Tag Archives: insults

Insulting with Style: A Short History of Violent Language

Andrea Rizzi   ARC Future Fellow, University of Melbourne

Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459)Almost 600 years ago Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459) stung his fellow-scholar and bitter enemy Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481) with the following venom:

You stinking billy-goat, you horned monster, you malevolent vituperator, father of lies and author of chaos… May Divine vengeance destroy you as an enemy of virtue, a parricide who tries to ruin wives and decency by mendacity, slanders, and most foul, false imputations. If you must be so scornfully arrogant, write your satires against those who debauch your wife. Vomit the putrescence of your stomach

This is one of the many vitriolic invectives hurled by Italian humanists at their competitors well before Martin Luther, Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More penned their theological and protestant vituperations.[1] Intellectuals and leaders used violent words, enacted on minds and with the intent of damaging the reputation of their opponents. Their extremely crude attacks and ‘robust’ language have confounded scholars who have generally shied away from these texts…..

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