PE'TRARCH (It. PETRARCA, ph'tar'kn), FRANCESuo ( 1304-74). Anqtahian poet and hu manist, born at Arezzo, July 20, 1304, of a fam ily then in exile from Florence, because of its affiliation with the party of the Bianchi. Fran cesco changed his father's name Petracco to Pe trarea. 'HIP wanderings of the family took the lad to Piso in 1310 and in 1313 to Avignon in France. After some preliminary training he was sent to Montpellier in 1310 to study law. After some four years there he went to Bologna un to continue his studies in jurisprudence, for lie shrank from pettifogging, though he ad mired the majesty of Roman law. lie had an unbounded love for classical lore, and to this he devoted himself after the death of his father (1326), who had once flung his son's books of poetry and rhetoric into the flames, allowing the half-burnt manuscripts to be rescued at Fran ceseo's passionate entreaty. In 1326 he returned to Avignon and took minor orders as an cede siastie. Thus he w-as not hound by the stricter laws of ecclesiastical discipline, and yet he could enjoy the munerons religious benefices accorded to him. It may be said here that Petrarch was no skeptic like Boccaccio and that his piety was of a worthy kind. De entered into the gay and fashionable life of Avignon, and there he met in 1327 that Laura who was to inspire his imperishable lyrics. The historical reality of this personage has often been doubted. On the other hand, many endeavors have been made to identify her with this or that woman. The only probable identification seems to be that with Laura de Noyes, wife of Hughes de Sade and mother of eleven children at the time of her death by the plague of 1348. However unpoetical the circumstances of her life may have been, she aroused in the poet that spirit of devotion which stirred him in the composition of sweeter lyric verse than had yet been heard in Italy.
Yielding to his nomadic impulses, Petrarch roved about for a while, traveling through South ern France and Germany in 1333, and entering Rome for the first time in 1337. In 1337, eleven years before Laura's death, some unknown woman bore Petrarch a son, Giovanni, and probably it was she who gave him a daughter Francesca in 1343. These children were legitimized by Papal bulls. At intervals he was back again in Avi gnon, and thence he withdrew for a while to the solitude of Vaucluse (Valchinsa). It was here that he received iu 1340 from the universities of Paris and of Rome invitations to visit those places and receive the crown of the poet laureate. Ile decided in favor of the University of Rome, and on Easter Sunday, 1341, he was publicly crowned on the Capitol. He now visited many Italian cities and in 1343 was sent by Pope Clement VI. on an embassy from Avignon to Naples. Resum ing his rambles about Italy, he had the good for tune to discover some of the letters of Cicero, just as he had earlier brought to light two of Cicero's orations. He may also have found a part of the /esti/idio/es of Quintilian. At Parma he got tidings in 134S of Laura; in 1350 he was in Florence with Boccaccio, and in 1351 Boccaccio visited him at Padua. Having refused several offers of apostolic secretaryships from the Holy See, he left Avignon for good in 1353. About this time began his connection with the Visconti in Milan, who in 1356 sent him to Prague as ambassador to Charles IV. of Germany, and in 1360 he undertook a similar mission to Paris. The remaining years of his life were mainly spent in scholarly pursuits at Arqua, near Padua, and there he died July IS, 1374.
Petrarch wrote much more in Latin than in Italian, and prided himself more on his Latin writings than on those in 'Italian. His works in Latin consist chiefly of a poem in hexameters, the Africa, dealing with the undertakings of Scipio Africanus, and of moral, historical, and other scientific treatises, as well as of letters. All his Latin compositions are now forgotten, yet mention may be made of the Carmen Bueoli mn and the Epistoke Megrim, which contain many allusions to events of his time and life, as do also his Letters, for which reference may be made to Voigt, "Die Briefsamnilungen Pe trarkas," in the .1bhandlungen der historischen
Classe der bayerisehen Akademie der Thissen schaften, vol. xiii, (Munich, 1S33). Petrarch's Latin shows the influence of Seneca and of his he loved Saint Augustine, rather than of the best classics. indeed. Petrarch still belongs to the inedi:eval school. and it remained for a Poliziano and a Bembo to prepare the way for an Erasmus. The Canzoniere. containing his Italian verse, is the work for which Petrarch Is now remembered. It comprises sonnets. eanzoni, sestine, ballutr. and madrigals, mainly of an amorous nature, and de voted to an account of his love for Laura, al though some deal with political and other sub jects. On the formal side Tetrarch shows a con siderable advance over his forerunners, whose methods he developed. As to the love that he sang, it can hardly be doubted that its object was a single and concrete one, even though the de scription of the passion often takes a highly symbolized and idealized form. Certainly Laura is not a woman, but woman in general. She has no strongly individualized traits. She is rather the noblest abstraction of fair womanhood to be found in literature between Dante's Beatrice and the period when poets began to sing of women undeniably flesh and blood. In the minute psy chological examination of his own sentiments Tetrarch shows some knowledge of the human heart, but, after all, his sonnets lack striking individuality. What one notices most is the poet's astounding ability to vary a few lovely or noble themes. In his pictures of natural scenery he displays an observation of the external phe nomena of the world not to he found in other writers of his time. Yet descriptions of the beauties of Valehiusa might fit many an other place as \veil. Valchinsa is not more in dividualized than :Madonna Laura. The Trionfi, published with the other Italian verse of the ennzonirre, are an imitation of the allegorical vision of Dante. The vogue of the lyrics of Pe trarch became enormous almost at once after the appearance of the first edition of the Canzoniere (Venice. 1470). It continued for many genera tions and spread abroad. Thus a very marked influence of his poetical methods is to he noted in Spanish verse of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a. humanist, Tetrarch went far to revive the study of Greek literature, although he was himself ignorant of the language: he was most successful, however. in the impulse which he gave to the study of Latin letters. As a writer of Italian, he shows in his style a degree of pre cision and refinement which indicates an improve ment upon the art of Dante. But his style is marked by artificiality and many conceits such as we find in the troubadours.
Consult the edition of Petrareh's Latin and Italian works, published at. Basel in 1554; also a critical edition of the Africa by C'orradini (Padua. 1874, with an Italian translation by Gaud°. (lneglia, 15741: the Poonotry Minoru 1829-34) ; the editions of the ranzonicre by \lestica (Florence. 1895), and by Carlucci and Ferrari (Florence, 1899) ; the editions by Fracassetti (Florence, 1559-63) of the Epistola. eli leehlIR Familial-Hots et Farkr, published in Malian as the Lettere di Franersco (fantiliari r rarie) rolgarizvste e dichinrate ?Florenee. 1S03-671. and Letterr senili, rte. (ilL, 70 : fIngsanil, petrarrhesen Catalog° Belle open- di Franrexeo Pvh•orca, etc. 1Triest, Ferrazzi.
pm fin pet rarrhesra NS7 r : Fiske. I r"i"iogue of Pc trarch Books (Ithaca. N. Y.. 1882) id., .1 Hernd-List of petroreh Edition.1 in the Florentine Public* LibrarirA (Florence, 15s6) ; :Nliszi?‘res, etc. (Paris, 1s671 Geiger, Pcf•urcu (Leipzig. 15741; P. de Nolhae. 1Y /rot-gni. rt l'humankmr i Park. 15921 : Pei:writs Lebec und Wurke (Leipzig. 15751: TrOvidio, "Madonna Laura," in the Nuora tobmia (.Tuly-August. 1$5S) ; Segre, I'cf•arco c Chaucer (ib., 1S99).