Guido Castelnuovo, A Classic Revisited: Nobility, Heredity and Virtue from Aristotle to Dante and Bartolo (Communal Italy, early 13th – mid 14th Century)

At least since the middle of the 13th century, the age-old debate over the true essence of nobility became a major issue of urban politics and society in communal Italy. One of the primary aims of this paper is to present the cultural context which has subsisted over a long period (from Aristotle to Seneca, from Boethius to the scholastics) that inspired thought of Italian intellectuals on the nature of nobility, from Brunetto Latini to Dante and Bartolo da Sassoferrato. In this way, certain guide- lines are presented for the study of that engrossing theme of cultural geneology, the old and recent controversy over two apparently conflict- ing ideas of nobility: the heredity of noble lineage and the nobility derived from the soul and virtue.