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Rosmunda: Feminine Illustration of Vittorio Alfieri’s Tyrant

Dima, G. E.
Known for his tragedies, the 18th century Italian writer, Count Vittorio Alfieri, was influenced and partly conditioned by Aristotle’s Poetics and by the literary opinions of his age. However, his fidelity to the ancient form of the tragedy did not hinder the introduction of a new type of conflict that would appeal to his contemporaries and to the future generations, namely that between a tyrant and what he called “a hero of freedom”. Despite belonging to high nobility, Alfieri was fiercely attracted by the Enlightenment ideals, professed a strong support for the republic as form of government and used every occasion to write against the abuses of kings. In the 1777 treatise Of Tyranny (Della tirannide), he theoretically expressed the ideas he would later use to construct the characters of his tragedies. Further on, he resumed the same concept in another treatise, The Prince and the Letters (Del principe e delle lettere), published in 1786 but written at the same time with most of his tragedies. Amongst his famous figures of tyrants there are those of Julius Caesar, of the Spanish king Philip II or of the biblical king Saul. Instead, our paper deals with the less analysed character of Rosmunda, queen of the Lombards, protagonist of one of Alfieri’s tragedies. While in a previous tragedy by Giovanni Rucellai Rosmunda appears as a medieval weaker Antigone, in Alfieri she is a stronger character. The subject of the tragedy, though based on real historical figures, is mostly invented by the author, which further proves how keen he was in fully developing his personage. We will therefore follow the behaviour of Rosmunda in her capacity as a tyrant queen and show that it fits within the definition provided by Alfieri in his treatises. We can thus conclude that Alfieri’s feminine tyrant is constructed on the same principles as his masculine counterparts and gender makes no difference when tyranny is the subject. This approach in the patriarchal society of the 18th century proves once again the modernity of Vittorio Alfieri’s vision of the future society he writes for.
SGEM Research areas:
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
Vittorio Alfieri; tragedy; tyrant; Rosmunda
SGEM Book title:
7th SWS International Scientific Conference on Arts And Humanities - ISCAH 2020
Book number:
SGEM Series:
SWS International Scientific Conferences on ART and HUMANITIES - ISCAH
Publisher address:
51 Al. Malinov blvd, Sofia, 1712, Bulgaria
SGEM supporters:
SWS Scholarly Society; Acad Sci Czech Republ; Latvian Acad Sci; Polish Acad Sci; Russian Acad Sci; Serbian Acad Sci & Arts; Natl Acad Sci Ukraine; Natl Acad Sci Armenia; Sci Council Japan; European Acad Sci, Arts & Letters; Acad Fine Arts Zagreb Croatia; C
26-27 October, 2020,
7th SWS International Scientific Conference on Arts And Humanities - ISCAH 2020, 26-27 October, 2020
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