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Ciceronian Controversies

Ciceronian Controversies

Edited by JoAnn DellaNeva
Translated by Brian Duvick

ISBN 9780674025202

Publication date: 04/30/2007

The most important literary dispute of the Renaissance pitted those writers of Neo-Latin who favored imitation of Cicero alone, as the single best exemplar of Latin prose, against those who preferred to follow an eclectic array of literary models. This Ciceronian controversy is the subject of the texts collected for the first time in this volume: exchanges of letters between Angelo Poliziano and Paolo Cortesi; between Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola and Pietro Bembo; and between Giovambattista Giraldi Cinzio and his mentor Celio Calcagnini. A postscript by Lilio Gregorio Giraldi and writings by Antonio Possevino comment further on this correspondence.

Because they address some of the most fundamental aspects of literary production, these quarrels shed light on similar debates about vernacular literature, which also turned on imitation and the role of the author. The Ciceronian controversy can also be seen as part of larger cultural movements, such as the choice of vernacular language over Latin, the development of Jesuit pedagogy, and the religious conflicts that characterized much of the Renaissance.


  • Believe it or not, the central issues of the book still make a worthy claim upon our attention. And this new bilingual edition, edited by JoAnn DellaNeva and translated by Brian Duvick, brings before the public for the first time in one blue volume, as beautifully printed as its 20 predecessors in this series, the most crucial documents in a literary debate that once engaged the finest minds in Europe.

    —James Gardner, New York Sun


  • JoAnn DellaNeva is Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Notre Dame.
  • Brian Duvick is an Instructor in Philosophy, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press