CAVALCANTI, GUIDO (c. 1250–1300), Italian poet and philosopher, was the son of a philosopher whom Dante, in the Inferno, condemns to torment among the Epicureans and Atheists; but he himself was a friend of the great poet. By marriage with Beatrice, daughter of Farinata Uberti, he became head of the Ghibellines; and when the people, weary of continual brawls, aroused themselves, and sought peace by banishing the leaders of the rival parties, he was sent to Sarzana, where he caught a fever, of which he died. Cavalcanti has left a number of love sonnets and canzoni, which were honoured by the praise of Dante. Some are simple and graceful, but many are spoiled by a mixture of metaphysics borrowed from Plato, Aristotle and the Christian Fathers. They are mostly in honour of a French lady, whom he calls Mandetta. His Canzone d’Amore was extremely popular, and was frequently published; and his complete poetical works are contained in Giunti’s collection (Florence, 1527; Venice, 1531–1532). He also wrote in prose on philosophy and oratory.
See D. G. Rossetti, Dante and his Circle (1874).