By Nicola Panichi

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7 Virgil’s Aeneid seemed to be made for memorization. ” This is a narrative that is divided into “books” or manageable chunks that, in turn, are divided into still more manageable, and memorable, chunks. The famous opening chunks, all of approximately the same size, and each one containing just enough sound material to be read on one breath, gives an example: I sing of warfare and a man at war. From the sea-coast of Troy in early days He came to Italy by destiny, What Did This Medieval “Forest” Contain?

For the Italian version of “Fiordinando,” cf. G. Nerucci, Sessanta Novelle Populari Montalesi (circondario di Pistoia) (Florence, l880): Novella LIX, repr. with introduction (Milan, l977), pp. 490–497. I acknowledge with gratitude the invaluable help of the Romance languages philologist Outi Merisalo for the English translation included here. 2. Cf. Italian Folktales, selected and retold by Italo Calvino, trans. George Martin (Torino, l956; English translation, New York, l980), pp. xvi–xvii. There have been several reasons for collecting together so-called folktales, such as the perception of a source of national consciousness and the efforts of Finnish collectors to trace migrations.

8 Not only did the lore of how Aeneas left the burning city of Troy to establish a new city—the city of Rome, which he finally accomplished after many dangers, toils, and snares of temptations, enemies on every side, fickle friends and deception, duplicity of every kind, and dirty tricks, as well as utter carnage—capture the imagination of all who could read and understand the Latin language from antiquity to Dante himself in the 14th century; but Virgil’s method of construction contained within this powerful, evocative epic was impressed indelibly into the minds not only of Augustine but, again, of all who read and memorized the Aeneid from Antiquity to well into the 20th century (see Example I and Example II in chapter IV).

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Montaigne by Nicola Panichi


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