Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Petrarch's "Fan-girling" and desire for Ad Fontes

The theme of Ad Fontes is clear in all three of Petrarch’s letters. I felt like I was reading fan letters to highly revered authors; I felt like Petrarch was “fan-girling.” In his first letter, “To Homer,” the way he praises and adores him is a clear fact that he praises and adores the sources. A quote from the last section highlights this idea, 

“For a long while I have been talking to you ask if you were present; but now the strong illusion fades away, and I realize how far you are from me. There comes over me a fear that you will scarcely care, down in the shades, to read the many things that I have written here. Yet I remember that you wrote freely to me.” 

These few sentences sum up how Petrarch feels about Homer: his work is impeccable and he wishes that it would have more influence in his own society. 

In the second letter, the theme of Ad Fontes is clear through the harsh description his own society. He admits that, people in his own generation have minds that are “slow and dull” because they are focused on money instead of great ideas that are presented in the work of “the sources” (like that of Marcus Tulles Cicero’s). He also says that it is a “great grief” that his own generation does not look at “the sources,” indeed, a “waste and spoil.” This harshness toward his own generation emphasizes his love for and desire to go back to the sources. 

Finally, in his third letter, Petrarch emphasizes the importance of copyists, which implies that he wants us to copy ideas from the past, as opposed to coming up with our own. The fact that Petrarch copies what he reads from these sources of the past, testifies to his admiration of the sources. You would only put forth effort to copy something if you truly loved something and wished to preserved it. 

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