Orpheus and Authorship in Latin Humanist Poetry

The Case of Giovanni Pontano

  • Kajetan Škraban
Keywords: Orpheus, humanist pastoral poetry, authorship, Giovanni Pontano, Kajetan Škraban


With his malleable mythological heritage, Orpheus is no mere subject-matter or motif in poetry but rather a persona, a mask often donned by humanists when they wanted to outline their authorial stand in more detail. The poetics of ‘masks’ flourished especially in humanist pastoral poetry. The paper focuses on an intersection of the two: on the Orpheus myth as used in the bucolic poetry of a Neapolitan humanist, Giovanni Pontano. His first eclogue, ‘Lepidina’, portrays Orpheus as the archetypal poet with pronounced Vergilian features, thus vindicating the author’s appropriation of Vergil’s poetics and poetic tradition. Another eclogue, ‘Melisseus’, composed on the death of the poet’s wife which left a deep mark on his poetic career, follows the characteristic bucolic trend, turning into a largely autobiographical portrayal of the widowed poet.


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How to Cite
Škraban, Kajetan. 2020. “Orpheus and Authorship in Latin Humanist Poetry”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 21 (2), 95-123. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.21.2.95-123.