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date: 14 December 2019

Arcadian Academylocked

  • Tim Carter

Extract

Association founded in Rome in 1690 for the reform and ‘purification’ of Italian poetry, in particular the opera libretto. It emerged, like many such Roman gatherings, from the circles of specific patrons, in this case Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, whose vast wealth and artistic interests both protected and nurtured poets and musicians admitted to the group. Although its members assumed fanciful academic names (Ottoboni's was ‘Crateo Pradelini’), it should not be thought of as a formally constituted academy. However, its influence spread widely through Italy and abroad for several decades, in part by way of letters and tracts but also by virtue of the general commerce in opera at this period: many cities had gatherings of letterati variously allied to the Arcadian cause.

As the name implies, the Arcadians sought a return to classical simplicity (in part, via French models) in reaction to the abuses of contemporary poetry. Their spokesmen, Giovanni Maria Crescimbeni and Ludovico Muratori, ranged widely in their attacks on 17th-century ...

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