MIDDLE AGES in VALVASONE 2011
The Middle Ages in Valvasone moves another step towards the discovery of Medieval men, turning to his faithful friends and antagonists: the animals. We have left Dante in the vault of Heaven, but do you remember how the pilgrim’s voyage starts? Three animals bar Dante’s path towards the incline of the hill. And then, how many animals have we met along the Poet’s journey to the world of the dead? The gryphon, the dragon, the centaurs, Geryon, the Minotaur, not all easily intelligible for us today. Did fantastic animals, half men and half beasts, the combination of different species really exist during the Middle Ages? Yes, they did, Eco would answer: “A hippogriff was as real as a lion”. It was unconceivable to distinguish reality from fantasy, at that time. This vision appears in some typically Medieval works: the bestiaries: mainly encyclopaedic texts or anthologies which describe the physiological, symbolic, moral properties of the animals. We will turn over the pages of the illuminated manuscripts which contain these descriptions, and the beasts even the weirdest will appear from the pages and become part of daily life, of the streets of Valvasone, of the main performance. We assign to Petrarca, the great bard of Medieval lyric, the task to outline, with the quotation which appears in the title, this cohesive division between world and animals.