From the Brigata dei Crusconi to the Accademia della Crusca

Florence had already consecrated its literary and linguistic glory to the Three Crowns when, always invincibly attracted by classicism, it began, however, to intoxicate the fervor of vulgar Humanism. The sixteenth century was the cradle of reactionary spirits who, to respond to the pedantry of the Florentine Academy and to the doctrinal classicism that seemed to hold in hand the academic circles, began to meet in convivial convoys, whose meetings included the declamation of playful verses (the cruscate) and conversations on literary subjects in burlesque style. Anton Francesco Grazzini, Giovan Battista Deti, Bernardo Canigiani, Bernardo Zanchini and Bastiano de ‘Rossi were the five characters of the so-called Brigata dei Crusconi who first began to associate the intention of defending the Tuscan language to the initial reactionary spirit. From the meetings of October 1583 to March 25, 1585, the passage is brief: Leonardo Salviati, admitted into the circle with the name of Infarinato, diverted the playful vague reflections towards literary and linguistic reflections that had as their ultimate goal the affirmation of the primacy of the Florentine vernacular: the Accademia della Crusca is born. The choice of the name, which now obtained a metaphorical productive field, was a winning one: “almost to say that the Academy had to make a choice between the good and the bad”. It was decided that everything related to the Academy, its components, its activities, objects and furniture, would have to acquire a name pertaining to wheat, flour, bran, in fact. For this reason, in 1590 they chose the sieve, otherwise called “frullone”, as a symbol of the Academy, an instrument used to separate the wheat from the flour: nothing more suitable for those who had decided to preserve the purity of the language, and to reiterate it was Petrarca , “The most beautiful flower it captures”, elected in the slogan of the Academy. The Academy respected the aims it had been given: “to read, compose, make shows”, and at least until the death of Salviati, some literary works were published. Its true consecration took place however in 1612, when the Vocabulary of the Academicians of the Crusca was published in Venice, which had a long gestation. The new work would have shown «the beauties of the language» with the intention of «conserving» it, it would have evaluated the terms mainly according to the use and the etymologies. From this moment on the life of the Academy will be inextricably linked to the evolution of his major work, the Vocabulary, whose editions and reprints followed the numerous historical and cultural events that struck Italy in the centuries to come.
The authority that this institution can boast, nationally and internationally, now leads to framing it among the stereotypes of “well-spoken” or “well say”, and if by chance a scientific discourse like the one emerging in the last days on intransitive verbs that in use often become transitive was misrepresented after being badly spent on the media, then we could console ourselves with the words of dedication of Bastiano de ‘Rossi addressed to Concino Concini, which thus indicated the first edition of the Vocabulary: «creation of Academy, which has for its purpose the universal benefit and the glory and the eternity of our language “.