De situ et laudibus Asili oppidi Serenissime Regine Cornelie

Autore: LILIANI, Giovanni Battista (ca. 1470-1550)

Tipografo: Manfredo de Bonis de Monferrato.

Dati tipografici: Venezia,   1507

Formato: in quarto


“What name was that the little girl sang forth? / Kate? The Cornaro, doubtless, who renounced / The Crown of Cyprus to be lady here / At Asolo, where still her memory stays, / And peasants sing how once a certain page / Pined for the grace of her” (R. Browning, Pippa passes, Portland, ME, 1902, p. 44).

4to (207x153 mm). [10] leaves. Collation: A6 B4. Later limp vellum, upper blank margin of the title page expertly repaired, some very light spots, but an attractive copy.

EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION of this poem celebrating the town of Asolo (in the Veneto region near Treviso) under the sovereignty (1489-1509) of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus (cf. L. Comacchio, Splendore di Asolo ai tempi della Regina Cornaro in un poemetto latino di G.B. Liliani, Castelfranco Veneto, 1969, passim).

“A poem published in Venice in 1507, De situ et laudibus Asili oppidi Serenissimae Regine Cornelie by Giambattista Liliani, praised the landscape of Asolo in more full-blown Arcadian language. Liliani was a young student of canon and civil law in Padua when he composed the poem, which was dedicated to Giovanni Colbertaldo of Asolo. The poet begins with reference to an earlier, now lost work Emniades, apparently of more overt pastoral and georgic subject matter. But for the present work, Liliani envisages a more elevated mode. Indeed, De situ et laudibus Asili follows in a tradition of rhetorical descriptions extending back to Aelius Aristides' second century Panathaicus and revived by Leonardo Bruni in his Laudatio Florentinae Urbis. Liliani's work, however, is even more patently idealizing than these non-too reality-based models of the genre, borrowing conceits in praise of landscape from the Golden Age and Arcadian literature he claimed to have left behind […] While we may presume no reader of the period would have interpreted Liliani's poem in praise of Asolo in literal terms, it forms a significantly crescendo to Bembo's Gli Asolani, and to other, more minor literature idealizing Caterina Cornaro and her domains composed and circulated at the end of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in the city of Venice and its environs” (B. Lynn-Davis, Landscapes of the Imagination in Renaissance Venice, Diss., Princeton, NJ, 1998, pp. 170-171).

“Pietro Bembo was not the only aspiring writer to employ the unique setting of Caterina's Asolo court as a literary device. Some years later Asolo's pastoral joys and Caterina's residence there inspired Giambattista Liliani […] As a young man studying in Padua, Liliani encountered Antonio Colbertaldo [Caterina's first biographer], the ward of Bartolomeo Colbertaldo, a leading citizen of Asolo who was frequently nominated as orator to the queen. Their encounter, and the recent publication of Bembo's Gli Asolani, must have inspired Liliani to compose his , his earliest extant work, which he dedicated to Antonio's older brother, the notary Giovanni Colbertaldo. Following humanist models of urban panegyric […], Liliani begins with a description of Asolo, praises its mythical foundation by the goddess Athena, depicts its physical environs and peoples, and then eulogies the queen, Caterina's people loved her, according to Liliani, for their honesty and her humble demeanor. She restored a golden age to Asolo, its court, and its arcadian farmlands” (H.S. Hurlburt, Daughter of Venice. Caterina Corner Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance, New Haven & London, 2015, pp. 144-145).

“[Caterina Cornaro] signoria dell'unica persona al mondo che poteva vantare il titolo di regina di Gerusalemme, oltre che di Cipro e d'Armenia. Fu così che apprendisti poeti e poeti veri scatenaro- no la fantasia in cerca di mille artifici. Battista Liliani, in un raro testo edito nel gennaio del 1507, invocando le muse e gli dei celesti, si lancia a paragonare la città di Atene, i suoi fiumi al frigio Meleandro, i campi a quelli dei Feaci e a ‘quelli che si narrano coltivati dalle figlie di Atlante con rami d'oro' ” (E.M. Dal Pozzolo, Lorenzo Lotto ad Asolo. Una pala e i suoi segreti, Venice, 1995, p. 10).

“Dans le petit poème Asili oppidi Serenissmae publié à Venise au début de 1507 par G.B. Liliani, est décrite la prise de possession de la contrée asolane par Pallas avant qu'elle soit remise à Catherine Cornaro […] Les monts, les vallées, les canaux, tout y est, et même la mention des crustacées comme rappel du rivage adriatique et de la vocation maritime de la province. Les madidi cancri sont plaqués dans la description poétique un peu comme le gambero sur le paysage d'Asolo. La suite du petit poème mentionne les cultures d'olivier, les vignobles et les platanes; les plaisirs de la chasse y sont, bien entendu, célébrés en indiquant qu'on prend autour d'Asolo toutes sortes d'oiseaux bariolés, dont la reine est la perdrix” (A. Chastel, Fables, formes, figures, Paris, 1978, II, p. 106).

Caterina Cornaro (1454-1510) was born in Venice of a noble and powerful family, tied by blood to Doge Marco Cornaro. Before she was fourteen, her uncle Andrea, who live in Cyprus, proposed her marriage to King Giacomo II Lusignano. The marriage took place by proxy on July 10, 1468 in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Upon coming of age Caterina joined her betrothed in Cyprus on September 19, 1472. Just a year later, after sudden illness, the king died and according to the wishes in his will the Queen, who at the time was pregnant, acted as Regent. A few months later, a son and heir was born but unfortunately died before he was even a year old. Caterina Cornaro ruled Cyprus from 1474 to 1489 but was forced to cede the administration of the country to the Republic of Venice. Finally, she was obliged to live the island on May 14, 1489. As a compensation, the Republic granted her the fiefdom of Asolo, where she took residence in the Palazzo Pretorio in October 11, 1489. In 1509 when the troops of the League of Cambrai conquered and ransacked Asolo, Caterina fled to exile and died in Venice a year later. During her reign Asolo gained a reputation as a court of literary and artistic distinction, mainly as a result of it being the fictitious setting for Pietro Bembo's platonic dialogues on love, Gli Asolani (1505) (cf. E. Polovedo, Accademie, feste e spettacoli alla corte di Caterina Cornaro, in: “La letteratura, la rappresentazione, la musica al tempo e nei luoghi di Giorgione”, M. Muraro, ed., Rome, 1987, pp. 133-161).

Caterina was portrayed by Gentile Bellini, who lived for a certain period at her court, by Albrecht Dürer, Giorgione and Titian (cf. D. & I. Hunt, Caterina Cornaro Queen of Cyprus, London 1989, passim; see also D. Perocco, Caterina Cornaro. Tra la biografia e il mito, in: “Caterina Cornaro: l'illusione del regno: atti del Convegno di Asolo, 9 ottobre 2010”, Sommacampagna, 2011, 35-56; and S.C. Hickson, Caterina Cornaro in Asolo: The Art and Architectural Patronage of a Renaissance Queen, 1489- 1510, Diss., Toronto, 1995, passim).

Giovanni Battista Liliani (originally de' Ciani), a native of San Daniele (Friuli), studied civil and canon law at Padua and later became secretary and general vicar to the patriarch Giovanni Grimani. When the latter was accused of heresy in 1546 (mostly because of his relationship with apostates as Bernardo Ochino and Pier Paolo Vergerio), Liliani went into exile to Gorizia. He also was for a while canon of Cividale. The present is his only printed work (cf. G. Marchetti, Il Friuli, uomini e tempi, Udine, 1979, p. 980; see also G. Nazzi, Dizionario biografico friulano, Udine, 1997, p. 713 and C. Scalon, ed., Nuovo Liruti: Dizionario biografico dei friulani, 2/1, Udine, 2009, p. 1465).

Edit 16, CNCE66231; Universal STC, 762975 (only two copies recorded: Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Roma and Bib- lioteca Marciana, Venezia).