Utopia through Italian eyes: Thomas More and the critics of civic humanism.
The most striking sixteenth-century reading of Thomas More's (1478-1535) Utopia appears in an improbable place: Jean Bodin's (1529/30-96) Six Livres de la Republique, published in 1576. In book 5 of this work Bodin turns to a discussion of sedition and revolution within states, and comes up against the specter of economic inequality. It cannot be denied, he writes, that "of all the causes of seditions and changes in the Republic, there is none greater than the excessive wealth of a few subjects, and the extreme poverty of the majority." (1) Indeed, he continues, history is full of episodes in which those "who have given many reasons for their discontent about their status, have always taken the first opportunity that presents itself to despoil the rich of their possessions." (2) Bodin, in his usual in utramque partem style, proceeds to delineate two reputable positions on this redistribution of wealth in a section entitled "Les deux pestes de toutes Republiques." On the one hand, he writes, Plato "called wealth and poverty the ancient plagues of Republics," and, in order to redeem the state from these diseases, "it has been suggested that we should seek an equality, such as many have greatly praised, calling it the nursing mother of peace and friendship between subjects." (3) Conversely, these same thinkers have considered "inequality to be the source of all enmities, factions, hatreds, and partialities," because "he who has more than another, and who realizes that he is richer in goods, wishes also to be higher in honor, in delights, in pleasures, in food, and clothing. He wishes to be revered by those same poor people whom he disdains and treads underfoot." (4) In the Latin version, Bodin adds that the rich man, in seeking superiority over his fellows solely on the basis of wealth, "has no regard, or only very little, for virtue." (5) The poor, on the other hand, "develop an envy and an extreme jealousy, born of the realization that they are as worthy, or even more worthy than the wealthy, and are nonetheless afflicted with poverty, hunger, misery, and contempt." (6) Accordingly, many ancient legislators, such as Lycurgus, Agis, and Plato himself, "divided goods equally among all subjects," and "in our own memory Thomas More, Chancellor of England, in his Republic, said that the only path to public wellbeing is if men live in a community of goods, which can never be where there is private property." (7)
This first position on the redistribution of wealth can, in short, be described as the "Greek" view. Bodin traces it to the legislators of Greek antiquity, and to their contemporary acolyte, Sir Thomas More, whose Utopia is revealingly rechristened. (8) This position justifies the confiscation and redistribution of private property (or, indeed, its outright abolition) on the grounds that disproportionate wealth gives its possessors a false and invidious claim on political authority and public goods, and convulses the state with envy and mutual recrimination. But Bodin then introduces a second, favored position on the redistribution of wealth--one derived instead from Roman writers, who, as Bodin has it, understood "la Justice." (9) Compelling as the Greek case may be, he observes that "on the other hand one could argue that the equality of goods is very pernicious for Republics, which have no support or foundation more sound than mutual trust, without which neither justice nor any kind of society can prove durable. And confidence abides where promises are honored." (10) He continues, saying that "if then obligations are cancelled, contracts annulled, debts abolished, what else should one expect other than the complete undermining of the state? For no one would trust anyone else." (11) Bodin exclaims that, when it comes to redistributionary proposals, "one can say that such sharing out of the goods of others is theft under the banner of equality." (12) Here Bodin is simply paraphrasing Cicero's De officiis, and he ends on an unambiguous note: "Let us then leave behind the opinion of those who seek to bring about equality in preexisting Republics by appropriating the goods of others, when they should be preserving for each man what belongs to him, in order to establish natural justice." (13)
Thus, in Bodin the Roman theory of justice stands vindicated. But the interesting fact is that Bodin meticulously and self-consciously reconstructs the opposing viewpoint, faithfully representing its organizing principles and fully conscious of its pedigree. My analysis begins from the assumption that this insight is worth taking extremely seriously. It seems clear that there were indeed two distinct and incommensurable accounts of republican government available in the early modern period, one drawn from the Latin sources of Roman antiquity, and the other drawn from the principal texts of Greek moral and political philosophy. The Roman account, sketched out most completely by Quentin Skinner, defines liberty as a status of independence, of being under the guidance of one's own sovereign will (as opposed to being a slave), and exalts it as the source of civic virtue. It understands virtue, in turn, as a disinterested commitment to the public good, together with the will and agency necessary to act on behalf of this commitment. (14) This tradition further insists that virtue encourages justice, a quality defined in the Digest of Roman Law as the "constant and perpetual aim of giving each person his own [ius suum]" and interpreted as an imperative to respect private property. (15) For neo-Roman theorists, dedication to justice allows the cultivation of the common good, which produces concord and peace and enables the state to seek its highest goals of glory and greatness. (16) Implicit in all of this is that individuals should reject the contemplative life and embrace the active life of civic engagement (vita activa), performing their officia to their friends and family, promoting the glory of their patria, and securing honor and fame for themselves.
The Greek view, in contrast, does not particularly emphasize freedom as "non-domination"--living without dependence on the will of other human beings. (17) The sort of freedom it values is the condition of living according to our rational nature, and it assumes that most men can be free in this sense only if they are ruled by their moral superiors: if someone ruled by his passions is left to rule himself, then he is enslaved. The Greek tradition also assumes that the purpose of civic life is not glory, which it dismisses as the irrelevant approval of nonexperts, but rather happiness (eudaimonia), the fulfillment of our rational nature through contemplation. Most important of all, the Greek account exhibits a sharply contrasting theory of justice. The virtue of justice is not seen as a matter of giving each person ius suum in the Roman sense, but is rather an arrangement of elements that accords with nature. In the case of the state, justice is secured by the rule of reason in the persons of the most excellent men: it results in a social existence which teaches citizens virtue. This view of justice as a natural balance among elements in turn leads to a completely anti-Roman endorsement of property regulations and the redistribution of wealth. Both Plato and Aristotle reason that if property is allowed to flow freely among citizens, extremes of wealth and poverty will inevitably develop. The rich and poor will both be corrupted by their condition as a result: the rich will become effeminate, luxurious, and slothful, while the poor will lose their public spirit. Neither group will defer to the rule of the best men, and, as a result, justice will be lost. Accordingly, the Greek view recommends either the outright abolition of private property, as among the guardians in Plato's Republic, or, at the very least, some mechanism designed to secure its egalitarian distribution, as in Plato's Laws and Aristotle's Politics. Both these proposals are deeply incompatible with the neo-Roman view, which rejects any political interference in property distribution as a violation of the principle of justice.
If Bodin's insight is worth taking seriously, and More's Utopia does indeed fall on the Greek side of this divide, then we are forced to confront an important question about the relationship between the Italian humanist tradition and Erasmian political theory. That such a relationship existed has always seemed obvious (although, in truth, it has more often been asserted than demonstrated). Virtually every member of More's circle--John Colet, William Grocyn, Thomas Linacre, William Lily, and, of course, Erasmus (ca. 1466-1536) himself--spent considerable periods of time in Italy, and even a cursory look through Erasmus's correspondence shows him to be familiar with virtually every major Italian author of the Quattrocento: Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Giovanni Pontano, Angelo Poliziano, Lorenzo Valla, and Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, to name just a few. (18) And although More himself never traveled to Italy, he had numerous Italian friends and correspondents, and explicitly engaged Italian theorists on the full range of humanist concerns. But the precise nature of this engagement has been the subject of extensive dispute. Several recent studies of Utopia--arguably the signal achievement of Erasmian humanism--have made the case that More's dialogue essentially constitutes an Erasmian defense of the "traditional humanist," or "neo-Stoic," program, by which is meant the values informing the political ideology of the Italian city states. This is certainly the view of George Logan in his magisterial study The Meaning of More's Utopia, and it is shared by the majority of scholars who have written on Utopia over the last two decades. (19)
But if we place this claim alongside Skinner's thoroughly convincing demonstration that the ideology of mainstream Italian civic humanism is best described as "neo-Roman," we are left at something of an impasse. We must either conclude that Bodin was incorrect to place Utopia in the Greek tradition, or we must part with the conviction that Erasmian political theory embraced the neo-Roman case. I would like to argue for the second option: that Bodin had it right, and that Erasmian political theory did not endorse the neo-Roman scale of values which organized Quattrocento Italian political theory. On the contrary, it seems clear that the Erasmians meant to launch an explicit attack on those values.
The immediate context for this attack was the early sixteenth-century culture war over Greek studies. (20) Faced with charges of heresy and obscurantism for their immersion in Greek language and literature (and most particularly for using the Greek New Testament to correct the Vulgate Latin), the Erasmians responded with their own polemical attacks on Roman thought, accompanied by extravagant praise of Greek philosophy. In the 1517 treatise De fructu qui ex doctrina percipitur (On the Benefit of a Liberal Education), Richard Pace (ca. 1482-1536) provides a representative statement of the Erasmian position: "Whatever seems to have originated with the Romans, for example, in rhetoric and history, was all taken from the Greeks as if it were a loan ... but philosophy among the Romans was so feeble that nothing could seem more stupid to learned ears than to compare Roman philosophers to the Greeks. And I include Cicero in this group, if he'll forgive me for saying so." (21) More shared Pace's sentiments and polemical style. In his 1519 letter to the monk John Batmanson, he declares that the superiority of Greek culture is clear from "those arts they call liberal, along with philosophy, in which subjects the Romans wrote next to nothing." (22) He offers similar observations in his 1518 "Letter to Oxford"--which he wrote in response to a wave of anti-Hellenic violence that struck the university, during which students dressed as "Trojans" rampaged through the streets assaulting any classmates who studied Greek--and in his 1515 reply to Maarten van Dorp, the first prominent critic of Erasmus's Greek New Testament. (23) In short, for More and his circle an impassioned defense of the Erasmian project and the new Greek learning carried with it a corresponding attack on Rome in general, and on Roman philosophy in particular.
This attack on Romanitas addressed itself in particular to two of the central values of the neo-Roman tradition: the Roman theory of justice (cuique tribuere ius suum), and the Roman preoccupation with honor and glory. In both of these respects, Erasmus's writings strikingly prefigure More's own. Erasmus's Folly, for example, makes the case that those who leave Plato's cave and embrace the sublime truth of Greek philosophy will be scorned and laughed at by the deluded masses. Another way of saying the same thing, she continues, is that philosophers are not foolish enough to be able to perform the essential officia of Roman ethics: "[A philosopher] is not at all able to be of any use to himself, to his country, or to his own family, because he is ignorant of public business, and entirely out of touch with popular opinion and the practices of the masses. From which cause he unavoidably incurs hatred, without question due to the great gulf between normal life and minds like his. For what happens among mortals that is not full of folly, done by fools, among fools?" (24) Philosophy, in short, is incompatible with popularis opinio. (Recall that, in Utopia, the character Morus condemns Hythloday's advice because it is contrary to publica opinio.) (25) Indeed, Folly proceeds to ask "what state ever adopted the laws of Plato or Aristotle, or the teachings of Socrates?" (26) None, she replies, because they are all too busy chasing Roman gloria. She proceeds to identify two sets of martyrs to the Roman patria as her disciples, and launches into a brutal satire of the Roman vita activa, claiming it as an instance of folly. Cicero's dictum in book 2 of the De officiis that "the highest and most perfect glory" depends on "the affection, the confidence, and the mingled esteem of the people" is surely Erasmus's target:
Besides, what was it that prevailed upon the Decii, so that they offered themselves of their own free will to the gods of the underworld? What dragged Q. Curtius into the chasm, if not vain glory, the sweetest Siren, but one denounced passionately by those wise men of yours? What could be more foolish, they ask, than for a man seeking office to flatter the mob, to purchase support with gifts, to pursue the applause of all the fools, to be pleased with their acclamations, to be carried about in triumph as if he were some image to be gazed at by the people, and to stand in the forum cast in bronze. Add divine honors bestowed on little men, and even the most wicked tyrants being transformed into gods in public ceremonies.... This is the folly which spawns states; dominions are established by it, as are magistracies, civil religion, councils, and law courts. Nor is human life anything other than some game of folly. (27)
Folly could hardly be more clear: in case we were unsure which kind of inanis gloria we were talking about, Folly makes sure we know it is the sort of gloria for which men organize civitates and imperia, consilia, and magistratus--that is, the institutions of the Roman republic.
In the Erasmian framework, Platonic philosophy is thought ridiculous by those living amid the ethical categories of Roman theory. Nor does Erasmus hesitate to identify the social and political implications of his Platonism. In the 1508 Aldine edition of the Adagia he explains Plato's use of the proverb "friends have everything in common" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) by stating that "through this passage [Plato] tries to demonstrate that the happiest state of a commonwealth consists in the common ownership of all things." (28) "If it were only possible for mortals to be persuaded of this," Erasmus muses, "in that very instant war, envy and fraud would depart from their midst." (29) However, Erasmus was under no illusions. In the 1515 Froben edition of the Adagia he writes: "But it is exceedingly strange that this community of possessions advocated by Plato should so displease Christians that they attack it with stones, since nothing ever said by a pagan philosopher is more similar to the judgment of Christ." (30)
Later in the 1515 edition, under the adage Dulce bellum inexpertis ("War is only sweet to those who do not know it"), Erasmus blames several phenomena for the slow degeneration of Christian Platonism. One is, predictably, the reintroduction of Aristotle, who taught "that there cannot be perfect human happiness unless there are goods of the body and of fortune." (31) But Erasmus seems to assign the preponderance of blame to his second culprit: the Roman law. Christians, he explains, came to embrace the "leges Caesaris" because of their reputation for "equity," and then, in order to reconcile these precepts with Christian civilization, distorted the message of the Gospel. Erasmus goes on to list the several sins of Justinian's Codex: "The Roman law permits men to repel force with force; it permits each person to pursue what is his [ius suum]; it approves of commerce; it allows usury, so long as it is in moderation, just as it extols war as a glorious thing, so long as it is undertaken for the sake of ius." (32) As a result, Erasmus explains, Europe has inherited two Roman pathologies: the love of glory and the love of wealth. The first issues straightforwardly in wars, while the second ensures that in Europe "he is thought to be the best who is the richest." (33) In short, because of Roman gloria we have lost eudaimonia, and because of Roman ius we have lost justice. If we are to recover what has been lost, we must return to Platonic and Apostolic principles.
In 1519, three years after the initial publication of Utopia, More would offer an extended discussion of precisely this theme: "God showed great foresight when he instituted that all things should be held in common; Christ showed as much when he tried to recall mortals again to what is common from what is private. For he perceived that the corrupt nature of mortals cannot cherish what is private without injury to the community, as experience shows in all aspects of life. For not only does everyone love his own plot of land or his own money, not only does everyone cherish his own family or his own set of colleagues, but to the extent that we call anything our own it absorbs our affections and diverts them from the service of the common good." (34) More's solution to this problem, like Plato's, was Utopia--the Hellenic land without private property where the entire community was one large family, and where gloria had been replaced by felicitas as the organizing goal of social life. (35) In composing a Greek account of the felicissimus reipublicae status (the happiest state of a republic) which could stand up to the neo-Roman tradition of Quattrocento Italy, More was in every sense taking up the Erasmian banner.
The dichotomy between Greece and Rome is made explicit from the very outset of More's text. More places his description of Utopia in the mouth of Raphael Hythloday, a mysterious mariner who, we are told, is not ignorant of Latin, but is extremely learned in Greek. (36) His main interest is in philosophy, and "he recognized that, on that subject, nothing very valuable exists in Latin except certain works of Seneca and Cicero." (37) But when Hythloday later recommends books to the Utopians, his rejection of Roman philosophy extends even further. Echoing More himself, Hythloday observes that "except for the historians and poets, there was nothing in Latin that they would value." (38) Accordingly, Hythloday gives the Utopians most of Plato's works, and some of Aristotle's--none of Cicero's or Seneca's--and continues by noting that the Utopian language is related to Greek. More amplifies this commitment throughout the text with his skillful use of Greek nomenclature. Utopia itself is a Greek coinage, meaning "no place," and the island's cities, rivers, and government officials are all given Greek names connoting either "nonsense" or "non-existence." (39) That the entire description is put in the mouth of Hythloday--whose name in Greek means "purveyor of nonsense"--is a testament to Erasmus's influence. The idea, once again, is that the truth will seem like nonsense to the corrupt Europeans trapped in Plato's cave.
This conspicuous Hellenism provides a powerful backdrop for More's thoroughgoing subversion of the Roman republican tradition. The Utopians, we are told, have abolished private property, thus avoiding the great and pervasive injustice of European societies. Hythloday explains this decision as follows: "Wherever you have private property, and money is the measure of all things, it is hardly ever possible for a commonwealth to be just or prosperous--unless you think justice can exist where all the best things are held by the worst citizens." (40) In such states, the rich become "rapacious, wicked, and useless," the poor "look out for themselves, rather than for the people," and justice is lost. (41) The Utopians, on the other hand, have abolished private property and find it shocking that "a dunderhead who has no more brains than a post, and who is as vicious as he is foolish, should command a great many wise and good men, simply because he happens to have a big pile of gold coins." (42) Accordingly, the Utopians enjoy the rule of the wise, and government is reserved exclusively for those who "from childhood have given evidence of excellent character, unusual intelligence, and a mind inclined to the liberal arts." (43) This elite rules over the commonwealth, we are told, like parents over children--an image no Roman writer would ever use to describe citizens, because children are not considered to be sui iuris (under the guidance of their own sovereign will). The goal of Utopian life is not glory, which the Utopians disdain, but rather "happiness" (felicitas)--life is organized so that "as far as public needs permit, all citizens should be free to devote themselves to the freedom and culture of the mind. For in that, they think, lies the happiness of life." (44) Again, the absence of wealth and poverty makes possible the rule of the wise and promotes eudaimonia.
2. MORE IN ITALY
All of this is strong evidence that there was a constitutive relationship between the ideology of the Greek revival in England and More's Utopia, and that the ideology in question was characterized by a thoroughgoing hostility to the neo-Roman worldview. But these claims can and should be tested further. In particular, if the interpretation of Utopia truly turns to such a remarkable degree on our understanding of its relationship to Italian civic humanism, then the obvious question to ask is, How was this text received in Italy? Was it in fact taken up enthusiastically by the humanists as an endorsement of their principal neo-Roman convictions, or was it understood in some other way? Such an exercise cannot in itself, of course, tell us what More meant to do in writing Utopia; but it is reasonable to assume that if More had explicitly designed Utopia to read as an affirmation of civic humanist ideology--which is the dominant view of the text among contemporary scholars--then surely some of the humanists would have recognized an ally, and some of their opponents a target. Did they? The story of More's reception in Italy has rarely been investigated at all, and never in order to answer this central question about the character of Utopia. (45) The remainder of this essay will try to remedy that situation: it will explore what Utopia's reception in Cinquecento Italy can tell us about the sort of intervention More was making in 1516. The striking fact about that reception is that Utopia was not taken up by the humanists at all; it was, on the contrary, taken up by their fiercest critics. It was not trumpeted as an expression of civic humanist commitments to the active life (the vivere civile), liberty, property, and the Roman studia humanitatis; it was embraced, rather, for its repudiation of active citizenship, its abolition of private property, its dismantling of the Roman cult of glory, and its fierce assault on Ciceronian humanism. In short, the Italian reception of Utopia makes Bodin's reading of More seem substantially less surprising, and it is to that story that I now want to turn.
The first thing to note in this connection is that Thomas More himself had a significant hand in the formation of his Italian legacy. One of his closest friends and correspondents was the Italian banker and merchant Antonio Buonvisi of Lucca. Buonvisi visited More in the Tower, and was the addressee of one of his final and most moving letters. (46) Returning to Italy from England, Buonvisi brought with him several of More's papers and, in all probability, a copy of Utopia. (47) The text had been published once in Florence more than fifteen years earlier by the printer Filippo Giunta, at the back of a compilation containing More's translations of Lucian and several works by other Erasmians. (48) But it seems to have made no impact at all on the Italian scene until Buonvisi's younger brother Vincenzo showed it to a young, disenfranchised writer from Milan named Ortensio Lando in 1535, the year of More's death. (49) Lando (ca. 1512-ca. 1555) was part of a group of men whom Italian literary historians have nicknamed poligrafi, literary busybodies who did not enjoy court patronage in the style of the humanists, and who instead wrote freelance books and pamphlets--everything from commentaries and literary editions to travel literature and burlesques--for the Venetian presses. As Paul Grendler explains in his excellent 1969 monograph on the poligrafi, these tended to be lowborn men whose lives were characterized by uncertain finances, frequent travel, and a pervasive sense of being on the outside of the mainstream culture. (50)
The other important thing to say about this group is that they were all strident anti-Ciceronians. The culture war in which they participated had its formal origin in 1528, the year in which Erasmus published his dialogue Ciceronianus. (51) This text was directed against a large subset of Italian humanists--including such eminences as Pietro Bembo and Jacopo Sadoleto--whose enthusiasm for Cicero had reached such hyperbolic dimensions that they now insisted that all Latin writing should be based on Ciceronian models, and even that no word could properly be used in Latin prose if Cicero had not used it in his writings. (52) Erasmus made clear that he detected something sinister in all of this, something lurking, as he put it, "under the veil of [Cicero's] name." (53) For him, the fetish for Cicero amounted to a wholesale endorsement of the Roman scale of values to which he so gravely objected; it smacked, in his account, of the sort of paganism which assimilated Jesus himself to the mold of a Roman hero who faces death in the service of his respublica for the sake of honor, glory, and a bronze statue in the forum. (54) Indeed, perhaps no moment in the dialogue is more powerful or poignant than the passage in which Erasmus's comical Ciceronian opponent, Nosoponus--whose name means "Mad Busybody" in Greek--celebrates because a young Ciceronian has died before he could "develop an enthusiasm for Greek literature" or lose his willpower to "abstain totally from Christian authors." (55) Greece and the Gospel were, for Erasmus, the sources of true philosophy, and in his view Ciceronianism had significantly dimmed their light.
Lando intervened directly in this debate in 1529 with his Cicero relegatus et revocatus (Cicero Banished and Recalled). In a formal sense, the text is a presentation in utramque partem of the debate between the Erasmians and the Ciceronians, with both sides of the case canvassed; but the assault on Cicero was so ferocious and ad hominem that even Erasmus himself, in a letter dated 1535, felt called upon to scold his overeager disciple for "most odiously abusing" Cicero and only tepidly defending him. (56) Importantly, the central charge against Cicero in Lando's text is that he is obsessed with glory. Lando writes: "I will cite several passages from Cicero, from which I conclude this: that no such lust for glory [as his] was ever shown to exist, no such thirst for honors, no such ambition, no such lustful courtship of the public's ears, and I will show that he convicts himself with his own account of himself, and finishes himself off with his own testimonials. Take a look at the letter ... which he wrote to Dollobella, where he admits that he is overwhelmed with great joy, because the opinion of the multitude designates him as an ally with its praises, that no one doubts who is the foremost citizen in his precepts and counsel, and that one by one they offer him the consulship. This passage could suffice to show with what lust for glory he is inspired. But not being content with this, I proceed to the rest." (57) And so he does. Later, in his 1550 comic work La Sferza de' Scrittori (Scourge of the Writers), in which he playfully mocks most ancient and modern authors, Lando's treatment of Cicero is also noticeably severe: the great orator was "bloated, too redundant, and too apt to repeat the same things ... and his books on philosophy, from not having followed any good method, are very inconsistent and say many things which are totally alien from the truth." (58) This assessment, so redolent of the Erasmian defenses of Greek in the first two decades of the century, situates Lando quite precisely in a coterie of radical, anti-Ciceronian Erasmians. (59) And it was in this group that Utopia first made its presence felt on the Italian scene.
This fact becomes less surprising once we recognize that More himself was regarded by contemporaries as an anti-Ciceronian. To take just one example, he appears as Erasmus's anti-Ciceronian spokesman in perhaps the most bitter reply to the Ciceronianus, Etienne Dolet's Dialogus de imitatione Ciceroniana (1535). Dolet (1509-46), a Frenchman, had acquired his strong Ciceronian sympathies during a three-year course of study in Padua, and had come to idolize Christophe de Longueil, one of the chief targets of Erasmus's polemic. Dolet's defense of his hero took the form of a dialogue between More and Simon de Villeneuve, Longueil's Ciceronian successor in the Latin chair at Padua. The text leaves little doubt as to how Dolet understood More's place in the cultural politics of the age. He includes the following disclaimer at the start of the dialogue: "you should know, reader, that almost everything that the character 'More' argues and states is taken from Erasmus's dialogue Ciceronianus." (60) Dolet is true to his word: his More spends much of the dialogue ventriloquizing Erasmus's charge that Ciceronianism amounts to a kind of "paganism." The Ciceronians, he complains, would have us "acknowledge Jesus with out lips, but carry Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Romulus in our breasts." (61) Dolet's beloved Longueil, he points out, "claimed that he wrote five orations in praise of Rome. What wonderfully bestowed effort! How much more appropriately would he have bestowed it if he had tried instead to direct the spirit of that city, and especially those who pursue the liberal arts there, to the Christian religion and the love of piety with a few such orations?" (62) Dolet's More, in short, stands squarely behind Erasmus in his attack on Romanitas.
It is therefore far from mysterious that Lando--who was well acquainted with Dolet--should have become so immediately devoted to More and his Utopia. Lando wrote a series of anonymous works in the late 1530s and 1540s, only signing them "Philalethes"--"lover of truth," in Greek--and "ex Utopia civis"--"a citizen of Utopia." (63) The most famous of these was the Paradossi of 1543: Lando structured his discussion around a set of paradoxes, shocking statements that ran counter to the grain of popular opinion in the style of Erasmus's Praise of Folly. Indeed, the homage to Erasmus, whom Lando had defended against his critics in the Erasmus Funus of 1540, was explicit: one of the first paradoxes in the collection is the claim that it is better to be a fool (pazzo) than a wise man (savio). Lando proceeds to play with this notion just as Erasmus and More had; occasionally he argues ironically that one should be a genuine fool because we live in a fool's world, but, more importantly, he also insists that in a world where anything wise will seem foolish, being thought of as a fool is a great compliment to the savio. Once again, the model is that of Plato's cave. For Lando, as for Erasmus, the wise are considered fools because they "have no desire to rule states, to build cities, to form dynastic marriages, to be a Guelf or a Ghibelline" as do those whom we falsely consider to be wise. (64) But the fools are right: Lando invokes More to argue that civic life is pointless in the corrupt European world, and that the true wise man will retire from it so it does not corrupt him in turn. Again, Lando writes that the man whom we consider foolish "does not care about honors, he has contempt for glory, and he refuses positions of power, while on the other hand those whom we consider wise do nothing but seek preeminence over others, and try to acquire political offices, suffering hot and cold, losing sleep" and, often, their lives. (65) Which one of them, Lando asks, is truly obeying God's will?
Lando answers his own question in unmistakably Morean terms. Contemporary states are rotten to the core, he insists; they are defined by the inundation of riches, which, he argues, "cannot be possessed alongside virtue"--a position he derives, like the Erasmians, from "Plato and other wise philosophers" and from "the most holy mouth of Jesus." (66) Excessive wealth corrupts its holders, rendering them luxurious and ambitious. They are "insatiable": "those who are called wise nowadays," he writes, are not contented with the fruits of "human industry" or those of "the bounty of the Goddess Fortune," but relentlessly seek ever more. (67) They are fed by false philosophers--and we know the ones he means--who encourage an "infinite lust for ruling over others": "wherever men who yearn to dominate others rule, there we always find little justice, the rich lording it over the poor, and nobles violating the lowborn." (68) In such states, as in More's Europe, there are only "shadows of justice," and rule is left to the corrupt rich. Lando's own preference is unsurprising: he would wish for "the most worthy and wisest man" among the citizens to be "elected prince by the will of the people" as a reflection of natural justice. But such a vision is little more than a dream in a place where wealth disguises vice as virtue, and virtue as vice. (69)
This is, in all respects, a reprise of the Erasmian assault on neo-Roman ideology from the 1510s, and it echoes another tract written in a similar style in 1541, La Pazzia (Folly). A meditation on the power of folly clearly inspired by Erasmus's own, this anonymous text has often (and, I think, plausibly) been attributed to Lando; but even if it is not by him, then it is certainly by another poligrafo in his circle, as both the style and substance are unmistakably aligned with those of his other works from this period. (70) The text begins with an unsubtle indication of the author's general point of view: "The poets (who can easily be trusted on this score, since they know a thing or two about folly) tell us that the father of folly was Pluto, the god of riches, who holds peace, war, rulers, empires, and all the things of this world in the palm of his hand." (71) Again, it is wealth, in this account, which produces the confusion of values that causes the pazzo to appear like a savio, and vice versa. Those who seek honor by "governing states and ruling republics"--those "pazzi publichi"--are in folly's grip, as are those who pursue the business of great lords. (72) Without folly, "we would not tire ourselves in seeking a great name, or any praise" and we would "live without glory." (73) But "folly, wishing to urge us toward great deeds, makes us in love with ourselves, and persuades us that our efforts far surpass those of all others." (74) The author continues, noting that "all glorious and great deeds issue from an infinite folly," and mentions in particular "wars, and deeds of arms" and the "the founding of great empires." (75) It is at this point that the author does something quite revealing. He reproduces almost verbatim an entire passage from Erasmus's Praise of Folly which we have already had occasion to discuss, the passage which mocks the suicides of Curtius and the Decii, and ridicules the Roman pursuit of public offices and honors through the courting of public opinion:
What do you think persuaded the Roman Curtius ... and the Decii, and infinite others, to run to a voluntary death for the wellbeing of their patria, if not folly and the siren-song of vainglory, which is so greatly disdained by those wise men of yours? They call it a vulgar wind [vento populare] and an inflammation of the ears, afflicting those who throw away their riches and their patrimonies on plays ... tournaments, and other spectacles, in order to please the people, and to acquire its favor and applause; seeking by these means to make themselves great and to acquire honors, magistracies, and triumphal parades, with titles, and statues that the people (insensate beasts that they are) most often give without any judgment to tyrants and the most wicked men.... And certainly it cannot be denied that it is ... through such foolishness that rulers of peoples are created, great empires are born, and glorious and exalted deeds issue forth. (76)
All of the great republican institutions are again dismissed as instances of folly, and, in case the savaging of Romanitas were not sufficiently explicit, the author adds that civic deeds bring "eternal fame and immortal glory," to those who are foolish enough to care about the approval of the ignorant. (77)
In the midst of such Roman folly, the author's only recourse is to dream--like Lando in the Paradossi, and More in Utopia--of another, newer world. "How happy people would be without these so-called wise men can easily be judged from the life and customs of the newly-discovered peoples of the West Indies," he writes. (78) These men of the Occident, the author tells us, "are happy without laws, without letters, without so-called wise men; they don't value gold or jewels; they don't know avarice, or ambition ... they are nourished by what the ground produces without any cultivation." (79) And "as in the Republic of Plato, everything is in common ... they live in perpetual love and grace, just as in that fortunate and truly golden age of Saturn in ancient times." (80) Such an idyll, the author realizes, will seem foolish to the so-called wise men. They will argue, as both Erasmus and More had warned, that the pazzi "are useless even to themselves, and to their patria, and are hated by all nations." (81) The truly wise will be mocked and scorned in the world of fools; they should simply try to save themselves by leaving that world to its own devices. No state structured around riches and glory--that is, no state built in the image of Rome--leaves any place for the true savio.
Given the pervasive influence of Erasmus and More on these writings, it should come as little surprise that it was Lando who took it upon himself in 1548 to translate Utopia into Italian for the first time, thus producing, after the German edition of 1524, only the second translation of More's treatise into a vernacular language. (82) His edition was prefaced with a short essay by another poligrafo, Anton Francesco Doni (1513-74), who assured the reader that "you will find in this republic, which I present to you, the best customs, good orders, wise regulations, holy teachings, sincere government, and regal men; the cities are well established, as are the offices, justice, and mercy." (83) Doni too was an anti-Ciceronian: indeed, he was if anything even more rabid than Lando. (84) Also like Lando, he placed the notion of la pazzia at the very center of his works. In 1552 he offered, in a text entitled I Mondi, his own utopia in the form of a dialogue between the characters Pazzo and Savio; as in Lando's Paradossi and La Pazzia, we find in Doni's idyll a fierce attack on private property, a plea for withdrawal from the corruption of the European world, and a repudiation of the Ciceronian curriculum.
The essence of his view is to be found in a vividly drawn vignette placed at the beginning of the dialogue. Doni imagines a great flood that covers the earth; after the waters recede, terrible fumes remain behind which drive the people insane. The wise men emerge from their seclusion and attempt to rescue their brethren from madness, only to find themselves overwhelmed. Doni's narrator describes what occurs: "Ha, ha, ha, ha! A desire to laugh comes over me, because the matter turned out quite differently [from what they expected]. The mad men were much, much, much greater in number than the wise men, and saw that this group was not behaving like the rest of them, and so they drove them around the bend with wicked words and worse deeds, until the wise were forced to behave like the others and to become fools in spite of themselves. In this way the wise men entered the ranks of the lunatics against their wills." (85) It is difficult to suppress the belief that Doni found his inspiration for this fable in More's text. (86) In Utopia, after all, Hythloday illustrates his point about the dangers of active citizenship by taking a remarkably similar image out of the Republic: "This is why Plato in a very fine analogy declares that wise men are right in keeping away from public business. They see the people swarming through the streets and getting soaked with rain; they cannot persuade them to go indoors and get out of the wet. If they go out themselves, they know they will do not good, but only get drenched with the others. So they stay indoors and are content to keep at least themselves dry, since they cannot remedy the folly of others." (87) The analogy to which Hythloday refers comes at the end of a passage in book 6. Earlier in the same passage, Plato writes as follows: "[The enlightened few realize] that no one can do anything sound, so to speak, concerning the business of cities, nor is there an ally with whose aid the champion of justice could escape destruction, but, rather, that he would be as a man who has fallen among wild beasts, unwilling to share their misdeeds and unable to hold out against the savagery of all, and that he would thus, before he could in any way benefit his friends or the state, come to an untimely end, useless to himself and others--for all these reasons I say the philosopher remains quiet, minds his own affair." (88) Like Plato before him, More uses this analogy to underscore the point that the wise will be unable to help their friends, themselves, or the state by entering public service in a corrupt commonwealth. He thereby denies the appeal of the vita activa, and once again pits Greece against Rome. In I Mondi Doni amplifies More's original message, and makes clear how he and his circle read this crucial text. The consequences of this alignment for the subsequent history of Italian political theory were quite significant. One of Doni's most enthusiastic young readers was Antonio Persio (1542-1612), who became a close friend of Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), and probably introduced him to Doni's writings. (89) That Campanella knew Doni's parable of the pazzi and savi is certain: he made it the subject of a sonnet, "Senno senza forza de' savi delle genti antiche esser soggetto alla forza de' pazzi" ("Good sense without the power of the wise men of the ancient nations is subject to the power of madmen"), which he composed barely a year before writing the Citta del Sole in 1602. (90) As a result, the path from More's Utopia to Campanella's own great utopia runs straight through the poligrafi. (91)
More's Italian enthusiasts understood only too well that his text constituted an outright assault on the values of civic humanism. Utopia was carried to Italy by the currents of anti-Ciceronianism passing from Northern Europe back to the Ciceronian centers, where the critics of the humanists recognized a prodigious source of ammunition for their polemics against the civic ideology of the Quattrocento. Indeed, the humanists themselves recognized these currents for what they were: the encyclopedic author Tommaso Garzoni (1549-89), to take just one example, attacked Lando and his colleagues in 1585 for inveighing "against wealth and liberty." (92) Garzoni was not wrong. He saw clearly the link in anti-Ciceronian thought between the attack on riches and the rejection of the vivere civile. Only the elimination of wealth and poverty would, in this account, allow for the rule of the wise; politics in the corrupt European world consisted of nothing more than the self-government of fools.
Why does all of this matter? From a historiographical point of view, it calls into serious question the traditional picture of a diffusion of Italian civic values to the Northern Renaissance. But in a broader sense it matters because the dominant understanding of Utopia has prevented us from recognizing that Bodin was right: that the culture war over Greek in the early sixteenth century produced a fissure in the republican tradition that would have profound consequences for the subsequent development of European political discourse. On the one hand, there was the Roman tradition, which valued independence, private property, and the glory brought by empire; on the other there was the Greek, which valued the rational ordering of the state made possible by the regulation of wealth. The first of these ideologies was the model for all subsequent theories that have preached the sovereignty of the individual in his own sphere; the second was the foundational expression of the view that men must be "forced to be free." (93) Or to put it another way: egalitarian politics and egalitarian economics were not conjoined in the early modern period, but were rather antagonists, facing each other from opposite ends of the republican landscape. If the confrontation between these visions remains a central feature of our political lives, then the story of More and the poligrafi is very much a story about today.
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*A preliminary version of this article was presented to the 2003 annual meeting of The Renaissance Society of America in Toronto. I am grateful to that initial audience, and to my copanelists Richard Scrjeantson, Andrew Taylor, and Alfred Hiatt, for many helpful suggestions. I am also grateful to Anthony Grafton, who generously agreed to chair our discussion. My chief thanks are due to Bernard Bailyn, James Hankins, Noel Malcolm, Quentin Skinner, Richard Tuck, and the anonymous reader for Renaissance Quarterly, each of whom read earlier drafts of this essay and offered crucial advice and encouragement. I am, lastly, indebted to excellent audiences at Harvard, Columbia, and Yale Universities, and to my colleagues in the Harvard Government Department and Harvard Society of Fellows, for many stimulating exchanges. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted: my translations from Bodin's French are based somewhat on M. J. Tooley's (Bodin, 1955), although I depart from his text significantly.
(1) Bodin, 1986, 5:59: "De toutes les causes des seditions, et changements de Republiques, il n'y en a point de plus grande que les richesses excessives de peu de sujects, et la povrete extreme de la pluspart."
(2) Ibid.: "qui ont pretendu plusieurs causes du mescontentement qu'ils avoyent de l'estat, ont tousjours empoigne le premiere occasion qui s'est presentee, pour despouiller les riches de leurs biens."
(3) Ibid., 60: "Platon appelloit les richesses, et la povrete, les anciennes pestes des Republiques ... on cerchoit une equalite, que plusieurs ont fort louee, l'appellant mere nourrice de paix et amitie entre les sujects."
(4) Ibid.: "l'inequalite source de toutes inimitiez, factions, haines, partialitez ... celuy qui a plus qu'un autre, et qui se void plus riche en biens, il veut aussi estre plus haut en honneur, en delices, en plaisirs, en vivres, en habits: il veut estre revere des povres qu'il mesprise et foule au pied."
(5) Bodin, 1586, 525: "Nam quo quisque alios opibus superat, honoribus etiam, volup-tatibus ac deliciis superior esse, de virtute nihil aut parum admodum solicitus." Richard Knolles included this phrase in his 1606 English translation (Bodin, 1606, 569): "for he that hath more than another, and sees himselfe to have greater wealth, he will also be higher in honor, in delights, in pleasures, in diet and in apparell, having no great regard of virtue."
(6) Bodin, 1986, 5:60: "concoyvent une envie et jalousie extreme, de se voir autant ou plus dignes que les riches, et neantmoins estre accablez de povrete, de faim, de misere, de contumelie."
(7) Ibid., 61: "divisoyent les biens egalement a chacun des sujects ... de nostre memoire Thomas le More Chancelier d'Angleterre, en sa Republique, dit, que la seule voye de salut public est, si les hommes vivent en communaute de biens: ce qui ne peut estre faict ou il y a propriete."
(8) Bodin, 1586, 525, retains the title Utopia in the Latin version.
(9) Bodin, 1986, 5:61.
(10) Ibid., 62: "d'autre part on peut dire, que l'equalite de biens est tres-pernicieuse aux Republiques, lesquelles n'ont appuy ni fondement plus assure que la foy, sans laquelle ni la justice, ni societe quelconque ne peut estre durable: or la foy gist aux promesses de conventions legitimes."
(11) Ibid.: "si donc les obligations sont cassees, les contracts annullez, les debtes abolies, que doit-on attendre autre chose que l'entiere eversion d'un estat? car il n'y aura fiance quelconque de l'un a l'autre."
(12) Ibid.: "on peut dire que tel partage du bien d'autruy est une volerie sous le voile d'equalite."
(13) Ibid., 64: "Laissant donc en arriere l'opinion de ceux qui cerchent l'equalite es Republiques ja formees, prenans le bien d'autruy, au lieu qu'ils devoyent conserver a chacun ce qui luy appartient, pour establir la justice naturelle." For the original, see Cicero, 260 (De officiis 2.84).
(14) See Skinner, 1998 and 2001; see also Pettit.
(15) Justinian, 1:2 (Digest, 1.1.10): "Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuendi."
(16) On the centrality of glory in Roman thought, see Baron; Burckhardt, 104; Brunt; Long; Skinner, 1988 and 1990.
(17) The following discussion relies on Nelson, 2004, 10-18.
(18) For the Italian sojourns of More's circle, see Bietenholz and Deutscher.
(19) Logan, 111, argues that Utopia musters "Greek city-state theory" to the task of defending the neo-Stoic position. This view is also to be found in Skinner, 1987, and in numerous studies influenced by this classic essay, such as Baker-Smith; Bradshaw; Parrish.
(20) The following discussion relies on material found in Nelson, 2001 and 2004, 19-48.
(21) Pace, 128: "Apud Latinos vero, quicquid apparet proprium, ut in arte dicendi, & in historia, hoc totum quasi mutuo sumptum est ex Graecis. Nam Ciceronem, quantus est in arte Oratoria (Quintiliano id confitente) fecit Demosthenes & Isocrates. In Philosophia vero, Plato & Aristoteles, quorum alterum divinum, alterum sapientissimum, ut doctissimos Graecos saepe appellat. Sed Philosophia adeo apud Latinos manca est, ut nihil possit esse eruditis auribus stultius, quam Latinos Philosophos cum Graecis comparare. Quo in genere, nec Ciceronem ipsum (quod eius venia dictum sit) excipio." For an excellent discussion of Pace's broader orientation, see Curtis.
(22) More, 1986b, 220: "vel denique propter artes, quas liberales vocant, ac philosophiam, quibus de rebus Latini scripsere propemodum nihil."
(23) More, 1986a, 99; More, 1986c, 143. Richard Croke offered a similar statement of the Erasmian case in his July 1519 lecture at Cambridge, "De graecorum disciplinarium laudibus oratio." On the Oxford riots and the broader battle over Greek studies, see Goldhill, 14-59; Nelson, 2004, 19-48; Saladin.
(24) Erasmus, 1979, 100: "Usqueadeo neque sibi neque patriae neque suis usquam usui esse potest, propterea quod communium rerum sit imperitus et a populari opinione vul-garibusque institutis longe lateque discrepet. Qua quidem ex re odium quoque consequatur necesse est, nimirum ob tantam vitae atque animorum dissimilitudinem. Quid enim omnino geritur inter mortales non stulticiae plenum idque a stultis et apud stultos?"
(25) More, 1995, 246.
(26) Erasmus, 1979, 102: "quae civitas unquam Platonis aut Aristotelis leges aut Socratis dogmata recepit?"
(27) Cicero, 198 (De officiis 2.31); Erasmus, 1979, 102: "Turn autem quae res Deciis persuasit, ut ultro sese diis manibus devoverent? Quid Q. Curtium in specum traxit nisi inanis gloria, dulcissima quaedam Siren, sed mirum quam a sapientibus istis damnata? Quid enim stultius, inquiunt, quam supplicem candidatum blandiri populo, congiariis favorem emere, venari tot stultorum applausus, acclamationibus sibi placere, in triumpho veluti signum aliquod populo spectandum circumferri, aeneum in foro stare? Adde his nominum et cognominum adoptiones, adde divinos honores homuncioni exhibitos, adde publicis ceremoniis in deos relatos etiam sceleratissimos tyrannos.... Haec stulticia parit civitates, hac constat imperia, magistratus, religio, consilia, iudicia, nec aliud omnino est vita humana quam stulticiae lusus quidam." A similar passage appears in Erasmus, 1988, 27; the Decii and Curtius are discussed in identical terms in Erasmus, 1986, 385.
(28) Erasmus, 1993, 84: "Quo loco conatur demonstrare felicissimum reipublicae statum rerum omnium communitate constare." Wootton, 1998 and 1999, 8, adduces this passage in his excellent discussion of Erasmus's "proto-Utopianism." See also Olin; Eden; Baker, 22-47.
(29) Erasmus, 1993, 61: "Quae si mortalibus persuaderi queat, ilico facessant e medio bellum; invidia, fraus, breviter universum malorum agmen semel e vita demigret." This discussion bears a striking resemblance to a passage from Pace's De fructu (Pace, 58; indeed, Pace mentions the Adagia several times in his work): "Apud homines vero, ubi abest aequalitas, ibi adest magna confusio, innumeras ingenerans pestes, ut avaritiam, dolum, fraudem, & id genus alias, quas longum esset recensere.... Porro communitas illa quam Pythagoras in amicitia postulavit, non nisi aequabilitas intelligenda est, astipulante ipso Platone, sic scribente in sexto de legibus, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], id est, aequalitas amicitiam facit."
(30) Erasmus, 1993, 84: "Sed dictu mirum quam non placeat, imo quam lapidetur a Christianis Platonis illa communitas, cum nihil umquam ab ethnico philosopho dictum sit magis ex Christi sententia." Recall Hythloday's observation that Jesus' doctrines would seem strange (aliena) among contemporary Christians (More, 1995, 98), and his comment that "neque mihi quidem dubitare subit quin vel sui cuiusque commodi ratio vel CHRISTI servatoris auctoritas ... totum orbem facile in huius reipublicae leges iamdudum traxisset" (ibid., 245).
(31) Erasmus, 1517: "Ab hoc didicimus non esse perfectam hominis felicitatem, nisi corporis & fortunae bonae accesserint." From this principle, he tells us, "we learn that it is not possible for a republic in which all things are held in common to flourish" (ibid.: "Ab hoc didicimus non posse florere rempublicam in qua sint omnia comminia").
(32) Ibid.: "Recepimus nonnihil & a Caesaris legibus, propter aequitatem, quam prae se ferunt, & quo magis convenirent, Evangelium doctrinam ad eas quo ad licuit destorsimus. At hae permittunt vim vi repellere, suum quemque ius persequi, probant negociationem. recipiunt usuram modo moderatam, bellum ceu rem praeclaram efferunt modo iustum."
(33) Ibid.: "His gradibus paulatim eo ventum est, ut is optimus habeatur, qui sit locupletissimus."
(34) More, 1986b, 279: "Multum providit deus cum omnia institueret communia, multum Christus cum in commune conatus est rursus a privato revocare mortales. Sensit nimirum corruptam mortalibus naturam non sine communitatis damno deamare privatum, id quod res, omnibus in rebus docet. Nec enim tantum suum praedium amat, aut suam quisque pecuniam, nec suo duntaxat generi studet, aut suo quisque collegio, sed ut quicque est quod aliquo modo vocemus nostrum ita in se illud affectus nostros a communium cultu rerum sevocat." I have modified Kinney's translation here.
(35) Note that Plato's Republic eliminates private property only among the guardians, whereas More generalizes this requirement. In the Laws, however, Plato endorses the claim that, in the best city, all things would be held in common: see Plato, 1989, 1324 (Laws 739c [V]).
(36) More, 1995, 45.
(37) Ibid.: "qua in re [philosophia] nihil quod alicuius momenti sit, praeter Senecae quaedam ac Ciceronis, exstare Latine cognovit." I have altered the translation here.
(38) Ibid., 181: "nam in Latinis praeter historias ac poetas nihil erat quod videbantur magnopere probaturi."
(39) The Polylerites, for example, are literally people of "much" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) "nonsense" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); the Achorians are people "without a country" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); the title of Utopia's governor is Ademus, an official "without people" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); and the river Anyder is "without water" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).
(40) More, 1995, 101: "Quamquam profecto, mi More (ut eta vere dicam quae meus animus fert), mihi videtur ubicumque privatae sunt possessiones, ubi omnes omnia pecuniis metiuntur, ibi vix umquam posse fieri ut cum republica aut iuste agatur aut prospere, nisi vel ibi sentias agi iuste ubi optima quaeque perveniunt ad pessimos."
(41) Ibid., 103: "rapaces, improbi, atque inutiles"; 241: "eoque necessitas urget ut sui potius quam populi, id est aliorum, habendam sibi rationem censeat."
(42) Ibid., 155: "usqueadeo ut plumbeus quispiam et cui non plus ingenii sit quam stipiti nec minus etiam improbus quam stultus, multos tamen et sapientes et bonos viros in servitute habeat, ob id dumtaxat quod ei magnus contigit aureorum numismatum cumulus."
(43) Ibid.: "hi videlicet in quibus a pueritia egregiam indolem, eximium ingenium, atque animum ad bonas artes propensum deprehendere." I have altered the translation here.
(44) Ibid., 135: "ut quoad per publicas necessitates licet, quam plurimum remporis ab servitio corporis ad animi libertatem cultumque civibus universis asseratur. In eo enim sitam vitae felicitatem putant." I have replaced Adams's translation of the first sentence. For the Utopian rejection of glory, see ibid., 202. More had been concerned with this theme for quite some time before he wrote Utopia. In 1510 he translated a letter from Pico della Mirandola to Andrea Corneo, in which he had Pico announce his preference for "the rest and peace of my mynde" over "all your kingis palaces, all your commune besines, all your glory." The phrase all your glory was More's own addition: see More, 1977, 86.
(45) The literature on More's reception in Italy includes Firpo, 1970 and 1977; Grendler, 1969; Rebora; Scrivano; Wheeler. Much of this material concerns Italian discussions of More's martyrdom, or summarizes various Italian utopias of the Cinquecento.
(46) More, 1947, 559-63, no. 217.
(47) On this, see Grendler, 1969, 33; Firpo, 1977, 52.
(48) More et al.
(49) However, see Menchi, 1994, for the controversial claim that Lando and another heterodox author, Giorgio Filalete ("Turchetto"), were actually one and the same person.
(50) See, in particular, Grendler, 1969, 3-19. I should say at the outset that I am deeply indebted to Grendler's analysis: his painstaking research into the poligrafi has made it possible to answer the question with which I am concerned.
(51) The conflict had Quattrocento roots in the quarrels between Lorenzo Valla and Poggio Bracciolini and between Angelo Poliziano and Bartolomeo Scala: see Scott, 10-23.
(52) On the general phenomenon of Ciceronianism, see Tuck, 13-30; Scott. On the papacy's embrace of the movement, see Hankins, 501-05.
(53) Erasmus, 1986, 337.
(54) Ibid., 385-86.
(55) Ibid., 345.
(56) Erasmus, 1906-58, 11:134, n. 3019 (Erasmus to Damian a Goes [21 May, 1535]): "Prodiit et alius libellus cui titulus, Cicero relegatus, et Cicero ab exilio revocatus, qui tamen me non magnopere petit. In eo Cicero odiosissime laceratur, frigide defenditur."
(57) Lando, 1534, 11-12: "Citabo aliquot Ciceronis loca, unde id colligo, ostendamque neminem umquam fuisse gloriae tam cupidum, tam sitientem honorum, tam ambitiosum, tam cupide populares auras captantem, efficiamque ut suo ipsius testimonio se iugelet, suisque se conficiat decretis. Itaque legite epistolam ... quam Dolobellae scribit, ubi se magno fatetur cumulari gaudio, quod vulgo hominum opinio illum suis laudibus socium adscriberet, neminemque dubitare quin eius praeceptis atque consiliis praestantissimum civem, singularemque se preberet consulem. Satis esse posset hic locus ad ostendendum, quanta gloriae cupiditate efferatur. Sed hoc non contentus, ad reliqua pergam."
(58) Lando, 1995, 51: "Tullio poi e troppo gonfio, troppo ridondante et troppo frequente nel ripettere le medeme cose ... Spiacciommi, i suoi libri della philosophia scritti, per non havervi serbato alcun bel mettodo, per esser molto inconstante et per haver detto molte cose del tutto aliene dalla verita."
(59) Scott, 85, is tempted to classify Lando as a Ciceronian based on the contents of a 1535 letter from Joannes Angelus Odonus to Erasmus's secretary, Gilbert Cousin. Odonus clearly disliked Lando, and refers to him as a "precious Ciceronian" and a "despiser of the Greek language and studies." As Grendler, 1969, 26, 148-49, notes, this comment is quite mysterious, since Lando had just published the Cicero relegates et revocatus, which even Erasmus found to be overly anti-Ciceronian. Lando was also shortly to defend Erasmus in print, and his attacks on Cicero became, if anything, even more pronounced over time. One possible explanation for Odonus's confusion is that Lando was friendly with Etienne Dolet, who had published a fierce Ciceronian response to Erasmus earlier the same year (Lando introduced Dolet to Odonus, which is why he appears in the letter to Cousin). Lando shared with Dolet a deep anticlericalism and many heterodox religious beliefs--Dolet was eventually arrested for having Calvinist sympathies and for denying the immortality of the soul--and Odonus may have mistakenly assumed that Lando also shared his friend's Ciceronian bent. In any event, it is instructive that, for Odonus, to be a Ciceronian and a critic of Erasmus is primarily to be a "despiser of the Greek language and studies."
(60) Dolet, 8: "Ne hoc nescias, Lector, omnia pene, quae Morus disputat, & loquitur, ex Ciceroniano Erasmi dialogo assumpta sunt."
(61) Ibid., 181: "Iesum ore profitemur, sed Iovem optimum maximum & Romulum gestamus in pectore."
(62) Ibid., 34: "Testatur se scripsisse etiam orations quinque in laudem urbis Romae. O pulchre collocatam operam. Quanto rectius earn collacasset, si civitatem illam, atque eos praecipue, qui bonas literas ibi profitentur, orationibus aliquot elaboratis, ad Christi cultum, ac pietatis amorem inflammare studisset?"
(63) Lando, 1535, 1540, 1541, and 1548a. Two additional examples from the following decade are Lando 1550 and 1555, the latter published under the initials A. V., for "Anonimo Utopiense." On Lando's pseudonyms, see Menchi, 1996.
(64) Lando, 1544, 25: "Io vego il pazzo non prendersi cura di posscder stati, di edificar ville, di prender moglie, di esser ne guelfo, ne ghibellino, & quelli che noi riputiamo savi diligentimente tutte le predette cose cercare."
(65) Ibid.: "Il pazzo non si cura de gli honori, sprezza le grandezza, & rifiuta i primi luoghi & a quei che tenemo savi d'altro gia non cale, & per conseguir preminenze, per acquistare prelature, soffrono caldo e gelo, perdono il sonno e anche spesse volte col sonno, la cara vita hora per voi stessi giudicate chi meglio l'intenda & qual veramente alla voce d'Iddio piu ubidisca."
(66) Ibid., 10: "pensando non potere & la virtu & le richezze insieme possedere, il medesimo affermono Bione, platone, & altri savi filosofi, ma a che piu cittare bisogna testimoni? quando la santissimo bocca di Giesu disse, che piu agevolmente entrerebbe nella cruna d'un accora, una fune di nave, che il ricco ne reame de celi." This passage is found in Lando's discussion of the paradox that it "is better to be poor than rich." "Bione" is Bion, one of the so-called "seven sages" of the sixth century BCE.
(67) Ibid., 25: "quelli, che sono detti savi, mai rachettarsi, mai di cosa veruna contentarsi, non po tutta l'industria humana, non po la Dea Copia, col suo corno, a lor insatiabili desiderii sodisfare."
(68) Ibid., 30: "questa infinita cupidigia del regnere ... ovunque signoreggiano gli huo-mini de domini bramosi, sempre vi fi trova poca giustitia, e richi conculcano e poveri, & e nobili ultraggiano gli ignobili." This passage is found in Lando's discussion of the paradox that "it is not bad for a prince to lose his state."
(69) Ibid., where Lando admires an ancient practice of the island of Taprobane (Ceylon): "ove il piu valoroso & piu studioso di commodi di soggetti principe si elegeva & il medemo per arbitrio del popolo."
(70) Grendler, 1969, 253-54, includes an appendix that discusses the authorship of this text. The primary reason for doubting Lando's authorship is that the author of La Pazzia indicates that he studied in Rome and lost relatives in the Sack of 1527: we have no evidence suggesting that Lando did either. However, since the text was written anonymously, it would not be terribly surprising for the author to have fictionalized his persona.
(71) La Pazzia, sig. A3r: "Narrano i Poeti, a i quali si puo dar facilmente creduto, perche con essa Pazzia han sempre hauuto commertio, che'l padre di essa fu Pluto Dio delle ricchezze, che le paci, le guerre, le signorie, gl'imperii, e tutte le cose del mondo ha in sua balia." This is a fairly close paraphrase of a passage in The Praise of Folly: see Erasmus, 1971, 69-70.
(72) La Pazzia, sig. Blv: "al governare li Stati, al regnere Republiche."
(73) Ibid., sig. D3r: "non ci affaticariamo mai per acquistar nome, ne loda ... viveriamo senza gloria."
(74) Ibid.: "Ma la Pazzia volendoci inanimare a fatti magnanimi, ci fa innamorare di noi medesimi, persuadendoci che ne i nostri essercitii di gran lunga avanziamo tutti gli altri."
(75) Ibid., sig. D3r-v: "Tutti i gloriosi & gran fatti procedono da infinito di pazzia, et par la maggior parte far si con l'aiuto di quella. A chi non c manifesto le guerre, & i fatti d'arme esser le maggiori & la piu eccelse cose, che tra gli uomini si possano fare? procedendo da essi i grandi Imperii."
(76) Ibid., sig. E4r: "Che cosa pensate voi inducesse Curtio Romano ... c i Decii, & infiniti altri a correre a voluntaria morte, per salute della patria, se non la Pazzia, & la dolcezza della Vanagloria? la quale e tanto vituperate da questi savii, che la chiamano vento populare, et inflatione d'orecchie, bessandosi di quelli che gettano le lor Ricchezze, e i patrimonii in comedie, in conviti, in giostre, in tornamenti, & in altri simili spettacoli per piacere al popolo, & per guadagnare il suo favore & plauso: cercando per tal vie farsi grandi, ct acquistar honori, magistrati, & triomphi, con titoli, & con statue che il popolo (come insensata bestia) il piu delle volte senza giuditio alcuno suol dare a Tirranni, & ad huomini sceleratissimi.... Et certo che non si puo negare che non siano manifeste pazzie, & vanita grandissime, ma pur per mezzo di tali sciocchezze si creano i principi de i popoli, nascono i grandi Imperii, & procedono i gloriosi, & magnanimi fatti." The remarkable character of this passage becomes more evident once we reject the view--see, for example, Alberigo, 623--that La Pazzia is simply a clumsy translation of Erasmus's text. There are, in fact, only a few large passages from The Praise of Folly which the author reproduces in full: this is one of them.
(77) La Pazzia, sig. E4r: "eterna fama, et immortal gloria."
(78) Ibid., sig. D4v: "Ma quanto fussero felici i popoli senza questi savii, si puo facilmente giudicare la vita, e i costumi del popoli nuovamente ritrovati nelle Indie occidentali."
(79) Ibid.: "i quali beati senza legge, senza lettere, senza savii, non apprezzavano ne oro, ne gioe, non conoscevano ne avaritia, ne ambitione ... si nutrivano de i frutti che la terra senza arte produceva."
(80) Ibid.: "si come nella Republica di Platone, ogni cosa commune ... vivevano in perpetuo amore, & carita, si come nel secolo fortunato, et veramente d'oro del vecchio Saturno." Another poligrafo, Anton Francesco Doni, spoke of the Age of Saturn in these terms: see Grendler, 1965, 486.
(81) La Pazzia, sig. E2v: "questi savii inutile a se stessi, & alle lor patrie, et odiati da tutte le genti."
(82) See Gibson, 45, 48. For the translation, see Lando, 1548b.
(83) Scrivano, 105-07 (epistle dedicatory, Doni to Gerolamo Fava): "Voi troverete in questa reubblica, ch'io vi mando, ottimi costumi, ordini buoni, reggimenti savi, ammaestramenti santi, governo sincero e uomini reali; poi ben composte le citta, gli offici, la giustizia e la misericordia." The first explicit attribution of the translation to Lando appeared in Sansovino, 184.
(84) The degree to which anti-Ciceronianism functions as a predictor of political commitments in this period is remarkable. In addition to other poligrafi such as Niccolo Franco, we can point to the rather different figure of Francesco Patrizi da Cherso (1529-97). A Platonist professor of philosophy at the universities of Ferrara and Rome, Patrizi's profile clearly distinguishes him from Lando and Doni; yet he too was an anti-Ciceronian, and he too wrote a utopia, La Citta Felice (1553). In this text--which, interestingly, constitutes a close paraphrase of the final two books of Aristotle's Politics--Patrizi too argues that an inegalitarian distribution of wealth threatens the downfall ("la totale ruina") of the commonwealth, recommends wise rulers who "can give themselves over entirely to the civil and intellectual virtues," and insists that "happiness" ("felicita"), not glory, is our highest good ("sommo nostro bene"). Doni's critique of contemporary Italian civilization extended, in a manner Lando's did not, to a wholesale rejection of learning. He preached instead what he called "a good kind of ignorance" ("ignoranza da bene"), a retreat into one's own concerns. See Grendler, 1969, 146-48; Procaccioli.
(85) Doni, 161: "Ah, ah, ah, ah! e mi vien voglia di rider, che la cosa succede altrimenti, perche i matti erano piu, piu, piu assai che i savi, c veduto che costoro non facevano come loro, se gli ficcarono a torno con le cattove parole c con i peggior fatti, onde furon forzati a fare come loro e pazzaggiare a lor dispetto. Cosi i savi entrarono nel numero dei matti contra la lor voglia."
(86) The image of the "pioggia della follia" was not uncommon in the Cinquecento: see Rivoletti, 19-24. More himself discusses the allegory in one of his final letters to his daughter Margaret Roper in 1534. He recalls that Cardinal Wolsey used to employ the fable to demonstrate that it was useless for the wise to stay out of the rain, because they would ultimately be overcome by the fools in any event. (Wolsey's moral was meant to refute arguments for England to keep out of "foolish" European wars.) More, as we might well imagine, disagreed strongly with this reading: see More, 1947, 518-19, n. 206. Doni was also influenced by another utopia, the Relox de principes (written ca. 1518, printed in 1529) of the Spanish humanist Antonio de Guevara. On this text and its significance for Doni, see Grendler, 1965, 480-82.
(87) More, 1995, 101: "Quamobrem pulcherrima similitudine declarat Plato cur merito sapientes abstineant a capessenda republica. Quippe quum populum videant in plateas effusum assiduis imbribus perfundi, nec persuadere queant illis ut se subducant pluviae tectaque subeant: gnari nihil profuturos sese so exeant quam ut una compluantur, semet intra tecta continent, habentes satis quando alienae stultitiae non possunt mederi so ipsi saltem sint in tuto."
(88) Plato, 1963, 732 (Republic 496c [VI]): "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]." I have altered the translation. Consider also Hythloday's claim (More, 1995, 101) that "there is no way for you to do any good when you are thrown among colleagues who would more readily corrupt the best of men than be reformed themselves. Either they will seduce you by their evil ways, or, if you remain honest and innocent, you will be made a screen for the knavery and folly of others."
(89) Doni received an admiring letter from one A. Persio in April 1570. This figure was either Antonio Persio or his younger brother, Ascanio (1554-ca. 1605), a professor of Greek at Bologna. Given the elder Persio's philosophical interests, and his relationship with Campanella and Bernardino Telesio (1509-88), it seems far more likely that he was the author of the letter: see Grendler, 1969, 196-97.
(90) Campanella, 76: "Gli astrologi, antevista in un paese / costellazion che gli uomini impazzire / far dovea, consigliarsi di fuggire, / per regger sani poi le genti offese. / Tornando poscia a far le regie imprese, / consigliavan que' pazzi con bel dire / il viver prisco, il buon cibo e vestire. / Ma ognun con calci e pugni a lor contese. / Talche, sforzati i savi a viver come / gli stolti usavan, per schifar la morte, / che 'l piu gran pazzo avea le regie some, / vissero sol col senno a chiuse porte, / il pubblico applaudendo in fatti e nome / all'altrui voglie forsennate e torte." For the dating of the sonnet, see Firpo, 1947, 255. Grendler, 1969, 197-98, translates the sonnet as follows: "The astrologers, having foreseen in land a constellation that maddened men, took counsel to flee; then, having remained healthy, to rule the injured people. Returning afterward to do their royal deeds, they advised these madmen with well-chosen words to live the old way, with good food and dress. But everyone attacked them with kicks and blows. So that the wise men were compelled to live as fools, in order to avoid death, because the greatest madmen carried the royal burden. They lived with good sense only behind closed doors, in public applauding in deed and name the insane and wrong desires of others."
(91) Grendler, 1969, 196-201.
(92) Garzoni, 288: "contra la ricchezza, la liberta." Grendler, 1969, 192, alludes to this passage, but does not relate it to the question we have been considering.
(93) This famous phrase appears in chap. 7 of Rousseau's Social Contract: see Rousseau, 141.
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