spacer1. Baptista Spagnolo, NOTE 1 who took his more familiar name, Mantuanus (“Mantuan” in England since the Renaissance), from his birthplace, the city of Mantua, was born on April 17, 1447, NOTE 2 perhaps illegitimately, NOTE 3 of a distinguished Spanish family that after 1435 had settled in northern Italy. NOTE 4  The most outstanding of several children conspicuous in their service to church and state, NOTE 5 Mantuan from early youth had his father’s encouragement in his study of the liberal arts. NOTE 6  At Mantua he was the pupil of Giorgio Merula and notably of Gregorio Tifernate NOTE 7 (reflected in Mantuan’s eclogues in the figure of Umber), and afterwards he studied philosophy at Padua where he attended the lectures of Paolo Bagelardi. NOTE 8   Unsuccessful in following his father’s advice to exchange an early love of the muses for the study of “knotty sophistries (nodosa sophismata),” he composed the first version of his eclogues NOTE 9 as well as a collection of unprinted elegiac verse during these years. NOTE 10 Poverty seems to have compelled him to leave Padua, however, and a serious quarrel on returning home, coupled with a growing, mystically based sense of vocation, led Mantuan early in 1463 to enter the reformed Carmelite monastery at Ferarra. NOTE 11   During his novitiate there he composed De vita beata, a dialogue on the religious life (S 122).  In 1464 he began teaching rhetoric and the following year was appointed to study logic at the monastery (S 122).  At the General Assembly of the Congregation in May 1466 he delivered the official oration (G 429)—striking evidence of Mantuan’s solid training in rhetoric and of his precocity.  In June of 1469 he completed his studies and was appointed baccalarius at Ferarra (G 429).  By 1470 he seems to have been ordained, perhaps at Bologna, NOTE 12 and was at once elected prior of the chapter at Parma (G 429). In June of the following year he returned to Bologna where he served as clavarius NOTE 13 at the monastery of San Martino and began his studies in theology at the studium generale there. NOTE 14 In 1473 he taught rhetoric in the convent (A 28), completing his studies in theology at the studium in April, 1475. NOTE 15   In 1475 and again in 1477 he was chosen regens NOTE 16 at the monastery of San Martino (G 430, 431).  Twice during Mantuan’s years at Bologna, plague drove him from the city.  Between 1478 and 1481 we find him first outside Bologna at the villa of Giovanni Baptista Refrigerio NOTE 17 where he worked on De calamitatibus temporum, his influential, often reprinted attack on the waywardness of the times, and then at Mantua. NOTE 18  Again, in 1482, Refrigerio and another friend, Ludovico Foscarari, spirited him to safety outside the town after his monastery had been quarantined because of the death of a monk.  In gratitude Mantuan dedicated to Refrigerio and Foscarari his Parthenice Mariana, the first and most distinguished of a series of poems by him on various saints and the Virgin Mary.
spacer2. After May, 1479 he was prior and regens at the convent at Mantua as well as tutor to the children of the Marchese Federico. NOTE 19   By mid–1481 Mantuan was back at Bologna, however, where, first designated regens at San Martino, in July he was appointed head of the college of theologians (S 127,  G 433).  In this latter office Mantuan took part in the inquisition of Giorgio di Novara, who was convicted and executed on a charge of heresy. NOTE 20 First elected vicar general of the Carmelite Congregation at Mantua in 1483, he was reelected to this office five times—each time for a period of two years, with an interval of four years—in 1489, 1495, 1501, 1507 and 1513. NOTE 21
spacer3. Soon after his election in 1483 Mantuan made his first official journey to Rome, where before Sixtus IV he pleaded the Congregation’s case regarding the color of the Carmelite habit.
NOTE 22 Following a period in Bologna after his first term as vicar general, NOTE 23 we find Mantuan back in Rome in 1486, where he succeeded in acquiring San Crisogono in Trastevere as a seat for the Mantuan Congregation in the papal city (S 131).  In this action he was aided in part by Falcone de’ Sinibaldi (S 131), along with Bernardo Bembo the foremost, from the standpoint of their role in the eclogues, among a large group of ecclesiastical and literary acquaintances that Mantuan made during his residence at Rome. NOTE 24
spacer4. From May 1487 to 1489 Mantuan was prior of the newly established house at Rome, during the second year also serving as regens there (S 131,  G 435f.). At this time a number of his works, which (De vita beata excepted) had previously appeared only in manuscript copies, were first printed at Bologna. NOTE 25 A sermon delivered before Innocent VIII on All Saints’ Day, 1488, attacks corruption within the Papal Curia in terms reminiscent of the ninth eclogue.  Christ, Mantuan warns the prelates, dressed in simple attire and ate his bread, most often begged for, in the houses of other men. The cardinals before him, on the other hand, consume at a single meal fish, flesh, and fowl, caring little or not at all for God’s law, for scandal, or for the needs of the wretched of the earth.  Delivered less than three decades before the coming of Luther, Mantuan’s warning at the conclusion of this oration—that both the weeds and good grasses have grown so closely together that they must both perish before the mower’s scythe—has an ominous ring.  But by concluding with a prayer advocating spiritual renewal within the Church, NOTE 26 he sharply marks himself off from Protestant reformers who subsequently embraced him as one of their prophets. NOTE 27
spacer5. In 1489 he travelled from Mantua to Loreto at the head of a company of Carmelite friars who had been put in charge of the santa casa, the reputed house of the Virgin, located there. NOTE 28 Between 1490 and 1492 Mantuan was at Bologna and Rome, NOTE 29 but from the middle of 1493, when he was appointed prior and regens at Mantua (G 437), he was to spend more and more of his time there. In October, 1493 he delivered a funeral oration at Mantua mourning the death of Eleonora of Aragon, mother of Isabella d’ Este (M 16), and during the later years of his life we catch glimpses of his participation in an “Accademia de Santo Pietro” instituted by Isabella and overseen by Mario Equicola, Matteo Bandello, and at times by Castiglione and Pietro Pomponazzi. NOTE 30
spacer6. Bad health plagued Mantuan through much of his life, and during the first decade of the sixteenth century, representatives were often sent on his behalf to assemblies and on visitations to monasteries within the Congregation (S 132 – 33, G 440). Nonetheless, we should not underestimate the energies of a man who twice during this period could serve as vicar general of the Congregation. In an election dominated by Leo X and Sigismondo Gonzaga, Mantuan’s old pupil and now Cardinal Protector, in 1513 he was chosen general of the entire Carmelite order, a position he held until his death. NOTE 31 During his brief tenure in office, his foremost accomplishment was his assistance in consolidating the Congregation of Albi, a French imitation of the Mantuan Reform. NOTE 32 On the twentieth of March, 1516, he died in the city that had given him his name.

Composition and Publication of the Adulescentia and Its Use by Tutors and in Grammar Schools

spacer7. In dedicating the first printed edition of his collection to Paride Ceresara, NOTE 33 Mantuan tells him that he composed the eclogues long ago when he was a student at Padua (whence the title, Adulescentia [Youth], that he gave to them at the time). Believing that, as immature work, they had disappeared many years before, he describes how, when passing through Bologna in 1497, he had unexpectedly come on a manuscript copy of the collection. He soon finds that too many copies are in circulation to call them all in and therefore resolves to revise the poems, adding to the end of the collection two eclogues that he composed after entering religious orders. In this version, the entire collection was first printed at Mantua in September 1498, the only edition of his eclogues to appear there. NOTE 34
spacer8. Written long after the event, Mantuan’s dedicatory letter gives no indication of the personal turmoil that surrounded the composition of the original collection. For this, we must look to an earlier, quite remarkable letter written by Mantuan to his father soon after he had begun his novitiate at Ferarra. NOTE 35 Here he chronicles the spiritual crisis in the midst of which the poems were composed and which concluded by leading him to enter the Carmelite order. Early in his youth, he confesses, he had done things so shameful that (as he puts it) he had been unable even to face the paintings in the churches. After an abortive attempt to enter a local monastery, he had gone to study at Padua, but falling into a life of poverty and servitude there, he returned home only to find himself banished from the house by his suspicious father. Since the world hates him, Mantuan concludes, he has resolved to hate the world. But he is not, he assures his father, abandoning it simply because he is afraid of failing in life. The decisive factor leading him to make his choice, he declares, has been the personal intervention of the Virgin Mary. Falling dangerously ill during an epidemic of plague at Padua, he was saved from death, he claims, only after he had prayed to the Virgin for deliverance. In return, he had vowed eternal service. But, as Mantuan tells his father, he held back from carrying out his pledge until, during a journey by boat from his native city to Venice, the Virgin raised a tempest on the waters in order that his vow might recur to him and lead him to act on it. NOTE 36
9. As the subtitle of Mantuan’s seventh eclogue suggests, the material in this letter can be seen refracted in Pollux’s experiences in the Adulescentia. NOTE 37 In all likelihood, Mantuan (despite references to the cruelty of Pollux’s parents in VII.59 - 64) revised out some of the eclogue’s passion and immediacy in preparing it for printed publication. It would seem equally likely that, as in the case of the prayer and kalendarium marianum in the eighth eclogue (lines 122 – 51, 177 - 219), he also projected into Pollux some of his own subsequent poetic accomplishments and ambitions. NOTE 38 Above all, the final version of the collection clearly reflects the religious spirit and many of the traditions of the Carmelite order that Mantuan had subsequently entered. NOTE 39
spacer10. His request in the dedicatory letter that all manuscript copies of the eclogues be destroyed has in the past made it difficult to trace the history of his collection before its first printing. NOTE 40 Thanks to the recent discovery of manuscript copies of the ninth and tenth eclogues NOTE 41 and to the perhaps unexpected diligence of John Bale, originally a Carmelite monk before becoming a staunch defender of the English reformation, NOTE 42 we are now, however, in a better position to follow the outlines of this history.
spacer11. Granting the widest latitude to the period Mantuan spent at Padua, NOTE 43 it nonetheless seems improbable that all eight eclogues in addition to his unprinted collection of elegies date from this time. It seems more likely that the eclogues had their beginnings at Mantua, perhaps with the encouragement of the humanist Gregorio Tifernate, and that at least the seventh and eighth eclogues may have received their final form as late as Mantuan’s novitiate or soon afterwards. On the basis of John Bale’s work, we can say with confidence that the collection existed in published form by 1476 when the Flemish Carmelite Adrien van Eckhoute made a transcription of it at Padua from Mantuan’s personal copy. NOTE 44
12. The original title was not Adulescentia, as Mantuan claims in his letter to Paride Ceresara, but Suburbanus (The Rustic). NOTE 45 Like his Parthenice Mariana and several other works published in manuscript form NOTE 46 during the 1470s, it was dedicated (in this case by means of a prefatory poem) to Giovanni Baptista Refrigerio, Mantuan’s admirer and protector during times of plague at Bologna. NOTE 47 Given that we find Mantuan at Bologna on a regular basis only after 1470, it therefore seems most likely that his collection of eclogues had a gestation period during the 1460s, circulating individually or together (perhaps in an earlier form), NOTE 48 before being published and dedicated to Refrigerio sometime between June 1471, when we first find Mantuan at San Martino, and 1476.
spacer13. Mantuan’s ninth and tenth eclogues were composed, according to his letter to Paride Ceresara, after entering religious orders and, it would seem on the basis of manuscript copies, well after the publication of Suburbanus. NOTE 49 What became Eclogue IX is dedicated as a strena (a New Year’s gift to a patron) NOTE 50 in a letter to Falcone de’ Sinibaldi as “Protonotary and Papal Treasurer (protonotario ac thesaurio apostolico),” a description that dates Mantuan’s letter from some holiday season between 1484, by which time, as papal treasurer, Falcone had resigned his office as clericus Camerae (S 130), and 1491, the last new year’s season before his death. NOTE 51 Since his last major service—assistance in acquiring San Crisogono for Mantuan’s congregation—was completed in 1486 (S 131), circumstances would favor the mid–1480s as a composition date for both Mantuan’s letter and the eclogue. NOTE 52
14. The first version of Mantuan’s tenth eclogue would now seem to have been composed sometime during the latter half of the 1480s. In its manuscript title it is dedicated to Bernardo Bembo, NOTE 53 father of the famous cardinal and poet, as “Venetian orator to Pope Innocent VIII (Venetorum ad Innocentum VIII summum pontificem Oratorem).” Bembo held this office from November 1487 to October 1488, during which time, like Bembus in Mantuan’s poem, he displayed his skills as an arbitrator, helping to settle a short but bloody war between the Venetians and the forces of the Archduke Sigismondo. NOTE 54 October 1488 is therefore the terminus ad quem of Mantuan’s eclogue, and his dedication would favor a date of composition at some time during the preceding two years.
spacer15. Spanning over twenty years in its original composition and, to all appearances, heavily revised before its printed publication, NOTE 55 Mantuan’s Adulescentia can thus, despite its title, hardly be considered solely the work of his youth. And in spite of the apparent modesty of his dedicatory letter, in placing the eclogues at the beginning of the 1502 edition of his collected works, the only edition of his Opera that he personally oversaw (LR 67, note 4), Mantuan clearly indicates that he knew their worth. From their first printing, they were immensely popular throughout western Europe—indeed, based on a survey of printings, NOTE 56 more so north of the Alps than in his native land. Between 1498 and 1600, the period during which most editions of the Adulescentia were produced, only ten of the 165 extant printings appeared in Italy. At Paris, on the other hand, the widely reprinted commentary by Jodocus Badius (Josse Bade) was published in 1502 (C 22), NOTE 57 less than four years after the first printed edition of Mantuan’s eclogues; and the next year, 1503, saw the first publication of the Alsatian humanist Jakob Wimpfeling’s popular edition (C 29), NOTE 58 by which time editions had already appeared at Cologne (C 2), Erfurt (C 6), Deventer (C 15), and Leipzig (C 21). In time, notes were added by Guilielmus Rameseus NOTE 59 and Joannes Murmellius; NOTE 60 and a second, much less widely circulated commentary by Andreas Vaurentinus made its first appearance at Lyons in 1517 (C 302). NOTE 61
spacer16. Not, of course, that the Adulescentia went unvalued in Italy. In 1504, four years after their initial publication, his eclogues appeared in company with those of Virgil, Calpurnius, Nemesianus, Petrarch, and Boccaccio in a handsome Giuntine edition printed at Florence (C 48). NOTE 62 The title of an edition published at Turin in 1520 is particularly expansive in its praise, proclaiming that in the Adulescentia the reader will discover the life of man portrayed more fully than in Virgil’s bucolics, setting aside (the publisher concedes) the loftier grandeur of the Roman poet’s verse. NOTE 63 Mantuan’s amatory eclogues seem to have been of particular interest. NOTE 64 The titles of the Milan edition of 1498 (GW 3245) and the Brescia edition of 1502 (C 13) announce the first eclogue “with another eclogue opposing love newly added (cum quadam alia aegloga contra Amorem noviter addita),” NOTE 65 though both editions (pace Coccia, p. 113) include the entire collection; and both versions conclude not with Mantuan’s tenth eclogue but with his Elegia contra amorem. NOTE 66
17. The principle reason for the massive number of printings of his Adulescentia is, of course, that quite early the collection established itself as a textbook used by tutors and in the grammar schools of Europe. NOTE 67 During the first half of the sixteenth century educators in England and on the Continent found the eclogues’ subject matter, moral tone, and the relatively high level of Latinity to their liking. A letter by Wimpfeling prefacing his edition stresses the correctness of Mantuan’s Latin and his safe treatment of subject matter—women, love, and marriage—that was of obvious interest to young students. NOTE 68 And in the dedicatory letter to his edition Badius likewise praises Mantuan’s eloquence and good sense in treating delicate subject matter. NOTE 69
spacer17. An account book of the bookseller Garrett Godfrey shows that as early as the 1520s tutors in England were using the Adulescentia at Cambridge. NOTE 70 The coming of the Protestant Reformation gave an unexpected stimulus, however, to the institution of his collection of eclogues within English grammar school curricula. NOTE 71 As a prominent critic of corruption in the Papal Curia, Mantuan had early been enlisted by Luther and Protestant polemicists like Matthias Flacius in their attack on the church at Rome. That he was a Carmelite made his condemnation of the Curia in Eclogue IX especially valuable. As the anonymous English author of The Abuses of the Romish Church Anatomized put it, “lest [my critics] should say, that these testimonies have been devised by men of our profession, to disgrace them and theirs, let us heare what Mantuan, one of their own sect saith of them...” NOTE 72 The stridently anti-papal stance of his eclogue, congurent with Protestant attacks on the Papacy, combined to make the Adulescentia an attractive text within the curriculum already shaped by Northern humanist educators. Thus we find his collection in the educational program laid down by Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell in 1539 for the refounded cathedral school at Canterbury, a harbinger of its inclusion in the curricula of other cathedral schools in England. NOTE 73 By mid-century the Adulescentia had displaced Virgil’s eclogues in the influential curriculum of Saint Paul’s School, NOTE 74 and from this time onwards it is commonly found in the statutes of grammar schools throughout the realm. NOTE 75
spacer18. As with many of Mantuan’s works, the number of printings of his Adulescentia begins to decline during the 1530’s. But because of its institution in the schools, England long remained the striking exception. The only work by him to gain any number of printings there, editions of Mantuan’s Adulescentia increase in number after John Kyngston’s in 1569 until, eventually passing into the English Stock, at least forty printings appeared before 1700. NOTE 76 By Doctor Johnson’s account, the Adulescentia was still being taught in some of the grammar schools in Britain during the early eighteenth century. NOTE 77
spacer19. The English schoolmaster Charles Hoole left behind a good general account of how Mantuan’s eclogues were used in the classroom. At each lesson students were to take six lines of a given eclogue and, first committing them to memory, were to construe and parse them. Then the master was to “help them to pick out the Phrases and Sentences; which they may commit to a paper–book; and afterwards resolve the matter of their lessons into an English period or two, which they may turn into proper and elegant Latine, observing the placing of words, according to prose.” To illustrate this process, Hoole takes the first five lines of Mantuan’s first eclogue, thus rendering them in English prose:

Shepherds are wont sometimes to talke of their old loves, whilest the cattel chew the cud under the shade; for fear, if they should fall asleep, some Fox, or Wolf, or such like beast of prey, which either lurk in the thick woods, or lay wait in the grown corn, should fall upon the cattel. And indeed, watching is farre more commendable for a Prince, or Magistrate, then immoderate, or unseasonable sleep. NOTE 78

Small wonder, given this procedure, that we hear so much in sixteenth and seventeenth century England about “morall Mantuan!” NOTE 79
spacer20. Surviving marked copies of the Adulescentia suggest, however, that the habits of reading practiced in using his eclogues in the classroom were more diverse than this. Generally speaking, the collection was treated as a transitional text between basic work on grammar and vocabulary and the teaching of more sophisticated literary texts. At the most basic level schoolboys were therefore encouraged to use their copies to collect phrases, comparisons, and hexameter lines for their own compositions. To build vocabulary, Latin synonyms are often written above individual words. And occasionally a marginal note identifies or adds to the information Badius gives in his annotation on people and places in the ancient world.
spacer21. Certain passages that are underlined or otherwise distinguished in marked copies indicate the particular interests of students or their teachers. The Virgin Mary’s description of the underworld in Mantuan’s seventh eclogue (102 – 19) is, for instance, singled out in one copy in an early sixteenth–century hand, as is Candidus’ song of praise to her in his eighth (177 – 80), an intriguing relic of the Mariology in pre–Reformation English devotion. Fortunatus’ laconic judgement on erotic love (“we have all been crazy once [semel insanivimus omnes]” (I.118), underlined in a copy of the Adulescentia now in the Folger Shakespeare Library, NOTE 80 doubtless reflects schoolmasters’ attempts to extract moral wisdom from Mantuan’s eclogues, as in all likelihood does a passage on the good will of parents—“sit licet in natos facies austera parentum, / aequa tamen semper mens est, et amica voluntas [though parents’ looks may be harsh towards their children, their thoughts are always kind and their dispositions friendly]” (I.131f.)—that is marked in two copies of his poems.
spacer22. But schoolboys had their own interests, and their markings occasionally reveal that they could go their own ways. Portions of Umber’s attack on women in Mantuan’s fourth eclogue (110 - 241) are often noted by readers, and the banter on drinking between Faustulus and Candidus (IX.22 - 31) predictably drew the attention of a few young wags. On a more somber note, any efforts a schoolmaster might have made to extract Christian piety from the poems seem to have failed with one scholar, who marked Fortunatus’ assertion in the third eclogue of the gods’ indifference: “numina si, ut perhibent, orbem moderantur ab alto, / extimo nil duros hominum curare labores [if, as is claimed, divine powers rule the world from above, I reckon that they care not at all for the hard labors of men]” (III.15f.).

Themes, Style and Organization

spacer23. Despite much of their secular subject matter, no understanding of Mantuan’s eclogues can be complete without some knowledge of the traditions and religious spirit of the Carmelite order, especially the ideals of the reform movement for which he was to become chief defender. NOTE 81 The Carmelites often claimed to be the oldest of the religious orders, and we should not be surprised that, writing well before the Bollandists, Mantuan left behind two accounts defending these claims. NOTE 82 Following an old tradition, he identified Elijah as one of the order’s founders and placed its beginnings in the religious community which, originally settled beside the Jordan, later moved to establish itself around the well of Elijah on Mount Carmel. According to Mantuan, these “sons of the prophets” (as they were called from their Elian origins) continued on Mount Carmel through the time of Christ when they were converted, subsequently dedicating to the Virgin a chapel on its slopes. Henceforth Carmelites made their vows to both God and Mary and jealously defended their title of “brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.” After the fall of Acre in 1291 they were compelled to abandon the site, dispersing thereafter throughout western Europe; and with this move came fundamental changes in the nature of the order. Most important, the original rule of Saint Albert was modified under Innocent IV in 1247 so that the order was in effect granted mendicant status and allowed to establish itself in urban areas. Hence arose a continuing conflict within the Carmelites between the contemplative ideal and the life of apostolic and clerical activity that the order came increasingly to pursue in succeeding ages.
spacer24. The reform issue most immediately evident in Mantuan’s Adulescentia involves the color of the Carmelite habit. NOTE 83 In his tenth eclogue as well as his prose writings Mantuan variously insisted that the original color of the habit had been white, light brown, or grey (Opera IV.i, 260, S 280 – 81), and the oldest extant document related to the subject does in fact prescribe a grey, apparently undyed tunic which had replaced the striped mantle worn in the Holy Land. Over the years, however, difficulty in obtaining material of the same color led to the occasional practice of dyeing the habit black. The issue came to a head when a papal bull of 1483 reaffirmed the black habit decreed by the prior general of the order eleven years before. As vicar general of his congregation, Mantuan appealed the case before Sixtus IV in an action that led the following year to adoption of an undyed grey habit such as (according to the decision of the Diet at Bologna) “old constitutions of the Carmelite order mandate and all the blessed brethren within the aforementioned ancient order observed of old.” NOTE 84 At first glance the whole dispute is apt to seem trivial and slightly Byzantine. For Mantuan, however, the change in the color of the habit was less an issue of expediency than a symbol of the decadence that he saw overtaking the order. As he was to remark later in life, “we were wearing white, that true and ancient color; the others continued just as they sought to be—utterly blackened.” NOTE 85
spacer25. The choice that the Virgin Mary urges on Pollux in the seventh eclogue reflects a number of ideals embraced by the Carmelite order, ideals Mantuan often defended after entering it. Pollux’s choice of Mary echoes, for instance, the Carmelites’ special devotion to the Virgin, and Mantuan’s stress on his decision to leave his parents and native land to enter the silent cloisters calls attention to an aspect of the order going back to the rule of Saint Albert. NOTE 86 In De vita beata Mantuan echoes the Carmelite rule in making Pollux’s chastity a basic requirement of the religious life; NOTE 87 and on several occasions later in life he traced chastity as an ideal within the order back to Elijah and his early followers (Opera IV.i, 255, IV.ii, 209v). Finally, Pollux’s retirement from the world is basic to the Carmelite idea of retreat into the “desert” or “wilderness” of the monastery, NOTE 88 an ideal reaffirmed in Mantuan’s accounts, written well after ordination, of how early members of the order had forsaken the city to live in caves on the slopes of Mount Carmel (Opera IV.i, 242, S 279).
spacer26. Deeply rooted in monastic tradition, NOTE 89 this ideal of eremitic withdrawal stands in part behind the antipathy expressed towards the city in Mantuan’s ninth and tenth eclogues. Petrarch’s example is also broadly influential here: writing to his brother about the meaning of the first eclogue in his Bucolicum carmen, he explains that he has chosen the name “Sylvanus” for himself “partly because I have always felt from earliest childhood a hatred of cities, implanted in me by nature, and a love of sylvan life which has led many of our friends to call me ’Sylvanus’ far more often than ‘Francesco.’” NOTE 90
spacer27. This fierce antagonism towards cities is a feature of post–classical pastoral quite alien to Virgil. If the niggardliness of town merchants in part prevents Tityrus from amassing the means sufficient to purchase his liberty, Virgil’s first eclogue nonetheless reminds us that it is Octavian, leader of a city whose grandeur far surpasses Tityrus’ previous experience, who has the power to protect the lands he relies on to gain his freedom. NOTE 91 At times, Mantuan is capable of such equipoise, most notably in a lovely passage in his eighth eclogue (VIII.184 - 89) that portrays as complementary the relationship between pastoral Loreto and the urban pilgrims who flock to it. But far more often he condemns the city on moral and spiritual grounds—the home of shysters, quacks, and libertines (VI.118 - 215), a den of predatory monsters (IX.141 - 152)—that Mantuan’s years at Rome doubtless helped to aggravate. Not that country life is soft or wholly attractive in either Virgil’s eclogues or the Adulescentia. Candidus’ idyllic account of it (IX.67 – 77) is, like Meliboeus’ lyrical description in Virgil’s first eclogue (lines 51 – 58), NOTE 92 less the product of fact than of his present situation. Nevertheless, a spirit of contemptus mundi permeates Mantuan’s pastoral world to an extent quite alien to the Roman poet: as Fortunatus puts it in the second eclogue, “all good fortune has its joyless sequel” (26).
spacer28. Readers accustomed to Virgil’s eclogues will find numerous stylistic qualities that distinguish the eclogues in the Adulescentia from ancient pastoral. Unlike Virgil’s bucolics, Mantuan’s pastorals are all fully dramatized dialogues, by far the most common form in post–classical Latin pastoral. In particular, the fifth, sixth, and tenth eclogues in the Adulescentia betray their formal origins in medieval debate literature. NOTE 93 Like Mantuan’s numerous catalogues of phrases and epithets and his massive accumulation of grotesque exempla—a device which has its formal origins not in pastoral but in the satires of Juvenal NOTE 94 —the rhetorical edge inherent in the debate form results at times (as in the latter half of the sixth eclogue) in arid stretches of invective and in a strident tone utterly foreign to Virgil’s sense of proportion and use of understatement.
spacer29. “Herds grow by piety (pietate peculia crescunt)” (VIII.157), “counsel after action is like rain after harvest time (consilium post facta, imber post tempora frugium)” (II.93)—like his diction, NOTE 95 these sometimes mordant aphorisms contribute to a degree of rustic realism in the Adulescentia unprecedented in Latin pastoral before his time. It has long since been customary to stress the role of close personal observation in creating this effect. NOTE 96 More recently, however, Helen Cooper has suggested some of the ways in which Mantuan’s rustic realism participates in a widespread literary trend expressed in France and England in the literature of bergerie. Indeed, at times the two influences become difficult to disentangle. Faustus’ description of Tonius, the drunken bagpiper of the first eclogue (lines 163 – 71), has, for instance, been praised as an accurate description of an Italian rustic type. NOTE 97 But the bagpipes, along with the feasting and dancing that accompany Faustus’ wedding, can all be equally well paralleled in French and English bergerie literature. NOTE 98
spacer30.There is an earthiness and workaday quality about Mantuan’s shepherds more pervasive and striking than anything found in previous Latin pastoral. Arcadia’s gentle shepherds never castrate sheep and swine (VIII.19), nor are any of them so explicit about the demands of nature (IV.87f.). Akin to this workaday aspect, a note of social realism is struck at times—most strikingly in the sixth eclogue (lines 225 – 33) in the contadino Cornix's justification of stealing from predatory city-dwellers—that is unprecedented even in contemporary Italian pastoral. And (a gentler strain) in Pollux’s prayer as well as in the description of the statue of the Virgin surrounded by votive offerings (VIII.116 – 18, 122 – 51), Mantuan has introduced elements of the popular religion of his own day NOTE 99 to create a pastoral world quite different from Virgil’s Arcadia.
spacer31. But if Mantuan has a keen eye for rustic ways and often delights in them, suffusing the Adulescentia there is also the detachment of a sensibility bred in different circumstances and destined for different ends. Most often this attitude shows up in a comic treatment, sometimes light, sometimes more heavy–handed, of characters and situations in the eclogues (e.g., I.148 – 51, IV.87f.). At times, however, one can hear the severer accents of the well–bred city–dweller’s patronizing tone (e.g., VIII.28 – 39) and even the scorn of the nascent monk (e.g., II.66 – 75).
spacer32. Mantuan’s pastoral world is a more localized realm than is Virgil’s blending of Sicily, Greece, and northern Italy. Characters are associated with specific regions—Aegon of Val Sasina, Harcules returning from Verona—and Mantuan catalogues the landscape surrounding his native city far more thoroughly and consistently than does Virgil. Yet, more often than not, these details serve purposes other than simply helping to establish a scene. At the beginning of the second eclogue, for instance, Fortunatus’ description of the Po’s overflowing presents an image of turmoil introductory to the account of Amyntas’ spiritual disorder. And Amyntas’ sojourn through “Coitus” (II.40) to Solferino, that “tower of sulphur,” sets up signposts that foreshadow his downfall. NOTE 100
spacer33. There are, in fact, three Arcadias in Mantuan’s eclogues. In addition to the realm of Faustus, Fortunatus, and their like, we find, for one, the primitive Carmelite community described in the seventh and tenth eclogues (VII.124 – 31, X.70 – 73, 145 – 53). Long since woven by the Church Fathers into their vision of the monastic life, NOTE 101 the main precedent in ancient pastoral for this second Arcadia is Virgil’s messianic fourth eclogue. But where Virgil’s Golden Age is to be embodied in this world, the monastic life urged on Pollux in the seventh eclogue is only partial and provisional, NOTE 102 a paradise that is meant to lead to a third, otherworldly Arcadia (VII.132 – 40) NOTE 103 whose nymphs inhabit celestial groves.
spacer34. For all this, Mantuan is at least as interested in life here and now as in the next world. A main theme of the Adulescentia, announced in the first lines and reiterated throughout the collection, is the constant need for toil and vigilance in a difficult, often dangerous world. Leisure has its proper time and function—it can even be used to insure watchfulness (I.1 - 5)—but it should always be blended with labor (X.14 - 18) and, indeed, labor and hardship sweeten it (VI.42). The prime force disturbing toil and watchfulness in Mantuan’s eclogues as in Virgil’s is love. Not only, as Fortunatus argues, does it impede the acquisition of wealth and land (II.115 – 19); in the shepherds’ world where existence itself is always in doubt, love can lead to starvation and ruin (III.57 – 88). Against Fortunatus’ arguments are placed Amyntas’ description of love as the union of two hearts (III.93 – 102) and the opposition he draws between free love and honor (II.156 – 67). While this opposition introduced into pastoral poetry elements of a so–called “soft primitivism” that were to find their best known expression in the first chorus of Tasso’s Aminta, NOTE 104 it nonetheless seems clear that Mantuan by no means intended his reader to accept them uncritically. In distorting psychological probabilities by having Amyntas speak of spiritual union with a girl who doesn’t even know he loves her (III.128f.), Mantuan is stressing the extent to which love can become a selfish infatuation that makes a man look like a fool. In this respect Jannus’ tale of the lovesick shepherd boy (IV.20 – 75) functions as a pendant to Amyntas’ tragedy, the foolish state the boy finds himself in, having fallen into a wolfpit, functioning as a farcical restatement of the condition to which Amyntas has been driven. But like Jannus’ boy Amyntas has also become less than a man, figuratively a wild beast. Much more insistently than do Virgil’s eclogues, Mantuan's Adulescentia stresses that love is a hidden fire, a madness that, blinding the eye of reason, cancels out the faculty separating men from wild animals.
spacer35. Women set off this process: as Umber remarks, they are the Medusas who change men to stone (IV.239 – 41). Although there are occasional strains of misogyny in ancient pastoral, NOTE 105 to Mantuan belongs the dubious honor of having introduced misogynistic satire wholesale into the genre. Nonetheless, despite Umber’s notorious attack on women in the fourth eclogue (lines 110 – 241) NOTE 106 —a tirade ranging far beyond their direct effect on men—women cannot ultimately be held responsible for the foolishness and suffering that in the Adulescentia almost invariably accompany them. In the final analysis, Faustus, Amyntas, and Jannus’ shepherd boy are all fallible and all choose their own lot. They become the makers of their folly rather than simply Love’s passive victims.
spacer36. And, of course, not all kinds of love are destructive or culpable in the Adulescentia. The titles that Mantuan gives to the first three eclogues indicate a distinction that he established between Amyntas’ self–destructive passion and Faustus’ honorable love (honestus amor) that finds its end in marriage. Indeed, in forging a reconciliation between pastoral love and marriage in Eclogue I, Mantuan boldly entered onto ground that Virgil had left untrodden. But, for a full evaluation of Faustus’s love, one must look beyond the opening eclogues to the design of Mantuan’s collection as a whole.
spacer37. Despite the episodic nature of its composition, a number of threads unite the published text of the Adulescentia. Themes and images recur: love, founts and streams, the city and the countryside, mountains and lowlands, hellish and bestial places, a fondness for the old days and ways, and reverence for the wisdom of our fathers. Moreover, the settings of the eclogues are so arranged as to give a roughly sequential and comprehensive impression of the countryman’s life at various seasons of the year. NOTE 107 The pivot on which the collection as a whole turns is the seventh eclogue, which initiates a development of viewpoint carried through the succeeding eclogues by no single character but, as the headnotes indicate (Eclogue VII being composed “when the author is already aspiring to enter religious orders,” the ninth and tenth eclogues “after his entry into religious orders”), by Mantuan as the implied author of the Adulescentia. NOTE 108 In the seventh and eighth eclogues Pollux embodies the first stage of this development as, discovering the wellspring of his salvation in the Virgin Mary’s warning and exhortation, he reorients himself from an exclusive concern with this world towards a discovery of the full importance of the life of the spirit. From this movement inwards, Candidus and especially Batrachus in the last two eclogues initiate a movement outwards, attempting to find a life on earth fully consonant with the soul’s demands. The description of Mount Carmel in Mantuan’s seventh eclogue (lines 124 – 140) holds the key to the conclusion of this development, as, first juxtaposed in the ninth eclogue with the scorched earth of a degenerate Rome, in the tenth eclogue it is explicitly developed by Batrachus in the primitive ideal which the Carmelite order must struggle to recapture and institute among themselves in this world.
spacer38. Seen from the point of view of these concluding four eclogues, Amyntas’ frantic ramblings (III.144) thus take on more serious overtones, recalling as they do the goal toward which Pollux was moving (see NOTE 103) and Bembus’ concluding admonition to call home flocks that are wandering among the haunts of savage beasts (X.202f.). Indeed, even Faustus’ honestus amor must finally concede higher place to the religious devotion exemplified by Pollux in the later eclogues. Compared with the exalted tone that characterizes his encounter with the Virgin Mary, the amused, slightly detached tone in which Faustus’ affair is presented (e.g., I.148 – 51) conveys a qualitatively different evaluation of the two kinds of love. NOTE 109
spacer39. Especially in comparison with much of Mantuan’s later verse, the Adulescentia is one of his most unified and polished pieces. It is also, as the headnotes and the letter to his father indicate, a quite personal work. Yet the relation between Mantuan’s seventh eclogue and the material in his letter is by no means a simple one. Setting aside discrepancies in detail, the conversion pattern uniting the experiences of Pollux and the young Mantuan has what is surely an intentional ring of familiarity to it. In part, this sense of dejà vu confirms that God’s ways of choosing his elect repeat themselves throughout history, a seal that identifies Pollux and Mantuan as belonging to that line of elect spirits that stretches back to Augustine, Jerome, and Paul. And in Pollux’s case this recurrence of similar elements is a pledge, a promise that as God has repeated himself in the past, so he will continue to extend his hand in recognizable because similar ways to present and future generations. Experience then both in Mantuan’s letter and the seventh eclogue is significant as the revelation of general patterns and, more, as testimony to the link binding earth and heaven, this life with the world to come. NOTE 110 Mantuan’s letter to his father is openly rhetorical, a singleminded effort to convince him of the wisdom of his choice; and in its revised form Mantuan’s collection of eclogues also has designs on the moral and visionary resources of its readers. A diversity of subjects—the poverty of poets, the ways of erotic love, the origins of country folk—enriches the eclogues. And more important, a diversity of qualifying, sometimes conflicting perspectives informs the collection. Women may seem frivolous, but the men who encourage them are still more fallible (I.79f., 85 – 87). Mountains may be holy places, but the people who dwell there lead difficult, desperate lives (VIII.42 – 59, 63 – 66). For all this, in its final form the Adulescentia shows Mantuan’s overriding concern, as he expressed it late in life, to bring poetry in all its winding ways back again to serve the teachings of Christ. NOTE 111
spacer40. Granted this essential unity of intention, the impression of diversity within the collection nevertheless remains. That the eclogues were composed at different periods in Mantuan’s life accounts only in part for this multifaceted quality. More important is his seemingly insatiable curiosity to try out different styles, material, and points of view—coupled at times, the reader might feel, with a lack of proportion or due consideration for unity of effect. From romantic love to corruption within the Papal Curia, from the allegorical technique popularized by Petrarch and Boccaccio to the rustic realism of the literature of bergerie, Mantuan’s Adulescentia develops most of the possibilities open to pastoral in his time. For this very reason it became along with Virgil’s eclogues a textbook within the developing educational program of the Northern humanists used in part to teach what pastoral should be. In time, however, the extremes of realism and allegory came to offend. Scaliger complains that Mantuan’s world is too rustic for pastoral, NOTE 112 and Fontenelle is repelled by the corporeal realism of his description of Galla. NOTE 113 Pope finds the religious eclogues too allegorical, NOTE 114 and Doctor Johnson thunders against shepherds who are priests in poetic disguise. NOTE 115 At this point, the influence and esteem accorded to Mantuan’s Adulescentia have at long last come to an end.
spacer41. The Latin text here is based on the first printed edition of the eclogues (Mantua, 1498), as edited by Wilfred P. Mustard, and follows his modifications in spelling and punctuation.

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