Francesco Fulvio Frugoni

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Francesco Fulvio Frugoni
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Portrait of Francesco Fulvio Frugoni by Isabella Piccini
Genoa, Republic of Genoa
Venice, Republic of Venice
Other namesFlaminio Filauro
  • University of Alcalá
  • University of Salamanca
  • Sorbonne University
  • Christian monk
  • Writer
  • Poet
  • Literary critic
Writing career
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  • Novel
  • poem
  • drama
Literary movementBaroque
Notable worksIl cane di Diogene

Francesco Fulvio Frugoni (1620 – 1686), was an Italian Baroque poet, writer and literary critic, one of the masters of Italian conceptismo.[1]


Born in Genoa in 1620 to a family of the Genoese nobility, Frugoni spent his youth in Spain, where he attended the universities of Alcalá and Salamanca and met several of the foremost Spanish baroque writers of the period, including Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Quevedo.[2] In 1637, upon his return to Genoa, he entered the Order of Minims and in 1643 he joined the household of Anton Giulio Brignole-Sale, the ambassador of the Republic of Genoa to Spain.[2] After a second sojourn in Spain, Frugoni traveled throughout Europe, visiting the Dutch Republic, England, and France, where he attended the Sorbonne. In 1652, he became adviser to the Duchess of Valentinois Maria Aurelia Spinola, widow of Ercole Grimaldi, prince of Monaco.[2] While he traveled with her through France and Italy, he continued to cultivate his literary interests and became friends with Emanuele Tesauro, the most important Italian literary theorist of the baroque era.[2] After the death of the duchess in 1670, Frugoni moved to Venice, where he completed his masterpiece, the philosophical novel Il cane di Diogene (The Dog of Diogenes, 1689), which was published posthumously. Frugoni died in Venice in 1686.[2]


Frugoni's earliest effort is a satirical poem in ottava rima entitled La Guardinfanteide, published in 1643 with the pseudonym of Flaminio Filauro, a satire on the hoop skirt, a novel fashion in women's dress imported into Italy from Spain.

Frugoni's masterpiece, Il cane di Diogene, was published right after his death between 1687 and 1689. It consists of twelve tales written in an amusing, extravagant, and satirical vein. The book is divided up into chapters called latrati or barks, attacks on the learned, manners, morality and the court.[3] Frugoni recounts the fantastic wanderings of Saetta, the dog of the cynical philosopher Diogenes of Sinop, who describes his adventures with his master.[3] The narrator is Saetta while Frugoni comments his story.[4] In the tenth tale, entitled Il Tribunal della Critica (The Court of Criticism), the dog manages to visit Mount Parnassus, and his observations there touching upon literary theory and criticism constitute the core of the book. Frugoni reveals himself to be a supporter of modern culture in his preference for the poetry of Torquato Tasso and Giambattista Marino over the masters of the Trecento: Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio.[2][5] His own prose provides an outstanding example of Italian baroque style, with its emphasis on metaphors and conceits prescribed in the famous treatise Il cannocchiale aristotelico written by his friend Emanuele Tesauro.

Frugoni wrote also a number of librettos, lyric poems, orations, and novels, including, the religious novel La vergine parigina (The Parisian Virgin, 1661), and a romanticized biography of the duchess Maria Aurelia Spinola, entitled L'heroina intrepida (The Intrepid Heroine, 1673). Frugoni is an important figure in the history of opera. The essay he wrote to accompany his own "opera melodrammatica," L'Epulone, published in Venice in 1675, is the first instance in which a poet of serious literary aspirations deigned to criticize contemporary librettists.[6] In L'Epulone Frugoni wrote a libretto to illustrate the critical ideas which he hoped would set a new standard in libretto writing. He was one of the first to undertake reform to make librettos more sober, condemning unrealistic and exaggerated elements and demanding for greater verisimilitude in plots and for literary dignity in texts, thus anticipating the work of Zeno and Metastasio.[7]

Frugoni mastered Spanish and French, and had a thorough knowledge of contemporary European literature.[8][9] Despite recent interest in Baroque literature, the enormous length of Il cane di Diogene, which extends over more than four thousand pages,[10] has kept it from receiving the critical attention it deserves. Many of his works are not yet available in modern critical editions.


  1. Forcione, Alban K. (2015). Cervantes, Aristotle, and the Persiles. Princeton University Press. p. 320. ISBN 1400868645.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Formichetti 1998.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Peter Bondanella; Andrea Ciccarelli, eds. (2003). The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel. Cambridge University Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0521669626.
  4. Baldan 2022, p. 159.
  5. Accame Bobbio 1970.
  6. Freeman, Robert (1981). Opera Without Drama. Currents of Change in Italian Opera, 1675-1725. UMI Research Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780835711524.
  7. Freeman 1968, pp. 321-322.
  8. Tateo, Francesco (1999). Letteratura italiana: dalla curia di Federico II alla repubblica delle lettere. Vol. 1. B. A. Graphis. p. 365. ISBN 9788886864077.
  9. Nuovi saggi sulla letteratura del Seicento. Bari: Laterza. 1949. p. 235. Nessuno degli scrittori italiani di quel tempo ebbe tanta pratica di cose e di libri spagnuoli, e di lingua e motti spagnuoli, quanta il frate Francesco Fulvio Frugoni
  10. Langdon, Helen (2007). "Relics of the Golden Age: the vagabond philosopher". Others and Outcasts in Early Modern Europe. Picturing the Social Margins. Ashgate: 173. ISBN 9780754655572.

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