Italy Medieval Arts Part 1

The toponym Italy, of Oscan origin, approached from the etymological point of view to Lat. vitulus (‘calf’) and variously interpreted (Rauhut, 1953; Marcato, 1990), initially referred to the southern extremity of Calabria. Already in the classical era, and officially under the empire of Augustus (27 BC14 AD), Italy went on to indicate the entire peninsula up to the Alps, while the islands were added to the Italian diocese only under Diocletian (284-305). Middle Ages the name Italy still retained a political-administrative value for a certain period (with reference to the prefectura Italiae and the exarchate), but then, while remaining alive in written usage, it generally assumed a purely geographical meaning, which is it explains, moreover, with the premature political fragmentation of the peninsula. Furthermore, as has been noted (Rohlfs, 1959), the Latin-like form itself (I. and not Itaglia or Taglia) demonstrates a learned origin (even if autochthonous; Serianni, 1994) and not a popular diffusion, unlike the denominations of other novel countries; significant in this sense is also the frequent writing with the initial Y, reserved for proper names heard as ‘learned’ or as ‘foreigners’; however, the Etalia form is also attested. In the early Middle Ages the toponym adopted beyond the Alps and in the East to indicate the Italy it was mostly that of Langobardia ‘land of the Lombards’ (Rohlfs, 1959), which in the documents of the Italian area rather designates the Po region, also in contrast to Romania and Tuscia; Brunetto Latini in the Trésor contrasts the Ytaile with the Lombardie (Migliorini, 1960). but exclusively in the intellectual sphere, the idea of ​​the profound unity of the peninsula on a cultural level began to assert itself, beyond the political subdivisions and the linguistic fragmentation itself in remarkably different dialectal areas. The awareness of Italian unity is evident in Dante Alighieri, in his entire work and in particular in De vulgari eloquentia, and then in Francesco Petrarca (e.g. in the song Italia mia, although ‘l parlar è indarno; Rime, CXXVIII). However, still in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the toponym Italy is mainly used with reference to the Roman era or again in a geographical sense, especially in contrast to foreign countries (Durante, 1981). A particular case is then constituted by the famous writing “Ytalia” in the fresco of a sail of the upper basilica of S. Francesco in Assisi painted by Cimabue, where the analysis of the monuments represented unequivocally demonstrates that “it is ‘Ytalia-Rome'” (Andaloro, 1984, p. 144). the history of the ethnic: the Latin adjectives Italus and Italicus found it difficult to be accompanied by a vulgar term; moreover, in medieval Latin itself, with reference to contemporaneity, Lumbardus and Tuscus were used, at times combined and therefore, at least implicitly, opposed, or the term Latinus was ‘updated’. The Italian adjective is attested (apart from the previous appearances in anthroponymy, next to the same name Italy; Aebischer, 1959) only from the middle of the century. 13 °: after the ytalien del Trésor by Brunetto Latini, that in the vulgarization of Bono Giamboni is translated three times with “d’Italia” and only once with “Italian” (Aebischer, 1959), the attestations in a vulgarization by Valerio Massimo (Migliorini, 1960) and those, more tarde, of the Nuova chronicle by Giovanni Villani (Serianni, 1994). Interesting is a passage by Boccaccio (“many merchants and Cicilians and Pisans and Genoese and Venetians and other Italians”, Decameron, II, 9,47), where the adjective is valid as “overall denomination of the individual peoples of Italy” (Durante, 1981, p. 82), but it seems to imply the awareness of a deeper ethnic unity even in a commercial environment (for other implications of the passage on the level of language, Serianni, 1994). we speak and write in Italy ‘, that of those “qui si dicunt” (Dante, De vulgari eloquentia, I, X, 1), is rather late: it seems to go back to the century. 15th as an adjective and only 17th as a noun (Battaglia, 1973). This circumstance confirms that up to the modern age it was problematic to include the language among the constitutive elements of the Italian nation, also because, as is well known, for centuries the linguistic unity was entrusted almost exclusively to written use (Nencioni, 1995).

According to, the description of the Italy by provinces, inserted by Paolo Diacono, who wrote towards the end of the century. 8 °, in the Hist. Lang. (II, 14-24), since – as he himself says – from that point onwards the events narrated in it would have had precisely Italy, perhaps up to the age of Justinian “(Capo, in Paolo Diacono, Storia dei Lombardi, 1992, p. 437). The provinces listed are eighteen. They are enumerated in an order “linked to the historical situation […] and that is the entry of the Lombards from the north-east; in fact, one follows the direction of their march – Venice, Liguria, (Rezie), Alpi Cozie, Tuscia -, then continuing to descend along the Tyrrhenian to the Strait of Messina and then resuming from the Apennine Alps and the Emilia to go back down along the Adriatic to Otranto; the islands are placed, as always, last “(ibid).1) Venetia.” It is not only made up of those few islands that we now call Venice [quas nunc Venetias dicimus], but its territory extends from the borders of Pannonia to to the river Adda […] Also Istria is united to Venice and together they are considered a single province […] The most important city of Venice was Aquileia; now its place is taken by Cividale [Forum Iulii] “(II, 14). Paolo always has in mind the X regio Augustea, Venetia et Histria, but he also records some changes that have taken place in the meantime. He still speaks of it as a single whole, although the Lombard conquest had, already in 569, with Alboino, separated a good part of the ‘Mediterranean’ Venetia (continental) both from the ‘maritime’ Venetia and from Istria, which remained Byzantine; the subsequent conquests of Istria by the Lombard king Desiderio (770) and, eighteen years later, by the Franks had, yes, somehow reconnected Istria to the mainland Venetia, also, in 770, entirely Lombard (except for a coastal fringe) for more than a century and, starting from 773, frank, but reiterating its separation from the maritime Venetia, which escaped both conquests.

Italy Medieval Arts 1