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THE TRIUMPH OF CHASTITY

Petrarch's famous poem, I Trionji, is in the form of a series of Roman triumphs, allegorized as a moral sequence. First comes the Triumph of Love: Cupid rides triumphant on a chariot beside which walk examples of famous lovers. This is followed by the Triumph of Chastity, with famous examples of this virtue shown walking in the triumph. There follow the Triumphs of Fame, of Death, and finally of Eternity. It is a mark of the influence of the imperial idea on Petrarch that he sets out these thoughts in the form of triumphs. In the earlier Middle Ages,the virtues and vices and their 'examples' would be set out in churches or within the vast perspectives of Heaven and Hell, as in Dante's Divine Comedy. Though intensely Christian, Petrarch's imagination is profoundly attracted by the imperial panoply of the triumph, and he uses it as the setting of his moral teaching on successive triumphs of love and chastity.