La Castit¨¤ Conquistata: The Function of the Satyr in Pastoral Drama
The pastoral genre, perhaps more than any other, betrays the influence of the Renaissance taste for imitatio. Its typical plot sequences and stock characters derive not only from the classical models of the Greek satyr play and the Latin eclogue, but from early modern precursors including Poliziano¡¯s Orfeo, Sannazzaro¡¯s Arcadia and pastoral poems such as Lorenzo de¡¯ Medici¡¯s Corinto. As the pastoral drama develops, intertextual links among works are evident at both the linguistic and the structural-thematic levels, and it is this structural similarity in particular that immediately captures the reader¡¯s attention. Many pastoral dramas, which were frequently performed as part of marriage festivities, share a common formula: the resolution in five acts of the unhappy loves of nymphs and shepherds, threatened early on by the de-stabilizing sexual aggression of the satyr, and transformed in the final act into successful, socially sanctioned unions. While the satyr gradually becomes a less central figure as the genre develops, his presence continues to serve as a comic moment within the tragic (or, as Guarini prefers, tragicomic) action of the drama. In works from Giraldi¡¯s Egle to Guarini¡¯s Pastor Fido, this comic effect is closely linked to the satyr¡¯s menacing sexual presence, and encompasses the misogynist discourse he expounds and his exaggerated, constantly frustrated sexual desire. As the production of pastoral literature matures artistically, in its poetic language as well as in its narrative structure, the satyr retains a place in the intreccio even when he appears to have become a superfluous presence. He is evidently considered essential to the comic demands of the genre¡ªcomic in the modern understanding as well as in the literary sense. In this paper, I will consider the implications of the evident comic success of the satyr¡¯s constant and (to the modern reader) disturbing attempts to violate a nymph¡¯s chastity. I will focus on the function of the satyr in five works: Giovambattista Giraldi Cinzio¡¯s Egle (1545); Agostino Beccari¡¯s Il sacrificio (1554), Tasso¡¯s Aminta (1573), Guarini¡¯s Pastor fido (1590), and, as a point of contrast, Isabella Andreini¡¯s Mirtilla (1588).
Critics have examined the pastoral from many angles: as an imaginary realm that bridges the gap between the real world and the interior world of the poet; as a commentary on social class or courtly life; and in terms of the conflict it stages between art and nature. Surprisingly, however, the misogynist and problematic attitudes toward women and toward sexual behavior that are so striking in pastoral drama have been largely ignored (with the notable exception of Jane Tylus¡¯s discussion of the ¡°colonization¡± of Arcadia). Even Gabriel Niccoli, who focuses specifically on the satyr topos, glosses over the pastoral¡¯s sexual politics. The Arcadian paradise is not a place of refuge for everyone. In this ¡°idyllic¡± world the nymph, initially an autonomous woodland inhabitant, escapes rape by the satyr only to lose her autonomy when she submits to the shepherd; she is, as Tylus (referring to the anonymous pastoral play Grotolo) aptly states, ¡°brought from the liminal realm of Diana into the household . . . where her woodland errancy is transformed into suburban immobility¡± (122). This trajectory clearly functions as a sort of sexual corrective for women: the chaste nymph defends her virtue against carnal threat, in the guise of the satyr, and bestows herself upon the shepherd in a socially appropriate disposition of her chastity. I suggest, however, that it may prove even more revealing to approach this reading from another angle, in order to ask what this ¡°theatergram,¡± as Louise Clubb terms the various narrative and structural commonplaces of dramatic works (1¨C26), says about the tensions that accompany the very concept of chastity. For in most cases, I would argue, the primary plot of the pastoral can be said to be the pursuit of the nymph (by satyr, shepherd, or deity), and the primary goal to deprive her of control over her closely guarded chastity.
Stephanie Jed has spoken of the ¡°notion of chastity as a cultural construct which invites sexual violence¡± (7). Scant attention has been paid to the shepherd-satyr-nymph dynamic in pastoral drama, which I believe bespeaks a profound conflict of precisely this order, for it is above all the nymph¡¯s chastity that incites the desire of satyr and shepherd. This desire for conquest is first expressed comically by the satyr¡¯s trickery and violence, and is subsequently evident in the more socially palatable strategy of the shepherd, who offers gifts of livestock and land, and protection against dangerous elements (such as the satyr) in an effort to win the nymph. His desire for sexual conquest, in contrast to that of the satyr, is socially acceptable and therefore treated seriously, even lyrically (as in Aminta). The Arcadian world, conflicted in its stance toward women, tends simultaneously to the celebration and violation of female chastity. It ultimately attempts to reintegrate the nymph¡ªtransgressive in her very embrace of this chastity, which she reinterprets as female autonomy¡ªinto a society whose social behaviors, expectations, and restrictions are parallel to those of the real world. This, I will argue, is accomplished primarily through the structural mechanism of the satyr, whose endurance in pastoral drama as a symbol of sexual and misogynist threat is facilitated by his comic efficacy.
Because of the pastoral¡¯s close and deliberate ties to both classical and contemporary models, the satyr¡¯s role as de-stabilizing sexual element can offer a useful key for thinking about the interaction between the Renaissance taste for literary imitation and the elevation of female chastity as a cultural and social ideal. Indeed, the tension between chastity and sexual violence which is played out in the pastoral stretches back to the classical era. As Tylus points out, misogynist violence as theater and as myth has its roots in antiquity, two of whose dearest legends are based on violence against women. Tylus notes, for example, that both Virgil and Ovid situate the rape of the Sabines in a theatrical atmosphere and adds that while Cicero suggests a theatrical pretext used by the Romans to entrap the Sabines, these poets place the entire episode within a theatrical framework (114). Romulus, according to Tylus,
astute enough to recognize the erotic potential of the theater . . . becomes the founder of Rome¡¯s first stage, primitive and rustic though it is, and Ovid goes into great detail recounting this earliest of Roman rapes and where it took place. (115)
The theatricality of sexual violence as well as the conflict generated by the social value placed on chastity are vividly present in the classical tradition that the Renaissance attempts to recover and are particularly evident in pastoral literature. Through the figure of the satyr, pastoral drama draws upon both classical and contemporary archetypes to perpetually reenact the male conquest of an essentially patriarchally defined concept of female virtue.
Giraldi¡¯s Lettera overo discorso . . . sovra il comporre le satire (1554)¡ªwhich Antonia Tissoni Benvenuti points to as ¡°un unico caso di recupero anche teorico del genere satirico da parte di un autore cinquecentesco¡± (101)¡ªdemonstrates this deliberate casting of imitative nets between classical and contemporary literatures. Giraldi attempts in the Lettera to define the satira (he describes it as an ¡°imitazione di azione perfetta . . . composta al giocoso ed al grave con parlar soave . . .¡± [Lettera 232]) and, particularly, to shed light on the problem of its origins. Like Poliziano before him, Giraldi cites Euripedes¡¯s Cyclops as an ancient example of satira; this classical ancestry also serves to lend authority to Giraldi¡¯s own Egle, which attempts to revive the satyr play for a Renaissance public. As in Cyclops, the chief protagonists of Egle are satyrs, but Giraldi ¡°updates¡± the genre with the addition of nymphs (absent from Euripedes¡¯s play), thus setting the stage for the tension between chastity and sexual violence that will figure centrally in Aminta, Mirtilla and Pastor Fido. Although in subsequent pastoral drama the satyr¡¯s role steadily diminishes, in Egle he is a semi-divine, albeit slightly fallen creature, who drives the action of the story and who is directly linked to the gods, and to Cyclops, through the character Sileno. In the Lettera, Giraldi claims that the satira derives from bacchanalic rites, and in the first act of Egle, the satyr Silvano ventures a brief summary of the genre, maintaining that his kind were introduced by the Greeks ¡°per dare esempio a ognun di miglior vita¡± (1.1). Silvano¡ªreflecting Giraldi¡¯s confusion of Greek and Roman satira¡ª complains of the loss of this past glory, continuing:
del Roman sangue s¨ª aspramente crebbe / la superba ambizione appresso loro, / che si scordar le selve e gli umil¡¯ luoghi, / e non feron di noi stima, ed invece / di quelle feste ove solean noi / ad esempio de¡¯ popoli introdurre / volser lo stile a biasimare i vizi / e diero il nome a quel modo di dire / ch¡¯esser soleva gi¨¤ proprio a quell¡¯altro, / ch¡¯aveva noi introdotti ne le scene; / e dopo a poco a poco s¨ª s¡¯estese / la superbia degli uomini, che noi / sprezzaro ne le selve anco i pastori. (1.1)
The decline of the satyr¡¯s former nobility¡ªwhich lies at the root of his now violent nature ¡ªis one of the central themes of Egle. Resentment over this loss of prestige will remain at the base of the satyr¡¯s anger and sense of marginalization in each of the pastoral dramas I will discuss.
As in Cyclops, the fallen satyrs of Egle are lustful beings, entirely governed by their sensual appetites. Sileno perfectly captures this quality when he yearns to be ¡°tutto e bocca e naso¡± in order to enjoy the taste of wine more intensely (1.3); he is a character defined by his senses. This dedication to the expression of natural appetites, together with the sense of inferiority generated by the nymphs¡¯ disdain, prompts the satyrs to plot a forced sexual union with the nymphs. Although in Act One the satyr Silvano condemns the gods who themselves lust after the nymphs, complaining, ¡°se l¡¯amor non giover¨¤, a la forza / vogliono alfin con tutto il cor voltarsi¡± (1.1), the satyrs will do far worse, treacherously attacking the nymphs en masse. This deception becomes the model for the pastoral works that follow Egle; in later works, however, it is reduced to a single episode in the action, whereas here it supplies the thematic structure to the text as a whole.
The narrative pretext of Egle is therefore one of collective violence. Fearing that the gods will succeed in seducing (or entrapping) the nymphs before the satyrs are able to do the same, Sileno and his companions decide to act quickly, and deceitfully. Their plan is striking not only because its sole objective is sexual violence, but because the character who most embraces it is herself a nymph. Giraldi makes Egle the spokeswoman for sensual freedom: she drinks and loves with the same abandon as her companion Sileno. Presented as a negative and comic example of femininity, Egle is derided by the other nymphs, and portrayed as a traitor to her sex. When she attempts to convert her sisters to the joys of love, the nymph Najadi responds:
Ubriaca che sei, credi di darci / a veder che l¡¯errore in che tu sei / incorsa sia virtute? ¨¨ un velen dolce / il vino e fa come il serpente ascoso, / che quando il pensi men, ti d¨¤ di morso; / ed a la pudicizia ¨¨ s¨ª contrario, / ch¡¯esser casto non pu¨° chi se n¡¯ d¨¤ a bere. (3.1)
Egle is considered dissolute: she is weakened by wine, the ¡°serpente ascoso¡± that causes a woman to lose her most important possession, chastity. The real danger, however, is not wine, but the satyrs who are quite literally hidden in the woods: Najadi¡¯s metaphor is about to be translated into reality. Before participating in the betrayal of the nymphs, Egle makes a final effort to convince them to abandon their chaste ways, resorting to the reproductive argument that virginity should not be prized because ¡°s¡¯ognun la servasse, andrebbe il mondo / in nulla tutto¡± (3.3); but this reasoning, too, is rejected by Egle¡¯s virtuous counterparts. Defeated, she proceeds with the deception. As she plots to lure the nymphs into the satyrs¡¯ trap, Egle compares the inganno to the sack of Troy (2.2), and this warlike imagery extends to the battle cry issued by the satyrs before setting upon the nymphs, leaving no doubt as to the deliberate, conscious nature of their aggression: ¡°entriam . . . lieti nel campo, / che vincitor sarem di questa guerra¡± (5.3). The language is combative, and the trap has been designed by a woman; indeed, Egle¡¯s contribution to the treacherous cause of sexual conquest earns her the congratulatory praise, ¡°tu ci hai data la preda ne le mani¡± (3.3). When the nymphs discover they have been betrayed, they transform themselves into trees, plants, and streams; the episode of panic vividly recalls yet another classical myth, that of Daphne and Apollo. The scene is narrated rather than directly represented, just as we find in a similar episode in Tasso¡¯s Aminta, and the narrator, Silvano, describes it with vivid, and visual, pleasure: ¡°. . . I pi¨´ bei corpi / di donne non vidi unqua: paion proprio / cose celesti: se dinanzi forse / le guato, mi rassembran Citerea; / se di dietro le miro, un Ganimede¡± (3.5). Silvano¡¯s rhapsodic words tie the scene to classical myth with the mention of Citerea and Ganimede, as well as to the rites of ancient Rome, when he recalls, ¡°Nude corron le ninfe, e corron nudi / i Dei silvestri, come gi¨¤ i Romani, / ne le feste di Pan correano a Roma¡± (3.5); interestingly, he ignores the more obvious parallel to Ovid¡¯s Metamorphoses I, which would force him to admit the explicitly violent nature of the episode. The mass confusion among the fleeing nymphs and the satyrs in pursuit of them is preceded by a parallel scene conceived on a lesser scale, in which Pan himself tries to seduce the nymph Siringa. Like Lorenzo de Medici¡¯s Corinto, Pan¡ªa precursor to the shepherd¡ªreels off the gifts he can offer Siringa, including an endless supply of milk and livestock; if only Siringa would give in to him, she could live a comfortable life: ¡°se m¡¯ami non avrai pi¨´ mai fatica, / di cacciar damme o di seguire cervi¡± (4.2). When Siringa refuses to be bought, Pan lunges for her, but is thwarted by the daunting proximity of Diana. The pastoral tradition which follows Egle, while preserving the themes of sexual violence and desperate flight, will take up this individual model, focusing on the violent encounter between a single satyr and a single nymph rather than on a collective confrontation.
The central role that Giraldi entrusts to the satyr survives in Beccari¡¯s Il sacrificio, a work which for many critics marks the true beginning point of the pastoral drama tradition. In contrast to the numerous woodland creatures found in Egle, however, Il sacrificio is inhabited by a solitary satyr, who relinquishes some of his former role to the shepherds. Appearing in each of the five acts for a total of nine scenes, Beccari¡¯s satyr occupies a transitory space between the satyrs in Egle, and those in the works of Tasso, Andreini, and Guarini. He engages with numerous characters and retains an important function within the action of the drama, but he is no longer the most important element of the story; in Aminta, Mirtilla, and Pastor Fido, however, the satyr¡¯s role will be further reduced to a mere two or three appearances, and he will interact primarily with a single nymph. The misogynist aggression of Egle continues to function as a narrative mechanism in Beccari¡¯s text; although there is no longer a large-scale background of collective violence, the single satyr¡¯s violent act becomes more calculated. In Beccari¡¯s more complex ¡°intrigue structure,¡± as Clubb calls the intertwining narrative threads that characterize the pastoral, the tension between chastity and sexual violence theorized by Jed is played out in several ways. The first case involves Callinome, the chaste nymph per eccellenza. Although Beccari states in the prologue that the satyr is the means through which the nymphs are ultimately united with the shepherds, Callinome, interestingly, is undone not by a satyr but by a nymph, recalling Egle¡¯s treachery in Giraldi¡¯s text. Although Callinome steadfastly refuses the gifts offered her by the shepherd Erasto, insisting that she intends to keep her chastity intact, the jealous Stellinia nevertheless wants Callinome out of the way. To this end, Stellinia concocts an elaborate plan that entails tricking Callinome into removing the sash of chastity she wears as a nymph of Diana. Stellinia thus plays the part of the satyr, for (to her chagrin) her action ultimately results in the integration of chaste Callinome to male sexual/social dominion (in Callinome¡¯s union with Erasto). While the duplicitous Stellinia is akin to Egle here, she herself later resorts to using chastity as a defense against the satyr¡¯s lustful plans. And, as Stellinia is responsible for Callinome¡¯s reintegration to patriarchal order, so the satyr is responsible for hers.
To further complicate matters, Stellinia¡¯s persecution by the satyr is precipitated by her abandonment of the shepherd Turico. It is from Turico (whom the satyr resents and perceives as a rival) that the satyr learns that Stellinia is both beautiful, and unattainable. Like Sextus Tarquinius in the case of Lucretia, the satyr¡¯s desire is ignited by this unattainability, and he plots to entrap the recalcitrant nymph. Indeed, the satyr¡¯s plans for Stellinia are foreboding; he mutters to the sleeping Turico, ¡°. . . se lei trovo, / vorr¨° cosa da lei, che tu non pensi¡± (1.5). The desire to dominate is displaced from the figure of the shepherd to that of the satyr, and manifested in the satyr¡¯s hyper-aggressive sexual desire, meant to carry a comic charge.
The satyr¡¯s attempt to capture the nymph with a trap concealed in the forest derives from Egle, but the element of eroticized sadism we find in the satyr¡¯s behavior in Il sacrificio is Beccari¡¯s own invention. Underlying the element of sexual desire is a vein of fierce misogyny that is expressed in the satyr¡¯s desire not only to take the nymph by force, but to make her suffer. We see the roots of this rage in Giraldi¡¯s text, in which Silvano complains of the nymphs¡¯ lack of respect for the satyrs. Here too, the satyr laments, ¡°O in quanta poca riverenza siamo / noi Satiri or, che pi¨´ non siam tenuti / n¨¦ dei, n¨¦ semidei¡± (1.5). He is now in a more advanced stage of decline as a character (he no longer has a proper name, but is defined only generically and functionally), and while he still possesses a vestige of his former divine power, in the capacity to perform magic, he is primarily a lascivious, drink-soaked character. Turico derisively reiterates the satyr¡¯s degraded condition: ¡°. . . egli suole / esser il pi¨´ codardo, e il pi¨´ rozzo / Satir, che nell¡¯Arcadia ora si trovi, / e si crede tra noi, che egli non abbia / parte di deit¨¤ seco, n¨¦ punto¡± (1.6). The satyr¡¯s actions in Il sacrificio are aimed at recuperating the honor that he is steadily losing at the hands of both the shepherds and the nymphs: ¡°Tristi pastori, e disdegnose ninfe / vi far¨° aver a Satiri, e a fauni / quel sommo onor, e quella riverenza, / che s¨¬ convien¡± (2.2). By raping Stellinia, the satyr thinks he can also avenge himself against Turico, who loves her: Stellinia becomes a mere pawn in a game of masculine pride. The nymph is objectified in a literal sense, as the object of the satyr¡¯s desire, as well as at a strategic level, as an instrument with which to humiliate Turico.
Although on his first try the satyr captures the wrong nymph in his trap, it is in this interaction that we find the fully formed precedent for the scenes between satyr and nymph in subsequent pastoral drama. When Melidia stumbles into the unexpected peril, rather than wait for a shepherd to rescue her, she frees herself with her wits, gloating, ¡°Cos¨¬ chi inganna altrui, vien ingannato¡± (2.4). Melidia¡¯s quick-thinking turnaround will be re-used by both Andreini and Guarini. Manipulating the injustice of male prepotency, the nymph persuades her captor to untie her, explaining that if her brother discovers that she has been dishonored, he will kill her. If, on the other hand, the satyr helps her to capture her brother in the trap, he may earn her love. Melidia resorts to common arguments of female weakness to arouse the satyr¡¯s protective instinct (¡°io son vil feminella¡± [2.4]), and adds the element of humiliation to her clever self-liberation by ultimately capturing the satyr in his own trap. The contrast between the beauty and femininity of the nymph and the crudeness and gullibility of the satyr, as well as the victory of female ingeniousness and virtue over male obtuseness and base passion, serve to introduce a comic element to the episode. It is a comicality that turns, however, on a nucleus of misogyny that will become even more pronounced when Stellinia, the satyr¡¯s original target, falls into the same trap. Angered at having been twice duped by Stellinia¡¯s false words of love, offered in a bid for freedom, the satyr¡¯s discourse becomes explicitly violent. Scorning Stellinia¡¯s pleas for her chastity, he no longer desires the sexual act, but rather domination and revenge through the nymph¡¯s rape: ¡°Nuda ti vu¨° spogliar, poi tutta nuda / ti vu¨° piagar, e farti tutta sangue¡± (5.2). This disturbing episode, interrupted by Turico¡¯s advent on the scene, is intended to have a comic function and makes possible the shepherd¡¯s final conquest of the errant nymph. Indeed, before consenting to free Stellinia from the satyr¡¯s trap, Turico obliges her to vow her love for him. Her freedom is thus not freely bestowed, but obtained at the price of subjection to a man she does not want.
The misogynist element only increases in Tasso¡¯s Aminta, which inherits from Il sacrificio the satyr¡¯s attempted entrapment of the nymph. Tasso¡¯s satyr, however, has an attenuated comic force compared to that of Beccari. He is entrusted with a new, more serious task: that of expressing a social point of view (the negative judgment of courtly life); nevertheless, the satyr of Aminta has a lesser role than that of Il sacrificio, interacting with only one character, and his function is primarily one of peripety, for his violent pursuit of Silvia sets the stage for her eventual acceptance of Aminta. The satyr appears in only one scene (2.1), and his entire encounter with Silvia is narrated by the shepherd Tirsi rather than acted out. Tasso¡¯s satyr, like Beccari¡¯s, is given a lengthy monologue in which to explain the motivation for his actions; his motivation, however, is more complex, for not only does he propose a social critique, but he also questions the distinction between art and nature. The world in which the satyr moves is neither tranquil nor disengaged; it is that pastoral world that, as Douglas Radcliff-Umstead observes, ¡°has represented the structures of conflict in its endeavor to reconcile the underlying contradictions between natural impulses and the requirements of social conformity¡± (69). The celebrated chorus of Act One illustrates the conflict between nature and societal norms as it laments the loss of the Golden Age, claiming that the advent of ¡°Honor¡± has stripped Arcadia¡¯s natural law (¡°S¡¯ei piace, ei lice¡±) of its purity and innocence. The satyr, as we will see, manipulates the conflict between society and nature both to explain his resentment of the nymphs who inhabit Arcadia, and to justify his projected assault on Silvia.
The very language of the satyr reflects the violent sentiment that is about to erupt in an act of violence against the nymph who does not return his love. Silvia¡¯s indifference has an almost physical effect upon the satyr, who exclaims, ¡°Ohim¨¨, che tutte piaga e tutte sangue / son le viscere mie; e mille spiedi / ha negli occhi di Silvia il crudo Amore¡± [2.1.734¨C36]¡ªlines which prefigure later imagery of deflowerment. In an interesting (and likely deliberate) twist, the language with which the satyr refers here to his own tormented condition echoes that with which Stellinia is threatened in Beccari¡¯s Il sacrificio (¡°tutta nuda ti vu¨° piagar, e farti tutta sangue¡± [italics mine]). Since Silvia refuses the simple gifts offered her by the satyr, he considers making her a gift of himself. In a comic evocation of Theocritus¡¯s Polifemo and Lorenzo¡¯s Corinto, he insists, ¡°non son io / da disprezzar,¡± and goes on to boast of his virility, explaining that his coarse and unattractive traits are rather ¡°di robustezza / indicio¡± (2.1.766¨C67) and illustrate his ability to protect. He posits himself as an example of rude good health in contrast to the effeminate shepherd/courtier who carefully arranges each hair on his head (¡°che con arte / dispongono i capelli in ordinanza / . . . Femine nel sembiante e ne le forze / sono costoro¡± [2.1.770¨C73]). He concludes therefore that it cannot be due to his physical appearance that Silvia rejects him: it must be because he is poor. It is at this point that the satyr succeeds in linking the social and love discourses: his invective against the avarice of the city extends to Arcadia as well, and targets the corruption of those who sell their love for an economic price:
Non sono io brutto, no, n¨¦ tu mi sprezzi / perch¨¦ s¨¬ fatto io sia, ma solamente / perch¨¦ povero sono: ahi, ch¨¦ le ville / seguon l¡¯essempio de le gran cittadi; / e veramente il secol d¡¯oro ¨¨ questo, / poich¨¦ sol vince l¡¯oro e regna l¡¯oro. / O chiunque tu fosti, che insegnasti / primo a vender l¡¯amor, sia maledetto / il tuo cener sepolto e l¡¯ossa fredde. . . . (2.1.776¨C84)
Although he condemns the degradation of love into an economic transaction, the satyr is infuriated by his own exclusion from this system, and declares that if one lacks the economic substance to fit into the social system, one must fall back on one¡¯s nature. Ultimately, however, the two approaches are intertwined. Acting ¡°according to one¡¯s nature¡± here justifies male sexual dominance, as does the socially sanctioned marital union. The satyr thus justifies an assault on Silvia as the natural expression of his passion: ¡°io perch¨¦ non per mia salute adopro / la violenza, se mi f¨¦ natura / atto a far violenza ed a rapire?¡± (2.1.801¨C03). The (unsuccessful) rape is premeditated; the satyr conceives of the sexual act not in terms of love but, from the start, in terms of violent conquest. In the satyr¡¯s revenge fantasy the nymph, once captured, will not be liberated ¡°ch¡¯io pria non tinga / l¡¯armi mie per vendetta nel suo sangue¡± (2.1.819¨C20). The explicit reference here to blood, which echoes Il sacrificio, obviously evokes the virginity of the victim, making this yet another vivid image of chastity violently overcome. If ¡°civilized¡± or social man idealizes the construct of female chastity, the satyr, as symbol of ¡°natural¡± man, free of the bonds of society, is driven to violate this chastity, overstepping accepted social boundaries. The satyr is the extreme counterpart to ¡°civil¡± or social man, and the violence he attempts the literalization of that which is proposed in the abstract by the shepherds in Tasso¡¯s text, who calmly debate the best method for Aminta to overcome Silvia¡¯s resistance. For while the intervention of Aminta saves Silvia from being raped by the satyr, the shepherd¡¯s serendipitous arrival on the scene is fueled by his own hopes of conquering the nymph. Aminta has been encouraged in his bold endeavor by Tirsi¡¯s (timeless) argument that woman does not know what she wants, and must be ¡°persuaded¡±: ¡°Perch¨¦ dunque non osi oltra sua voglia / prenderne quel che, se ben grava in prima, / al fin, al fin le sar¨¤ caro e dolce / che l¡¯abbi preso?¡± (2.3.1100¨C03). Man imposes chastity upon woman in a social framework, but he is equally free to take that chastity away from her.
The scene between Silvia and the satyr is described by Tirsi, thereby distancing Aminta from his role in it while also underscoring the erotic, voyeuristic aspect of the encounter. In Tirsi¡¯s account, the nymph Dafne cries ¡°Silvia ¨¨ sforzata,¡± leaving no doubt as to Silvia¡¯s resistance; Silvia, moreover, is forced to participate in the act of violence not only because she is tied to a tree by her own long hair, but, more symbolically, because she is held prisoner by the very object that is the symbol of her chastity, the belt awarded her by Diana: ¡°. . . e ¡®l suo bel cinto, / che del sen virginal fu pria custode, / di quello stupro era ministro¡± (3.1.1237¨C39). Whereas Giraldi and Beccari speak of ¡°sforza¡± and ¡°desiderio¡± in their descriptions of the satyr¡¯s aggression, Tasso deliberately uses the language of sexual violence, giving a name to the satyr¡¯s action with the precise term ¡°stupro.¡± Tirsi exhibits a true narrative pleasure as he lingers over the description of the knots that held Silvia captive: ¡°ed a legarla fune era il suo crine: / il suo crine medesmo in mille nodi / a la pianta era avvolto¡± (3.1.1235¨C37). He describes the episode not only through his own eyes but through those of Aminta, thus redoubling its voyeuristic impact, as in this account of Aminta¡¯s reaction to the powerless Silvia: ¡°. . . egli rivolse / i cupidi occhi in quelle membra belle, / che, come suole tremolare il latte / ne¡¯ giunchi, s¨¬ parean morbide e bianche¡± (3.1.1254¨C57). There is a strongly erotic component to this vision of a beautiful woman imprisoned by her own body, completely dependent upon a male rescuer, whose prerogative it is either to free her or take her virginity himself. Silvia, the object of this intense observation, is very obviously unconsenting and tries unsuccessfully to cover herself (¡°. . . ¡®l delicato seno / quanto potea torcendosi celava¡± [3.1.1270¨C71]). Only when Aminta has untied Silvia does he courteously avert his eyes, and it is emphasized that he does a kindness to the nymph at the expense of his own enjoyment (¡°negando a se medesmo il suo piacere / per torre a lei fatica di negarlo¡± [3.1.1293¨C94]). Silvia is unable to defend herself with her wits as Stellinia does in Il sacrificio. Tasso¡¯s more traditional treatment of the encounter entrusts the protection of female chastity¡ªnot to mention the narration of the scene¡ªentirely to male discretion.
Having looked at the satyr/nymph interaction in the works of Giraldi, Beccari, and Tasso, one wonders what happens to this kind of structural misogyny in a woman-authored pastoral drama. Isabella Andreini¡¯s Mirtilla was very well-received when it appeared in 1588. Even while remaining faithful to the generic conventions of the pastoral, it succeeds in dealing with the encounter between nymph and satyr in an alternative manner that may offer a clue to a female public¡¯s reception of dramatic misogyny. The bitter diatribe against women, which is typical of the satyr¡¯s monologue, is greatly diminished here, and the eroticized violence we have seen develop in the pastoral genre, and which is most refined in Aminta, is deftly inverted and satirized at Andreini¡¯s hands.
Like his predecessors, the satyr in Mirtilla expresses in a monologue his desire to possess the nymph, even by force. Like that of Tasso, Andreini¡¯s satyr draws upon the models of Theocritus and Lorenzo de¡¯ Medici to boast of his own attributes, attempting in this case to eroticize the contrast between his own ¡°membra robuste¡± and the fragile femininity of the nymphs. The satyr¡¯s discourse is even sharper than what we have seen in Tasso, and every episode in which he appears is marked by erotic double-entendres. Andreini¡¯s satyr, like Beccari¡¯s, cleverly designs a trap, and hides behind a bush, ready to inflict ¡°mille oltraggi¡± upon the nymph if she will not give in to him (¡°s¡¯ella al mio voler non sar¨¤ presta¡± [3.1.1285¨C86]). The satyr¡¯s language is relatively subtle up to this point, but explodes in the usual violent fantasy when the nymph Filli falls into the trap: ¡°. . . ingrata voglio / nuda legarti a quella dura quercia, / ove con strazio finirai tua vita¡± (3.2.1324¨C26); Filli immediately understands what it means to be surprised like this in the woods and cries ¡°chi mi fa violenza?¡± (3.2.1317). This scene owes much to Beccari¡¯s Il sacrificio: the nymph, deprived of power in Aminta, once again uses her wits to free herself in Mirtilla, resorting to false language to escape her predicament. Andreini renders the episode strongly comic through the ironically malicious use of chivalric love language. Filli refers to the idea of the ¡°prova d¡¯amore¡± in order to ¡°explain¡± her previous indifference to the satyr, while the satyr, allowing himself to be convinced by her courteous words, attempts to respond in the same refined linguistic register. The comic charge arises from the incongruity of this type of language in the mouth of a creature who is defined in the pastoral genre as all appetite and instinct. We must envision, for example, the following speech proffered by a coarse and graceless satyr:
. . . un bacio chieggio / da quella vermigliuzza e bella bocca. / E se la tua bontade mi concede / ch¡¯io possa omai raccor lo spirto mio / su quelle rose, ov¡¯egli sempre alberga, / mi fia pi¨´ grato assai che non mi fora / il nettare celeste. (3.2.1360¨C66)
Also contributing to the comic element is the spectator¡¯s well-founded suspicion that, although the satyr may believe he is deceiving the nymph (¡°finger mi voglio assai modesto amante / e di un sol bacio pago, / se ben d¡¯altro son vago¡± [3.2.1354¨C56]), the nymph will ultimately get the better of him.
The linguistic play on chivalric love language continues, utilized by Filli to outwit her adversary as she argues that his excessive passion could be dangerous to her if he does not moderate it. The nymph¡¯s language is sharp and subtly sarcastic, and she revels in the turnabout she is about to enact on her captor. The comicality of the episode increases as the encounter takes on the aspect of an erotic game of domination. Subverting the traditional development of the scene, Filli persuades the satyr to let her tie him to a tree, and prolongs the sport in order to better humiliate the satyr at the end, when she reveals her true feelings. Little by little, the eroticized cruelty grows as Filli inflicts small torments upon the satyr, which he accepts believing them to be the prelude to pleasure. Maria Luisa Doglio notes that in this scene Andreini ¡°riscrive antichi topoi misogini sulle malizie delle donne e insinua fremiti di sensualit¨¤ nel graduale crescendo degli atti della ninfa sul Satiro legato¡± (12). Before showing her hand, Filli even adds a psychological element to her provocation of the satyr, professing to doubt his love for her and thus allowing him to believe himself possessed of a sentimental power that he does not have. The gradually increasing tension of the episode reaches its apex when Filli abandons her fiction and maliciously reveals her trickery:
O malaccorto / or hai pur finalmente conosciuto / ch¡¯io mi beffo di te, qual donna mai, / bench¨¦ diforme e vile, si compiaque / d¡¯amar s¨¬ mostruoso, orrido aspetto? / Or vedi ch¡¯io ti colsi, resta pure / schernito, come merti, ch¡¯io ti lascio. (3.2.1488¨C93)
Filli takes a vindictive satisfaction in her triumph. She understands perfectly the plans the satyr had for her, and succeeds in rendering him impotent (in all senses). Her deliberate, clever, and drawn-out role reversal clearly functions as a comment on the preceding pastoral tradition: if the comic effect of the satyr derived solely from his ridiculousness, from his failures, and not from the misogyny inherent in his presence as a sexual threat, Filli, like Stellinia before her, could have simply escaped. Instead, Andreini¡¯s treatment of the episode takes its cue from Beccari¡¯s text, but adds a deeper psychological element and a complete inversion of roles. It is a response to the structural misogyny of a literary genre.
If Mirtilla constitutes a moment of rebellion within the pastoral genre, in which the encounter between satyr and nymph is appropriated and reinterpreted as a demonstration of female superiority, the Pastor fido¡ªanother male-authored text¡ªreturns to a more conservative moment. A considerable part of the comic element in Guarini¡¯s text derives once again from the vitriolic, misogynist discourse of the satyr¡ªlargely absent from the Mirtilla, but here even more pronounced than in Egle, Il sacrificio, or Aminta. In his Annotazioni sopra il Pastor Fido, Guarini reiterates that the satyr¡¯s comic presence in the text is legitimized by his function as a character, stating, ¡°[il satiro] vien introdotto per innamorato di Corisca, e per istrumento di riso, ma che nell¡¯annodar della favola opera qualche cosa¡± (25). Yet, in contrast to Egle, for example¡ªwhich is entirely based on the satyr/nymph interaction ¡ªthe Pastor fido is so complex that the encounter between nymph and satyr has a negligible importance within the action. Unlike preceding examples, the satyr and his target, Corisca, exist here in virtual isolation. Although Corisca aids in the development of the story of Mirtillo and Amarilli, there is no relationship between that story and the particular episode of the satyr¡¯s entrapment of Corisca¡ªand therefore no interaction between the satyr and the story¡¯s heroine, nor any direct contrast of shepherd and satyr. Guarini may explain the satyr¡¯s presence by describing him as an ¡°istrumento di riso,¡± but this comic effect is fueled by his exaggerated misogynist discourse. The satyr is reduced to a static generic element, a moment of comic-misogynist discourse inserted between Guarini¡¯s loftier considerations on the post-lapsarian world and divine providence.
The satyr¡¯s misogynist viewpoint is directed, at least initially, against the whole of the female sex (later he will make specific reference to the nymph Corisca). Like his predecessors, he seems motivated by the desire to avenge himself of the disdain with which he has been treated by Corisca, a slight to his virility. He declares himself an enemy of Love, only to conclude that Love is not negative in itself, but that it is woman who corrupts it:
O femminil perfidia, a te si rechi / la cagion pur d¡¯ogni amorosa infamia; / da te sola deriva, e non da lui, / quanto ha di crudo e di malvagio Amore, / ch¨¦ ¡®n sua natura placida e benigno, / teco ogni sua bont¨¢ subito perde. (1.5.957¨C62)
Much of the satyr¡¯s antipathy for women derives from their artifice: they make themselves up, color their hair, and can¡¯t speak without lying (1.5). This extravagant discourse functions comically, for the satyr¡¯s absurd accusations would have provoked laughter rather than empathy¡ªyet the kernel of that laughter derives from the satyr¡¯s misogynist speech: ¡°Qual cosa hai tu, che non sia tutta finta? / S¡¯apri la bocca, menti; e se sospiri, / son mentiti i sospir, se movi gli occhi, / ¨¨ simulato il guardo¡± (1.5.995¨C98). The satyr describes female virtue (that is, chastity) as a social construction, and blames women for its distortion and misuse. Like Tirsi and Aminta, he claims that although women feign chaste modesty, in reality they wish to be treated forcefully:
Per¨° che la modestia ¨¨ nel sembiante / sol virt¨² de la donna, e per¨° seco / il trattar con modestia ¨¨ gran difetto; / ed ella, che s¨ª ben con altrui l¡¯usa, / seco usata, l¡¯ha in odio, e vuol che ¡®n lei / la miri s¨ª, ma non l¡¯adopri il vago. (1.5.1047¨C52)
As in Aminta, the satyr uses the concept of Nature to justify his discourse, declaring that what he says derives from ¡°legge naturale e dritta¡± (1.5.1053).
Guarini¡¯s text is not devoid of occasional flashes of a comicality that seem to faintly echo Mirtilla, particularly in the absurd use of courtly and Petrarchan discourse in the satyr¡¯s monologue in Act One. Yet even in the comic interaction between Corisca and the satyr, in which Corisca, like Andreini¡¯s Filli, attempts to free herself using courteous language, the erotic tension so skillfully drawn out in Mirtilla is missing. The satyr refuses to fall for Corisca¡¯s blandishments and the nymph immediately explodes in a litany of crude insults:
O villano indiscreto ed importuno, / mezz¡¯uomo e mezzo capra, e tutto bestia, / carogna fracidissima e difetto / di natura nefando, se tu credi / che Corisca non t¡¯ami, il vero credi. / Che vuoi tu ch¡¯ami in te? . . . (2.6.936¨C41)
The satyr/nymph dynamic in Pastor Fido recalls Beccari¡¯s text rather than Andreini¡¯s corrective re-writing. Corisca, after all, does not imitate Filli¡¯s attempt to take the upper hand, but, like her Beccarian predecessors, focuses on escaping rather than on turning the tables on her aggressor. The contact between nymph and satyr¡ªin keeping with Guarini¡¯s attention to theatricality¡ªis much more physical than what we have seen in other instances: rather than free herself with words, Corisca is forced to use physical force. She ultimately obtains her liberty, however, by trickery: she flees leaving the satyr holding a false ponytail of her golden hair. This conclusion has an additional comic force, for it recalls the satyr¡¯s monologue in Act One in which he accuses women of artificially lightening an insensata (lifeless) chioma (1.4.972). Not only the color, but Corisca¡¯s hair itself is false, further intensifying the comic link to the satyr¡¯s earlier lament. Perhaps this even suggests a certain subversion on Corisca¡¯s part of woman¡¯s role as poetic muse, for a woman¡¯s locks are a common symbol of chivalric love in the lyric tradition, and in the pastoral an emblem of erotic desire (consider for example Tasso¡¯s Silvia, tied by her hair to a tree). And Corisca, unlike the passive Silvia, uses her hair to engineer her escape. Confused for a moment, the satyr clutches the ponytail and murmurs, ¡°E pur vero / ¨¨ ch¡¯ella fugga e qui rimanga il teschio?¡± (2.6.969¨C70), his incomprehension rendering him still more absurd. To the satyr, the false locks symbolize the falsity of love; he cries, ¡°Ecco! poeti, / questo ¨¨ l¡¯oro nativo e l¡¯ambra pura / che pazzamente voi lodate¡± (2.6.984¨C86). It is certainly tempting to read these lines as a condemnation of an ideology of love which makes woman into an object, the sum of her individual attributes, but within the ideologically conservative world of the Pastor fido such a reading would be unfounded. More likely they constitute an attack on the Petrarchan idealization of women, on the poetic ¡°falsification¡± of reality, as Niccoli suggests. After the failed attempt to capture Corisca, the satyr does not reappear, and this particular episode does not seem to have an influence on the development of the action. He is no longer even a comic foil to the shepherd, for the heroic Mirtillo, who is prepared to give his life in exchange for that of his beloved Amarilli, has nothing in common with the satyr¡¯s unrequited, bitter desire, and it is Corisca, not Amarilli, who is the object of the satyr¡¯s aggression. Rather than lend real structure to the work, the satyr exists in the Pastor fido as a gratuitous remnant of the misogyny of a genre.
Although it undergoes significant changes at the linguistic and stylistic levels, Italian pastoral drama retains a considerable structural and thematic continuity throughout the sixteenth century, and the presence of the satyr as a comic mechanism endures as part of that continuity. From Giraldi¡¯s Egle to the texts of Beccari, Tasso, and Andreini, the violence of the satyr¡¯s interactions with nymphs becomes progressively eroticized and even inverted; and by the time we reach the complicated action of Guarini¡¯s play the satyr is no longer necessary to the plot, yet remains a comic-misogynist element that has become essential to the genre. Only Andreini¡¯s gendered re-scripting of the satyr/nymph episode deliberately throws into question the sexual dynamics of the pastoral, empowering the nymph not only to free herself but to overturn a misogynist pastoral topos through the complete reversal of roles. The misogynist comedy of pastoral drama is thus subverted in Mirtilla into a triumph of female ingenuity over male aggression. Robert Darnton, in his study of French cultural history, suggests that one of the ways in which we can attempt to understand a culture that is foreign to us (geographically, temporally, and otherwise) is through the comic, or in any case through the analysis of those elements accepted by another culture that instead seem problematic to us. Darnton writes,
The perception of that distance may serve as the starting point of an investigation, for anthropologists have found that the best points of entry in an attempt to penetrate an alien culture can be those where it seems to be the most opaque. When you realize that you are not getting something¡ªa joke, a proverb, a ceremony¡ªthat is particularly meaningful to the natives, you can see where to grasp a foreign system of meaning in order to unravel it. (4)
Given the persistence of pastoral drama¡¯s recourse to the satyr as a comic vehicle for misogynist discourse and sexual threat (and Andreini¡¯s pointed rejoinder to this tendency), I believe that Darnton¡¯s point can be usefully applied to these texts by the modern reader who perceives a ¡°distance¡± when trying to apprehend this comic mechanism. If, as Niccoli argues, ¡°a genre does not obey only inner rules; it is an expression of a society or even of an audience¡± (161), then we must ask what cultural atmosphere this ¡°theatergram¡± reflects. I believe that one explanation lies in the tension between chastity and sexual violence theorized by Jed. The cultural worth assigned to female chastity, and the conflict it generates, join with the imitative element inherent to the pastoral drama to ensure the satyr¡¯s presence in the genre. While sexual violence is not consummated in these plays¡ª the satyr¡¯s attempted assaults are unsuccessful, and even Aminta must curb his desire until his rescue of Silvia from carnal threat delivers her to his arms¡ªits constant threat reflects a perpetual, uneasy relation between chastity and sexual aggression. The explicit violence of classical founding legends is replaced in the pastoral by the ¡°civilized¡± conquest of chastity, while chastity itself¡ªa fundamental element of the Arcadian nymph¡¯s autonomous existence¡ªbecomes the very quality that leads to the nymph¡¯s removal from the realm of Diana. Moreover, by defending the nymphs from the ¡°natural¡± sexual aggression of the comic satyr, the shepherd makes himself responsible for the protection of her chastity, validating his sexual jurisdiction over her (and diminishing her own). Pastoral drama, so often considered an ¡°escapist¡± genre that flees the constraints of society, is thus imbued with a deep sexual conflict that belongs very much to the social or ¡°civilized¡± world. This conflict, repeatedly enacted¡ªand, rarely, contested¡ªthrough the comic-misogynist vehicle of the satyr, results in that disturbing comic effect that, as Darnton recommends, can be precisely the place to begin looking for meaning.
Andreini, Isabella. La mirtilla. Ed. Maria Luisa Doglio. Lucca: Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore, 1995.
Beccari, Agostino. Il sacrificio. Ferrara: Alfonso Carassa, 1587.
Clubb, Louise. Italian Drama in Shakespeare¡¯s Time. New Haven: Yale UP, 1989.
Cody, Richard. The Landscape of the Mind: Pastoralism and Platonic Theory in Tasso¡¯s Aminta and Shakespeare¡¯s Early Comedies. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.
Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Doglio, Maria Luisa. Introduction. La mirtilla. By Isabella Andreini. Lucca: Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore, 1995. 5¨C30.
Giraldi Cinzio, Giovambattista. Egle. Urbino: Edizioni ¡°quattro venti¡± di Anna Veronesi, 1980.
___. ¡°Lettera overo discorso di Giovambattista Giraldi Cinzio sovra il comporre le satire atte alla scena a messer Attilio dall¡¯Oro.¡± Scritti Critici. Ed. Camillo Guerrieri Crocetti. Milano: Marzorati Editore, 1973. 227¨C42.
Guarini, Battista. ¡°Annotazioni sopra il Pastor Fido.¡± Delle opere del cavalier Battista Guarini. Ed. G. A. Tumermani. Verona, 1737¨C38. 4 vols.
___. Il pastor fido. Ed. Ettore Bonora. Milano: Mursia, 1977.
Jed, Stephanie H. Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989.
Lando, Ortensio. Oracoli di moderni ingegni. Venice: Gabriel Giolito, 1550.
Martinelli, Lucia Cesarini, and Roberto Ricciardi, eds. Commento inedito alle satire di Persio. Firenze: Olschki, 1985.
Niccoli, Gabriel. Cupid, Satyr and the Golden Age: Pastoral Dramatic Scenes of the Late Renaissance. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.
Radcliff-Umstead, Douglas. ¡°Structures of Conflict in Tasso¡¯s Pastoral of Love.¡± Studi Tassiani 3 (1972): 69¨C83.
Tissoni Benvenuti, Antonia. ¡°La fabula satirica e l¡¯Orfeo del Poliziano.¡± Convegno di Studi: origini del dramma pastorale in Europa, Viterbo 31 maggio-3 giugno 1984. Ed. M. Chiab¨° and F. Doglio. Viterbo: Centro studi sul teatro medioevale e rinascimentale, 1984. 92¨C102.
___. L¡¯Orfeo del Poliziano. Padova: Editrice Antenore, 1986.
Tasso, Torquato. Aminta. Ed. Mario Fubini and Bruno Maier. Milano: Rizzoli, 1963.
Tylus, Jane. ¡°Colonizing Peasants: The Rape of the Sabines and the Renaissance Pastoral.¡± Renaissance Drama 23 (1992): 113¨C38.
See ¡°Colonizing Peasants: The Rape of the Sabines and Renaissance Pastoral,¡± in which Tylus argues that the ¡°appropriation¡± of the natural Arcadian world by the shepherd/courtier (writer) results from his failure in, or rejection by, the ¡°civilized¡± world (i.e., the courts of Renaissance Italy) (113). Tylus suggests that for the ¡°noble¡± shepherd, Arcadia becomes a ¡°country estate¡±¡ªan alternative to the court¡ªbut to establish residency here requires the shepherd to invade a physical space not his own (the country), and a new moral realm (the feminine) (124).
See Cupid, Satyr, and the Golden Age. In this study, as the title indicates, the author examines three stock scenes that are common to pastoral drama. Niccoli focuses on Tasso¡¯s Aminta, Guarini¡¯s Pastor Fido, and Montchrestien¡¯s Bergerie, and while he does devote a chapter to the satyr and his comic function he does not delve into the misogyny that underlies this generic mechanism.
Tylus notes in ¡°Colonizing Peasants¡± that for many early modern dramatic commentators theater functioned as a provider of social space and as a social tool. Tylus clarifies, ¡°Like the rape of the Sabines, theater in the eyes of the early humanists functioned as a means of violent but eminently useful socialization¡± (115¨C16). Similarly, the misogynist satyr functions as an ¡°appropriate¡± instrument through which to effect the entertainment and the teaching of a public that included women.
We should note that in the first stages of the Renaissance development of pastoral drama, the shepherd, in the absence of the comic satyr, may play either the role of aggressor or that of socially acceptable suitor. Lorenzo de Medici¡¯s rustic Corinto, for example, woos Galatea ¡°traditionally¡± with a comic litany of his own virtues as well as his agricultural holdings; while in Poliziano¡¯s influential Orfeo the shepherd Aristeo represents the dangerous sexual element lurking in the forest, and drives Eurydice to her death. It is only with Giraldi¡¯s efforts to revive the Greek tradition that the satyr reappears, allowing the emergence of a convenient split between ¡°savage¡± sexual aggression and the socially codified sexual behavior that instead culminates in a recognized union. As Richard Cody puts it, the satyr is the ¡°shepherd manqu¨¦, unpurged, irrepressibly natural. And as nature anticipates art, so the satyr has in him the makings of the courtier . . .¡± (52). Thus the satyr¡¯s violent sexual impulse is not only ¡°savage¡± but also natural. The instinct itself is not called into question, only the unrefined manner in which it is acted upon. (Niccoli echoes Cody, further claiming that the satyr endures in pastoral drama because he represents ¡°an elemental force in all of us¡± ¡ªalthough it seems to me that Niccoli¡¯s use of ¡°us¡± here is gendered male.)
Tylus focuses on the legend of the Sabines, whose forced sexual submission to Roman soldiers was said to have permitted the continuation of the Roman State (114¨C17). Another founding myth, of course, is constructed around the Roman heroine Lucretia. Livy, for example, tells us that Lucretia¡¯s chaste reputation, rather than eliciting admiration in Sextus Tarquinius, provoked him to rape her; to salvage her honor, Lucretia killed herself before the horrified eyes of her relatives. Tarquinius¡¯s violence stands alongside Lucretia¡¯s ¡°heroic¡± suicide in legend and literature as the episode that opened the door to the institution of the Roman Republic (see Stephanie Jed¡¯s Chaste Thinking for an excellent discussion of the use of this legend as a topos among Florentine humanists).
Indeed, the tension between chastity and sexual violence discussed by Jed in Chaste Thinking is clearly pointed out¡ªwith the same comparison to the classical example of Lucretia¡ªin a 1550 edition of a book of popular sayings compiled by Ortensio Lando. A cautionary anecdote in a section of detti di moderne donne explains: ¡°Rallegrandosi Madonna Philiberta d¡¯haver una figliuola, che di castit¨¤ superasse e le antiche e moderne donne, dissele che quanto fosse maggior la castit¨¤, tanto pi¨´ sollecita sarebbe l¡¯altrui libidine a violarla; affermando che se tanto riguardevole non fosse la castit¨¤ di Lucretia, che il libidinoso Tarquino con tanto ardore non l¡¯havrebbe assalita¡± (64).
In attempting to trace the origins of the satira, however, Giraldi falls prey to the misconceptions shared by his contemporaries regarding the ancestry of the genre, and confuses the ¡°satyr play¡± with the ¡°satire.¡± Poliziano, some sixty years earlier, had recognized three distinct kinds of satira: the Greek satyr play, the Latin satira menippea, and the Latin satire of Horace and Juvenal; but this distinction is forgotten in the sixteenth century, resulting in misleading explanations of the origins of the satyr play. According to Tissoni Benvenuti the huge impact of Aristotle¡¯s Poetics, which does not discuss the satira, was partly to blame for the widespread confusion on the issue. Tissoni Benvenuti discusses Poliziano¡¯s conception of the satyr play and his recognition of three distinct kinds of satira in the introduction to her edition of Poliziano¡¯s Orfeo as well as in her essay ¡°La fabula satirica e l¡¯Orfeo del Poliziano.¡± She notes that Poliziano¡¯s ¡°individuazione dei tre generi teatrali ¨¨ precisa e inequivoca; e l¡¯attenzione per la fabula satirica, il genere meno noto dei tre, ¨¨ molto vivace . . ., certo di gran lunga maggiore che nei suoi contemporanei¡± (93). For more on the confusion surrounding humanist discussions of this genre, see also the introduction to the critical edition of Poliziano¡¯s Commento inedito alle satire di Persio by Lucia Cesarini Martinelli and Roberto Ricciardi.
Giraldi believed that the satira evolved ¡°appresso i Greci . . . ne¡¯ sacrificj di Bacco, ed appresso i Romani per levare la pestilenza¡± (Lettera 232). Again, Giraldi was mistaken in his portrayal of a continuity between the Greek satyr play and the Roman satire.
The satyr asks if Stellinia is ¡°cortese,¡± to which Turico replies ¡°A me non troppo¡± (1.5). Beccari¡¯s complicated background plot tells us that Stellinia, who is not in fact chaste, once loved Turico but leaves him when she becomes infatuated with Erasto. Turico¡¯s pursuit of Stellinia is thus fueled not by her chastity, but by her unattainability: the two have the same end result, however, rendering the nymph autonomous and sexually out of reach. The satyr, on the other hand, presumably imagines Stellinia chaste because all Turico tells him is that she is resistant to his advances.
Niccoli, however, emphasizes that the satyr still serves a comic purpose theatrically speaking, and adds, ¡°His presence on stage, particularly in its effective miming and gesturing, no doubt gave particular scope to the actor who played this role¡± (114). And Tasso certainly creates comic links to pastoral predecessors, as in the satyr¡¯s boastful speech of Act 2, which owes much to both Theocritus¡¯s Polifemo and Lorenzo de¡¯ Medici¡¯s Corinto.
See Guarini¡¯s Annotazioni, for example at page 45, where the author pays close attention to the physical dynamics of the encounter between Corisca and the satyr, carefully explaining the scene in which the satyr is left holding Corisca¡¯s fall.
See Niccoli: ¡°The ¡®ecco¡¯ and ¡®questo¡¯ are theatrical signs which bring to the audience¡¯s eye woman¡¯s mendacious nature. This may well be an attack against the chronic Petrarchan tendency to poeticize woman. The Satyr becomes an ardent anti-Petrarchist, advocating a more veristic approach to nature and to literature. . . . Guarini also makes good use of the Satyr topos in order to express his views on poetry. The convention is used to indict poets who falsify the vision of reality¡± (130¨C40).
Doglio also makes brief mention of this reversal, pointing out the ¡°. . . superiorit¨¤ della donna che oppone alla violenza del maschio l¡¯astuzia, la dissimulazione e la beffa¡± (12).
It would indeed prove illuminating, as Niccoli suggests, to reconstruct a ¡°psychology of the spectator¡± for pastoral drama in order to examine further how this topos might have been received and why it endured so hardily (161).