By Pina Palma
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Extra info for Savoring Power, Consuming the Times: The Metaphors of Food in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature
Against the inflexible idealism humanism champions, Ariosto conceives Ruggiero, the fictional Este forebear. This knight, much like his literary antecedents, tests the possibilities that the courtly universe oﬀers. Through this, the poet discloses that the gratification of immediate physical needs and desires, rather than abstract idealized rules, drives human actions. What distinguishes Ruggiero from the heroes studied in the earlier chapters are his transformations into an acquiescent pawn in the hands of Atlante and Alcina.
The personal wants, corruption, and selfishness these characters privilege above principles, honor, valor, and duties emphasize the shift from the practice the Gospel proclaimed and Augustine championed. Thus, in the cases of the heroes considered in this study the roles of eater and eaten pertain specifically to the worldly circumstances in which they become ensnared out of sheer egotism. Because for them the “I” is the sole purposeful end of their actions, they imperil social stability. Through this, the authors considered launch a sustained social, cultural, philosophical, and political critique of their times.
69 On the surface of it, this encounter could be interpreted as a representation of another type of human failing the Pilgrim must face on his way to purification. The lack of self-control gluttony presupposes results in moral failure; and this causes the soul to suﬀer eternal punishment. This reading of Ciacco’s sin could be more or less on target if it were not for a crucial fact that sets this sinner, and his sin, apart from the others. Indeed, it is to the glutton Ciacco that the Pilgrim turns to ask about Florence’s political future.