Study Guide

Italia Mia Duty

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Petrarch writes "Italia mia" to make the Italian nobility step up and act like good stewards of Italy. First order of business? Learn civic responsibility. Petrarch's irked because the ruling class thinks only of itself and doesn't care that the rest of Italy suffers for its lame-brain desires. He can't see how a nobleman could be given everything by Fortune—including the beautiful Garden of Eden that is Italy—and not undertake his duty to care for it. Petrarch does his duty by speaking the harsh truth to the nobility, regardless of the consequences. By sending Canzone 128 into the world, he's speaking the truth and fulfilling his responsibility as a public figure and poet. At least someone in this scenario has his priorities right.

Questions About Duty

  1. What does Petrarch see as the major problem with the elite class in Italy?
  2. In what ways does the poem discuss duty beyond the obligations of the ruling class?
  3. What are the obligations of the nobility, as Petrarch sees it here?
  4. What part do the mercenary forces play in this poem? Does Petrarch place any responsibility on them for the state of Italy?

Chew on This

The biggest sin of the Italian nobility in Petrarch's eyes is that they do not pay attention to the needs of those who are in their care.

Petrarch shows that responsibility for civic prosperity lies not just with princes and lords, but also with the dissenters who are not afraid to speak up about social ills. (Get up, stand up...)

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