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MUSIC, PESTILENCE AND TWO SETTINGS OF O BEATE SEBASTIANE

  • Remi Chiu (a1)
Abstract

This essay examines the role of music in the late-medieval and Renaissance response to plague. According to doctors, the mere thought of plague could bring on the disease; they therefore prescribed joyful music to distract the mind from insidious imaginings and to counteract the harmful effects of fear. The prescription for music, however, was not unequivocal. Some spiritual authorities looked suspiciously upon music's role as anti-pestilential remedy. These competing discourses inform a reading of Johannes Martini's and Gaspar van Weerbeke's settings of O beate Sebastiane, motets that petition St Sebastian, the premier plague saint of the Renaissance, for divine intervention against pestilence.

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Email: remi.chiu@mcgill.ca
References
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1 P. Ziegler, The Black Death (Stroud, 2003), pp. 58, 64, 225–6.

2 C. Jones, ‘Plague and its Metaphors in Early Modern France’, Representations, 53 (1996), pp. 92–127, at 98.

3 J.-N. Biraben, Les hommes et la peste en France et dans les pays européens et méditerranéens (Civilisations et sociétés, 35–6; Paris, 1975), pp. 375–449.

4 For a study of plague treatises as a genre, see C. Nockles Fabbri, ‘Continuity and Change in Late Medieval Plague Medicine: A Survey of 152 Plague Tracts from 1348 to 1599’ (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2006).

5 ‘Multi ex solo timore, et imaginatione, inciderunt in febrem pestilentialem, igitur gaudere oportet … Maneat in locis amaenis ut si in domo sit lucida, ornata tapedibus, et aliis ornamentis, secundum hominum dignitates, et facultates cum iam dicitis odorame[n]tis et suffumigiis vel deambulet per viridarium am[o]enum aut alium locum quoniam in istis recreatur et reficitur animus. Praeterea exhilarat animus si cum amicis charissimis congrediamur, et cum ipsis de rebus inducentibus gaudium et promouentibus risum colloquamur. Plurimum etiam conducit audire cantilenas, et instrumenta musicae delectabilia, eaque interdum pulsare, cantareque voce tamen submissa, legere libros, et historias delectabiles, audire histriones, qui risum moderatum prouocent, inspicere picturas quae oculos delectant, ut sunt matronae venustae et honest[a]e, induere vestimenta serica, et alia coloribus visui gratissimis intecta, et inspicere vasa argentea ac annulis et gemmis manus ornare presertim cum illis in quibus est proprietas resistendi aeri pestilentiali, et venenis …’. Niccolo Massa, Liber de febre pestilentiali, ac de pestichiis (Venice, 1550), fol. 39r–v.

6 For a cogent and succinct description of these and other inner sensitive faculties, see E. R. Harvey, The Inward Wits: A Psychological Theory in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Warburg Institute Surveys, 6 (London, 1975), pp. 43–7, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Picus de imaginatione, trans. H. Caplan (New Haven, 1930).

7 Michel de Montaigne describes this phenomenon as a ‘close stitching of mind to body, each communicating its fortunes to the other’. Montaigne, ‘On the Power of the Imagination’, in The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, trans. and ed. M. A. Screech (London, 1991), pp. 109–20, at 118. See also P. Horden (ed.), Music as Medicine: The History of Music Therapy since Antiquity (Aldershot, 2000), p. 26.

8 ‘Sed nihilom[inus] ira no[n] intrabit regimen sanitatis[.] Cauendu[m] est etia[m] a furore: tristitia: cogitatione: sollicitudine: timore: na[m] in timore calor et spiritus cito mouent ad intra: et naturam ho[min]is corumpit: infrigidat eni[m] et exicat et [a]pparat ad maciem et extenuat: quia totu[m] corpus co[n]stringit et spiritu[m] obtenebrat: et ingeniu[m] hebetat: et ratione[m] impedit. Iudiciu[m] obscurat; memoria[m] obtundit.’ Gaspar Torella, Qui cupit a peste non solum preservari sed et curari hoc legat consilium (Rome, 1504), sig. Biiv.

9 Jacme d'Agramont, ‘Regiment de Preservacio a Epidimia o Pestilencia e Mortaldats’, trans. M. L. Duran-Reynals, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 23 (1949), pp. 57–89, at 84.

10 Ibid.

11 Acta sanctorum, Aprilis tomus II (Paris, 1866), p. 192. According to her vita, the dissection was made because the brothers keeping her body remembered that Margaret had often spoken of carrying a precious treasure in her heart: ‘Aliquot post dies nonnulli ex fratribus, memoria repetentes B. Margaritam, dum in humanis ageret, cum suis domesticis saepius repetere solitam esse, pretiosum thesaurum in corde gestare; capti desiderio cor inspiciendi, et quadam poenitentia ducti quod prius non inspexissent, humata repetunt exta: et cor inter sepulta viscera quaeritantes, intestinum, a quo cor ipsum dependet, incidunt; tresque statim lapides, quasi sculpti globi, mespisorum magnitudine, mirabiliter erumpunt: in quibus imagunculae quaedam, Christi nativitatem cum beata Virgine ac praesepe, nec non S. Josephum cum alba Columba representantes, inspiciebantur.’ ‘Vita beatae Margaritae virginis de civitate Castelli’ c. 8, ed. A. Poncele, Analecta Bollandiana, 19 (1900), pp. 21–36, at 27–8; S. Barker, ‘The Gendered Imagination and Plague Art in Early Modern Italy’ (paper presented at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, Venice, Apr. 2010); see also C. Frugoni, ‘Female Mystics, Visions, and Iconography’, in D. Bornstein and R. Rusconi (eds.), Women and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, trans. M. J. Scheider [Mistiche e devote nell'Italia tardomedievale, 1992] (Chicago, 1996), pp. 130–84, at 139.

12 ‘La forte apprehension comme dict le bon Auiceine souuent amaine et induict l'accident, co[m]me on voit par quotidiane experience, mesmes pour example contemplez un personnage manger fruictz aigres et acerbes le contemplant, vous aurez les dentz aches et stupides.’ Nicolas Houël, Traité de la peste … Avec les vertus et facultez de l'electuaire de l'oeuf (Paris, 1573), fol. 17r.

13 Pico, De imaginatione, p. 31.

14 ‘Fugiat etiam botrus, fructus crudos, balneum, iram, melancoliam, et ymaginacionem de pestilencia, quia sola ymaginacio aliquando facit apostema.’ Anonymous, Regimen bonum ad praeservandum de pestilencia (c. 1400), in K. Sudhoff, ‘Pestschriften aus den ersten 150 Jahren nach der Epidemie des “schawrzen todes” 1348’, Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin, 11 (1919), p. 72. Archiv für Geschichte der Medizin hereafter abbreviated as SA (Sudhoffs Archiv).

15 ‘[F]ugiendae etiam sunt causae, tristitiam infere[n]tes, ut est mora in locis obscuris, et faetidis, ac inspectiones corporum languentium, et mortuorum, et rerum mo[n]struosarum et pictur[a]e horrend[a]e ac etiam lectionum trista[n]tium, neq[ue] bonu[s] est interesse narrationibus miseris et lamentationibus, et similibus, quoniam mirum in modum tristem reddunt audientem, et omnes uirtutes exterminant, unde redditur corpus paratum ad malas aegritudines, immo ut in primo redditur corpus paratum ad malas aegritudines, immo ut in primo tractatu dictum est.’ Massa, Ragionamento … sopra le infermità, p. 39r. One could speculate that, aside from isolating contagion in the direct sense, lazarettos kept sick bodies and corpses from public view, preventing a further contamination of the imagination.

16 Jacme d'Agramont, ‘Regiment’, pp. 84–5.

17 A. Chiappelli, ‘Gli ordinamenti sanitari del Comune di Pistoia contro la pestilenza del 1348’, Archivio storico italiano, ser. 4, 20 (1887), pp. 3–21, at 11; translation adapted from The Black Death, trans. and ed. R. Horrox (Manchester, 1994), p. 197.

18 Chiappelli, ‘Gli ordinamenti sanitari’, pp. 11–12; translation adapted from Black Death, trans. and ed. Horrox, pp. 197–8. Such funerary restrictions were common throughout the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and similar civic ordinances multiplied in the late sixteenth century. See S. K. Cohn Jr., Cultures of Plague: Medical Thinking at the End of the Renaissance (Oxford, 2010).

19 Chiappelli, ‘Gli ordinamenti sanitari’, p. 20; translation from Black Death, trans. and ed. Horrox, p. 201.

20 ‘Ora è da vedere del modo del prendere letizia e piacer in questo tal tenpo di pistolenza e nell'animo e nella mente tua. E sappi che una delle più perfette cose in questo caso è con ordine prendere allegrezza, nella quale si osservi questo ordine, cioè prima non pensare della morte, overo passione d'alcuno, overo di cosa t'abi a contristare, overo a dolere, ma i pensieri sieno sopra cose dilettevoli e piacevoli. L’ usanze sieno con persone liete e gioconde, e fugasi ogni maninconia, e 1’usanza sia con non molta gente nella casa ove tu ai a stare e abitare; e in giardini a tenpo loro ove sieno erbe odorifere, e come sono vite e salci, quando le vite fioriscono e simile cose … E usare canzone e giullerie e altre novelle piacevole sanza fatica di corpo, e tutte cose dilettevoli che confortino altrui.’ Tommaso del Garbo, Contro alla peste (Florence, 1576), pp. 40–1; translation adapted from G. Olson, Literature as Recreation in the Later Middle Ages (Ithaca, 1982), p. 175. Given the focus of my repertory, I present here evidence mostly from Continental plague treatises. The treatment of music in plague treatises across the entire continental Europe and England, and (later) across Christian denominations, is largely consistent. For an Anglocentric account of the plague hymn Stella celi extirpavit, see C. Macklin, ‘Plague, Performance and the Elusive History of the Stella celi extirpavit’, Early Music History, 29 (2010), pp. 1–31.

21 ‘Historias eciam delectabiles et musicalia instrumenta non refutent, et postremo pre omnibus, et in primis sit quilibet fortis spei et bone ymaginationis. Hec enim sepius plus faciunt quam medicus cum suis instrumentis secundum Galienum in pronosticis …’. Anonymous plague tract in Helmstedter Kodex 783 (1405), SA 11 (1919), p. 89.

22 ‘Insuper letitia est utendu[m] ac tripudiis sonis variis in quibus anima delectet: et super o[mn]ia cauendu[m] est a cogitatione pestis.’ Gaspar Torella, Qui cupit a peste non solum preservari sed & curari hoc legat consilium (Rome, 1504), sig. Biiv.

23 ‘Et comme l'exercice a lieu devant le repas; ainsi tost après le past convient demourer coy et stable: ou quelque peu de temps en après, faire quelques petites proumenades, et recreer l'esprit à quelque honeste esbattement. Et quant à moy, je prefere la musique à tous autres, si quelqu'un sçait toucher du luth, ou jouer de quelque autre instrument musical: et je le practique ainsi. Car il n'est point bon tost après avoir beu et mangé, de chanter avec force; pourautant que telle violence esmeut les rheumes; principalement à ceux qui n'y sont accoustumés.’ Nicolas de Nancel, Discours tres ample de la peste, divisé en trois livres; adressant à messieurs de Tours (Paris, 1581), livre second, p. 137.

24 ‘Sera donc bon de lire la saincte Bible; ou belles sainctes, et notables histoires; faire quelque co[n]tes facetieux, sans detraction ou vilenie, jouer quelquefois aux eschecqs, à l'ourche, aux dammes, tarots, reinette, triquetrac, au cent, au flux, au poinct, et semblables jeux, lesquels mieux sçavoir specializer le momus Gaulois Rabelais, pere et autheur du Pantagruelisme. Mais jouer sans cholere, et par plaisir; non pour gros jeu, ou pour avarice … ou plustost chanter doucement et melodieusement quelque douce chanson spirituelle, non des vilenies et mots de guelles, que vomissent ou rottent ne sçay quels chantres et musiciens enyurés: ou jouer d'instruments musicals, comme j'ay predit: Car la musique recree grandement l'esprit …’. Ibid., p. 156.

25 ‘Pareilleme[n]t foy tenir seul et solitaire n'est pas bon, aussi n'est il estre en multitude et gra[n]de co[m]pagnie, mais fault chercher gens ioyeux et honeste plains de recreation, a ouyr quelquefois cha[n]tres, fleustes violes, et aultres instrumens de musique…’. Houël, Traité de la peste, fol. 17r.

26 Both motets are preserved in Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, MS 454 (BarcBC 454) and Petrucci's Motetti libro quarto (Venice, 15022). Martini's motet is incomplete in BarcBC 454 and attributed to ‘Jo. Mouton’.

27 The exact source of the text is unknown; it is, however, remarkably similar to a number of prayers contained in plague tracts and is probably a commonly circulated prayer. The closest analogue I have found comes from Jean-Marie Mignot's Mignotydea de peste (Milan, 1535), fol. 97r: ‘O Beate martir sancte Sebastiane miles beatissime, tuis meritis et precibus tota provincia seu patria Lombardie fuit liberata a peste mortifera. Libera nos ab ipsa peste et a maligno spiritu et hoste. Ora pro nobis Sancte Sebastiane miles beatissime, ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.’

28 Acta sanctorum, Ianuarii tomus II (Paris, 1853), pp. 259–60. That Sebastian's relic was brought to the Pavian St Peter in Vincoli in 680 was due to a newly established alliance between Pope Agatho and the Lombards; the transfer of the relics of a Roman saint, like a marriage between aristocratic households, symbolically reinforced the political bond. Sebastian was an especially felicitous choice ‘since he had territorial associations with both Lombardy, where he spent his youth, and Rome, where he died’. In the same year, an altar was dedicated to Sebastian in Rome's own church of St Peter in Vincoli, establishing what Barker calls a ‘cultic doppelganger’ in the city. This symbolic parallel as well as the common suffering and eventual recovery of the two cities would have further reinforced the political alliance. S. Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint: Saint Sebastian's Imagery and Cult before the Counter-Reformation’, in G. A. Bailey, P. M. Jones, F. Mormando and T. W. Worcester (eds.), Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague 1500–1800 (Worcester, Mass., 2005), pp. 90–131, at 90–4.

29 L. J. Marshall, ‘Manipulating the Sacred: Image and Plague in Renaissance Italy’, Renaissance Quarterly, 47 (1994), pp. 485–532, at 489.

30 Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint’, pp. 97–8.

31 P. Merkley and L. Merkley, Music and Patronage in the Sforza Court, Studi sulla storia della musica in Lombardia, 3 (Turnhout, 1999), esp. ch. 3.

32 Joshua Rifkin has found that, during the Josquin period, only Milanese works or works by composers associated with Milan feature successions of block chords either at the very beginning or at the beginning of major sections. Joshua Rifkin, ‘Munich, Milan, and a Marian Motet: Dating Josquin's Ave Maria … Virgo serena’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 56 (2003), pp. 239–350, at 260, nn. 50–1.

33 J. G. Brawley, ‘The Magnificats. Hymns, Motets, and Secular Compositions of Johannes Martini’ (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1968), pp. 69–70.

34 ‘Munich, Milan, and a Marian Motet’, p. 312, n. 155.

35 B. Meier, The Modes of Classical Vocal Polyphony: Described according to the Sources, trans. E. Beebe (New York, 1988), p. 241.

36 See J. Tinctoris, Dictionary of Musical Terms (Terminorum Musicae Diffinitorium), trans. C. Parrish (London, 1963), p. 43.

37 Julie Cumming's article ‘From Chapel Choirbook to Print Partbook and Back Again’ is particularly insightful on this point. Cumming suggests that Petrucci's motet anthologies ‘divorced the motet from its sacred context and secularized a sacred repertoire’. J. E. Cumming, ‘From Chapel Choirbook to Print Partbook and Back Again’, in Cappelle musicali fra corte, Stato e Chiesa nell'Italia del Rinascimento: Atti del convegno internazionale Camaiore, 21–23 ottobre 2005, ed. A. Chegai, F. Piperno, and G. B. Ravenni (Florence, 2007), pp. 373–403.

38 B. J. Blackburn, ‘The Dispute about Harmony c. 1500 and the Creation of a New Style’, in Théorie et analyse musicales 1450–1650/Music Theory and Analysis: Proceedings of the International Conference Louvain-la-Neuve, 23–25 September 1999, ed. A. Ceulemans and B. J. Blackburn (Louvain-la-Neuve, 2001), pp. 1–37.

39 O. Temkin, Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians (Baltimore, 1991), pp. 197–8.

40 Ibid., p. 191.

41 P. Gouk, ‘Music, Melancholy, and Medical Spirits in Early Modern Thought’, in P. Horden (ed.), Music as Medicine: The History of Music Therapy since Antiquity (Aldershot, 2000), pp. 173–94, at 180.

42 A. Wear, ‘Religious Beliefs and Medicine in Early Modern England’, in H. Marland and M. Pelling (eds.), The Task of Healing: Medicine, Religion and Gender in England and the Netherlands (Rotterdam, 1996), pp. 145–69.

43 ‘Deus et celum per se non sunt causa epydimie … Deus est causa epydimie remotissima, remocior celum, aer remotus, humor propinquus, aer putridus propinquior, vapor putridus in corde infusus propinquissima … Patet quia quanto inter agens et effectum sunt plures cause medie, tanto causa est remotior et quanto pauciores cause medie tanto propinquior. Sed inter deum et epydimiam sunt multe alie cause medie et inter vaporem putridum cordis et epydimiam nichil mediatur.’ Johannes de Saxonia, Compendium de Epydemia (1424), SA 16, p. 22.

44 Nicolo de Burgo, Consilium illatum contra Pestilentiam (1382), SA 5, p. 355.

45 F. Mormando, ‘Introduction: Response to the Plague in Early Modern Italy: What the Primary Sources, Printed and Painted, Reveal’, in Bailey et al. (eds.), Hope and Healing, pp. 1–44, at 23.

46 Wear, ‘Religious Beliefs and Medicine’, 154.

47 ‘[J]e conseille au Chirurgié ne vouloir aussi negliger les remedes approuuez par les medecins ancie[n]s et modernes: car combien que par la volonté de Dieu telle maladie soit enuoyee aux hommes, si est-ce que par sa saincte volonté les moyens et secours nous sont donnez pareillement de luy, pour en vser comme d'instruments à sa gloire, cerchant remedes en noz maux, mesmes en ses creatures, ausquelles il a donné certaines proprietés et vertus pour le soulagement des poures malades. Et veut que nous vsions des causes secondes et naturelles, comme d'instruments de sa benediction: Autrement nous serions bien ingrats, et mespriserions sa beneficence. Car il est escrit, que le Seigneur a donné la science aux hommes de l'art de medecine, pour estre glorifié en ses merueilles…’. Ambroise Paré, Traicté de la peste, verolle et rougeolle (Paris, 1568), p. 9.

48 Temkin, Hippocrates, p. 140.

49 Wear, ‘Religious Beliefs and Medicine’, pp. 147–48.

50 ‘Tunc dicit de gaudio, quod confert ad pestilenciam, dicendum quod gaudium est duplex, scilicet permissivum et perniciosum. Primum gaudium non disponit, sed magis inpedit pestilenciam, quia homo per tale gaudium delectatur et dilatat spiritus vitales, et convenienter et moderate debet esse. Sed gaudium perniciosum est, quod subito causatur in hominibus et inficit et corrumpit spiritus vitales et maxime habet fieri in mulieribus, quae aliquando propter aliquod novum vel propter aliquid quodcunque dilatant in tantum spiritus vitales, quod postea deficiunt spiritus vitales et vita. Timor autem multum nocet hominibus et maxime debilitat hominem, et eciam tristicia consumit hominem, ut patet.’ Johann von Glogau, Causae et signa pestilentiae et summa remedia contral ipsam (c. 1400), SA 9 (1916), p. 73.

51 ‘Quare utendum est gaudio sed no[n] excessiuo: na[m] talis inducit sincopimet mortem repentina[m].’ Torella, Qui cupit, sig. Biiv.

52 Cohn, Cultures of Plague, p. 268.

53 ‘Sequitur de ultima re non naturali, scilicet de accidentibus animae, et dico, quod fortis ira, tristicia, melancholia, timor fortis, superfluae cogitaciones sunt vitandae proposse, utatur ille, qui in talibus bene volt regi, gaudio moderate, quia superfluum dicitur a medicis gaudium perniciosum et vitam securam ducat, audiendo cantilenas et alias melodias sibi delectabiles; temperate tamen istis utatur, quia superflua sunt nociva, spiritus et calorem naturalem dissolvendo.’ Nicolaus von Udine, Pestregimen (Vienna, 1390), SA 6 (1913), p. 365.

54 Mormando, ‘Introduction: Response to the Plague’, 37, n. 77.

55 ‘La quinta cagione è quella, la quale è insieme cagione delle carnalità, & lussurie, cio è i dishonesti ragioname[n]ti i Madrigali, et Canzoni infami, le danze lasciue, il conuersare insieme con indecente familiarità, la delicatezza de’ vestimenti, la lettura de libri impudichi … et l'uso delle imagini nude, nelle quali sotto pretesto dello scuoprire l'arte, si incita facilmente il mondo ad ogni sporca concupiscenza …’. Antonio Possevino, Cause et rimedii della peste, et d'altre infermità (Florence, 1577), p. 29.

56 Jacobus de Voragine, ‘The Greater and Lesser Litanies’, in The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. W. G. Ryan and H. Ripperger (Princeton, 1993), i, pp. 285–9.

57 C. Borromeo, Pratica per i curati, et altri sacerdoti intorno alla cura dell'infermi e sospetti di peste (Milan, 1576), fol. 22r. Cohn, Cultures of Plague, p. 231. As a shrewd fundraiser, Borromeo used music nevertheless for other practical means; he dressed up the poor children of Milan and taught the youngest among them to sing and play musical instruments so that they could collect charity and ‘bestow the greatest consolation to all’. Paolo Bisciola, Relatione verissima del progresso della peste di Milano (Ancona, 1577), sig. B2r.

58 ‘De Accidentibus animae. Caveantur omnino ab ira, tristitia et turbatione et a nimia sollicitudine, quantum fuerit possibile, et sit gaudium et solacium delectabile et honestum. Nam faciens pacem cum deo semper gaudebit, nam mortem non timebit.’ Anonymous, Regimen bonum in epidemia, MS III. Q.4 Breslau (c. 1400), SA 5 (1912), p. 82.

59 ‘Frequentetur gaudium et leticia, ut cor et spiritus confortentur. Item pax, bona spes, contemplacio et cultus dei, ut mors minus timeatur, et ira, sollicitudo, et tristicia magis euitentur.’ Anonymous, Regimen preseruatiuum a pestilencia ex purificacione aeris, Cod. Quart. Nr. 222 Biblioteca Amploniana, Erfurt (c. 1350), SA 11 (1919), p. 61.

60 ‘Horsù è bene dunque ognuno star allegro, in luogo almeno lucido, di varie pitture ornato, fuor di ogni timore, e di malinconiche imaginationi, andar vestito di varii, belli, et allegri vestiti, et come si dice, far del galante, con gioie alle dita, et cose di oro, et pietre pretiose in su la persona sua: lasciando ogni visito, et pensier di morti.’ Giovan Filippo Ingrassia, Informatione del pestifero et contagioso morbo, Filosofia e scienza nell'età moderna, 3; Testi inediti o rari, 19 (Milan, 2005), p. 441.

61Nota. Ma non per questo vogliamo osservarsi quel che alcuni dicono, di star in questo tempo in banchetti, et solazzi con amici, in giuochi, facetie, riso, comedie, favole, canzone, musiche, et simili sciocchezze. Tal che vedendo continuamente in questa divina battaglia morirne molti in ispatio di pochissimi giorni, altri in un momento (de’ quali vene sono molti stretti amici, o parenti, o vicini) senza confessione, et altri sacramenti, portati poi a sotterrasi fuor delle Chiese alla campagna, bruciarsi le loro robe, et andar tutto il mondo in ruina: non dimeno peggio che bestie, et animali irrationali attendano a darsi ogni buon tempo, et solazzevol vita … Ma chi fusse quel crudo, et di pietra fatto dispietato cuore, che vedendo fra il patre, e ’l figlio, o la madre, e la figlia esser morta ogni carità, o almeno esser perso ogni effetto di carità, di non potersi dar aiuto l'uno all'altro, stesse a ridere, et sollazzarsi? Chi sarà quel tanto fatuo, et fuor di senno, il quale non habbia timore della propria vita, veggendosi ogni giorno molti con tutta la sua diligentia, et estrema custodia, non dimeno essere stati presi dal contagio, et impensatamente morire? Finalmente qual insensata, et cieca talpa portà in simil caso star allegra fuor d'ogni pensiero, e spensieratamente far sua vita di un Sardanapalo? Massimamente come dice quel gran poeta Horatio “tunc tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet”.’ Ibid.

62 ‘Il diavolo quando savede che tu vuoi pensare alla morte va excitando altri per levarti da questo pensiero: & mette in fantasia alla moglie tuo & alli tuoi parenti cosi al medico che ti dichino che tu guarirai presto & che tu non ti dia pensiero & che tu non creda per questo avere ad morire.’ Girolamo Savonarola, Predica dell'arte del bene morire (Florence, 1496), fol. 12r; cited in Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint’, pp. 122–3, n. 96.

63 G. P. Giussano, The Life of St Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan: From the Italian of John Peter Giussano; With Preface by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning [Vita di S. Carlo Borromeo (Rome, 1610)] (London, 1884), pp. 431–2.

64 Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint’, p. 90. Louise Marshall explains that such images of a physically suffering Sebastian were in the minority and began to crop up only in the Quattrocento. She believes that such images ‘show certain artists manipulating their greater degree of anatomical fluency to achieve wrenching images of physical torment … Such an insistence on pain actually experienced stresses the common humanity of the suffering figure, seeking thereby to make the once-distant realm of the holy accessible to contemporary worshippers.’ L. J. Marshall, ‘“Waiting on the Will of the Lord”: The Imagery of the Plague’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1989), p. 107.

65 Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint’, p. 90.

66 D. Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response (Chicago, 1989), p. 347.

67 Barker, ‘Making of a Plague Saint’, pp. 115–17.

68 For a discussion of instances of music-making in the Decameron (both in the frame tale and the framed stories), the different genres performed, the manners of performance, and the class implications of musical performance, see H. M. Brown, ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Boccaccio’, Early Music, 5 (1977), pp. 324–39.

69 Olson, Literature as Recreation, pp. 182–96. Shona Kelly Wray argues that Boccaccio is merely describing the medically salubrious activities of the brigata and is not personally condoning flight on the grounds that social solidarity is of the utmost importance in times of plague; see ‘Boccaccio and the Doctors: Medicine and Compassion in the Face of the Plague’, Journal of Medieval History, 30 (2004), pp. 301–22.

70 Olson, Literature as Recreation, p. 203.

71 At the conclusion of the seventh story on the second day, for example, the ladies ‘heaved many a sigh over the fair lady's several adventures: but who knows what their motives may have been? Perhaps some of them were sighing, not so much because they felt sorry for Alatiel, but because they longed to be married no less often than she was.’ G. Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. G. H. McWilliam (New York, 2003), p. 148.

72 Ibid., p. 799.

73 Ibid., pp. 800, 802.

74 M. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, trans. H. Iswolsky [Tvorchestvo Fransua Rable, 1965] (Bloomington, Ind., 984), pp. 272–3.

75 Ibid., pp. 67–74. Bakhtin points out the currency of Hippocratic thought concerning therapeutic laughter at Montpellier, where Rabelais studied and taught. Laurent Joubert, a contemporary physician at the school, published two treatises on the causes and wondrous effects of laughter.

76 Jones, ‘Plague and its Metaphors’, p. 109.

77 R. Girard, ‘To Double Business Bound’: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (Baltimore, 1978), pp. 136–7.

78 A. Canobbio, Il successo della peste occorsa in Padoua l'anno MDLXXVI (Venice, 1557), fols. 2v–3r. For this and other examples of moral praise or condemnation by chroniclers, see Cohn, Cultures of Plague, pp. 112–18.

79 Olivero Panizzone Sacco, Pianto della città di Milano per la pestilenza dell'anno 1567 e 1577 (Alessandria, 1577), fol. 5r.

80 F. Odorici, ‘I due Bellintani da Salò ed il dialogo della peste di Fra Paolo’, in Raccolta di cronisti e documenti storici lombardi inediti, 2 vols. (Milan, 1847), ii, pp. 253–312. Quoted in A. G. Carmichael, ‘The Last Past Plague: The Uses of Memory in Renaissance Epidemics’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 53 (1998), pp. 132–60, at 153.

81 K. van Orden, ‘An Erotic Metaphysics of Healing in Early Modern France’, Musical Quarterly, 82 (1998), pp. 678–91, at 684.

82 This bifocal view of the dance topic resonates with Renaissance suspicion of dance. In an anti-dance tract attributed to Carlo Borromeo, for example, the cardinal distinguishes between two types of dancing referenced in the Bible. The first is inspired by the Holy Spirit and comes from ‘a movement of grace’, exemplified by David's dance in the presence of God. The second is based solely on pleasure – witness the lascivious dancing daughters of Sion depicted in Isaiah 3: 16 – and is utterly offensive to the Lord. Traité contre les danses et les comedies. Composé par S. Charles Borromée (Paris, 1664), p. 6. This division of dance into the spiritual and the lascivious had its roots in the early Christian church. See W. H. McNeill, Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History (Cambridge, 1995), p. 75 ff.

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Early Music History
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