The face of immortality : physiognomy and criticism by Davide Stimilli

By Davide Stimilli

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66 22 THE FACE OF IMMORTALITY But the European resonance of his works occurred almost in spite of Dürer’s adoption of his native German. The choice of a vernacular language did not necessarily entail a gain in audience, nor in perspicuity, at such an early stage in the development of the technical vocabulary of art criticism. Gallucci’s acknowledgement is startingly qualified on the opposite folio by the sonnet dedicated to him by Girolamo Dandolo: Di Alberto Duro ha in queste carte vita Il gran dissegno, e del dipinger l’arte, Mercé di tue virtù, che in ogni parte Dan spirto à l’opra sua quasi smarrita.

28 The possibility that the corpse may eventually regain its former name marks therefore a decisive shift from the ancient conception of the body. Dante has bent the nostalgia of the souls for their former bodies, their “desire of the dead bodies (disio de’ corpi morti, Par. XIV, 63),”29 to his own poetic service in the Comedy. The desire of embodiment is such, according to Statius’s explanation (Purg.

For when the body is shrunk and embalmed, as is done in Egypt, it remains almost entire for an incalculable time. 12 The—by necessity—only figurative immortality of the body nevertheless provides comforting evidence of the immortality of the soul: how on earth, Plato rhetorically asks, will the soul, which is noble, pure, and invisible, be straightaway scattered and destroyed when it departs from the body? The indefinite survival of the body in its mortal shape thus prefigures the eternal life of its alter ego.

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