Foscolo, Ugo

Ugo Foscolo, having reached thirty years of age, had tired of military life and was eager to start a more peaceful one. He longed to devote himself to his beloved literature and decided to accept the chair of Eloquenza (Eloquence) that had previously been held by Vincenzo Monti, arriving in Pavia in December 1808 .

In January of the following year he inaugurated his course, Dell’Origine e dell’Ufficio della Letteratura (On the Origins and the Purpose of Literature), with a speech in which he exalted the civil function of literature. The speech aroused his public’s heartfelt approval, and proved an enormous success.

In the same year, however, the teaching was suppressed and Foscolo prepared to leave Pavia.


I spent six thousand lire, and more perhaps, on the furniture, because I, living militarily, was completely unprepared, and I sacrificed as much as I could to set up a house where I thought I would find a long rest to my wandering life.

I rise […] to revive the flame of my fireplace to a more cheerful disposition, which will perhaps correct the sadness of the dark fog, which thickens on my windows, and spills over my soul.

[…] I do not lecture without the whole city coming to hear me, and the university professors themselves, and without the schoolchildren not accompanying me home among the cheers.