Anniversario della nascita di Cristina di Svezia

8 dicembre 2020           

Evento digitale organizzato in occasione dell’anniversario della nascita di Cristina di Svezia:

L’Accademia dell’Arcadia ha partecipato con un intervento del Socio ordinario Maurizio Campanelli:


The Arcadia originated from Vincenzo Leonio’s circle (II), a member of which was the young Giovan Mario Crescimbeni (III and IV). It was a «conversazione», that is an informal cenacle of poets who gathered in the spring and summer afternoons in gardens and groves of Rome to read and discuss renaissance as well as contemporary poetry. Their aim was the reform of taste: they wanted to put an end to the Baroque and to restore the Renaissance classicism in literature. At some point, probably between 1688 and 1689, Christina offered to Leonio’s cenacle a place to meet in her gardens, but she died shortly afterwards, as it is well known.

On the 5th of October 1690 Leonio, Crescimbeni and the other poets of the «unione di Giovani letterati», Union of young men of letters, as it was called, founded the Arcadia in the gardens of the convent of San Pietro in Montorio, on the top of the Janiculus (V and VI). The account of that meeting has survived (VII). The founders were 14 (VIII), and none of them, as far as we know, was a member of Christina’s Academy, which started in 1656 and was re-founded in 1680 with a corpus of Constituzioni, that is a statute. One of the Arcadia founders was Gian Vincenzo Gravina, the most important scholar in republican Roman law and philosopher of law of his age, (IX). So, it was not by chance that Leonio, Crescimbeni and the others founded the Arcadia as a «repubblica democratica o popolare», democratic or popular republic, as Crescimbeni called it on many occasions: the assembly of the Arcadians (the «Ragunanza» or Coetus in Latin) who gathered in the Bosco Parrasio had the legislative power and elected a «Custode» (guardian), who served as a sort of prime minister. He chose a board of «Colleghi» as governance of the Arcadia; the «Custode» and the «Colleghi» had the executive power (X). The Arcadia admitted neither a patron (XI) nor an external authority that could jeopardize its autonomy and independence.

Already in 1691, the poets of Christina’s circle became shepherds, that is members, of the Arcadia. Benedetto Menzini (XII) was admitted with the Arcadian name of Euganio Libade (n. 35); Michele Cappellari, the author of the epic Christina lustrata (XIII), with the name of Olenio Liceate (n. 67, 13 V 1691); Alessandro Guidi (XIV) as Erilo Cleoneo (n. 186). In 1692 Guidi finally published a pastoral fable, the Endimione, that was a manifesto of the new arcadian taste in poetry; the fable tells the story of the love of Endimione for Cintia. Cintia is image of Christina, who wrote some passages of the text, highlighted by brackets in the printed edition (XV).  On May 1691 the Bosco Parrasio, which was the territory of the Arcadian Republic, was moved to the garden of Palazzo Riario alla Lungara (XVI), the palace in which Christina lived and died. Thus Christina became a sort of posthumous patron of Arcadia, or rather a genius of Arcadia; they gave her the title of «Basilissa» (XVII). The very day in which the new Bosco Parrasio was inaugurated – it was the 27th of May, a Sunday – the Arcadians decided to celebrate the anniversary of Christina’s death; they put that day in their calendar as «giorno mesto» (day of sadness). A detailed account of the celebration is extant (XVIII). The Florentine abate Antonio Malegonnelle, who had written the funeral oration for Christina, said that «it was the will of the gods to bring our assembly here, thanks to which the glorious memory and famous name of the Basilissa, queen and lady, dweller of Arcadia, would come back to life forever» (XIX). Then Michele Brugueres and other Arcadians brought to the centre of the Bosco Parrasio a big marble stone bearing the name of Basilissa and scattered flowers and leaves on it, and many Arcadians read long and short poems, in Italian and Latin, in honour of Christina.

Christina soon became one of the main subjects of early Arcadian poetry. Leone Strozzi was perhaps the most important collector of ancient artworks and mirabilia naturae et hominis of his age – the Musaeum Strozzianum was celebrated all over Europe –. In 1692, for the second anniversary of Christina’s death celebrated in Arcadia, he gave a ragionamento, an oration (XX), in which described Christina’s gallery of paintings, her collection of ancient coins, her library and her museum of ancient sculptures. Yet, already on the 10th of June 1691, only two weeks after the inauguration of the new Bosco Parrasio and the first celebration of Christina’s anniversary, Strozzi had read an ironical poem, almost a satire in Horace’s style, on the move of the Bosco Parrasio from the Esquiline to Christina’s gardens. There are two manuscript of the poem, one is in Strozzi’s hand (XXI); in 1721 the poem was printed in the official collection of the Arcadian Latin poetry, the Arcadum carmina. The poem ends with Christina: her ashes from the grave give a fatidicum numen, a divine prophecy, about the future of the Arcadia (XXII): «Live happy, Arcadians, in the region of Rome. Arcadia, which now give laws to the goats, by extending the boundaries of its little fields, will give laws to the peoples, and finally the whole world will become your colony». The prophesy revealed itself to be true, at least from the point of view of literature and culture, since many Arcadian colonies were founded in Italian cities (XXIII) and the memory of Christina remained alive in the Bosco Parrasio for a very long time.