Lupi e agnelli nel discorso politico dell’Italia comunale

Autore: Fabrizio Ricciardelli
In: I libri di Viella. 128

The political struggles in Florence and other communes during Dante’s life (1265-1321) between magnates and popolani were so vicious and unrelenting that the losers were executed or physically excluded from the city, their goods and indeed their very lives taken from them. In this tense atmosphere a metaphor, when used repeatedly and publicly, can be a powerful political weapon. Communal governments in the late Duecento and early Trecento used the image of wolves terrorizing innocent, weak lambs to stigmatize those who were seen to wield too much power and thus were a threat to the state as bestial, ravenous creatures. The metaphor is in some ways problematic – it offers no hope of conciliation between the differing parties, as only in paradise can wolves coexist peacefully with lambs. Also unlike the image of a city as a fierce and proud lion, the image of the people as lambs could suggest to other states that the city is weak, an easy victim for a foreign wolf. Nevertheless, this image must have been considered singularly effective, as it appears repeatedly in legal documents, on processional standards, in decorations of government buildings and poetry in communal city states.