According to itypemba, the fifteenth century had believed, as we have said, that to raise the vulgar to literary dignity it was necessary to “eliminate and clean it” as a mirror of Latin; a principle that came to theorize and materialize in clear awareness and abstract determination what had been from the very beginning innate tendency of Italian literature, a vague desire for classicism. To moral treatises – here we always speak of scriptures in the vernacular – the fifteenth century itself had set Cicero and Seneca models, not without some breath of Lucian spirits; the sixteenth century wanted to extend the ancient aspiration to all literary genres, which assuming classical forms reached in the eyes of those writers the degree of nobility necessary to belong worthily to a good literature.
If not exactly the first to classically shape a comedy, certainly the first whose example was effective, was Ariosto, who from the Ferrara court, where first (from 1486 onwards) Terenzian and Plautian comedies had been performed, translated, he had the impulse to write and present the Cassaria on stage in 1508 and the following year the Suppositi . He then wrote these comedies in prose, but then reduced them to loose hendecasyllables, towards which by the number of syllables and by the atony of the penultimate he seemed to render the iambic trimeter acataleptic of the Roman comedians, and in the same meter he then composed two more, Il Necromante (1520) and La Lena (1529) and began a third The Students, which he left unfinished. Especially in the Necromancer and Lena some figures are represented with effective touches and with aspects of modernity, and there are lively scenes in the ease of the dialogue; but on the whole Ariosto’s comedies lack the comedy that arises from the author’s spiritual intimacy and not from the intrigues accepted by the ancient comedy, of which they are divided into five acts, the unity of place and time, the frequent use of the acknowledgments and all the ways of the script.
With these structural characters and with arguments or motives deriving from Latin comedies and less frequently from short stories, we are presented with the Italian comedies of the century. XVI. With the exception of the Mandrake already mentioned, there is not one which shows the action of an individual fantasy so vigorous as to be a true work of art; there are many worthy of remembrance for some construction or representation or comic quality: the Calandria by Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena (1513), rich in a superficial and salacious comic spirit; the Aridosia Lorenzino il tirannicida (1536), where the old Aridosio, who is the protagonist, is a figure drawn with sobriety and natural lines, and many scenes have real comic force; the comedies of the already mentioned Lasca, not cold painters of the mocking Florentine society of the time; those of Giammaria Cecchi cleverly constructed, and remarkable, if not valuable, for the frank Florentine character of the language; those of the Neapolitan Giambattista della Porta, of simple structure, lively in the dialogue, successful in the figuration of some characters. For their independence from classical models in fairy tales and in the structure, the comedies of Pietro Aretino, feared pamphleteer and original writer and rich in letters, dialogues, poems, rhymes, and the Candelaio should be noted.by Giordano Bruno. Taken down quickly, these portray effectively with live and broken dialogue, with a hundred figures captured from life, with some animated scenes of biting comic spirit, the sixteenth-century life in its most varied aspects; this, the Candelaio , technically very defective, has new depths of observation and singular intensity and fervor of fantastic vision in the painting of human gullibility, vulgarity and roguery.
Trissino, who also brought his miserable tribute to comedy with the Simillimi traced on the Menaechmi , was the renewal of the tragedy with the Sofonisba (1515), a conscientious work, not of a poet, but of a critic, who follows the subject Livius faithfully, and gives it shape with Aristotle and the Greek tragedies at hand, in particular with Sophocles ‘ Antigone and Euripides ‘ Alcestis . Giovanni Rucellai followed in the footsteps of Trissino, dramatizing, in the mirror of Antigone , an episode of Lombard history in Rosmunda and freely reworking Iphigenia in Tauride in Oreste; but few others followed them in various ways, imitating the Greek tragedians, because in 1541 Giambattista Giraldi Cinzio came up with the Orbecche of a close Senechian imitation; and a new direction of the tragic theater ensued, because to the dignity of that exceptional humanity that they wanted to represent in the tragedy, the solemn and sententious act of the Latin tragic seemed more consenting than the natural simplicity of the Greeks, and the atrocity of the cases preferred by him better corresponding to the moral purpose of the tragedy. Giraldi himself adhered to in the other six tragedies, which he wrote with some spirit of independence in technique, but without a real breath of poetry, the Speroni in Canace (1542), Luigi Groto known as Il Cieco d’Adria in the Dalida and in the’Adriana , Orlando Pescetti in Cesare and many others. Not even the Orazia dell’Aretino, the least unhappy of the tragedies of the sixteenth century , escapes the action of the Latin tragic theater .
The Virgil of the Georgics was a model for the didactic poem , and from it were born, in loose hendecasyllables, The Bees by Giovanni Rucellai, a fresh and agile poem breathing a grateful scent of the countryside, and the squalid and monotonous Cultivation of Luigi Alamanni, so generic, to have very little poetic. With the didactic poems of Luigi Tansillo ( La Balia and Il Podere ) in triplets and with those of the Friulian Erasmo di Valvason and Bernardino Baldi respectively in octaves and in loose ones, the now canonized genre is extended to various subjects and gives precepts for the breastfeeding, for the construction of a villa, for hunting, for navigating, gracefully, elegantly, not without rare flashes of poetry.
Another seal of authentication Italian literature had from classicism by means of satirical poetry, which already in the century. XV had approached Juvenal in the ternary morals and satires of Vinciguerra, and now placed between Giovenale and the Horace of the Sermons , he became his happiest followers (Ariosto, Ercole Bentivoglio, Pietro Nelli and some others) lively and festive , deploring, blaming and punishing in ternary chapters the vices of time and social classes, without the empty moralizations and languid imitations, which are classicizing satirists for a dozen, without the censorships and personal reproaches that are pasquinades and certain poisonous sonnets caudati of the Berni, Aretino, Giovio, Lasca and many others.