Pétrone contre les Jésuites

J’ai partecipé au colloque international Early Modern Satire: Themes, Re-evaluations, Practices organisé par l’Université de Göteborg  (2-4 Novembre 2017).

Je présente ici l’extrait de mon exposé (en anglais) préparé en vue de la publication des actes.

Petronius against Pedantry: Satire and Rhetoric in the 17th Century.

As it is well known, the interpretation of Petronius’ Satyricon as a satire has an important tradition. Petronius’ masterpiece has in fact served as a model for a number of narrative texts that, under the veil of fiction, hinted at the contemporary society with a polemical purpose. What is less known is that the Satyricon has also inspired, in the 17th Century, the reaction of those who wished to contrast the bombast of contemporary eloquence, in particular the dominant model of Jesuit oratory.

The paper is focused on three examples of anti-pedantic re-use of Petronius. The first example is the Satyricon on the correct instruction of youth by Schoppius (Caspar Schoppe 1576-1649), written in 1602 and still partially unpublished. In his Satyricon Schoppius presents a very well-documented pedagogical program, but he also shows his satirical talent mercifully attacking the Society of Jesus. Apart from quoting single passages from Petronius to mock the Society, Schoppius clearly inspired himself to Petronius entitling his own treatise ‘Satyricon’, probably to refer to the mixture of the serious and the comic he found in Petronius.

Secondly, the paper presents the schoolbook Selectiores dicendi formulae by Bartolomeo Beverini (1629-1686), published in 1666, reprinted in 1689 and 1750. Beverini’s work is meant to teach rhetoric to the young, literally subverting Jesuit didactics: in fact, not only did Beverini use as a model the lively Latin of Plautus, Terence and Petronius, but he also translated their quotations in the vernacular, the use of which was forbidden by the Jesuits. Further, in his Preface, Beverini satirically hints at the Jesuit didactics echoing the tirade against the rhetoric schools pronounced at the beginning of Petronius’ Satyricon.

We find the same passage from Petronius developed in the Fragment traduit de Pétrone sur l’Eloquence by Charles de Saint- Évremond (1613-1703). The latter found in Petronius his ideal of gentleman and in his works he repeatedly praised the style of the Satyricon for its elegance. In his Fragment, Saint- Évremond effectively mocks teachers who accustom students to verbose, unnatural eloquence. Then, he illustrates, by contrast, the features of true eloquence drawing his example right from Petronius’ Satyricon. Saint- Évremond’s Fragment has been later adapted into Italian by Lorenzo Magalotti (1637-1712), who wished to point out ‘the specific vices of Italian false eloquence’.

The paper concludes remarking that, although Schoppius, Beverini and Saint- Évremond’s works don’t belong to the genre of formal satire, they embody the very spirit of it. In fact, the three of them don’t limit themselves to attack the vices of their rivals, but they also constructively indicate the virtuous alternative.

Citer ce billet: “Pétrone contre les Jésuites”, par Corinna Onelli. Publié sur https://satyricon17.hypotheses.org/, le 24/06/2018.









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