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Conspiracy Literature in Early Renaissance ItalyHistoriography and Princely Ideology$
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Marta Celati

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198863625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198863625.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

Angelo Poliziano’s Coniurationis commentarium

Angelo Poliziano’s Coniurationis commentarium

The Conspiracy Narrative as ‘Official’ Historiography

(p.157) 4 Angelo Poliziano’s Coniurationis commentarium
Conspiracy Literature in Early Renaissance Italy

Marta Celati

Oxford University Press

The fourth chapter focuses on Poliziano’s Coniurationis commentarium, the literary account of the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano (1478). The critical analysis reconstructs the circumstances of composition of the text, its publication in two printed editions, and its circulation in the manuscript tradition, revealing that the work enjoyed widespread diffusion as the central pillar of pro-Medici propaganda. The investigation into the text shows that it totally adheres to the guidelines of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s cultural politics in the aftermath of the plot. The thorough examination of the changes made by Poliziano in the second version of the text confirms that its political perspective also mirrored the evolution of the political situation in Florence and in Italy in 1480. Despite being a highly propagandistic work, Poliziano’s Commentarium is also a sophisticated piece of literature produced by the eclectic combination of manifold sources drawn from the classical tradition: a conflation that reflects the humanist’s principle of doctavarietas. The main prototype of Sallust is combined it with multiple references to a variety of models: other classical historians (Suetonius, Caesar, and Livy), poetry, comic authors (most of all Terence), and even technical literature (Celsus, Pliny the Elder, etc.). In particular, the extensive use of Suetonius, especially his biography of Caesar, conveys particular political overtones. One of the crucial ideological elements in the text is the representation of Lorenzo de’ Medici as an actual heroic prince, who is loved by his people and embodies the idea of the whole state.

Keywords:   Angelo Poliziano, Coniurationis commentarium, Pazzi Conspiracy, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Cultural Politics, Princely Ideology, Classical Legacy, Sallust, Suetonius, Docta Varietas

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