Aretino, Pietro


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Aretino, Pietro

(pyĕ`trō ärātē`nō), 1492–1556, Italian satirist. He led a life of adventure and wrote abusive works for hire. His derisive wit was so feared that the gifts of those who sought either to buy him or buy him off made him very wealthy. He was a friend of Titian, who painted his portrait. His comedies, such as La cortigiana and La talenta, are singular, if exaggerated, portraits of his time. His letters, in spite of their impudent coarseness, are full of verve. Ariosto called him the "scourge of princes."

Aretino, Pietro

 

Born Apr. 19, 1492, in Arezzo; died Oct. 21, 1556, in Venice. Italian writer and publicist.

Aretino wrote prose comedies about everyday life, including The Blacksmith (1533), Life at Court (1534), La Talanta (1542), The Hypocrite (1542), and The Philosopher (1546). In these comedies he portrayed a gallery of types representing various strata of feudal Roman Catholic society. He criticized the basic principles of this society from a freethinker’s point of view, which was characteristic of the Renaissance. Aretino’s European fame was created by his five Dialogues, three of which were published under the title Discourses (published in 1534, 1536, and 1539). Two of the Discourses attacked the vices of women, whereas the third cynically depicted the morals at court. Aretino’s verse and prose pamphlets (in the form of “predictions”) were directed against rulers and political figures. Because of his burning satires he became famous as the “scourge of princes” and the father of modern journalism. His correspondence (approximately 3,300 letters) is of special interest, since it provides a picture of Italian social and cultural life during the first half of the 16th century (primarily from 1525 to 1556). In 1558 Aretino’s works were included by the Vatican in its Index of Prohibited Books.

WORKS

Opere complete, a cura di F. Flora. [Milan,] 1960.
Lettere scelta, a cura di S. Ortolani. Turin, 1945.
In Russian translation:
In Khrestomatiia po zarubezhnoi literature: Epokha vozro-zhdeniia, vol. 1. Compiled by B. I. Purishev. Moscow, 1959.

REFERENCES

Dzhivelegov, A. K. Ocherki ital’ianskogo Vozrozhdeniia. Moscow, 1929.
DeSanktis, F. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964.
Cleugh, J. The Divine Aretino, Pietro of Arezzo, 1492–1556: A Biography. [London, 1965.] (Contains a bibliography.)

N. B. TOMASHEVSKH