Study Guide

Italia Mia Stanza 5

By Petrarch

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Stanza 5

Lines 65-70

With all the proof are you not yet aware
of the Bavarian treason
which with hand raised makes death into a game?
The shame seems worse to me than actual loss.
But you let your blood flow
More generously, for other anger whips you.

  • Mark Musa talks about this form of treason (67). It has to do with the Germanic mercenaries using a raised finger as a sign of surrender—as in "We were paid to fight you, but we're giving up now."
  • So, the shame part that follows has to do with the easy surrender of these paid German forces.
  • Since they aren't very professional and there's no principle behind the fighting, they give up.
  • Still, there's blood shed on the battlefield and, from Petrarch's description, it seems like Italian blood. Remember those early lines about the "mortal wounds" on Italy's "lovely body"?
  • Petrarch calls out the nobility for being motivated by the wrong things. Instead of the natural hostility they should have for the German forces, they encourage strife between the noble houses of Italy. Come on, guys.

Lines 71-73

From dawn to tierce examine
yourselves, and you will see that one who thinks
himself so cheap cannot hold others dear.

  • Now Petrarch gets down to business. He's asking the nobility to do some very hard thinking here.
  • At issue: can the mercenaries (who sell their souls for $$) have real loyalty or affection for anyone else? Can they have principles?
  • The answer should be a resounding "NO."
  • Incidentally, that "dawn to tierce" is a time signature—roughly from six to nine in the morning, when thinking is clearest. (We'd say it's sometime between our third and tenth cup of coffee.)

Lines 74-80

O noble Latin blood,
release yourself from such a harmful burden,
and do not idolize
a name that is so empty;
if that fury up there, that savage race,
conquer our intellect,
the sin is ours, and not the course of nature.

  • After giving them a proper tongue-lashing, Petrarch wants to build the nobility back up again by reminding them of their proud roots. "Latin" here refers to Latin-speaking peoples (i.e., the Roman nobles), not to Latino peoples.
  • This stanza acts as the ultimatum of the poem: get rid of the German dudes, stop fighting without a cause ("a name that is so empty"), and don't be so darned weak-minded.
  • Those last two lines about intellect and sin are meant to remind the audience of original sin: when Adam let his intelligence be overwhelmed by desire in the Garden of Eden. This is
  • Petrarch's ways of saying that the stakes are high.
  • If the nobles keep going in this direction, says Petrarch, they can't really blame the consequences on anybody but themselves.

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