differente’; ‘portar la diffinizione in cambio del diffinito, come se in luogo degli uccelli dirò gli animali che volan per l’aria’; ‘pe’ ministeri opportuni all’opere dottrinali’.


Trattato 250 (introduction to chapter 26): ‘si stabilisce quali autori deono esser seguiti nelle materie scientifiche da quelli che scrivono in italiano overo in latino’; and ‘se e quale eleganza convenga alle scritture scientifiche’.


Trattato 248 and 250: ‘ciance miniate’; ‘que’ sileni d’Alcibiade, rozzi ed incolti al di fuori, ma colmi di gemme nel seno’. On the image of the ‘sileni’, as used by Pico, see Garin, Prosatori latini del Quattrocento 812. The Neo-Platonic image of the ‘sileni of Alcibiades’ was used by Pallavicino himself in his interesting ‘Dantesque’ letter to Paganino Gaudenzio, in the conclusion of which one may perhaps glean a veiled reference to the anti-Dantesque spirit of the exclusively Florentine Accademia della Crusca, see Menghini F., Paganino Gaudenzio letterato Grigionese del ’600 (Milan: 1941); the letter dated Iesi, 3 April 1633, can be found in the Appendix, 312–314: ‘Io voleva più tosto esser tardo che parco nella risposta, poiché la servaggine, la quale V.[ostra] S.[ignoria] detesta in una certa Natione, è stata sempre contraria direttamente al mio genio. Alcuni letterati si pascono d’aria a guisa di comaleonti, e stimano del premio d’una composizione quando con vago intrecciamento di parole si pronunciano 154 sillabe senza dir nulla. Non diede loro questo esempio il celebratissimo Dante, il quale, a punto come i sì famosi sileni di Alcibiade, racchiudendo sotto umile scorza altissime contemplazioni, sottopose alla maestria dell’ingegno suo non pure il mondo, ma l’Inferno, il Purgatorio ed il Cielo, distribuendo i premi e le pene a sua voglia, e costituendosi giudice de’ monarchi e moderatore della fama. Egli, per esporre i concetti che lui dettava la sublimità del suo spirito, non rimase di mescolare con l’esempio d’Omero i dialetti e le parole straniere, e d’abbassare talora lo stile per innalzare i pensieri. Perché adunque tanto si loda, e sì poco istimasi da certi moderni suoi cittadini!’ (‘I would rather be late than stingy in my reply, as the servitude, which Your Lordship detests in a certain nation, has always gone against my spirit. Some men of letters feed off air in the manner of chameleons and deem it a great composition when with vague weaving together of words they utter 154 syllables without saying anything. This was not the example set by the renowned Dante, who, just like the famous sileni of Alcibiades, keeping the loftiest reflections beneath a humble surface, submitted not only the world to the prowess of his ingegno, but also hell, purgatory, and heaven, distributing rewards and punishments at his will and appointing himself the judge of monarchs and the moderator of fame. In order to display the concetti imposed on him by the sublimity of his spirit, he did not keep from mixing dialects and foreign words, according to the example of Homer, and occasionally lowering the style in order to elevate his thoughts. This is why, therefore, he is so praised, and so little esteemed by certain of his modern fellow citizens’).


Pallavicino’s claims appear in Trattato 250–253: ‘bontà delle voci’; ‘poiché il miglior suono è pregio natio e non arbitrario più d’una voce che d’altra’; ‘arbitrio dell’uso’.


Pallavicino, Del bene 17: ‘Componeva egli nondimeno, come dimostrano le sue poesie latine e toscane, con uno stile alquanto smilzo ed asciutto, più tosto sano che vigoroso, pulitissimo, ma non ricchissimo, ed in cui molto è da lodare, ma poco altro da ammirare se non che nulla vi si possa rinvenir da riprendere. Sono esse state perciò più tosto approvate che lette; e l’isperienza in loro ha mostrato quanto sia vero ciò ch’udii più volte dal Pindaro di Savona, Gabrielle Chiabrera, cioè che la poesia è obligata di fare inarcar le ciglia’. The preceding citation is drawn from the Trattato 255.


Trattato 257: ‘Chi scriverà in lingua viva elegga le forme e le voci più tosto dell’età sua, che delle sole passate, avvenendo nelle parole come nelle monete: si contemplano le antiche, si spendono le moderne’. This is probably a recollection of Institutio Oratoria I: 6, 3: ‘Consuetudo vero certissima loquendi magistra, utendumque plane sermone ut nummo, cui publica forma est’. A similar concept, of the variant ‘word’—‘garment’, lies in Tassoni: ‘Direi adunque, che chi preme nello stile e nella bellezza del dire, dovesse affaticarsi in fare la scelta delle più belle voci e frasi che si favellino e scrivano al presente, e non di quelle che l’uso ha dismesse: peroché come i vestimenti antichi, benché di grande fattura e spesa, non piaciono, ma si conservano per memoria riposti, così delle parole antiche suole avvenire, che si conservano per memoria ne’ loro autori, ma non s’adoprano’ (‘I would therefore say that he who insists on the style and the beauty of speech ought to take the trouble to choose the most beautiful words and phrases that are spoken and written in the present, and not those that usage has abandoned; because just like ancient garments, which, despite being of great workmanship and cost, are not pleasing but are preserved rather for the sake of memory, so the same should go for ancient words, which ought to be preserved for the sake of the memory of their authors, but not adopted’). The passage can be found in the “quisito” XV of Book IX of the Pensieri diversi, entitled “Se trecento anni sono meglio si scrivesse in volgare italiano o nell’età presente”, in Tassoni Alessandro, Prose politiche e morali, ed. P. Puliatti, vol. 2 (Bari: 1980) 290–291.


Trattato 258: ‘la lingua viva apparisse già in istato sì vicino alla corruzione che si prevedesse dover i posteri apprender più tosto la forma antica di essa che la presente’. Opposition to Bembo’s theories is particularly conferred upon chapters 15 to 19 of Book 1 of the Prose, on which see Bembo Pietro, Prose e rime, ed. C. Dionisotti (Turin: 1978) 111–123.


‘Better than’ in 1646, 353, and 1647, 228, see also the following note.


Trattato 259 and 262: ‘que’ valent’uomini i quali esortan di scrivere secondo l’uso della Toscana dal mille e trecento al mille e quattrocento, quasi che davanti la nostra lingua fosse troppo fanciulla e che dapoi non si conservasse vergine’; ‘Ma se annoveriamo gli scrittori eccellenti di questa lingua dal principio del sedicesimo secolo, tanto in sermon disciolto, quanto in ogni genere di poesia, non solo mi paiono uguali [superiori in 1646, 353, 1647, 228] a coloro che illustrarono il quartodecimo, ma gli stimo appena inferiori a quelli che rendon così rinomata l’età d’Augusto’. Tassoni’s observations in the already mentioned “quisito” XV of Book IX of the Pensieri diversi (Tassoni, Prose politiche e morali 281–282) are no different; likewise somewhat close to Pallavicino’s claims are those of Tesauro, who with intelligent impartiality counted the Accademia della Crusca among the institutions that had contributed to making modern rather than fourteenth-century vernacular a fully mature language: ‘Conchiudo la perfetta virilità dell’italiano idioma esser questa che, incominciata nel passato secolo, va tuttavia maturando, degna certamente di pareggiarsi a quell’aurea età della lingua latina che di tutte le antipassate etadi avea carpito il più bel fiore. Peroché, se allora sotto il pacifico Augusto, oggi sotto il tranquillo impero de’ pontefici la felice Rome ha richiamato le belle arti che i secoli strepitosi aveano discacciate. Allora Varrone e Nigidio, oggi gli Academici della Crusca, con ottimi Nomenclatori, hanno prescritto le leggi alla lingua, circonscritto le giuridizzioni alla rima e con isquisita bilancia librato i vocabuli e arricchito i vocabolari. Allora i boati plautini e le antique fuligini della lingua: quoi, quom, sibei, heic, maxume, mendaciom, tristus, hilarus; oggi l’assurdo hiato di Guittone: quegli andoe, questi tornoe, e i pedanteschi glossemi del Petrarca e del Boccacci: epso, optimo, maximo, eximio, prompto, docto, decto, sono stati tolti di mezzo, e quanto la barbarie avea corrotto, oggi è corretto’ (‘I conclude the perfect virility of the Italian language to be that which, having begun in the last century, has nonetheless continued maturing [and is] certainly worthy of being compared to that of the Golden Age of Latin, which plucked all the most beautiful flowers in past ages. Because, if back then under the peaceable Augustus, then today, under the tranquil empire of the popes, blessed Rome has called back the fine arts that the clamorous centuries drove out. Just as back then Varro and Nigidius, so today the members of the Academia della Crusca have prescribed the laws of the language with the best Nomenclatori, defined the jurisdiction to rhyme, and weighed words and enriched vocabulary on a perfect scale. Back then the boati plautini and the ancient blights of language: quoi, quom, sibei, heic, maxume, mendaciom, tristus, hilarus; today Guittone’s absurd hiato [and] Petrarch and Boccaccio’s pedantic glosses: epso, optimo, maximo, eximio, prompto, docto, decto, have been removed, and the degree to which barbarism once corrupted, today it has been corrected’), Tesauro, Il Cannocchiale aristotelico 242–243; with slight differences in format in the 1654 Sinibaldo edition, 309. Tesauro’s position on language is the subject of Raimondi E., “Grammatica e retorica nel pensiero del Tesauro”, in Letteratura barocca 33–49, and Vitale M., “La III edizione del ‘Vocabolario della Crusca’. Tradizione e innovazione nella cultura linguistica fiorentina secentesca”, in L’oro nella lingua 276–280.


‘Non meno è fuori d’ambiguità che non dobbiamo ristrignerci alle voci e alle maniere di quel secolo unicamente […] perché essendo molte di esse già rigettate dall’uso, fa mestiero il surrogarne delle nuove, se non vogliamo che la lingua a poco a poco dimagrandosi perisca’.


The cited passages appear in the unpaginated Lettera a chi legge appartenente alla seconda publicazione, which precedes the 1664 edition of the Istoria del Concilio di Trento: ‘non che altri, nol disdice, e con l’insegnamento, e con l’opera, nelle sue scritture la stessa Accademia della Crusca, altrettanto severa quanto benemerita custode insieme e nutrice della natia purità e candidezza toscana’. Among the modern authors inserted into the Vocabolario della Crusca of 1691 are not only Tasso, but also Chiabrera, Paolo Segneri, and, with his Istoria del Concilio di Trento, Pallavicino himself, who was nonetheless again expunged in the fourth edition of 1729–1738 (on this subject, see Vitale M., “La III edizione del ‘Vocabolario della Crusca’ e la IV edizione del ‘Vocabolario della Crusca’. Toscanismo, classicismo, filologismo nella cultura linguistica fiorentina del primo Settecento”, in L’oro nella lingua 307–312 and 365–368, respectively. Epistolary evidence on the relations between Pallavicino and the Accademia della Crusca can be found in Parodi S., Quattro secoli di Crusca 1583–1983 (Florence: 1983) 72–73, and in Lettere del cardinale Sforza Pallavicino, ed. Gigli, 1:23–25 and 2:10.


Trattato 263–264: ‘coloro che non giudicano delle quistioni col pesare di qua e di là gli argomenti’; ‘ma non l’antiposero mai a ciò che non videro e che nacque dopo lor morte’; ‘di quelle persone che nell’età giovanile, e dipendente nell’opinare più dall’altrui autorità che dalla propria speculazione, hanno consumato grandissimo studio in osservar la lingua di quegli antichi, onde poi, benché bastanti per ingegno a discerner l’equivoco, non possono condursi ad una credenza che scemi nel proprio lor concetto il valor della merce da essi comperata sì caro’.


Ciampoli Giovanni, Prose di Monsignor Giovanni Ciampoli (Rome, Nella stamperia di Manelfo Manelfi: 1649) 133–136: ‘nelle materie umane, così quanto alle dottrine, come quanto alle locuzioni, non solo è lecita, ma può esser mirabile la novità’; ‘Che maligna ingratitudine è il professar nemicizia col suo secolo e voler sempre anteporre i vocaboli incanutiti all’invenzioni nascenti?’ On relations between Ciampoli and Galileo and the circle of Galileans, see Ciampoli D., “Un amico del Galilei: monsignor Giovanni Ciampoli”, in Nuovi studi letterari e bibliografici (Rocca San Casciano: 1900) 5–170; Favaro A., “Amici e corrispondenti di Galileo”, Atti del R. Istituto Veneto di scienze, lettere e arti 62.2 (1903) 91–145, now compiled in Favaro A., Amici e corrispondenti di Galileo, ed. P. Galluzzi, vol. 1 (Florence: 1983) 132–189; Abetti G., “Il cardinale Maffeo Barberini (Urbano VIII) e monsignor Giovanni Ciampoli”, in his collection of essays, Amici e nemici di Galileo (Milan: 1945) 217–237; Ragazzini V., “Evangelista Torricelli e Giovanni Ciampoli”, Convivium 27 (1959) 51–55; Torrini M., “Giovanni Ciampoli filosofo”, in Galluzzi P. (ed.), Novità celesti e crisi del sapere (Florence: 1983) fasc. 2, 267–275; Redondi P., Galileo eretico (Torino: 1983) esp. 44–60, 118–129, 334–340; D’Addio M., “Considerazioni sui processi a Galileo”, Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia 37 (1983) 1–52; and D’Addio M., “Considerazioni sui processi a Galileo”, Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia 38 (1984) 47–114 (the essays were also published in one volume by Herder, Rome, in 1985; see esp. 53–95).


During the not so easy attempt to find a worthy ‘prince’ for the Lincean Academy after the death of Federico Cesi, Francesco Stelluti, in fact, wrote the following to Galileo: ‘Qui v’era il Sigr. marchese Palavicino, ma s’è già messo in prelatura, e il principe vorrebb’essere secolare’ (‘Here there is the Lord Marquis Palavicino, but he’s already joined the prelacy, and the prince should be a layman’), OG, XIV, 292. See also the discussion of this letter in Favino’s contribution to this volume. On Pallavicino’s disposition towards the official position assumed by Jesuit culture, see Costantini, Baliani e i Gesuiti 95–109, and Bellini, “Scrittura letteraria e scrittura filosofica in Sforza Pallavicino” 178–187.


Trattato 264–266: ‘mostrano in faccia non so che più d’aria italiana, dove in queste ascritte modernamente si raffigura più d’origine forestiera’.


Ibid.: ‘poste in uso da penne illustri spiegano con maggior proprietà o brevità il significato’.


Ibid. 267: ‘Né vorrei dare a quel secolo, e specialmente a Cicerone col Bembo, quella monarchia nella latinità che non gli concedettero né Quintiliano stesso, quasi adoratore della sua penna, né verun altro di coloro che appresso crebbero splendore a quell’idioma ancora vivente’. The excerpt is missing from Considerazioni sopra l’arte dello stile e del dialogo of 1646, 361 and Arte dello stile of 1647, 233. Similarly, Tesauro writes that ‘molti moderni, come più si studiano d’imitar Cicerone, tanto ci riescono più affettati e ridicoli, nella guisa che degli animali niuno ci ha che più ritragga all’uomo che la scimia, ma niuno è più ridicoloso e diforme’ (‘many men of the present, the more they endeavour to imitate Cicero, the more successful they are at being affected and ridiculous, just as in animals there is none that resembles man more than does the ape, yet none is more ridiculous and deformed’), Il Cannocchiale aristotelico 239; with no difference in the 1654 edition, 305. Nor should one forget Pallavicino’s opposition to ‘vernacular Ciceronianism’, on account of which Bembo was once again singled out, in Trattato 57: ‘Quindi è che pian piano la nostra lingua s’è divezzata da quel raggirato parlare che usò il Boccaccio e che ad esempio di lui seguirono il Bembo ed altri suoi coetanei, i quali, tutti rivolti all’imitazione di Tullio, non distinsero i pregi comuni d’ogni favella da quelli che sono propri sol di quel genere in cui contiensi la natia lingua di Tullio’ (‘Thus it happened that little by little our language weaned itself off that fraudulent manner of speaking that Boccaccio used, and that based on his example was followed by Bembo and his contemporaries, who, all bent on imitating Tullio, did not distinguish between the common qualities of all speech and those belonging solely to the kind contained in the native language of Tullio’).


Trattato 268–270: ‘quello esser vero che si reputa vero’; ‘l’esser ora una voce, o una maniera di favellare, latina, e l’esser creduta latina, è lo stesso’; ‘sì che tutta la bellezza del comporre latino dipende ora dall’opinione di quei che oggi l’intendono, e nulla dall’uso vero e dalla vera opinione de’ favellatori latini antichi’.


Trattato 268–270: ‘noi scriviamo in latino a que’ letterati viventi appresso a cui tutte quelle voci, come imparate da essi unicamente nelle scuole, costituiscono una lingua sola, non a quegli antichi romani appo cui le suddette voci formarono in doppia età doppia lingua’. And thus Pallavicino pays more consistent tribute to the ‘philosopher’ Castelvetro than to the man (Trattato 270–271): ‘Il che fu sottilmente considerato dal Castelveltro nel fine della Giunta al primo libro del Bembo. E di vero quello scrittore è l’unico, per poco, dopo Aristotile, che insegnando le arti del dire abbia cercato e saputo derivarne le regole da’ principi delle scienze e della natura: il che, trascurato, o ignorato, per lo più, dagli altri maestri, ha ridotte le professioni a foggia o di fede umana, o di positivi statuti. E quindi poi è che assai volte in luogo d’ammaestramento si spargono errori, o, se pure s’insegna il vero, non s’insegna né s’intende perché sia vero. Così non avesse quell’uomo, avanti per cupidità, indi per necessità di contendere, offuscato bene spesso col livore, colla passione e coll’artifizio il candor della verità che gli era palesato dalla filosofia!’ (‘This was what was astutely examined by Castelvetro at the end of the Giunta, in Bembo’s first book. And surely that writer was practically the only one after Aristotle, who, teaching the art of speaking, had sought and knew how to derive the rules from the leaders of the sciences and from nature; [it was] he, for the most part disregarded, or unknown by other masters, who reduced the professions to a manner of human faith or positive statutes. And then afterwards it happened often that errors were spread in place of teaching, or, even when truth was taught, why it was truth was neither taught nor understood. Thus did not that man—first on account of cupidity, later by the need to compete—often quite obfuscate the purity of truth that had been revealed to him by philosophy’). These are the ‘perceptive observations’ by Castelvetro in the Giunta (Addition) to Book 1 of Bembo’s Prose: ‘Laonde seguita che tutte le lingue latine di tutti i secoli, per gli libri che ce le presentano, e spezialmente per l’agio della stampa ne’ presenti tempi, e in ogni luogo intendendosene così una come un’altra, sottentrano in luogo d’una lingua sola che s’intendesse e s’usasse da tutto il mondo. Per la qual cosa pare che coloro li quali hanno a questi tempi adoperate tutte le lingue latine mescolate insieme non sieno tanto da biasimare, come altri stima’ (‘Wherefore it follows that all the Latin languages of all the centuries, through the books that present them to us, and especially through the convenience of the printing press in the present era, and one being as good as another in each place, have taken the place of a single language that was understood and used by the whole world. For which reason it seems that those who in these times have used all Latin languages mixed up together are not as much to blame as the others think’), Castelvetro Ludovico, Correzzione d’alcune cose del “Dialogo delle lingue” di Benedetto Varchi, et una giunta al primo libro delle “Prose” di M. Pietro Bembo dove si ragiona della vulgar lingua (Basel, Pietro Perna: 1572) 283–284.


Trattato 284–287: ‘cagionar sentimento equivoco ed arrecar tenebre in cambio di luce’; ‘che l’uso di questi termini non si faccia per mera ostentazion di scienza’; ‘Sentonsi talora pronunziar, quasi dotrine oltramirabili, da certi Trasoni della filosofia concetti saputi da ognuno, senza che abbian altro di singolare da ciò che avrebbono in bocca d’un uomo idiota se non la più oscura espressione. O che miserabile inganno è questo, con cui si tradisce la gioventù studiosa! Ella impiega l’oro, il tempo, il travaglio in farsi ammaestrar da’ filosofi per rischiarar l’intelletto, e spesso altro non ne riporta che ottenebrar il linguaggio’. Pallavicino himself recalls Cicero’s observations on the legitimacy of technical languages, and he provides a literal translation of a long passage from De finibus bonorum et malorum III: i–ii in Trattato 276–277.


Trattato 274–275: ‘con uno studio misurato, che non s’usurpi lo spazio debito alla formazion de’ discorsi’; ‘il dar tutti i pensieri alle cose, negletta ogni cura dello stile come degna sol di fanciullo over di pedante, è un dimenticarsi che le tavole degli osti da quelle de’ nobili albergatori non dissomigliano nel pieno delle vivande, ma sol nella conditura’.

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Sforza Pallavicino

A Jesuit Life in Baroque Rome