Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: ↑
05 Aug 2019, 15:36
Therefore the state of the question is that Marziano wrote his account of Vesta shortly before 1425, and we have a 1449 copy of it, and that an identical passage, adapted for context, appears in the early 17th century in two manuscripts of the Vita of Saint Gaucherius of Aureil. One of the manuscripts with this passage appears to have been written at Saint Victor in Paris (lat. 14366) while the other comes from Grandmont (lat. 17670) [now 12/04/2019 S. Magloire, Paris].
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: ↑
06 Aug 2019, 17:58
Of course we want to how and why Marziano created his Vesta.
Here's a new curve for you: Hrotsvitha, d. after 973 CE (Latin: Hrotsvitha Gandeshemensis; with a bewildering number of name variants which throws a wrench in your searches: Hrotsvit, Hrosvite, Hroswitha, Hroswithe, Rhotswitha, Roswit and Roswitha). Thankfully Wiki has a very decent entry on her: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hrotsvitha
Why her and a connection to Gaucherius and Marziano? We'll have to take a convoluted and highly speculative path to Gaucherius, but incredibly she links Vesta with the hagiography of S. Agnes
Why does that matter? Let's return to the penultimate question you've asked above for Marziano: why
did he create this particular Vesta? I might further frame that as part of the larger question of why did he make this game for Filippo? Cupid, to say it again, plays a major role, ranging through everyone's sphere, making the entire realm of the "heroes" a sort of arena of Love. And again I ask you to entertain the idea that Filippo is not playing solitaire but perhaps with his beloved: Agnese, whose namesake is this virgin saint. Agnes was an especially appropriate name in Milan because Saint Ambrose, essentially the patron saint of the city and giving his name to the "Golden Republic" of 1447-50, wrote an epistle on her, De Virginibus
(certainly suggestive of the suit of "virginities"), probably delivered in Milan in 376 on her feast day (https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/phi ... aint-agnes
); translation of Ambrose here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf210 ... ii.ii.html
Themes strongly evocative of Marziano's Vesta are in Ambrose, and Marziano would have had good reason to utilize anything associated with Milan's most important saint: "in virtue above nature," "the name of virgin is a title of modesty," and died in a pagan fire, Vesta's characteristic symbol: "she was ready to stretch forth her hands to Christ at the sacrificial fires, and at the sacrilegious altars themselves, to make the sign of the Lord the Conqueror."
The odd thing about Marziano is the interjection of the word "nun" and essentially a nunnery when describing the Vestals, something one of course would not find in any Roman source....but one would take from hagiographical material. Ambrose does not supply the connection to Vesta; however, other accounts do link her to the foundation of Christian Rome: The daughter of Constantine I, Saint Constance, was said to have been cured of leprosy after praying at Agnes' tomb (the suit of pagan "virginities" would all be precursors to the values of Christianity). That leads us to Hrotsvitha....
To save myself from transcribing or snipping even more from two scholarly works (I do snip and paste two portions further below), from Wiki:
One of Hrotsvitha's most well known plays was Gallicanus. It was also the first drama she wrote and, like another of her dramas, Calimachus, focuses on the theme of conversion. The central woman in the story is the Emperor Constantine's daughter, Constance. Constance is a consecrated Virgin, while Gallicanus is the Commander-in-Chief of Constantine's army. When Gallicanus tells Constantine that he wants to marry his daughter, Constantine goes to Constance and tells her of Gallicanus' wishes. But Constance is strong in her convictions of chastity, and Constantine supports his daughter's wishes.
Constance has a plan for her father to avoid her having to marry Gallicanus, which he happily goes along with. The conversion part comes in when they plan to have Gallicanus convert to Christianity. Constance's Grand Almoners, John and Paul, see to it that Gallicanus wants to convert when he thinks he might lose a battle, and after his victory Gallicanus has himself baptized and takes a vow of celibacy. Likewise, he informs Constantine that he can no longer marry his daughter, like Constance had planned. Constance is portrayed as an intelligent girl who has dedication and a vow of chastity, a common theme in Hrotsvitha's plays. Her faith is emphasized, as is her perseverance.
Gallicanus is comparable to one of Hrosvitha's eight legends, Agnes. Both highlight the preservation of the main female's virginity and her faithfulness to God, even though the marriage she is being offered is an honorable one. Both also deal with conversion in a very similar way, with the man seeking to marry her eventually converting himself and becoming a follower of Christ. In all of Hrovitha's works that include the preserving of one's virginity, there seems to be a pattern of it being only a female virtue.
Again, Constance is also connected to Agnes, cured of leprosy in a vision of Agnes, then building a shrine to her outside the Roman walls (also appropriate to Marziano's characterization of the Vestal shunning of worldly distractions).
Scholarly discussion of Hrotsvitha's Agnes story can be found in these two scholarly quoted below.
First, Stephen L. Wailes, Spirituality and Politics in the Works of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim
(2010), describes the scene where she is being forced to marry a pagan, the son of the Prefect Sempronius, against her will, by being dragged to the temple of Vesta (ironically where she'd be ritually absolved of her virgin oath, but under the sanction of marriage) [2nd paragraph]:
Secondly, Jane Chance, The Literary Subversions of Medieval Women
(2007: 33-34), quotes the passage concerning Vesta in Ovid's Fasti
, where he equivocates on Vesta being both earth (hearth) and fire (the vestal flame); Chance explains and connects to our material:
What is especially interesting here is what personal appeal Martianus Capella may have had for Marziano in that the Italian version of Martianus
(a sort of humanist pagan "patron saint" namesake). I've not mined Martianus's De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii
for all of the Vesta references yet, but I did note that he divides "the whole sky into sixteen regions" - the same number of Marziano's deified heroes. The treatment of Vesta in the Agnes myth is ambivalent, but Marziano was not writing a hagiography, just establishing the pagan world of the deified progenitors (with Roman names), some of whom were incorporated into the genealogy of the Visconti; all the better if there were chaste exemplars that foreshadowed the Christian world (and again, Constance was astride those worlds, the pagan Empire transitioned into a Christian Empire...with her inspired by Saint Agnes, literally Agnese's patron saint).
As for the Vita of Saint Gaucherius with the added Marziano-Vesta language, he established places of spiritual refuge for men and women, not unlike the life of Saint Gallicanus with whom Agnes is connected in Hrotsvitha. Saint Gallicanus was a legendary Roman martyr in Egypt in 363, but known as a consul with Symmachus in 330 and converted to Christianity and retired to Ostia where founded a hospital and endowed a church built by Constantine I (whose daughter Agnes inspires). Ultimately he was banished to Egypt, and lived with the hermits in the desert. And again, the central woman in his story is the Emperor Constantine's daughter, Constance, a consecrated Virgin, while Gallicanus is the Commander-in-Chief of Constantine's army. Constance denies his marriage offer and instead gets Gallicanus to convert to Christianity and also takes a vow of celibacy.
Someone utilizing an alphabetically organized compendium of the lives of saints would find Gaucherius's Acta
right after or near Gallicanus; perhaps struck by their similar withdraw from worldly life, explored the other saint in more detail and came across Hrotsvitha's material, and with Agnes also connected to Constantine, is drawn to her life and the connection to Vesta. Further research on Vesta leads our mystery hagiographer to Marziano who provides a "nun-like" description of Vesta and her Vestals withdrawn from society, but applies that description to his saint. All of this would be based on the fortuitous grouping of a compendium of saints that included both Gaucherius and Gallicanus (or perhaps just the latter, Gallicanus come across since our writer is looking in the saintly book for where his new saint would go), Hrotsvitha, and Marziano....Marziano being the very limiting factor here, since only two known manuscripts.
Contrary to that, and equally speculative, consider that Gaucherius flourished in the century right after Hrotsvitha, so, contrary to my original opinion, there is the possibility that the Vesta material was actually original to the life of Gaucherius, appropriated from Hrotsvitha, and a copy of that was found in the monastery manuscript-hunting period right before Marziano's work (e.g., Poggio in St. Gall in 1417) . Of course this hagiography interested no other humanists....but Marziano found a use for this obscure material (but why would he link the Gaucherius vita
At all events, it is the earlier life of Agnes that provides the link between the corpus of hagiography and Vesta.
Other sources for her legend I have not explored yet besides St. Ambrose (to see what role Vesta plays) include a metrical Vita
by Prudentius, one by Pope St. Damasus preserved in the Acta sanctorum
, and the late 10th century Old English life by AElfric (Chance, 26), but it seems the place (central Germany) and time (also 10th century) would favor the prolific Hrosvitha as the source (even if she were somehow influenced by AElfic's Old English manuscript - but how could she read it?).
On the whole its hard to imagine Marziano, even being in the second ranks of humanists that we presume of him, plagiarizing a hagiography. Unless Marziano was driven to seek out such hagiographic sources because of his patron's love, Agnese....but Hrotsvitha does not provide the quote, only the connection to Vesta - the unknown author of the life of Gaucherius has the quote but he does not mention Vesta. I thus come to the conclusion that, however unlikely, Hrotsvitha and Marziano were in the same library, the former text leading leading our anonymous writer of Gaucherius to the latter text, both featuring Vesta. As for the problem of Marziano's potential use of Hrotsvitha, or Roman sources (namely Plutarch) - or both - I've still yet to compare figures of speech in all sources to make an argument either way. Right now I'd tentatively argue that the Agnes/Vesta connection (spurred on by trying to flatter Filippo's love for Agnese) lead him to search out Roman sources that allowed for an especially chaste/nun-like reading of Vesta and her Vestals (Boccaccio simply didn't).
PS I've since come across the oldest source for the Agnes/Vesta connection (not
Prudentius - he cites Minerva) - which still does not clarify which source Marziano or the anonymous hagiographer of Gaucherius might have had access to, but the oldest Latin account of Agnes' martyrdom linked to Vesta is the Passio Sanctae Agnetis
(BHL 156-7 and 2527-7a). This late antique Latin passion (date is disputed, 4th-5th century) was once attributed to Ambrose of Milan and numerous manuscripts make that attribution, which at least underscores that portion of my thesis of why Agnes would be especially noteworthy in the Visconti court, and indeed, no doubt why Filippo's lover, Agnese del maino, was named for that saint. Excellent dissertation on Agnes sources here: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/14131/1/507789.pdf
Perhaps a telling line from the author of the dissertation: "I have always been struck by the popularity of the passiones
of the early Roman virgin martyrs and how countless medieval authors were inspired to adapt and retell the legends of such saints for a variety of different purposes