Alessandro Vellutello’s Commentary

Alessandro Vellutello’s Commentary, Il Petrarca con l'espositione di M. Alessandro Velutello, was first published in 1525 and was more successful than the other Cinquecento’s commentaries. It was reprinted 26 times until the end of the century. Vellutello’s was not a professional letterato as he admits; however, his commentary has unprecedented humanist qualities as he quotes the Latin sources of Petrarch, from Vergil to Horace, from Propertius to Ovid, from Cicero to Plinius. Furthermore, his commentary includes accurate references to the Bible and the Provençal poets.

Vellutello’s commentary is extremely original as it completely changes the original numbering that Petrarch gave to his poems based on biographical and geographical considerations. He wanted to recreate the identity and life of Francesco and Laura. To this goal he wrote three important introductory essays explaining his new approach to Petrarch’s Rvf.  The first essay declares the new order that he gave to the poems, Trattato de l’ordine de’ sonetti e canzoni mutato; the second is a short biography of Petrarch, Vita e costumi del poeta; finally the third essay reconstructs Laura identity, l’Origine di madonna Laura con la discrizione di Valclusa e del luogo ove il poeta di lei a principio s’innamorò. In this perspective, the first edition of Il Petrarca con l'espositione di M. Alessandro Velvtello includes a wonderful map of the geography of Petrarch’s poetry, focused on Vaucluse and its surroundings.

Vellutello’s commentary was soon translated into French and became instrumental in the formation and diffusion of French Petrarchism. The complete French translation of Petrarch’s Rvf by Philieul included in the OPOB (Toutes les euvres vulgaires de François Pétrarquet, contenans quatre livres de M. D. Laure d'Avignon, sa maistresse, jadis par luy composez en langage thuscan et mis en françoys par Vasquin Philieul avecques briefz sommaires ou argumens requis pour plus facile intelligence du tou. Avignon, Barthelemy Bonhomme, 1555)  is based on Vellutello’s numbering of Petrarch’s poems.



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