Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes

By Frances Mayes


Frances Mayes, whose mesmerizing number 1 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the realm fall in love with Tuscany, invitations us again for a pleasant new season of friendship, joyful celebration, and foodstuff, there and all through Italy.

Now with an excerpt from Frances Mayes's latest southern memoir, Under Magnolia

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They are not mentioned together with ancient authors, and they are not listed as a special group of recent but pagan writers. In search of reasons for the late appearance of the Arabs, one may surmise that the traditional biographical genres did not easily lend themselves to incorporating pagan but nonclassical authors. Medieval literary history took its origin with the libri de viris illustribus by Jerome and Gennadius of Marseille in late antiquity; most subsequent treatises were confined to Christian authors.

Nevertheless, given that Foresti’s group of Arabic authors is predominantly medical, it is very likely that he was influenced by histories of the medical discipline. In fact, there is textual evidence that he did use Tortelli as a source, as we shall see soon. 17 17:48 32 T H E PR E S E N C E OF A R A B IC T R A DI T ION S FOR E S T I DA BE RG A MO Foresti da Bergamo’s Supplementum chronicarum is the first printed source to contain a set of bio-bibliographies of Arabic authors. It first appeared in 1483 in Venice and was printed several times with revisions and additions by the author.

87 The student therefore starts with Alcabitius’s introduction to astrology and continues with Pseudo-Ptolemy’s Centiloquium, one of the most popular astrological texts in the Latin world, which probably is of late Greek origin. The commentum Haly refers to the lemmatic commentary on the Centiloquium by Abū Ǧaʿfar Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf of the tenth century (not to Haly Rodoan, that is, ʿAlī ibn Riḍwān, 88 who had written a commentary on the truly Ptolemaic Tetrabiblos). 89 This text indicates a developing practice that will be in full bloom in the late fi fteenth and sixteenth centuries: that the universities require one of their professors to produce annual predictions, that is, a horoscope cast for the moment of the entrance of the sun into the first minute of Aries in spring.

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