歐美研究季刊第46卷第1期 - page 14

14
E
UR
A
MERICA
. . . Books too soon die,
for what with futile art a mortal makes
is also mortal. Should posterity
strive to preserve such works and so oppose
voracious age, eager to check time’s march,
it were impossible. . .
. . . the earth itself
must die and take with it its dying scrolls;
so yet a third death you must undergo. (1977: 38)
Scipio here prophesies that in the future a young Etrurian writer,
“a second Ennius,” will chronicle the feats of his son (Petrarch,
1977: 38). Interestingly, this “second Ennius” is none other than
Petrarch himself. In Book 9, Ennius, afflicted by a sense of
inadequacy that his literary talent might not be up to the task of
immortalizing Scipio Africanus, is visited by Homer in a dream
vision.
12
In a conversation amounting to nearly one hundred lines,
Homer anticipates the advent of a youthful Italian poet who will
complete the unfinished task of Ennius (Petrarch, 1977: 230-231).
This long-awaited poet can be easily identified as Petrarch since he
. . . will be called Franciscus;
and all the glorious exploits you have seen
he will assemble in one volume
alle
the deed in Spain, the arduous Libyan trials;
and he will call his poem
Africa
.
13
(1977: 231)
12
Scipio Africanus is the general who defeated Hannibal in the second
Carthaginian War.
13
Petrarch’s use of “poetic metempsychosis”
here, according to Usher, is to slot
himself in the literary history despite a considerable lapse of time between his
predecessors and him (2007: 64). Usher points out that in Book 4 Petrarch is
described by Scipio as “velut Ennius alter,”
and that this “succession formula”
was commonplace in classical and medieval times (64). Livy, for example, called
Hamilcar “Mars alter,”
and similar instances include Virgil, Jerome, and
I...,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,...XIV
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