Les Antiquités de Rome: no 29
Joachim Du Bellay
Poem number twenty-nine of Les Antiquités de Rome was written by Joachim Du Bellay to celebrate the ancient city of Rome. In it, Du Bellay writes of Africa, Asia and Greece, suggesting that everything great they produced could have easily been found in ancient Rome.
The poem explores how Du Bellay feels about Rome, referring specifically to its design, its “ornamentation”, and compares it to impressive marvels of the world. The poet uses the words “Tout ce que” six times in the text, leading the reader down through the poem and to the final stanza where the first full stop is used after the sentence “S’est vu ici.”, giving it a great amount of significance. In the first stanza, Du Bellay refers to the great architecture of the world- the pyramids, as well as classical antiquity being evoked through the use of the words “corinthienne... l’ionique... attique... dorienne”. He moves onto the second stanza to describe great ancient Greek artists, Lysippus and Apelles, stating that all they could produce adorns this city, which the sky even is astonished by. Du Bellay picks up the pace as we enter the third stanza, with each line commencing with the repetitive “Tout ce qu’ ”, referring to Athens, Asia and Africa, and that everything they have can be found in Rome- which leads the reader to the final stanza. It is not until in this final stanza that we get a sense of what the poem is really about, and how Du Bellay feels, which is his passion for Rome and the fact he feels that all the great things in life could have been found in the ancient city.
The poem is in Du Bellay’s preferred alexandrine, with twelve syllables per line and an octet followed by a sestet. The rhyming scheme is ABBA, ABBA, CCD, EED, which again follows in the pattern that Du Bellay has employed for most of the sonnets of Les Antiquités. Punctuation plays an important role in this poem, as Du...
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