Versi latini dell’ eminentissimo Sig. Cardinale Angelo Durini sopra il Cocchio Volante del Sig. di Montgolfier volgarizzati da Francesco Mainoni C.R.B.

[Milan, 1784.]

8vo, pp. [2], 51, [1 (blank)]; title within engraved border, engraved illustration of balloon on p. 8, and headpiece on p. 9; aside from occasional very minor spotting, clean and crisp throughout; in recent vellum-backed green marbled boards, title gilt on spine; a good copy.


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Versi latini dell’ eminentissimo Sig. Cardinale Angelo Durini sopra il Cocchio Volante del Sig. di Montgolfier volgarizzati da Francesco Mainoni C.R.B.

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First edition, with a parallel Italian translation, of these Latin verses commemorating the first Montgolfier experiments with balloon flight by the Milanese diplomat and cardinal Angelo Maria Durini (1725–1796).

A contemporary reviewer in the Journal des scavans notes that ‘The enthusiasm which the Montgolfiers’ discovery has excited in Italy could not be better demonstrated than by this suite of pieces in Italian and Latin’. In his dedication, to the first Italian balloonist Paolo Andreani, the translator Francesco Mainoni, argues that the best use the rich can put their riches to is the advancement of the sciences and the arts, and that experimentation with balloons, the ‘mirabile scoprimento de’ nostri giorni’; the experiments of Andreani and the Montgolfiers are the perfect examples of this. There follow fifteen poems of various forms and lengths, on subjects ranging from the Montgolfier iconography to the false claims of, respectively, England and Brescia that Roger Bacon and, later, Francesco Lana-Terzi had come before the French brothers, as well as suggestions for inscriptions for Montgolfier’s balloon. The parallel translations by Mainoni, who was a frequent collaborator with Durini (also translating the latter’s verses on the death of the empress Maria Theresa among other works), are often very free – Durini’s Latin is spartan and precise, and four Latin lines often result in eight or more in Italian.

OCLC records copies at Yale, Harvard, the BnF, and the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

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