APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Padre Serafino da Salandra

a cura di Giovanni Caserta

In the seventeenth century there were the adventurous Tommaso Stigliani and the problematic Giovan Battista De Luca, who was uncertain between the robe and the purple. There was also the preacher-missionary, worried about morality and costumes of people. This was Father Serafino, Father Francescano, born in Salandra in 1595. Perhaps he did his novitiate in his hometown, where, since 1573, there have been a Francescano monastery managed by Fathers Reformed. It is also true he often was on the move for preaching. He went to Cosenza, Potenza, Matera and Naples. He shone for his intelligence, culture and art of public speaking. In 1639 he was in Naples, where he might have met the English John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, very similar in many aspects to his Adamo caduto. In 1644 in Miglionico he was appointed “deffinitore” of the Reformed order for the Lucania-Basilicata; in 1647 in Potenza he became guardian of his town. In the same year he published the tragedy Adamo caduto. In 1659 he died of plague in Naples.

Even if Father Serafino says he has written an other work – Venere pudica e martire della città di Locri, adesso Gerace – of him we only know the tragedy, which in 5 acts includes 7.217 lines. As the title says, the theme, very popular in the seventeenth, is that of the fallen Adam, that is to say of the original sin and of Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden. This theme was a very dear to the Counter-reformation and to the Seventeenth-century Church as well, because apart from the dramatic sense of the story, it was useful to enliven the sense of guilt and to spread a gloomy vision of life and of the story itself. There was a strong sense of human pain, underlined by hunger, thirst, pestilences and death, at last. On the other side there was the high God mercy, which shone on the human poverty and on this world of sin, the Merciful God for intercession of the Vergin Mother, sent his son on Earth to save the mankind.

The tragedy, written in a baroc style, was a kind of medieval “vision”, with many symbolic and abstract characters, divided in two fronts: on one side the good and on the other side the evil. On one front fought the Virtue, on the opposite one the Vices; Angels against Devils. Adam was in the centre with his free will, yielded to sin from the weak and untruthful Eve. She was ready to listen to the Mermaids of physical pleasure, which became an instrument of attraction towards men. Lust is infact the most irresistible and indecent sin, “stinking and dirty”, which leads men into “the act unworthy of Venere”. So indecent and dirty is only the sin of gluttony. So men despised the woman as she is an instrument of sin. For this there are on this work, strong anti-feminism aspects. Woman is blamed because she wants to be like man. Father Serafino pointed out that , when woman wants to be like man, she fells into the abyss because it means that lie, trick, money and of course lechery, win. From abyss to abyss, arise thefts, treacheries, fratricides and wars.

The tragedy, like much of the seventeenth century theatre, where the capital letters triumph, is not easy to perform. Everything is based on allegory, abstract, symbolic, and high tension in order to shake and frighten the public according to a maniacal conception of world and of history.It is necessary to escape from Earth to go up in Heaven. This was the tone of Father Serafino from Salandra when he preached. And all his tragedy seemed to be a preach and for that it is interesting only for few passages which deal with human psychology, the torment of doubt and the social conditions of that century.

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