82. Antonio Veneziano (1543 – 1593)

Poet born in Monreale (Palermo), who wrote mainly in Sicilian, Veneziano is considered among the greatest poets who wrote in Sicilian, which include Giovanni Meli, Domenico Tempio and Nino Martoglio. He is perhaps the first major figure in Sicilian literature following the Sicilian School which predates him by three centuries. During his lifetime, he was well known for his poetry both within Sicily and far beyond. He also wrote in Italian and Latin.

Contemporary of the great Spanish writer Cervantes (Sicily was under Spanish rule at this time), Veneziano shared a cell with him after being captured by pirates around 1575. He wrote his greatest work, Celia during his period of imprisonment in Algeria (he was released in 1579). Cervantes is reported as having said that Veneziano had earned a passage to Paradise through this collection of poems (Celia means a jest or joke in both Sicilian and Italian). He wrote other works of poetry, also delving in satire and bawdy rhymes.

When once asked why he chose to write in Sicilian rather than a recognized literary language such as Italian or Spanish, he replied to the effect that if a man is to seduce a woman, he must do so in her mother tongue.

Read More:
1. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Veneziano_(poet)

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