De discorsi [?], sopra alle cose appartenenti ad una città libera, e famiglia nobile; tradotti in lingua toscana da Giovanni Fabrini Fiorentino, à beneficio de figliuoli di Messer Antonio Massimi nobile Romano, M. Domenico, e M. Horatio, libri nove

Autore: PATRIZI, Francesco (1413-1494)

Tipografo: In casa de' figliuoli di Aldo.

Dati tipografici: Venezia,   1545


8vo (151x102 mm). 278, [4] leaves. Collation: A-Z8 AA-LL8 MM10. Colophon at l. MM9r. Printer's device on title page and last leaf verso. Contemporary limp vellum, inked title on spine and on the lower edge (soiled, traces of ties). On the front panel and on title page ownership's inscription “Jo: Petri Clericij”. Marginal rust spots on leaves AA1-8, a few very light damp stains. A very good, genuine copy.

RARE FIRST ITALIAN EDITION of one of the most important documents for the history of political and educational thought of fifteenth century Humanism. It was begun around 1462, completed in 1468 and first published by Jean Savigny in 1518 under the title De institutione reipublicae libri novem. It has often been seen as a precursor of Machiavelli's Principe and had a great influence on Thomas Elyot's Gouvernour (cf. J. Schlotter, Thomas Elyot's ‘Governor' in seinem Verhältnis zu Francesco Patrizi, Freiburg/Br., passim).

The work covers the whole field of civic Humanism discussing all questions of state administration, law (moral and civil), town and country planning (cf. P.N. Pagliara, Vitruvio: da testo a canone, in: “Memoria dell'antico nell'arte italiana”, S. Settis, ed., Torino, 1986, III, pp. 28-30), and the management of a family (the duties of a husband and of a wife, the education of children, cf. G. Müller, Bildung und Erziehung im Humanismus der italienischen Renaissance, Wiesbaden, 1969, pp. 117, 36). Patrizi recommends protection for merchants and tradesmen who contribute to the enriching of a country, considers that the state should provide the means of subsistence to the population if necessary, and also deals with the importance of culture (fine arts, music, theatre, literature, libraries), medicine and the great physicians of the past, gymnastic exercises, etc. (cf. M. Capelli, ‘Ad actionem secundum virtutem tendit'. La passione, la sapienza e la prudenza: ‘vita activa' e ‘vita contemplativa' nel pensiero umanistico, in: “The ways of life in classical political philosophy”, F. Lisi, ed., Sankt Augustin, 2004, pp. 203-30).

“Patrizi's text deals with the disposition and government of a city-state Republic, understood in the terms of the contemporary political reality of fifteenth-century Italy, describing and analyzing the political, social and economic conditions that prevail in such an urban context. Significantly, the treatise does not confine itself to a theoretical discussion of the city as locus of government, but examines the urban fabric itself, giving ample space to a discussion of the role of the architect in planning the city, and the disposition of streets, piazzas and individual buildings, both public and private. Architecture and government are thus bound together, so that a well-governed city will be architecturally well-ordered, and vice versa [...] While, in some respects, the most original feature of Patrizi's treatise is the way in which he links social and political issues of government to the question of urban life. Patrizi viewed the city-state as the natural resolution of man's need to be a ‘social animal', and in Book I he outlines the ways in which urban society should be ordered to maintain equality among citizens. While Book II deals with the varieties of professions that should exist in the city, Book III instead focuses on public offices and the procedures that should be observed in nomination and election... Indeed the core three books relate specifically to the family, in its public and private role. While Book IV discusses the function of the family and the paterfamilias in the government of private affairs, Book V and VI project the family onto the public scene. So that virtues honed in the family setting are given a public purpose. It is thus in Book V that the public virtues of government, discussed in Book III, are revealed as being an attribute to the patrician class, showing that these families are naturally suited to rule. A clear statement in favor of the ancestral aristocracy's capacity to rule come in chapter One of Book VI, where Patrizi provides a definition of urban society as being made up of three classes: the ancient nobility, a middle-ranking group of worthy citizens, and a majority suited only to being governed... However, it is in the last section of the treatise that Patrizi addresses themes relevant to an understanding of the Pope's architectural patronage in Siena. Specifically, chapter Eleven of Book VIII discusses private architecture in the urban context. Patrizi advises the families in public office should invest in a palace suited to their status, but this should be a ‘beautiful home'. He recommends the use of ‘sancta mediocritas' (a golden mean), so that a building will display neither the opulence nor the avarice of its owner, but rather that the palace will beautify the collective image of the city” (F. Nevola, Siena, Constructing the Renaissance City, New Haven, CT & London, 2007, pp. 87-88).

The translator Giovanni Fabbrini, who dedicated the volume to the sons of the Roman nobleman Antonio Massimi, to whom he was the tutor, was born at Figline Valdarno in 1516 and studied at Florence under Lorenzo Amadei and Gaspare Marescotti. In 1544 he settled in Rome, where he published his first work, Della interpretation della lingua latina. In 1546 he returned to Florence and finished the translation of Patrizi's second important work, the De regno et regis institutione. A year later he was called by the Senate of Venice to teach in the public schools. His activities as a merchant brought him some wealth and allowed him to concentrate more on his literary activities. He published numerous translations into the vernacular, commentaries and grammatical and linguistic studies, among them in 1565, Teoria della lingua, dedicated to Cosimo de' Medici. He died in Venice in 1580 (cf. F. Sarri, Giovanni Fabbrini da Figline (1516-1580?), in: “La Rinascita”, II, 1939, pp. 617-640; III, 1940, pp. 233-270; IV, 1941, pp. 361-408).

“In his translation of a section following the list of artisans in which Patrizi discusses the ancient respect for certain works of art […] Fabrini adds a reference to Michelangelo in the chapter on artists per se (p. 36v) […] Fabrizi's inclusion of the example of Michelangelo suggests that the rise in status of the artist could indeed have promoted the rise in status of the artisan in general” (G.W. McClure, The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy, Toronto, 2004, p. 230).

Francesco Patrizi received his early education at the Studio of Siena, his native city. He became a friend of the bishop of Siena Enea Silvio Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II). In 1452 was to be a member of a Sienese embassy which accompanied the Emperor Frederick III to Rome. For a certain time he served as podestà of Montalcino. A few years later his fortunes had changed dramatically for the worse- He was among the notables who were arrested in 1456 and tried for conspiring to hand Siena over to Jacopo Piccinini, who was in the service of Alfonso of Naples. Only the intervention of Enea Silvio, then a cardinal, could prevent his death. Patrizi was instead sentenced to exile, leaving his wife and for sons in the charge of their grandparents. Later he was admitted into Holy Orders and, still favored by Enea Silvio, now pope Pius II, was elected bishop of Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples, without the duty to reside in his diocese. Still in 1461 he took up residence in Foligno as papal governor. His experience as governor as well as his originally first-hand knowledge of the ups and downs of politics in his native Siena certainly furthered his interest in political science and the Institutione reipublicae was written during his stay at Foligno. Apparently he released his post of governor of Foligno in 1471, settled at Gaeta for the rest of his life, apart from occasional missions for the House of Aragon, attending to his episcopal duties. At Gaeta he wrote his second great work on political science De regno & regis institutione (cf. F. Battaglia, Enea Silvio Piccolomi e Francesco Patrizi: Due politici senesi del Quattrocento, Siena, 1936, pp. 76-100; F.C. Nardone, Francesco Patrizi umanista senese, Empoli, 1996, passim; and P. Benedetti Bertoldi, Francesco Patrizi the Elder: the Portrait of a Fifteenth Century Humanist, thesis, Oxford, 1996, passim).

Edit 16, CNCE 26955; Universal STC, no. 762223; A.A. Renouard, Annales de l'imprimerie des Aldes, Paris, 1803, 131:3.


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