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On Religious Leisure: De otio religioso [Kindle Edition]

Francesco Petrarch , Ronald G. Witt , Susan S. Shearer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

At some point in January or early February of 1347, Petrarch briefly visited the remote Carthusian monastery of Montrieux, where, four years before, his beloved brother, Gherardo, had pledged himself to live in perpetuity as a renditus, one who took the same vows as a monk but who was not cloistered. In the day and night he spent at Montrieux, Petrarch spoke privately with Gherardo, had lively discussions with other residents, and attended religious services celebrated by the brothers with "angelic singing." Unwilling to disturb the rigid discipline of the monastery longer, he reluctantly departed the next morning accompanied by the prior and the brothers to the limits of their property and he imagined them continuing to watch him until he disappeared from view.

Returning to the Vaucluse, still "mindful of that whole blessed sweetness which I drank in with you," and troubled that in the course of the hasty visit he had not been able to say many things that he would like to have said, he decided "to express in writing what I was not able to do in person."

The body of the work that was to become the De otio religioso was composed sometime during Lent or between February 11 and March 29 of that year. Not untypically, however, Petrarch continued to add to the text as late as 1356, and the finished treatise was probably not dispatched to Gherardo until 1357.

This first English translation by Susan S. Schearer faithfully and elegantly presents Petrarch's exordium to the life of contemplation and offers the reader a fresh view into the spiritual world of fourteenth-century humanism.

Ronald G. Witt's introduction places the work into its historical and intellectual context, discusses its structure and development, and examines Petrarch's characteristic synthesis of Christian and classical sources.

First English translation. Introduction, Notes, Bibliography, Index of Citations, General Index.

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Francesco Petrarch, Italian poet and humanist, 1304-1374.

Ronald G. Witt is Professor of History at Duke University and current president of the renaissance Society of America.

Susan S. Schearer earned a B.A. in Classics with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia and an M.A. in Classics from Indiana University.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1845 KB
  • Publisher: Italica Press (November 19, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004D4YMMG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,828 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Thoughts of a Misrepresented Mind December 22, 2004
Format:Paperback
In high school and college classrooms, Francesco Petrarca has been touted as the father of modern humanism, a proto-atheist fighting to free people's minds from the superstition of religion and to return to the ideals of classical Greece and, especially, Rome. While elements of this characterization are true (it is hard to deny Petrarch's heartfelt admiration for Rome, its virtues, and its pagan saints), this little-read book allowed me to see the deeper reality of Petrarch's spirituality.

Within the pages of this book, one is able to see Petrarch's spiritual life in process. He is a non-monastic outsider looking in on a lifestyle he admires, a lifestyle that he consciously rejected in his youth. However, following the death of Laura, his paramour, and a visit to his brother Gherrardo in a Cluniac monastery, Petrarch began to reevaluate his spiritual priorities. Ultimately, this book stands as a testimony to the depth of his own religious renaissance. While he clearly admires many of the virtues of classical civilization, he is consistently critical of the hypocrisy that infiltrated much of ancient Greco-Roman life. Even his beloved Cicero is not immune to Petrarch's reproach.

In many ways, this book reveals many parallels between Petrarch and St. Jerome regarding his spiritual development. Both dedicated their youngest years to the study of classical pagan/agnostic literature, imbibing the aesthetic and moral principles that guided the thought and composition of the ancient writers. However, as they reached maturity, both suddenly came to believe that their former lives were lives of error, not so much because they had been studying immoral literature, but that they had been neglecting the most important literature for their lives--the Bible.
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