APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Eustachio da Matera

a cura di Giovanni Caserta

Normally considered from Matera, Eustachio, is called by someone from Venosa. The name Eustachio is a typical name of Matera and till few years ago, it was very common in this town because Saint Eustachio is its Patron Saint. It is also true that, in the thirteenth century, Matera and Venosa, belonging to the same Bradanica Area, were well linked.. As far as the religion is concerned, Matera and Acerenza, which is very near to Venosa, belonged to the same diocese. So the name might have emigrated or, easier, it might have happened the judge Eustachio worked in Venosa, cultural centre very lively in those years. This is proved by the presence in Venosa of some judges like Pietro from Venosa, Geronimo Sperandeo and Florio from Venosa and besides the presence of Riccardo, judge ad contractus (justice of the peace),the author of the “Libellus” De Paulino et Polla and very close to the Emperor Federico II. Two lines from the Planctus Italiae, proved that what we said above might be true: “The maternal Matera gave me the name of Eustachio / Venosa offered me a job as judge and notary”.

We don’t know much about his life. He supported the Sveva Ghibelline policy, and at the arrival of Prince Charles I D’Angiò, he escaped from the kingdom. He would have returned there only after having received forgiveness. He went to Naples and stopped there, at the Court of Charles II D’Angiò, called the wobbly, and by him he certainly met an other famous writer from Matera, Alano, philosopher and king personal doctor. As far as his literary production is concerned, someone said he wrote a short poem on Pozzuoli Baths. Certainly he wrote the above mentioned Planctus Italiae, “Mourning of Italy”, but also “Mourning for Italy”, which belongs to lament genre very popular in those years as confirmed by Dante in the episode of Sordello, and as Sordello itself confirmed. All this has probably to be related to the tragic events of that historical period, when Italy was attacked several times by enemy armies and at the same time in the Centre and North of Italy there were wars and struggles among Communes.

Eustachio, by using the elegiac Latin verse, wrote about this Italy, which has become, as Dante says, “brothel and no more the nobler of all provinces”. Also Eustachio cries, as newly-Geremia, by using the elegiac Latin distic, which has never been used in such appropriate way. And the destruction of Italy symbolises world destruction, which was at that time restricted to Europe .The painfull stories (mesta) written year after year and per singula gesta , told facts of the places nearer to Eustachio and so of the South of Italy and of the Lucania-Basilicata ( at least for what we can judge from the remaining fragments). Very interesting is a passage entirely dedicated to the destruction of Potenza, the day after the arrival of Angioini. The town is described under the protection of Saint Gerardo (fulta patrociniis) and inspite of its people’s insurrection, suis iacuit diruta muris (“lay defeated inside its walls”).

Someone said the passage, dated 1270, has been written to soothe damnum exilii of vates, that is to say to soothe the exiled and depressed poet.

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