The concept of imitatio - the imitation of classical and vernacular texts - was the dominant critical and creative principle in Italian Renaissance literature. Linked to modern notions of intertextuality, imitation has been much discussed recently, but this is the first book to offer acomprehensive survey of Italian Renaissance ideas on imitation, covering both theory and practice, and both Latin and vernacular works. Martin McLaughlin charts the emergence of the idea, in vague terms in Dante, then in Petrarch's more precise reconstruction of classical imitatio, before concentrating on the major writers of the Quattrocento. Some chapters deal with key humanists, such as Lorenzo Valla and Pico della Mirandola,while others discuss each of the major vernacular figures in the debate, including Leonardo Bruni, Leon Battista Alberti, Angelo Poliziano, and Pietro Bembo. For the first time scholars and student have an up-to-date account of the development of Ciceronianism in both Latin and the vernacularbefore 1530, and the book provides fresh insights into some of the canonical works of Italian literature from Dante to Bembo.