Renæssanceforum 8 • 2012

Marianne Pade
Humanist Latin and Italian identity: Sum vero Italus natione et Romanus civis esse glorior

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From Petrarch onwards humanist writers (Bruni, Lapo da Castiglionchio, Valla, Guarino, Brenta, Sabellico) describe the Latin language, classical Latin as well as contemporary humanist Latin, as essential for the cultural achievement of both ancient Rome and early Renaissance Italy. The way these writers use history, evoking a long lost Golden Age which is now about to return, is analysed with the conceptual framework of modern theories on the construction of national identity. The article argues that by making language a central aspect of the Golden Age myth, which in their interpretation regards Italy and not other parts of the Latin West, Italian humanists succeed in making humanist Latin an essential part of Italian cultural identity.