The Ascent on Mount Ventoux


Writing Ass. I


9-24-03


For my first writing assignment, I chose to write about Petrarch and his writing ‘The Ascent on Mount Ventoux’. I am first going to start off by telling you a little about him and his life followed by what I think is the answer to the questions of, in what ways does the ascent on ‘Mount Ventoux’ reflect his distinctive new approach to knowledge and the world around him? And, does this document offer any evidence of this wider development in Petrarch’s thoughts?


Frencesco Petrarca was born in a little Tuscan town, Arezzo, which is located just outside of Florence in 1304. He was the son of an exiled Florentine notary who had been driven out of Florence with the other White Guelphs for he same reason that the Poet Dante had been exiled for in 1302. Petrarch’s father then located the family to Avignon in order to escape the dangers and insecurities of Rome. Petrarch was a very educated man. He was a student of Prato in his early years before his father sent him to the University of Montpellier to study Law. While away at school, Petrarch fell in love with the Latin classics and developed a strong bond with the writing of Cicero. After completing school in 1323, Petrarch was sent off to Bologna where he studied Law even further until 1325. While away at school, he meet made many friends, some more powerful than other. Among those friends was the Roman Noble family of the Colonna. After his schooling in Bologna, Petrarch came back to Avignon to pursue his career in Law. Eventually Petrarch’s father died and he gave up Law. With a little help from the Colonna family he became a cleric. Petrarch was happy to do this considering that he didn’t really like Law anyway. At the church of St.Clare on holy Friday 1327 Petrarch fell in love with the woman who is believed to be the inspiration for most of his famous works. Despite what Petrarch has said, many writers doubt her existence, and others believe she may be Laura, the wife of Hugues de Sade. About 1330 the poet began a period of restless wandering, and in 1333 he made a journey through northern France and through Germany, recording his observations and experiences in his letters. Back at Avignon for a while, and now invested with a canonical benefice, he set forth for Italy, in 1336, in the company of some members of the Colonna family, and in January 1337, he entered Rome for the first time. By the end of the year he settled in Vaucluse, and there it is said that he found the peace that produced so many of his best writings.


To answer the first question, in what ways does ‘The Ascent on Mount Ventoux’ reflect his distinctive new approach to knowledge and the world around him? I believe that Petrarch is using this work to describe his life and the challenges he faced. Petrarch was the one who took the older values of the middle Ages and helped make them into the New Ideals of the Renaissance, which was no easy task. Many of the older ideas were negative thoughts towards man where they believed man was only put on this earth to free himself of his sins and try to become a better person for his next life. Petrarch believed man had a reason for being on earth now, and that he had to make the most of what he could out of his life. In this work, Petrarch lets everyone now about his accomplishments and doesn’t shy to tell you how hard and long he worked in achieving his goals. That is why I believe he related his life to the ascent of a mountain. In the beginning of the reading, it says that an old man told him not to attempt it that he would only fail. This could be related to the older values of the Middle Ages or I think it might even be his father. In one passage he describes how his brother took a more direct path straight up the ridge and how he chose a longer path that actually descended until being shown