Biography of Cecco Angiolieri (ca. 1260-ca. 1312)

Italian poet, born in Siena around the year 1260, and died in his hometown in the early years of the second decade of the 14th century. Highest representative of current comico-realista poetics which flourished in Italy at the end of the middle ages, let a sharp, bright and humorous literary legacy that, for the most part, away from the tragic dimension sublime of the dolce stil novo to deepen, with vigor goliardescos, in the aspects of the human condition, repudiated by the great poets as Dante Alighieri estilnovistas, Cino da Pistoia or Guido Cavalcanti: exaltation of material and earthly life; celebration of the women concerned, cruel and demonic; search forward to sexual pleasure; praising of wealth; praise of the drinking life; and, in general, singing to the sensuality derived from earthly pleasures and lament to the inconstancy of Fortune (which is pleased to deprive men of them).

Life and work

Born in the bosom of a wealthy family who enjoyed a privileged position in the communal life of the Siena at the end of the 13th century (at the time, turned into a thriving core of the Mercantile and banking, middle-class, thanks to its location at the crossroads of the main commercial roads that went to Rome), Cecco Angiolieri don't let, however, many reliable witnesses of his life, making it necessary to reconstruct his eventful life vicissitudes through data - more or less truthful - that emerge from reading her poetry. The noble status of home was, on the one hand, of the illustrious casato of the Salimbeni, that belonged to his mother; through paternal, of the lineage of the Angiolieri, which, although of less prosapia than of the maternal ancestors of Cecco, helped his father prosper so hasty in major political, economic, religious and military circles of the Italian Peninsula: it was - many years before was born the future poet - the Pope Gregory IX'sbanker, and member of the order of the prominent Frati di Maria (or Frati Gaudenti); In addition, the progenitor of Cecco - deeply hated by his son throughout his whole poetic oeuvre - formed part of the Comune of Siena (the Signori) leaders in 1257 and in 1273, and took an active part in the war of Arezzo in 1288, accompanied by the young poet. Despite this reputable position in the communal life of the city, the portrait that has bequeathed us Cecco cannot be more satirical, cruel and ruthless.

Since his early youth, Cecco Angiolieri was forging the aura of rebel and Bohemian poet who, at the time of his death (and for many years after), still nimbaba your figure. Their aversion to any form of authoritarian discipline was demonstrated in 1281, when the young Cecco, with little more than twenty years of age, was fined several times during the siege of the castle of Turri (in Maremma), by being away without the Royal permission; soon after, he/she returned to be fined for breaking the curfew, and in 1291 was the subject of a serious indictment that alleged a crime of injury to him. Apparently, before the conclusion of the century already had been expelled from Siena for political reasons, circumstances that occur to 1303, when it was forced to meet in Rome a new period of banishment, as it can be seen from one of the sonnets addressed to Dante ("Dante, if drag goliardo fame, / you curse, I step on the heels;") / [...] / I'm master, and you give me lessons; ("/ I I've become Roman, and lombardo").

Meanwhile, his painful administration of material goods possessing, aggravated by the merciless miserliness of his father - always according to the own Cecco, led him to ruin on several occasions, to the end that, upon his death, his children renounced inheritance which corresponded to them to avoid having to deal with numerous debts that the poet had accumulated over their dire existence. He/She lived, according to the testimony of his contemporaries and some later writers who took care of his figure (including Boccaccio, who painted him in the Decameron as a character that, in thirty or forty years of his death, still weighed just crapula and irreverent Bohemian legend), as a genuine tramp, turned to the life of the tavernthe dice game and the love of the most vile women, a plebeian environment dominated by blasphemy, bet, the pendency, alcohol, sex and, above all, the mistrust and deception. All this is advised through the reading of his poetic production, configured as a Songbook - well is true that sparsely idealist-whose storyline allows you to recreate her seedy life Peripeteia.

In this literary context (which also should be identified fully with the authentic personal situation of the poet), Cecco Angioleri fell in love with is Becchina, the daughter of a humble Tanner who, despite their low social status, objected to the relations of the "Lady" with the famous bad poet. And thus arose the figure more original and dazzling (along with his miserly father) of the work of Cecco: a "Lady", located at the opposite pole of la donna angelicata of the estilnovistas, showed continuous cruel, greedy and deslenguada, and only willing to share her charms with those who know buy them with good and abundant economic goods. Ruined by the game and wine, and squeezed - in the little that was left - by the greed of Becchina, Cecco committed, in addition, the clumsiness of be seduced by other women ("most other fresh PEAR I tempted / and biting it came at a bad time [...]"), which eventually ended by cause total rejection of his beloved. To try to regain it, the poet temples resorted to all possible ploys: he/she recognized his mistake, he/she apologized, reminded Becchina also he/she had deceived him, and, above all, fervently wanted the death of Messer Angiolieri, with the hope of receiving a succulent legacy that would definitely soften the hard Flint from the heart of the "Lady" ("drag a thinking tired useless(": / I have a very old and rich father / / I hope die from one moment to another").

But the old not only does not die, but it boasts a health of iron that allows you to carefully manage his estate, which means both as denying the slightest amount of money the son perdulario, spending, drinker, player and quarrelsome. Finally, consummate love betrayal of Becchina, this recognizes unequivocally that he/she does not love the poet ("-Cecco, although as rich and strong Trojan / diesenme a city, it does not want to / if I pay to accommodate your requirements to change") and marries the rival of Cecco, who, in turn, is driven, out of spite, to find comfort in the sacrament of marriage. But his trick is you leave the fire to fall in embers, as his wife insists on imposing the greater torment to which can submit you: saving ("mirror I am of human suffering, / and my pain of such a nature / day and night gripped me the sadness, / because my wife overwhelms me that get / / [...]") ("Is that saving is an everlasting punishment: / is dying today to live tomorrow / and tomorrow live hell"). To make matters worse, his wife does not see with good eyes his frequent visits to the tavern, and his father still firm dedication to preserve their insufferable longevity ("it cannot be, or is just a miracle, / that my father never eat gold, / because it is healthy and strong like a bull / and has already eighty years").

When, finally, comes the death of Messer Angiolieri, Cecco rejoices as he/she hurries to tell another friend of his, also called Cecco, which celebrates the long-awaited disappearance of the stingy old and makes votes that don't take long to die the greedy progenitor of your correspondent a sonnet ("don't despair the guest from hell, / because there already came to light of day / one"), named Cecco, who believed / see hosted on eternal apartment. ("But luck showed an alternate face / and, for my permanent glory, / flayed to Angiolieri, which afflicted / my days in summer and in winter"). But when the uninhibited poet creates arrival time enjoy the cherished fortune of the old, appear in the Songbook (and - must be assumed - in his own real career) new characters who are responsible for administering the inheritance of the deceased and deprive to Cecco's part that legitimately deserves; among them, the most perverse is the mother of the poet, capable of colluding with two false friends of his son (Ciampolino and Mino Zeppa) to plunder the hapless heir. And both reached the wickedness of the widow of Messer Angiolieri, which does not hesitate to sully the good name of your House with - at least - two attempts to murder his own son, either drowning him while sleeping ("rested on the bed the other day / making me asleep, when I saw / my mother wickedly approach / with an evil face to assassinate me.") On the bed was launched, which beast!, / and a zarpazo clung to my neck / by squeezing their hands [...] "), already poisoning you with the pretext of administering a drug (" I was so sick the other day / who stayed up to dumb: lost speech / and my mother was trying to improve myself / with a poison of such strength / / that there was no me intoxicated only / but the Sea [...] ")."

In this frame of mind, the ill-fated Cecco "begins (in the words of one of its modern editors, Juan Varela-Portas de Orduña) a decline unchecked in the path of the degradation and misery that leads to more intense despair". Dragging his pitiful existence by slum dwellers more sordid of Siena, chained to the vices of alcohol and the game of Craps, in love with - now - "a such Corso" which soon replaced him with another "cheerful and cute companion", and delivered to a febrile creative activity that pushes it to satirize many notable or anonymous characters moving in your environment (the own Dante; an official Angevin "which is all appearance and no substance"; a new rich; a stale old;) etc.). At the end of the road, again eyes back to recognize, from the title of one of his recent sonnets, "nothing is worth repent" ("Il senno di poi non nulla val"), even though now is bottoming out, alone and helpless in the midst of their degradation: "not worth regretting past water / or say then: 'This would have done'." [...] / / Low cai, I can not get up. "/ No one in the world so close / hand I give to help me".

But isn't this sad and downcast, Cecco resigned trudge through his last days of misery and neglect, the rebellious and cursed poet who has gone down in history of the lyrics in Italian as a romantic and Bohemian of the middle ages, a decadent avant the lettre who knew how to transform the most bitter lances of his bizarre existence in poetic material. Despite the depth reflective of those last testimonies, the most lucid and suggestive Cecco, of greater force today, is that immoral, arrogant and aggressive young man who, between teasing and veras, lashes out against everything and everyone from his transgressive and radical dissatisfaction with the world that surrounds him: "If you fire abrasaría the world; / If wind would wipe it; / If water would inundate it; / If God would go deep; If Dad would be so jocundo, / that the Christians atosigaría; / If I were Emperor, do know what would do? / The skull raparía everyone. If it were death it would go towards my father; / If life would flee on their side: / and so would do with my mother. "If you were Cecco, as I am and was, / acopiaría young and beautiful: / old and ugly I would leave you".

See Italy: literature.


BOLOGNA, C. "Poetry Centre and Nord", in MALATE, e. (ed.): Storia della Letteratura Italiana (Roma: Salerno Ed., 1995), vol. I.

CAVALLI, Gigi. 'Note' at ANGIOLIERI, Cecco: Rime (Milan: Rizzoli, 1975).

PETRONIO, Guiseppe. History of Italian literature (Madrid: Cátedra, 1990).

STEINER, Carlo. "Cecco Angiolieri e i suoi sonetti", at ANGIOLIERI, Cecco: Il Canzoniere (Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1928).

Varela-Portas DE ORDUÑA, Juan. "Introduction: Cecco Angiolieri, poet of dissimilarity", at ANGIOLIERI, Cecco: if I was fire (San Lorenzo de El Escorial [Madrid]: editions of the discrete/Department of Italian Philology at the Complutense University of Madrid, 2000).

J. R. Fernández Cano.