Study Guide

Italia Mia Warfare

By Petrarch

Warfare

The opening stanza of "Italia mia" is filled with blood and guts (the "mortal wounds" of Italy) and we're told straight-up that Mars has captured the hearts of the elite. Petrarch wants to use his poem to put a stop to this nonsense by appealing to the Italian lords and princes involved. The poet's rage against the war machine is not just for the greedy nobles who want power and money at any cost. It's also about the Bavarian mercenary armies who want to avenge ancient wrongs and make some good coin at the same time. Petrarch does a good job pointing out their idiocy—but it's going to take a few more centuries before the Italian princes get the memo about the stupidity of mercenary warfare.

Questions About Warfare

  1. What is Petrarch's purpose in writing this canzone?
  2. Whom is he addressing in Canzone 128?
  3. Why does Petrarch think that the mercenary armies are a bad idea?
  4. What images does the poet use to paint a picture of war in Italy?

Chew on This

Petrarch uses biblical imagery to heighten his description of the strife happening in northern Italy.

The poet calls out the Italian nobility not because they are engaged in warfare, but because they are betraying their proud lineage by fighting for no reason. (Seriously—get it together, guys.)

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