Temple, Nicholas (1998) The Hypnerotomachia Poliphilias a possible model for topographical interpretations of Rome in the early sixteenth century. Word & Image, 14 (1-2). pp. 145-155. ISSN 0266-6286

The ‘Dark Forest’ and the unhomely The opening passage of the ‘Dark Forest’ in Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (figure 1), with its vivid descriptions of uncontrolled nature, evokes feelings of disorientation and claustrophobia, in which the lost soul of Poliphilo is overcome by fear and a sense of the unhomely. In calling this mysterious place the ‘Harz’, or black forest, the author could be evoking a particular Humanist sentiment concerning the notion of ‘foreign presence’. Influenced by the ancient Roman idea of barbarism, its emergence in humanistic thought was initiated by Petrarch in the fourteenth century and became an important theme in the rhetorical writings of the Renaissance.

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