Two Renaissance Views of Carthage: Trissino's Sofonisba and Castellini's Asdrubale


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

"The Sofonisba of Trissino, which belongs to the beginning of the sixteenth century, is generally named as the first regular tragedy. This literary curiosity I cannot boast of having read, but from other sources I know the author to be a spiritless pedant. Those even of the learned, who are most zealous for the imitation of the ancients, pronounce it a dull labored work, without a breath of true poetical spirit; we may, therefore, without further examination, safely appeal to their judgement upon it."1 Since August Schlegel wrote those words in 1809 a long series of critics have been content to accept his estimate of Sofonisba, without his candor, however, in acknowledging their ignorance of the work itself. There has been some degree of revaluation done by modem Italian editors, and I should like here to re-examine the tragedy and Trissino's purpose in writing it, and to compare it with another Carthaginian tragedy written forty-five years later, the Asdrubale of Jacopo Castellini.

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