Pierre de Ronsard
Translated, annotated, and with an introduction by
Phillip John Usher
AMS Studies in the Renaissance, No. 44
“The Franciad has suffered from a bad reputation more recently, but in fact 15 editions of it appeared within the first 60 years, showing the high esteem in which it was held by Ronsard’s contemporaries. Although long and at times tedious, this work should not be overlooked. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.”
—C. E. Campbell, Choice, August 2011
First published in 1572, the first four books of Ronsard’s Franciad are the closest the French Renaissance came to having an epic comparable to Camões’s Lusiads or Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. Never before translated into English, The Franciad is presented here in a faithful and highly readable translation, and complemented by plentiful critical notes and a detailed index.
Ronsard’s Franciad appeared at a crucial point in French history. The first four books, after many years of elaboration, finally left the presses of Parisian printer Gabriel Buon on September 13, 1572, less than a month after the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre—an event normally thought to have been ordered by Catherine de Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, Ronsard’s patron. France thus sorely lacked national unity; Ronsard’s unfinished epic, on the other hand, sought to bolster national (Catholic) pride by providing a shared genealogy that made the French King a descendant of Hector and the Trojan War. The contrast between the historical reality and Ronsard’s poetic monument underscores the epic’s underlying ideology and its inscription in a slightly earlier, more positive, belief in the destiny of the French nation.
Ronsard never finished his poem—his patron, for one thing, died soon after the first edition—and so Francus, the hero of his epic, never completes his journey through storms, battles, and personal doubt to found France. Still, the poem’s notoriety before, during, and after its twenty-year-long gestation, helped ensure that The Franciad has remained a fundamental emblem of the French Renaissance’s heroic triumphs and failures.
Notes on the Translation
To the Reader
Sonnet (by René Bellet)
The Arguments (by Amadis Jamyn)
Liminary Praise Poems (by Ronsard’s contemporaries)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ronsard, Pierre de, 1524–1585.
The Franciad (1572) / by Pierre de Ronsard ; translated [from the French], annotated, and with an introduction by Phillip John Usher.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in the Renaissance, ISSN 0195-8011 ; no. 44)
Summary: Translation of the 1572 edition of the four completed books of Ronsard’s La Franciade. Annotated, with a historical introduction and introduction to criticism of the text.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN: 978-0-404-62344-9 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Ronsard, Pierre de, 1524–1585. Franciade.
2. Epic poetry, French—History and criticism.
I. Usher, Phillip John.