ANTI-BORGIA EPIGRAMS AND VIRGILIAN ECLOGUES

Iacobi Sannazarii Opera omnia latine scripta, nuper edita. 

Venice, heirs of Aldus Manutius and Andreas Asulanus, September 1535. 

8vo, ff. 40, 63, [1 (colophon)]; F7 misbound after F2; part-title to ‘Elegiarum’, woodcut Aldine device to title and verso of colophon leaf; loss to blank lower half of final leaf with old repair, occasional light dampstain to margins, title a little dusty, small wormhole to upper margin of quires A-F (not affecting text); nonetheless a good copy in eighteenth-century Italian vellum over boards, gilt red morocco lettering-piece to spine; lettering-piece slightly chipped; partially erased early ink inscription to title (‘… Nicolas …’)and marginal note to f. 232v (trimmed), later ink ownership inscription of Garnet Smith dated 1894 to front free endpaper.

£550

Approximately:
US $696€644

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Enlarged posthumous Aldine edition of the collected Latin works of the Neapolitan poet Jacopo Sannazaro. 

The Neapolitan poet Sannazaro (1458–1530), celebrated as the author of the vernacular Arcadia and father of the sixteenth-century genre of pastoral romance, later turned to Latin verse in a testament to Virgil’s enduring influence and a ‘confirmation of his allegiance to Christian humanism’ (Putnam (2011), p. 73).  The present volume contains his three-part Christian epic De Partu Virginis, followed by his lamentation on the death of Christ, five eclogues known collectively as the Eclogae Piscatoriae (in which the shepherds of Virgil’s Eclogues are replaced by Neapolitan fishermen), the poem ‘Salices’ in imitation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and epigrams and elegies in three books.  De Partu Virginis is especially notable for its degree of pictorial imagination, presenting highly visual descriptions of events as the Visitation and the Nativity. 

Sannazaro’s Latin works, which seamlessly juxtapose pagan and Christian themes and modes of thought, strike a fine balance between innovation and inspiration, whilst his epigrams blend classical inspiration with contemporary politics.  Several epigrams express disdain for Rodrigo Borgia (later Alexander VI, r. 1492-1503) and his son Cesare, ‘the apple of his father’s eye and his sister’s … that mistress of cities, the ruin, disease, and doom of his brothers’ (f. 35r, trans. Putnam (2009), pp. 289-91).  His disdain for the ruling dynasty of his day is made particularly plain in his most famous epigram, a particularly venomous invective directed at Alexander VI issued after the body of his son Giovanni Borgia was fished from the Tiber, in which the Pope, who rather suspiciously suspended inquiries into the murder after only a week, is described as a ‘fisher of men’ (f. 41r trans.). 

Adams S-313; Ahmanson-Murphy 279; BM STC Italian; Brunet V, 127; Kallendorf 255; Renouard 114:3; see Putnam, Sannazaro (2009) and ‘Virgil and Sannazaro’s Ekphrastic Vision’ in Ramus 40, no. 1 (2011), pp. 73-86. 

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