Boscan, Garcilaso, and the fortunes of friendship.
One of the most rewarding literary partnerships in early modern Spain was that of the Catalan Juan Boscan and the Toledo nobleman Garcilaso de la Vega, whose collaboration resulted in the transformation of Spanish poetry. Their complicity in introducing Italianate poetic forms and courtliness into Spain is the stuff of literary legend; moreover, their biographies demonstrate the strong bonds of friendship that developed between the two, bonds that would not break with the death of the younger poet in 1536. Indeed, their relationship was not only central to the reformulation of Spanish poetics, but to a new conceptualization of friendship itself, as they strove to substantiate through their poems their reciprocal affection while carryout out their public obligations. Yet notions of friendship did not remain stable, but underwent numerous significant changes, themselves owing to sociopolitical fluctuations during the early modern period. Rather than considering Garcilaso's and Boscan's friendship as the idealized model faithfully depicted in most literary histories, I propose that the poets' relationship reflected the complexities and tensions embedded in classical notions of friendship while addressing the contemporary social variables expressed in their poetry.
A widespread theme that resonated across the centuries to underscore male affinities, friendship between men was originally perceived as the source of utility, virtue, and pleasure. (1) From Homer's Iliad, which narrated the loss and restoration of the relations between Agamemnon and Achilles, (2) to the later Greco-Roman period, there developed a need to define what was perceived as true friendship. To this purpose, Aristotle famously described "perfect" friendship:
The friendship of those who are good and alike in point of virtue. For such people wish in similar fashion for the good things for each other insofar as they are good, and they are good in themselves. But for those who wish for the good things for their friends, for their friends' sake, are friends most of all, since they are disposed in this way themselves and not incidentally. (3)
He adds, however, that such relations are rare, since these people are few; moreover, "there is also need of the passage of time and the habits formed by living together" (Nicomachean Ethics 8.3.1156b 16:168). Although the emphasis remains on virtue, because the expression "habits formed by living together" is interpreted to mean "dwelling together and the habits or customs acquired thereby" (Nicomachean Ethics 168n24), the issue of what togetherness means cannot be separated from the two friends' equality in status, wealth, power, and age (Nicomachean Ethics 8.3.2258b: 34-35). (4)
As with Aristotle, Cicero believed friendship resulted from sharing a life, for this closeness enhanced its bonds, and from seeing the other as another self. In his idealized version of friendship between Laelius and Scaevola, De Amicitia, he rejects friendship as stemming from need; he has Laelius state that "if it were true that its material advantages cemented friendship, it would be equally true that any change in them would dissolve it. But nature being incapable of change, it follows that genuine friendships are eternal" (Cicero, De Amicitia II.9). According to Benjamin Fiore, Cicero's ideal could occur only among the highly virtuous, yet since one of friendship's consequences is advantage (utilitas), he concedes that the relationship created a chain of obligations essential to political and personal conduct (64). Both philosophers, therefore, placed less weight on private friendship; they understood it as a means of establishing a public network of friends among the upper classes and, although this would seem to contradict the classical notion, even as a measure of relations between clients and patrons. (5) According to the Commentariolum Petitionis, a voter's guide purportedly written by Cicero's brother, the role of friendship intended to garner influential friends in order to expand individuals' reach into what was then a highly stratified Roman society (Fiore 70). Not surprisingly, in a satirical epistle, Horace writes his friend, Lollius Maximus, on how he should behave with a patron:
Once you've declared your attachment to one in high station, you'll go to any lengths to avoid the impression of being your patron's servile dependent. The attachment as friend is as different from the scandalous scrounger's, who uses his patron, as a matron is different from a mistress in clothing and conduct, so you won't be the obsequious toady. (I.18; 214)
The humanist tradition of the Renaissance mirrored the contradictory varieties of friendship fostered from the classical period on, which incorporated as well Christian thought that invoked caritas toward others and the divinity. (6) Boscan's and Garcilaso's relationship, one of the earliest demonstrations of Renaissance literary friendship, has recently been studied by Richard Helgerson and Elias L. Rivers. Helgerson compares the Spanish couple to the later pairs of poets-in France, Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay, and in England, Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser-who would give impetus to a new literary movement in their countries. Rivers states that, unlike the English pair, whose social difference impeded their claiming a close identity (Helgerson 57), the two Spaniards were both nobles (11). He adds that perhaps the most important unifying factor was that they were both proteges of the house of Alba. Cicero had asserted that "the real limit to be observed in friendship is this: the characters of two friends must be stainless. There must be complete harmony of interests, purpose, and aims, without exception" (De Amicitia, 11.17). Helgerson (58) argues convincingly that this was not the case for Sidney and Spenser or for Ronsard and du Bellay, since there was clearly an internal hierarchy that placed one above the other. He mentions, however, that there was no such asymmetry, at least early on, for Boscan and Garcilaso.
Nonetheless, Boscan, who was born around 1490, was not only a decade older than the Toledan poet and already a published poet, his genealogy suggests differences that may have influenced their relationship early on. Unlike Garcilaso, who traced his noble lineage to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Admiral of Castile, (7) Boscan descended from a family of merchants whose members became "honored citizens" of Barcelona in the fifteenth century. (8) According to James Amelang, the designation, whose term of address was "mossen," referred to the monopoly of political service and governance of a ruling class "possessed of a strong sense of its own identity" and was granted respectful treatment and distinction (25-26). Joan Brigit Bosca, Boscan's great grandfather, was the first in his family to receive this treatment. Boscan's grandfather, Joan Francesc Bosca i Sirvent, Lord of Cubelles, was a poet, chronicler, and consul of the Lonja del Mar. (9) Boscan's father, Joan Valentin Bosca i Desvalls, was donzell (royal servant) of Barcelona, Lord of Cubelles, and Royal Councellor. Records show that he captained a galley ship in 1475, was knighted by Fernando of Aragon after the battle of Toro in 1476, married Violant Almogaver i Vilamari in 1480, and died in 1492. (10) Both Boscan's grandfather and father were invested in the equestrian order of the Caballeros de la Espuela Dorada de Cataluna [Knights of the Golden Spur of Catalonia]. (11)
Together with his ancestors, then, Boscan, whose Catalan name is Joan Bosca i Almogaver, formed part of the so-called merchant patriciate, and of the rank known as cavalier or donzell. As the lowest level of the estament militar, John Elliott states, these "would count by contemporary European standards as mere gentry. As a class they were not wealthy" (69). (12) The desire for social ascendancy evidenced in medieval and early modern societies occurred most notably in the Iberian Peninsula, where economic crises spurred the acquisition of aristocratic benefits and the imitation of aristocratic lifestyles. The internal social groups splintering the Castilian and Catalan hierarchies became increasingly divided toward the end of the fifteenth century. As Martin Aurell affirms, "[A] huge gulf of prestige, wealth and power separated the high nobility from the lower nobility. [...] the infanzones or hidalgos of Castile or the caballers of Catalonia were immensely proud of their legal privileges, their tax exemptions, and their military activities-but they remained mere country squires who found it hard to maintain their status" (268). (13) As much as critics such as Javier Lorenzo (25) might advocate for Boscan's "condicion aristocratica" along with his "afiliacion y simpatias castellanistas" due the title of "caballero" given him by Charles V in the Privilegio of the 1543 edition of his poetry, (14) the difference in social hierarchies may be observed in the poets' ascendancy and their own position. Garcilaso's status of segundon precluded him from inheriting his father, the Comendador Mayor de Leon's titles of Lord of Cuerva and Batres, and of Arcos. His part in the Castilian nobility, however, remained secure; he entered the emperor's service in the category of contino, the imperial guard composed mainly of young nobles and, in 1523, on his return from the failed defense of Rhodes, was invested into the Order of Santiago. (15) Moreover, although already wealthy, his financial wellbeing would be further enhanced by his marriage in 1525 to Elena de Zuniga, lady-in-waiting to Queen Leonor of Portugal, the emperors sister (Vaquero Serrano, Biografia 211-13). (16)
Boscan, by contrast, would not inherit the title of Lord of Cubelles until his change of name to that of his maternal grandfather; in 1532, he signed as Joan d'Almogaver olim (previously) Bosca, and in 1534-1535, when contracting workers to restore the ancient castle of Cubelles, although he "self-titled" himself Lord of Cubelles as early as 1527 (Bellsolell 12; Gonzalez Moreno-Navarro 42-43). (17) Yet he spent critical years away from the city. While little is known of his childhood, we know that he served at the Castilian court of the Catholic monarchs during his adolescence, when he studied with Lucio Marineo Siculo, who earlier had taught at the University of Salamanca (Rummel 704). Boscan's ties to Aragon, though distant, remained strong; after Fernando's death in 1516, he stayed at court, serving as Aragonese squire to Charles V. (18) Time at court granted him an excellent humanist education, opening doors to the literary circles of the period. (19) It also prepared him for a position as tutor: in 1520, he moved to the ducal palace at Alba de Tormes as the tutor of Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, the future III Duke of Alba, until 1522.
Boscan's role as the young boy's tutor is remembered and lauded in Garcilaso's Egloga II:
Mirava otra figura d'un mancebo, el qual venia con Phebo mano a mano, al modo cortesano; en su manera juzgaralo qualquiera, viendo el gesto lleno d'un sabio, honesto y dulce affeto, por un hombre perfecto en falta parte de la dificil arte cortesana, maestro de la humana y dulce vida. (Garcilaso de la Vega, Obras completas w. 1328-34; 384-85)
Echoing Castiglione's Cortegiano, Garcilaso's admiring description elevates Boscan to the status of "perfecto cortesano." (20) The competition among humanists to serve as educators to royal children and aristocrats, however, was, to quote Erika Rummel, cutthroat; Marineo's letters indicate a strained and soon broken relationship with his Spanish counterpart, Antonio de Nebrija. (21) Their professional jealousies stemmed from their competition as authors of grammar books, and as academics vying for the chair of rhetoric at the University of Salamanca (Rummel 716). Boscan's taking a teaching post at the duke's palace, which was distinctly less advantageous than tutoring royal children, may have had to do with his need for a patron. (22) Young noblemen, in fact, were not encouraged to become tutors, much less to other nobles; instead, they were expected to travel, join the army, or pursue rigorous studies. (23) Indeed, when his disciple's grandfather, Fadrique de Toledo, returned to the Alba palace some two years later, Boscan left Alba de Tormes for Valladolid, where, together with Garcilaso, he prepared to participate in the battle against the Turks at Rhodes (Fernandez Alvarez 72-7A). On arriving in Sicily in December, 1522, however, the Spanish troops learned that Rhodes had fallen, so the two poets returned to Spain.
During the years that Boscan was at Alba de Tormes, Garcilaso was welcomed often at the ducal palace, which he obviously knew well and described in his Egloga II:
la ribera verde y deleytosa sacro Tormes, dulce y claro ryo, una vega grande y espaciosa ... esta sobrepuesta la espessura de las hermosas torres ... se halla lo que se dessea: linage, aver y todo quanto de natura o de fortuna sea. (w. 1041-58; 367-68)
The poem depicts the palace towers overseeing the spacious fields, from the rivers verdant edge to the fertile meadows irrigated by the Tormes; it then focuses on the Alba palace's most important features: lineage, assets, and everything that nature or fortune offers the dweller. While he nostalgically idealizes the landscape, Garcilaso again interrupts the pastoral mode by praising Boscan for preparing his young charge for battle ("Luego los aparejos ya de Marte, / estotro puesto aparte, le traya" (w. 1354-55; 385-86). His appreciative portrayal of his friend's influence in military matters becomes as idealized as the landscape, since the eclogue was written in the early 1530s, when Boscan had long since abandoned his tutorship and any career as soldier. (24)
In early sixteenth-century Spain, friendship had remained predicated on social equality; large households such as those of the higher nobility expected and received loyalty from members of different hierarchical orders, among them, tutors and servants. While these relations were more recognized than previously, they still did not grant the lower-ranked person the right to assume a "perfect" friendship with a social superior. Nevertheless, the rise of humanism, disseminated through shared intellectual pursuits and philosophical beliefs, began to assume the weight that virtue and utility carried in classical definitions of friendship. Boscan's collaboration with Garcilaso, which contributed to the early flourishing of humanist thought in Spain, therefore serves as a measure of the changing facets of amicitia. Rather than denoting symmetry in their early relations, as Helgerson proposes, the cultural and social differences that at first stood in the way of an equal friendship, diminished with time, especially in Garcilaso's case. Anticipating by almost fifty years Justus Lipsius's celebration of the constancy of learned friendships, Garcilaso developed an increasing closeness with Boscan evidenced in his poetry and based on their mutual interest in poetics and their awareness of its revolutionary potential. (25)
An ideal occasion to discuss intellectual concerns in learned company presented itself with the arrival in Toledo of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal, where Charles held parliament before the wedding ceremonies in 1526. (26) The poets' presence at these royal nuptials has been recounted many times; it is there that the two poets famously met with Italian ambassador Andrea Navagero, who encouraged them to attempt the Italian style. (27) In his letter to the Duchess of Soma, Boscan reviews the history of Spanish poetry, believing its language sufficiently dignified and worthy of a new, preferred kind of poetics:
De manera que este genero de trovas, y con la autoridad de su valor proprio y con la de los antiguos y modernos que le han usado, es dino no solamente de ser recibido de una lengua tan buena como es la castellana mas aun de ser en ella preferido a todos los versos vulgares. (28)
Boscan also met with Baldassare Castiglione, whose conduct book, Il Cortegiano, he later translated into Castilian. These events served as markers for the epistemic and social changes brought about during the period known as the Renaissance (Ruiz Perez 5). The lengthy and leisurely time spent by the invited guests in both cities afforded Boscan and Garcilaso ample opportunity to enjoy like-minded companionship; in 1527, the international group of humanists would again coincide at court in Valladolid (Vaquero Serrano, Poeta del amor 165). Several years later, Garcilaso encountered similar circumstances during his exile in Naples, where he corresponded with Pietro Bembo and met with the distinguished Italian poets Antonio Minturno, Luigi Tansillo, and Bernardo Tasso (Helgerson 44). Humanist "learned sociability" would continue to thrive and expand in Europe through humanists' continued contact across national borders, even if it sometimes led to rival political views (Keller 677-78).
Transformations on the cultural sphere, as Boscan's letter to the Duchess of Soma amply demonstrates, registered as well at an individual level, as the two poets' literary concerns would draw them close despite their dissimilarities. Paradoxically, one such dissimilarity is embedded in Boscan's choice of language. Numerous critics have discussed his preference to write only in Castilian, despite the fact that Catalan was his native tongue. In the opinion of Marcelino Menendez y Pelayo, Boscan knew Castilian better than he knew Catalan (36). No one has considered the extent to which this linguistic adoption may have contributed to the formation of a different cultural identity from that of Garcilaso. As with most cases of language predominance, Boscan's ease in speaking and writing Castilian was due primarily to geopolitical causes: to understand his fluidity, we must return to the second half of the 1400s, when the crown of Aragon came under the reign of Trastamara, during which an increasing "Castilianization" took place. According to Stewart King (41-42), the main factors contributing to the growth of Castilian in Aragon were the prestige of Castilian literature, the decline in the use of Catalan at court, the move of the court to Madrid, the interrelations of the Catalan nobility with Castile's, and the activity of the Church and the Inquisition. Yet Catalan was no less a respected literary language in the fifteenth century: Boscan was greatly influenced by the Valencian poet Ausias March, who died in 1459,29 and the highly popular novel of chivalry Tirant lo Blanc was published in 1490, at about the time of Boscan's birth. Josep Llobera's claim that modern Catalonia's political subordination had important cultural consequences, as political domination coextends with cultural domination (15), goes far to explain Boscan's decision to write in Castilian. Catalonia's loss of political autonomy garnered him fluency at an early age in that language: as an Aragonese at Charles V's court, he needed to wield his command of Castilian since, despite his years in Castile, he remained solidly identified with Barcelona. (30)
Just as he idealizes Boscan in his eclogue, Garcilaso would again write admiringly of his friend when Boscan translates Castiglione's Cortegiano. He asserts to its dedicatee, Jeronima Palova de Almugaver, Boscan's cousin's wife, that "diose Bosca en esto tan buena mana que cada vez que me pongo a leer este su libro (o por mejor decir vuestro), no me parece que le hay escrito en otra lengua" (Rivers, Boscan y Garcilaso, 41). His defense of Boscan's control of Castilian would soon be followed by that of Jorge de Montemayor. As Lorenzo has noted, the Portuguese poet vigorously defended Boscan from attacks on his foreignness and linguistic skills by nationalist Castilians, which Lorenzo attributes to their discrimination of the poet's class and origins (surprisingly, since he had claimed Boscan to be an aristocrat) (21-22). Lorenzo explains the poet's increasing marginalization in the seventeenth century by, among others, Fernando de Herrera and Diego de Saavedra Fajardo as the politicized formation of a literary canon that, for nationalist purposes, exalted Garcilaso over Boscan (22-23). Whether or not, as Lorenzo believes, Boscan has been iniquitously treated by literary historians, his relationship with Garcilaso, which reveals unusual tension on his part, merits a revisionary reading that newly assesses the two poets' personal and literary partnership and, by extension, the complex social changes of the early modern period.
After explaining his translation method, Boscan emphasizes the real reason why he believes that the book should be translated:
La materia de que trata luego en el principio de la obra se vera: es hacer un cortesano perfecto y tal como vuestra merced le sabria hacer si quisiese. ... Para todo esto ha sido necesario tocar muchas cosas en diversas facultades, todas de gran ingenio y algunas de ellas muy hondas y graves. (Rivers, Boscan y Garcilaso 38)
In carrying out the translation of Castiglione's conduct manual, Boscan and Garcilaso took part in a new double-sided humanism that while it served royal and aristocratic interests, also had in mind a burgeoning market culture that promoted publishing (Cruz and Rivers 234). Evidently, of the two poets, Boscan stood much more to gain from advocating the models presented in the Italian text for correct comportment, etiquette, and manners. The prominence given social comportment not only served to establish equality between Italian and Spanish courtiers, but more specifically, it expected identical social habits among the group of humanist friends to which both Boscan and Garcilaso belonged, reiterating in this way one of the classical values of friendship.
The two friends would not remain united, however. In his "Prefacio" to the Duchess of Soma, Boscan states that when he returned some time later to "his house" after the royal wedding ceremonies, the journey's length and solitude allowed him to ponder what he had discussed with Navagero (Rivers, Boscan y Garcilaso 47). While little is known of his whereabouts from 1526 until 1529, that year, as we have mentioned, he was in Barcelona when Charles V arrived with his retinue, including Garcilaso, who asked Boscan to witness his last will and testament, a precaution taken by the younger poet before his voyage with the emperor to Genoa. Garcilaso left a moving sonnet describing his departure:
La mar en medio y tierras e dexado de quanto bien, cuytado, yo tenia; y, yendome alexando cada dia, gentes, costumbres, lenguas e passado. Ya de bolver estoy desconfiado; pienso remedios en mi fantasia, y el que mas cierto espero es aquel dia que acabara la vida y el cuydado. (Soneto III; w. 1-8)
Although the poem is addressed to a lady, the spirit of alienation in abandoning his homeland is articulated plaintively in his two quatrains, which depict the cultural differences of the foreign cultures and languages he encounters. Boscan did not accompany Garcilaso when he left Barcelona, but remained in the city, where he was granted 600 ducats by the House of Alba for a marriage that never took place (Claveria xviii). (31) According to Claveria, he was still in Barcelona on June 14, 1532, the date when he signs a document as a "citizen" of the city; that same year, as we saw, he is included among the "heroic knights from Barcelona" sent to the siege of Vienna by the emperor to confront the Ottomans (xix). Since the Diet of Regensburg lasted from April 17 to July 27, he may have stopped there to join Charles V, giving Garcilaso the opportunity to pen a poem teasing him for dancing at a wedding. (32)
Unlike Garcilaso, who would write hauntingly and bitterly of his military experiences, there are no allusions in Boscan's poetry to any suffering he may have incurred, whether at camp or directly in battle. The themes of Book Us Italianate poems are mainly Petrarchist topoi, either lamenting the loss of a lover, or expressing the pain caused by love, as in Cancion XLVII, the first and one of the longest of his canciones:
?Para que 's dar desculpas, en tiempo que cuanto tengo es perdido? Hombre tan triste, tan cuytado y tal, no a de ser reprendido, ni tener puede meritos ni culpas. Pues en mi pena me dexan mortal, dexenm' agora quexar de mi mal. Todo es uno con gusto tan danado: No suffrira consejo mal tan grave; todo sabe a cuydado. Si ay alguno que mis cuytas no alave, porfio y contradigo y digole que 's loco, y que no save. ya en mis males no tengo por amigo, sino al que me 's danoso y enemigo, (w. 31-45)
The poem has been analyzed by Antonio Armisen for its ineffability, "no es extrano que sea este poema expresion clara de lo que se ha dado en llamar inefable en poesia [...] se cristaliza en el verso 95: 'Mil vezes dixe en mi: no se que m'e"' (13). Throughout his poetry, Boscan frequently articulates what he cannot say by saying that he cannot say it. However, the cancion begins by inverting the rhetorical figure of reticentia so preferred by the poet. It expresses an uncontainable desire to continuously articulate his feelings, yet such a reiteration causes the poet even more pain.
The strategy is announced in the cancions first line, "quiero hablar un poco," followed in the second stanza by "Callare, si pudiere." Yet the poet neither speaks "a little" nor can he remain quiet. As the first cancion to appear in Boscan's Libro II, the poem responds to the Petrarchist themes introduced in his first twelve sonnets, from speaking out to his community of readers, who in turn must read his poems, to his expressions of loneliness, abandoned by both his public and his beloved. As literary as these tropes are, they also reveal the poet's state of mind. The length of the cancion permits the poet to meditate introspectively on his fraught emotions, an action precluded by the sonnet's brevity. Thus, in the third of the protracted poem's thirty stanzas, he speaks at length about his mortal suffering and forcefully addresses only those, he says, who understand that his suffering is the sole experience that brings him joy. He pronounces as his only "friend" the person who, by celebrating his sufferings with him, is surely his enemy as well. Boscan's admission of lacking any "true" friend, for he admits only those who can hurt him into his inner circle, may be interpreted beyond the limitations of source studies, to query whether it may also allude to the tensions in his relations with Garcilaso, whose own poems so freely appeal to his older friend's sympathy (Helgerson 60).
In another stanza, Boscan shows how divided he has become, as his reason no longer controls his emotions:
Trabajan mis sentidos en buscar lo que siento, por echallo. oyo llamar de lexos mis gemidos, y e lastima de ver que van perdidos, (w. 56-60)
Through this antithetical stance, Boscan creates the image of a fragmented self, one whose own laments he hears from afar, made even more lamentable because not only do they never reach their addressee, they themselves become irretrievably lost. Such a perceived psychological split may again reflect his unstable state as opposed to that of Garcilaso: as a Catalan writing in defense of Castilian; as a protege of his former charge and patron, the Duke of Alba; and as a former soldier unconcerned with waging war.
Boscan's maturing relationship with Ana Giron de Rebolledo contributed to his separation from Garcilaso and his permanent return to Barcelona. The proposed date of 1539 for his marriage to Rebolledo assigns his later poems to the beginning of their relationship. In sonnet CXVI, Boscan articulates love's positive effect for the first time, utilizing the tropes of arrival at a good port and of resurrection to leave aside the Petrarchan lament and depict what he calls the "strange miracle" that overtakes him:
Amor m'embia un dulce sentimiento diziendo que 's su mensajero cierto, las nuevas son que 'stoy dentro en el Puerto, seguro de tormenta y de tormento. [...] El milagro fue hecho 'stranamente, porque resucitando el mortal velo, resucito tambien la immortal alma. Celebrado sere en toda la gente, llevando en mi triumpho para '1 cielo, con el verde laurel la blanca palma. (CXVI)
The substitution of amatory with religious imagery would not have scandalized a sixteenth-century reader, as its inversion often affectively structured mystical poetry. (33) The tradition comes as well from Petrarch, whose own Canzoniere builds on the rejection of the salvific effects of human love. Boscan's palinodic verses instead look back at his recent suffering as the lover's experience of death in life; once his love is requited, his resurrection assures a Neoplatonic triumph. Explicitly recalling Petrarch's Tronfi, which, in the poems' escalation from love to eternity, offered an exemplary moral progression, the tercet ends by transforming the laurel, the Petrarchan symbol of human love and lamentation, into the palm, symbolic of the lover's martyrdom and triumph over death.
Garcilaso, who understood the reversal, was already aware of Boscan's reciprocated love. (34) Indeed, the Toledan poet mentions it several times, contrasting his friend's blissful state and peace of mind with the rigors of a soldier's life. In Elegia I, written on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Alba's brother following the Tunisian campaign, Garcilaso integrates numerous classical and Italian consolations on military losses with his own tirade against the imperialist wars in which he has been forced to participate:
?A quien ya de nosotros el eceso de guerra, de peligros y destierro no toca y no ha cansado el gran proceso? ?Quien no vio desarcir su sangre al hierro del enemigo? ?Quien no vio su vida perder mil veces y ecapar por yerro? (Garcilaso w. 85-88)
Elegia II, most probably written shortly before, when the memory of the Tunisian war was, if anything, even fresher in his mind, compares his situation with Boscan's in the same dark, despairing spirit:
Tu, que en la patria, entre quien bien te quiere, la deleytosa playa estas mirando y oyendo el son del mar que en ella hiere, y sin impedimiento contemplando la misma a quien tu vas eterna fama en tus bivos escritos procurando ... (Garcilaso w. 145-50)
Garcilaso's poignant comment that while he, as a "driven mercenary" must follow his misfortune, Boscan had no need to fear any evil wind, overspills the boundaries of the elegy's high style; equally as important, it again reveals the conflictive sentiments over his participation in war. His correction of the literary genre with which he addressed his friend-"que a satira me voy mi passo a passo / y aquesta que os escribo es elegia" (w. 23-24)-instead calls attention to his resentment over Boscan's serene life, so different from his own. (35)
It is surely not coincidental that the hybrid poem is followed by another similarly hybrid epistle, written on Garcilaso's return from Naples in 1534 after having visited Boscan. In that it is both more familiar and playful, the verse epistle's tone is quite the opposite of the elegy's. Its intimate style does not distract from its purpose, which is seemingly to express Garcilaso's appreciation for his and Boscan's relationship, which he calls "amistad perfecta" (v. 9): (36)
Mas el amor, de donde por ventura nacen todas las cosas, si hay alguna, que a vuestra utilidad y gusto miren, es gran razon que ya en mayor estima tenido sea de mi que todo el resto, cuanto mas generosa y alta parte es hacer el bien que recebille; asi que amando me deleito, y hallo que no es locura este deleite mio. (w. 57-65)
When questioning the reasons for his feelings, however, he realizes that his love for Boscan is justified, not because of any reciprocity, but because it is more noble and pleasurable to love than to be loved. The epistle does not end with this discovery, but continues in sermo humilis form, humorously warning him about the miserable conditions of French inns, and maintaining the epistle's grounding in real space, he asks Boscan to give a hug, if he can manage it, to a rotund Barcelonese friend. The poem's mixture of genres must have pleased Boscan, who may have wished to balance the elegy with the light-hearted satire, if serious disquisition on friendship.
Boscan's lack of response to Garcilaso seems unusual, especially if compared with his lengthy answer to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza's epistle, whose moralizing stanzas require no reply. (37) If any poems were exchanged between the two, Boscan effectively ruled out including his when organizing their works for publication. Yet he incorporated his correspondence with Mendoza at the end of Libro III, along with singular exercises in three Renaissance genres-capitolo, epistle, ottava rima-carefully distanced from Libro II's Italianate poetry. In its praise of married life, Boscan's epistle to Mendoza exposes his turn toward an anti-Petrarchan ideology, far from the sufferings of love he had earlier faced, but also distant from the terrors of war confronted by Garcilaso. Not until the latter's death on the battlefield would there be any attempt on Boscan's part to reconcile his early relationship with the silence that ensued after Tunez. Only when arranging their poetry does he insert two sonnets dedicated to Garcilaso on his death. And it is only at this point, on reading these sonnets, that we may gauge Boscan's acknowledgment of Garcilaso's experiences in contrast to his own.
Sonnet CXXVIII creates an immediate parallel between the poet and Achilles through the filial epithet frequently used to identify the Greek hero, as part of his father's household, and a youth still dependent on his mother's care and attention:
El hijo de Peleo, que celebrado tanto d'Homero fue con alta lira, con su madre su mal llora y sospira, la suerte lamentando de su stado. (w. 1-4)
The funeral sonnet resonates deeply with allusions to Garcilaso's poetry and life experiences, suggesting a parallel between Peleus and Garcilaso's father, ambassador to Rome, yet also recalling the affection always shown him by his mother, Sancha de Guzman. Further, there is an evident comparison between Homer's "alta lira" to the poet's "baja lira" from Cancion V, as well as an echo, in his lamentations "de su estado,'" of Garcilaso's famous sonnet "Cuando me paro a contemplar mi estado." Achilles's heroism is attributed to Garcilaso in equally mythic proportions:
Si la fortuna d'un tal hombre 's gloria / con gloria quedaras tu, Garcilasso, / pues, con la d['] el, tu gloria va medida, (w. 9-10)
The sonnet ends by comparing the heroes' brief lives:
Tu esfuerzo nunca fue flaco ni lasso, tus trabajos hizieron larga istoria, y cupote, tras esto, corta vida. (w. 12-14)
This last tercet not only ironizes the contrast between Garcilaso's name and the adjective "lasso," (38) but establishes one between "larga istoria" and "corta vida"-a contrast that he, Boscan, will endeavor to maintain after Garcilaso's death by publishing his poetry. The sonnet's comparison, then, taken from Boscan's standpoint, brings to mind not Achilles and Garcilaso, but Boscan and Garcilaso. The Toledan poet died in battle at approximately 36 or 37 years of age, which, while not old, would not have been considered "corta vida" in the Renaissance. (39) Indeed, he had married over ten years previously and fathered five sons and one daughter. For his part, Boscan lived to be approximately 50 years old; their age differential, which was obviated when the two collaborated in the humanist circles of Granada and Toledo, again assumes importance on Garcilaso's death. In the sonnet, Boscan remembers his friend not as a soldier weary of war, but as a young hero soon to face the vicissitudes of fortune and the glories of fame.
In the same manner that Garcilaso apostrophizes Boscan in his sonnet "Boscan, las armas y el furor de Marte," Boscan addresses the deceased poet in his second sonnet, explicitly expressing what is nevertheless a failed desire for his friend to heed him:
Garcilasso, que al bien siempre aspiraste y siempre con tal fuerqa le seguiste, que a pocos passos que tras el corriste, en todo enteramente l' alcanzaste, Dime, ?por que tras ti no me llevaste cuando d [']sta mortal tierra partiste?, ?por que, al subir a lo alto que subiste, aca en esta baxeza me dexaste? Bien pienso yo que si poder tuvieras de mudar algo lo que 'sta ordenado, en tal caso de mi no t' olvidaras: que, o quisieras onrrarme con tu lado, o a lo menos de mi te despidieras; o, si esto no, despues por mi tornaras. (CXXIX)
The poem belatedly signifies Boscans despair at Garcilaso's abandonment, leaving him without emotional support to transcend his chosen life. If the quatrains do not match what Helgerson incorrectly has called the "bizarre fervor" of Garcilaso's Elegia II (61), they assert Boscans recognition of his friends unerring pursuit of the good, and an implied admittance that he, Boscan, may have too soon surrendered the quest. Helgerson also errs, I believe, in thinking the poem "too flat and commonplace," although he is right that it is insufficiently infused with passion (64). But passion is no longer needed at this point. By his use of apostrophe, Boscan nostalgically reaches out to the absent poet, realizing finally that, had Garcilaso been able to reverse his fate, he would never have forgotten Boscan, but would have wanted him by his side or come back for him.
The affective relationship that developed and then waned between the two poets depended on following the ideals of classical models, which required that the friends be of the same social hierarchy and of close to the same age, and that they share the same experiences. The time Boscan spent away from his "patria," as is mentioned in Garcilaso's Elegia II (and which in 1526 Boscan still calls his "home"), and the radically different path he chose from Garcilaso's could not have permitted their friendship to remain stable. Only when Boscan began to collect both their poetry, did he recognize and appreciate Garcilaso's emotive attachment, earlier endorsed and justified in his epistle, "asi que amando me deleito, y hallo / que no es locura este deleite mio" (Epistola w. 64-65). Boscans decision to consolidate their poetry-in a book that would be edited posthumously by the wife who contributed to their physical and emotional separation-created a lasting literary friendship. It is this friendship, in its renewed and complex form, like the new poetry and new society it inspired, that still matters. (40)
(1) The literature on friendship is vast; for the purposes of this essay, I focus mainly on the conflictive interpretations given the relationship as it applies to early modern men that, however, also affected their relations with women. For discussions of friendship specifically among women, see Faderman, Gill, and Jay.
(2) Fitzgerald stresses that although Achilles and Agamemnon were not close, the former "casts aside his wrath" to choose friendship with Agamemnon, assigning an emotive dimension to their relationship (26).
(3) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 8.3.1156b7- 11, trans. Bartlett and Collins, 168.
(4) For a discussion of what she calls Aristotle's "two minds" on this, see Schwarzenbach 48-49.
(5) For the blurred differences between these two distinctions, see the important study by Wood.
(6) An example of Christian thought on friendship is that proposed by Thomas Aquinas. According to Daniel Schwartz (6), Aquinas does not eliminate existing partialities in favor of a higher love, but he is concerned with how they are transformed by caritas.
(7) For Garcilaso's genealogical charts, see Vaquero Serrano, Biografia, 38-41.1 am most grateful to Carmen Vaquero Serrano for the gifts of her two excellent biographies of Garcilaso de la Vega.
(8) The earliest ancestor to be mentioned is Jaime Bosca "the old," Barcelona citizen and merchant; followed by Jaime Bosca "the young," citizen and draper; Pedro Bosca "the elder," citizen and merchant; Pedro Bosca, "the minor," citizen and merchant: Juan Bosca "the elder," citizen and rationer; and Juan Bosca "the minor," citizen and administrator of plazas; all were members of the Consell de Cent [Council of the Hundred]. The latter was the father of Joan Brxgit Bosca, "honored citizen and syndic" (Morales Roca, Ciudadanos y burqueses honrados, 75). For additional biographical information on Boscan, see Menendez y Pelayo and Riquer.
(9) Bosca wrote the Anals de la Ciutat de Barcelona desde l'any 1196 a 1480 (Pau Ballot i Torres 9).
(10) See Revista de Ciencias Historicas, 197-98; and Boscan, Obras xiii.
(11) An honor granted throughout Charles V's reign to those nobles who were warriors, had done extraordinary service, owned arms, harness, and a horse, and had feudal rents or property (Morales Roca, Caballeros de la Espuela 8).
(12) Elliott shows that in 1518, the ratio of nobles "proper" to cavaliers was 37:451 (67).
(13) Aureil attributes this difference in Catalonia to the "rush of merchants toward the nobility" that, in the fifteenth century, pushed them to imitate noble conduct and marry into a higher class (267). This would be the case with Boscan's father who married into the Almogaver family.
(14) The Privilegio clearly specifies "cavallero de Barcelona" (Claveria 4; my emphasis), denoting the Catalan meaning and his service to Charles in the House of Aragon.
(15) The eldest son, Pedro Laso de la Vega, would inherit the title. For Garcilaso's parents' joint testament, see Sliwa 34-39. For further information on Garcilaso peres inheritance, see Vaquero Serrano, Biografia 103-09.
(16) In 1523 and 1525, Garcilaso's mother claimed several sources of income for Garcilaso; he also received royal annuities, a brother's inheritance, and his future wife's dowry, which amounted to the impressive sum of 2,575,000 maravedis (Vaquero Serrano, Biografia 245-46).
(17) See Bellsolel for other properties inherited by Boscan.
(18) Charles's appointment of loyal Aragonese strengthened his bonds with his vassals in Aragon (Espinosa 153).
(19) After Boscan's complaint that he had not written, Marineo soothed his student, praising him: "a ninguno he visto adornado de mejores virtudes y mas dedicado al studio excelente de las buenas letras" (Menendez y Pelayo 33). In his panegyric to Spanish humanists, he would later group him with his much lesser-known students Pedro de Rhua, Juan Garces Moyano, and Juan Morell (Menendez y Pelayo 35-36). Garcilaso instead studied under Pedro Martyr d'Anghiera, brought from Italy in 1486 by Garcilaso's relative, Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, Count of Tendilla.
(20) Fernando's other tutor, Fray Severo Varini, is also lauded in the eclogue, although it is now known that Severo kept Juan Luis Vives from accepting the position so he would be named (Kamen 7).
(21) Of Nebrija, Marineo spitefully stated that his reputation was greater than his actual learning (Rummel 715).
(22) The orphaned Fernando had been left in the care of his mother, Beatriz Pimentel, and his grandfather, the II Duke of Alba, Fadrique de Toledo, who spent most of the time away from Alba (Fernandez Alvarez 71-73).
(23) See Bernabe Moreno de Vargas, Discursos de la nobleza de Espana (1622; 2). This was Garcilaso's case, it was not Boscan's, who did not marry until well into his forties, if not early fifties (Claveria xxi). I am grateful to Grace Coolidge for her enlightening comments on noble tutors and for informing me of Moreno de Vargas's book.
(24) Boscan stayed only one or two years more with Fernando. Nonetheless, he maintained what historian Henry Kamen labels a "friendship" with the duke throughout his life; in 1542 the duke had been with Boscan in Perpignan when the latter soon fell ill and died (Kamen 7). Alba's relationship with Garcilaso is, as can be seen in the poet's panegyric, if closer, equally that of patronage.
(25) Lipsius published his De Constantia in 1584. See Keller for a study of what she calls the "transformation of international learned sociability." Although Keller warns that, in the seventeenth century, "rising absolutism [...] opened friendly intimacy up to the suspicions of politics" (677), which shows their instability, I do not find this to be the case in sixteenth-century Spain.
(26) For a detailed description of Toledo on Charles Vs arrival with his retinue for the royal wedding, see Vaquero Serrano, Poeta del amor 127-62.
(27) Ruiz Perez has rightly called attention to the reductionist approach by literary critics who assume that the formal imitation of the Italian poetic tradition was all that was needed to launch a new literary movement (7). Nonetheless, it is important to note that formal changes are intimately tied to new movements; see Armisen's extensive study for a comparison of Boscan to previous poets. Ruiz Perez is right, as well, to warn against the exclusivity of the poets' meeting with Navagero in bringing about literary changes, as these would have happened regardless (10).
(28) I cite from Rivers' modernized edition of Boscan's "Prefacio" in Boscany Garcilaso 49.
(29) Morreale's (261-62) comment that Boscan's imitation of Marchs paronomasia and antithesis was due mainly to his own personality ("su propia manera de ser"), does not diminish his appreciation of the earlier Catalan poet. In his letter to the Duchess of Soma, Boscan stated, "De estos provenzales salieron muchos autores ecelentes catalanes, de los cuales el mas ecelente es Osias March" (Rivers, Boscan y Garcilaso 48).
(30) A Catalan history lists him among the "cavaliers" from "aquesta insigne ciutat" who accompanied Charles V to Vienna in 1534 (cit. in Claveria xix).
(31) Riquer mentions Boscan's engagement to Isabel de Malla in 1529 (16). Morros suggests that Boscan could have traveled to Italy with the court from 1529 and not return until 1533, as a reason for Boscan's break-up with Isabel de Malla (44). These dates, however, do not coincide with the 1532 date of the document signed by Boscan in Barcelona found by Riquer.
(32) "La gente se espanta toda / que hablar a todos distes, / que un milagro que hecistes, / hubo de ser en la boda. / Pienso que habeis de venir, / si vais por ese camino / a tornar el agua en vino / como el danzar en reir" (cit. in Claveria xix).
(33) For a reading of the poet as Christological figure, see Lorenzo 111-22. While provocative, the identification resists comparison, as the poet assumes the position of sinner saved by his lord, not that of the lord himself: "Pues Tu, Senor, olvidas / tu perjuicio de mi culpa clara / ?como podra ya ser que mis heridas / con tu sangre no queden corregidas (CXXX, w. 87-90).
(34) Nemorosos cry to the dead Elisa resonates with similar Neoplatonic values: "?Por que de mi te olvidas y no pides / que se apresure el tiempo en que este velo / rompa del cuerpo, y verme libre pueda, / y en la tercera rueda,/ contigo mano a mano, / busquemos otro llano, / busquemos otros montes y otros rios, / otros valles floridos y sombrios,/ do descansar y siempre pueda verte / ante los ojos mios, / sin miedo y sobresalto de perderte?" (Egloga II, w. 397-407).
(35) Claudio Guillen's classic article brilliantly addresses the contaminatio of poetic genres. My interest is not so much in the generic confluences, but in the weight and consequences of the poet's choice of words.
(36) Bienvenido Morros notes the three kinds of friendship-perfect, for one's pleasure, and for one's benefit--that Garcilaso compares in order to determine his own (Garcilaso 122).
(37) If Garcilaso's Epistola a Boscan is the first Horadan epistle in Castilian, Mendoza's is a close second, and adheres more to the classical genre's form and moral teachings. Boscan's response, some forty stanzas longer than Mendoza's 92, attempts to best the nobleman in following the aurea mediocritas--. "El estado mejor de los estados / es alcanzar la buena mediania / con la cual se remedian los cuydados" (w. 124-26). For an analysis of the poem as a humanist defense of married love, see Marias Martinez and Martinez Gongora.
(38) "Floxo, blando y falto de vigor" (DA 365).
(39) According to Cynthia Skenazi, life expectancy in the Renaissance ranged from 30 to 35 years in parts of Italy and France (1).
(40) Research for this study was supported by the investigation project BIESES (FFI2012-32764) financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Spain.
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Anne J. Cruz
University of Miami
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