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Biographie: Francesco Petrarca

 Francesco Petrarca

Petrarca was born in 1304 in Arezzo (city in the Tuscane near Siena) and died in 1374 in Arquà (city in the south-west of Padua). He was younger than Dante (1265 - 1321). You will find a detailed biographie here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrarch

At first glance it seems that there are a lot of similarities between Dante and Petrarca. Both have the same cultural background, classic literature and philosophy, christianism and both devoted her whole life to a woman, Beatrice in the case of Dante and Laura in the case of Petrarca. Both doesn' t have a relationship with their love but a non relationship. Both women are idealized in their poems but in the case of Dante the idealization went so far that at the end nothing was left of the woman, while Petrarca never stopped to love a real woman.

The following statement seems correct.

Dominatrice al centro dell’esistenza di Petrarca vi è una donna, Laura; ma, mentre per Dante l’amore per Beatrice è un punto di partenza, per giungere a una visione religiosa del mondo, alla fede in Dio, Laura resta una donna, amata per la sua bellezza, per il fascino dei suoi occhi, delle chiome bionde, delle mani sottili, del bel fianco (Chiare, fresche et dolci acque). Ad attirare Petrarca è la terra con tutte le sue seduzioni. Nella “Vita Nova” i segni che accompagnano la morte di Beatrice sono gli stessi che accompagnano la morte di Gesù: con questo Dante sottolinea il misticismo della donna. In Petrarca invece l’amore per la donna e l’immagine di Cristo sono in opposizione, anzi l’amore è di ostacolo alla salvezza (Era il giorno ch’al sol si scoloraro). Questo concetto di amore che fa scaturire tutte le più basse passioni dell’animo è ripreso anche nel terzo libro del Secretum dove Agostino, con abili argomentazioni, fa confessare a Petrarca di aver amato la bellezza fisica di Laura e che questo amore è stato origine di traviamento.

The center of the existence of Petrarca is dominated by a woman, Laura. But while Beatrice is for Dante the beginning of a path which is going to lead him to a religious vision of the world, Laura remains a woman, loved for her beauty, the radiation of her eyes, because of her blond hair, her frail hands, her haunches (clair, fresh und sweet water). Petrarca is attracted by the beauties of the earth with all his seductions. In the Vita Nova (Dante) the death of Beatrice is accompanied by the same signs as the death of Jesus Christ stressing that way the mysticism of the woman. For Petrarca at the other side the love for a woman is in opposition to the love for Jesus, is even a hindrance on the path to redemption (It was the day / when she lost her brightness). This concept of love which unleashes the most "evil" passions of the soul is described in the third book of the secretum where Augustinus makes confess to Petrarca with conclusive arguments that Petrarca loves the physical beauty of Laura and that this love is the reason for his aberration.

from: http://skuola.tiscali.it/appunti-italiano/petrarca/ascoltate-rime-sparse.html

In other words. Petrarca did not already get completely rid of the craziness of the middle age but is on the way to leave this dark period, although we do not really know what happened in the middle age. Some remarks in the Divina Commedia can induce us to believe that they had fun even even the middle age and were therefore send to hell by Dante.