Cantico dei cantici by A cura di Giovanni Garbini

By A cura di Giovanni Garbini

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Those records are layered with a wide range of perspectives and values that each in its way speaks from the past and often speaks eloquently through the niters of scribes, bureaucratic structures, time, and culture that separate us from them. And, of course, as Natalie Z. Davis has so carefully demonstrated in her book Fiction in the Archives, many of those voices were themselves telling artfully constructed tales of their own. But rather than retelling their tales, I have attempted to use the techniques of microhistory to craft their truths, half-truths, and evident lies into stories that reveal the underlying complexities of late-sixteenthcentury culture and values, shared (and at times not shared) from which their tales sprang and drew meaning.

Even language itself was marshaled against this. Accounts of Andriana's snaring of Dandolo stressed the fact that she was a common whore or public prostitute, in other words, a prostitute of the most base reputation. That unanimity in labeling Andriana, however, does not square well with the details of the case, nor obviously was it supported by the testimony of her family and remaining friends. As one might expect, Laura Savorgnan presented a different picture of her daughter. " Her reply was impressive: "They were Santo Contarini, Piso Pisani, Fillipo da Canal, the Count Scipio Avrogado, Paolo Robazzo—but it would take a much larger brain than mine to be able to remember them all.

An aristocratic and courtly environment with limited access to aristocratic and courtly women, so this thesis runs, engendered a higher caliber of prostitute—a woman who was not only young and beautiful, but who could grace with wit and charm a dinner or an evening otherwise dominated by male clerics. 28 Unfortunately, there is little information to prove or disprove such conjectures. What seems clear is that the style caught on quickly because it satisfied new social imperatives. In the increasingly aristocratic world of the Renaissance, upper-class males found in the courtesan, as they found in expanding interests in display and manners, yet another area of life where they could fashion themselves as a Renaissance elite.

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