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Journal > Volumes > 34 (2003) / 4 (Winter)
Genealogy and the Limits of Panegyric: Turks and Huns in Fifteenth-Century Epithalamia
Anthony E D'Elia
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Fifteenth-century Italian humanists constructed elaborate genealogies of brides and grooms in Latin wedding orations. These family histories not only demonstrate the creative ways in which humanists praised elites by referring to classical and mythic pasts, but also the surprising extent to which humanists integrated and emphasized pagan and barbaric origins. This article focuses on two orations. In one, the Ferrarese orator Ludovico Carbone fabricates an Ottoman Turkish genealogy in which he asserts the Trojan origins of the Turks and praises the infamous sacker of Constantinople, Mehmed II. In the other, the Milanese orator Giovanni Marliani praises the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate and Attila the Hun as Christian-persecuting ancestors of the groom. These extraordinary genealogies are compared to those of their brides' families, the Sforza and the Strozzi.This praise of enemies both displayed the orators' rhetorical skill and the value that Renaissance audiences placed on antiquity of origins.

Pages: 973 - 991