Mena, Juan de

Mena, Juan de
(1411-1456)
   Castilian royal secretary and poet. Al-though sometimes associated with the beginnings of humanist culture in Spain, he is more properly regarded as an influence on the rise of a national literature. He studied at Córdoba, Salamanca, and Rome and developed an interest in classical literature reflected in his translation of the Iliad into Castilian verse. King Juan II and the royal favorite Al-varo de Luna were his patrons. His poetry used traditional Castilian meter rather than new forms borrowed from Italy. He developed an in-flated poetic diction, much admired in his day, that was remote from everyday speech, using complex syntax and a vocabulary in which Castilian words were arbitrarily assigned meanings identical to that of their Latin source. His poetry is full of allegory and subjects derived from classical mythology. His most famous poem was Laberinto de la fortuna / The Labyrinth of Fortune, a didactic allegory in which the past and present of Castile are presented as if in a prophecy.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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