L’oratoria dellospettacolo pateticonei «prologhetti» delle prediche quaresimali di Francesco Panigarola

Guido Laurenti

This examination of the homiletic studies highlights how the works addressing the investigation into the morphology and function of the prologue (as an aspect of fundamental importance to the economy of the entire sermon) are still valid today, both from a specifically literary standpoint, as well as from the standpoint of their implicit ideological references. As such, this essay is dedicated to analysing a number of the “prologues” of Francesco Panigarola’s Lenten sermons, which can be seen as segments of text that serve a rhetorical function similar to that of a poem’s introduction, and are particularly suitable for “exalting” and giving voice to various fragments of literary works. The Prediche quadragesimali, which contain forty sermons offered by Panigarola in Rome for Lent of 1577, rise to the highest degree in terms of the rhetoric used in late sixteenth century homiletic prologues. Precisely due to the greater freedom of expression afforded by such prologues, these works contained some of the most beautiful imagery and stylistic solutions ever attributed to the author. They sometimes include essays dominated by the presence of prominent figures, thus resolving themselves in similes, biblical parables, or even the allegorical re-telling of the figures and events in question. While the prologues serve as preambles to prepare the audience for the sermon itself, they are nevertheless not entirely foreign to the same subject matter, as they often anticipate the topic and the direction of the sermon’s development, even in the form of an exemplum, a judgement or an explanation of the allegories contained within the text.