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which he was destined to attain, as the “gentle sage who knew all things.” Even John of Salisbury says of the Roman poet, that “sub imagine fabularum totius philosophiae exprimit veritatem.”" The process of interpretation became fixed in the doctrine of the four meanings, literal, allegorical, moral and anagogic, which Dante afterwards transferred to vernacular poetry. It would be easy to accumulate quotations from mediaeval writers, repeating in all keys the theory that art inculcates the truths of morality and of faith and constrains hearts to Christian piety, beginning with those well-known verses of Theodulf : “In quorum dictis (that is to say, in the utterances of the poets) quamguam sint frivola multa, Plurima sub falso tegmine vera latent,” and so on, until we reach the doctrines and opinions of our own great men, Dante and Boccaccio. For Dante, poetry “ nihil aliud est quam fictio rhethorica in musicague posita.” The poet should have a “reasoning ” in his verses “under a cloak of figure or of rhetorical colour"; and it would be a shameful thing for him, if, “when asked, he were not able to divest his words of such a garment, in such a way as to show that they possessed a true meaning.” " Readers sometimes stop at the external vesture alone, and this indeed suffices for those who, like the vulgar, do not succeed in penetrating the hidden meaning. Poetry will say to the vulgar, which does not understand “its argument,” what a song of Dante's says at its conclusion, “At least behold how beautiful I am ” : if you are not able to obtain instruction from me, at least enjoy me as a pleasing thing. Many, indeed, “their beauty more than their goodness will delight,” in poems, unless they are assisted by commentaries in the nature of the Convivio, “a light which will allow every shade of meaning to reach them.” “ Poetry was the “gay science,” “un fingimiento" (as the Spanish poet the Marquis of Santillana wrote) “de cosas utiles, cubiertas 6 veladas con muy fermosa cobertura, compuestas, distinguidas & scandidas, por cierto cuento, pesso ê medida.” "
* Comparetti, Virg. nel medio evo, vol. i. passim. * De vulg. eloq. (ed. Rajna), bk. ii. ch. 4. * Vita nuova, ch. 25. * Convivio, i. I. N
It would not then be correct to say that the Middle Ages simply identified art with theology and with philosophy. Indeed it sharply distinguished the one from the other, defining art and poetry, like Dante, with the words fictio rhethorica, “figure" and “rhetorical colour,” “cloak,” “beauty,” or like Santillana with those of fingimiento or fermosa cobertura. This pleasing falsity was justified from the practical point of view, very much in the same way as sexual union and love were justified and sanctified in matrimony. This did not exclude, indeed it implied, that the perfect state was certainly celibacy— that is to say, pure science, free from admixture of art.
The only tendency that had no true and proper representatives was the sound scientific tendency. The Poetics of Aristotle itself was hardly known or rather it was ill-known, from the Latin translation that a German of the name of Hermann made, not earlier than I256, of the paraphrase or commentary of Averroes. Perhaps the best of the mediaeval investigations into language is that supplied by Dante's De vulgari eloquentia, where the word is, however, still looked upon as a sign (“rationale signum et sensuale . . . natura sensuale quidem, in quantum sonus est, rationale vero in quantum aliquid significare videtur ad placitum ”).” The study of the expressive, aesthetic, linguistic faculty would, however, have found an appropriate occasion and a point of departure in the secular debate between nominalism and realism, which could not avoid touching to some extent the relations between the word and the flesh, thought and language. Duns Scotus wrote a treatise De modis significandi seu (the addition is due perhaps to the editors) grammatica speculativa.” Abelard had defined sensation as confusa conceptio, and imaginatio as a faculty that preserved sensations; the intellect renders discursive what is intuitive in the preceding stage, and we have finally the perfection of knowledge in the intuitive knowledge of the discursive. We find the same importance attached to intuitive knowledge, perception, of the individual or species specialissima, in Duns Scotus, together with the progressive denominations of the different sorts of knowledge as confusae, indistinctae and distinctae. We shall see this terminology reappear, big with consequences, at the very commencement of modern AEsthetic." It may be said that the literary and artistic doctrines and opinions of the Middle Ages have, with few exceptions, a value rather for the history of culture than for the general history of science. The like observation holds good of the Renaissance, for here, too, the circle of the ideas of antiquity was not overstepped. Culture increases; original sources are studied ; the ancient writers are translated and commented upon ; many treatises are written and henceforth printed upon poetry and the arts, grammars, rhetorics, dialogues, and dissertations upon the beautiful : .the proportions have increased, the world has become bigger; but truly original ideas do not yet show themselves in the domain of aesthetic science. The mystical tradition is refreshed and strengthened by the renewed cult of Plato: Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Cattani, Leon Battista Alberti, in the fifteenth century, and Pietro Bembo, Mario Equicola, Castiglione, Nobili, Betussi, and very many others in the following century, wrote upon the Beautiful and upon Love. Among the most noteworthy productions of the sort, a crossing of the mediaeval and classical currents, is the book of the Dialogues of Love (1535), composed in Italian by the Spanish Jew Leo, and translated into all the cultured languages of the time.” The three parts into which it is divided treat of the nature and essence, of the universality, and of the origin of love ; and it is demonstrated that every beautiful thing is good, but not every good thing is beautiful; that beauty is a grace which dilates the soul and moves it to love, and that knowledge of lesser beauties leads to that of higher spiritual beauties. The author gave the name of “Philography" to these and similar affirmations and effusions of which the book is composed. Equicola’s” work is also interesting, because it contains historical accounts of those who wrote upon the subject before he did so himself. The same intuition was versified and sighed forth by the Petrarchists in their sonnets and ballads, while others, rebellious and mocking, derided it in comedies, verses in terza rima and parodies of all sorts. Some mathematicians, reincarnations of Pythagoras, set to work to determine beauty by exact relations: for instance Leonardo's friend, Luca Paciolo, in the De divina proportione (1509), in which he laid down the pretended aesthetic law of the golden section.” And side by side with these new Pythagoreans were those who revived the canon of Polycletus as to the beauty of the human body, especially of the female body, such as Firenzuola, Franco, Luigini, and Dolce. Michael Angelo fixed an empirical canon for painting in general, when he stated that the means of giving movement and grace to figures* consisted in the observance of a certain arithmetical relation. Others, such as Fulvio Pellegrino Morato, investigated the symbolism or meaning of colours. The Platonists generally placed beauty in the soul, the Aristotelians rather in the physical qualities. The Averroist, Agostino Nifo, amid much chatter and many inconclusive remarks, demonstrated the existence of the beautiful in nature by describing the supremely beautiful body of Joan of Aragon, Princess of Tagliacozzo, to whom the book is dedicated.* Torquato Tasso, in the “Minturno,” “imitated the uncertainties of
Hints of an
* Prohemio al Condestable de Portugal, 1445–1449 (in Obras, ed. Amador de los Rios, 1852), § 3.
* De vulg. eloq. bk. i. ch. 3.
* Lately reprinted under the editorship of padre M. Fernandez Garcia, Ad claras Aquas (Quarracchi), 1902.
1 Windelband, Gesch. d. Phil. ii. pp. 251-27o ; De Wulf, Philos. médiév., Louvain, 1900, pp. 317-320. * Dialogi di amore, composti per Leone, medico . . ., Rome, I535.
Renaissance. Philography and philosophical and empirical inquiries concerning the beautiful.
* Libro di natura e d'amore, Venice, 1525 (Ven. 1563).
* De divina proportione, Venice, 1509.
* G. P. Lomazzo, Trattato dell' arte della pittura, scultura ed architettura, Milan, 1585, i. 1, pp. 22-23.
* Aug. Niphi, De pulcro et amore, Rome, 1529. * Il Minturno o vero de la belleza (in Dialoghi, ed. Guasti, vol. iii.).
the Hippias of Plato, not without making a free use of
The pedagogic theory of art and the Poetics of Aristotle.