Agostino Mascardi

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Agostino Mascardi
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Born(1590-09-02)2 September 1590
Sarzana
Died1640(1640-00-00) (aged 49–50)
Sarzana
NationalityItalian
CitizenshipItaly
Occupation
  • Rhetoric
  • Historian
  • Poet
MovementBaroque

Agostino Mascardi (Sarzana, 1590-1640) was an Italian Rhetoric, historian and poet.

Biography

Born in Sarzana in Liguria, Mascardi studied in Rome and was ordained a Society of Jesus, but was expelled from the Order in 1617.[1] His fruitful career continued, however, with a degree in jurisprudence and several posts as secretary to important political and religious personalities. Mascardi's writing attracted the attention of Pope Urban VIII who appointed him Chamberlain (office) and in 1628 gave him the position of Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Rome La Sapienza in the College of the Sapienza.[2]

He was a member and later principe of the Accademia degli Umoristi and sopraintendente of the Accademia dei Desiosi, which started to be assembled by Prince Maurice of Savoy in 1625 and was officially founded in 1626, and which became one of the most intellectually vivacious venues in early seventeenth-century Rome.[3][4]

Gian Lorenzo Bernini realized two portraits of Mascardi. One is a painting, now lost, which once belonged to Cassiano dal Pozzo. The other is a drawing of 1630, known through another conserved in Paris at the l'École des Beaux-Arts.[5]

Dell'arte historica

Mascardi was a foremost theorist for the new historiography, which grew out of the Counter-Reformation need to assimilate the goals of history with those of religious propaganda. He and Francesco Sforza Pallavicino promoted history as a major instrument of ethical and religious persuasion. Mascardi's treatise Dell'arte historica (1636) covers the origins, the ancient sources, the material and the goals of history. Much of the second and third books of the treatise investigate the relationship between the “vero” and the “verisimile”. The fourth and fifth books deal with technical matters, including a long discussion of “stile.” At the beginning of Book V, Mascardi asserts the “convenienza dell'istoria con la poesia e con l'oratoria.” Underlying the entire work is the premise that history, using the methodology of rhetoric, can be a powerful persuasive means.[6]

Gabriel Naudé lauds Mascardi's treatise on the art of history for its “matchless elegance in language and for its judicious treatment of its subject.”[7]

Siluarum libri IV

The title of Mascardi's publication was very likely inspired by the Silvae of Statius (ca. 45-96 A.D.) which is a collection of topical poems (Epigram, letters, Satire, poems for weddings, Ode, funeral poems, etc. ) partly based on Virgil. Mascardi's Silvae also contained poems concerned with a variety of themes, and his publication is divided into four Books. Book I, De Rebus Heroicis (On heroic events), consists of poems honouring victories in battle, the achieving of peace, various heroic figures from antiquity (Romulus, Hannibal, Clelia, Cleopatra, etc.) and modern history (Cardinals Alessandro d'Este, Pope Urban VIII, Luigi Capponi, etc.). The second Book has no subtitle and includes three elegies on Queen Dido, three poems on the seasons, two on poverty and others on varied subjects. Book III, De Rebus Tristibus (On mournful events), has several poems concerning funerals. For example, there is an eclogue which contains a dialogue between two shepherds who discuss the death of Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain. Still other poems are devoted to the funerals of famous contemporaries or are concerned with the fugacity of time. The volume closes with Book IV, De Rebus Sacris (On sacred matters), which presents a variety of poems dealing with religious themes.

Mascardi's Silvae was the “first book [of] contemporary poetry illustrated with a title-page by Rubens”.[8]

References

  1. Bellini 2008.
  2. Ludwig von Pastor (1906). The History of the Popes: From the Close of the Middle Ages. Drawn from the Secret Archives of the Vatican and Other Original Sources. Vol. 29. K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited. p. 454. {{cite book}}: Text "Ludwig Freiherr von Pastor" ignored (help)
  3. Stefania Tutino (2014). Shadows of Doubt: Language and Truth in Post-Reformation Catholic Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780199324989. {{cite book}}: Text "OUP USA" ignored (help)
  4. For Agostino Mascardi's activity in courtly academies during the first half of the seventeenth century, see Biagioli, Galileo Courtier, 263–65.
  5. Bellini 2006, pp. 277-8.
  6. Vasillov 1979–1980, p. 25.
  7. Robert A. Schneider (2019). Dignified Retreat: Writers and Intellectuals in the Age of Richelieu. Oxford University Press. p. 274. ISBN 9780192560810.
  8. Gitta Bertram, Rubens as a Designer of Title-Pages, pp. 184 & 60.

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