The Sicilian Poets at the Court of Federico II

April 12, 2017 Gianluca T

The outstanding poets of the Sicilian School



The poets of the Sicilian School were state officials, such as notaries, judges or magistrates. For them the poetic activity was an amusement, a sort of escape from the reality. Unlike trobadours, the Sicilian poets were not real professionals.

Among the outstanding poets of the Sicilian school were:

Giacomo da Lentini (1210 - 1260) was maybe the header of this school and the father of the sonnet lyric form.

Pier delle Vigne (1190 - 1249) was from Vigna in Calabria, studied law at the University of Bologna and served at the court of Frederick II as Chancellor for thirty years. He committed suicide after being unjustly accused of treason and imprisoned. Perhaps this item would normally be buried in a footnote, but the Italian poet Dante Alighieri has written about Pier delle Vigne and his suicide in La Commedia. 

Stefano Protonotaro da Messina wrote Pir meu cori allegrari, the only lyric of the Sicilian School which has preserved unchanged the original features of the so-called 'siciliano illustre'. The other texts belonging to the School were 'toscanizzati' by  Tuscan copyists

Cielo d'Alcamo( - 1230?) Except for the fact that Cielo d'Alcamo and his work Contrasto Amoroso are mentioned in Dante's De Vulgari Eloquentia, nothing more is known about him with any certainty. According to Ignazio Sucato, Sicilian poetry predates the so-called Sicilian School, indeed Sucato argues that if the Contrasto Amoroso was indeed written in about the year 1230 then, "The Sicilian School was not a start point, but a point of arrival'. Sucato is saying that poetry in 'siciliano illustre' did not just appear out of nowhere in the court of Frederick II but necessarily predated its appearance there and Contrasto Amoroso helps to establish that.

Also Guido delle ColonneRinaldo d’Aquino and Jacopo Mostacci were leading figures in the Sicilian School at the court of the emperor Federico II. 

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