Risposte di Bellisario Bulgarini a' Ragionamenti del Sig. Ieronimo Zoppio, intorno alla Commedia di Dante. Replica alla risposta del medesimo Zoppio, intitolata, alle opposizioni sanesi, &c. [...]

Autore: BULGARINI, Bellisario (1539-1620)

Tipografo: Luca Bonetti

Dati tipografici: Siena, 1586


4to (220x151 mm). 237, [3] pp. Collation: A-Gg4. The Replica del medesimo Bellisario Bulgarini, alla risposta del predetto sig. Ieronimo Zoppio, intitolata, alle opposizioni sanesi begins with a separate title page on l. Bb3v. Printer's devices on both title pages and at the end. Contemporary limp vellum with overlapping edges, inked title along the spine (traces of ties). Some occasional foxing and browing, a few marginal stains, small round worm hole to the blank margin of a few leaves at the end of the volume not affecting the text, overall a very good, fresh, and extremely genuine copy.

First edition, dedicated to Giulio Cesare Colonna, of this book that Bulgarini published in response to Girolamo Zoppio (1516-1591) as part of the so-called quarrel over Dante, that opposed him not only to Zoppio, but also to Jacopo Mazzoni (1548-1598), Orazio Capponi (1552-1622), and Alessandro Cariero (fl. 2nd half of the 16th cent.).

“It will be remembered that in 1583 Girolamo Zoppio had published two ragionamenti in Dante's defence. Apparetly Bulgarini or one of his fellow Sienese answered these essays, for in 1585 Zoppio replied with a Risposta alle oppositioni sanesi fatte a' suoi ragionamenti in difesa di Dante; but I have found no trace of the intervening documents. As for Zoppio's Riposta, its materials are essentially irrelevant to the real problems of the quarrel, concerning as they do Zoppio's practice in the writing and the spelling of Italian. Inevitably, Bulgarini in his turn replied to both these works in a book whose long double title indicates its double reference: Risposte a' Ragionamenti del Sig. Ieronimo Zoppio, intorno alla Commedia di Dante; Replica alla risposta del predetto sig. Ieronimo Zoppio, intitolata, alle opposizioni sanesi, &c. (1586). About Bulgarini's basic position there can again be no doubt, fo he states his thesis, clearly in the ‘Proemio': ‘…that Dante in his work of the Commedia cannot readily be defended by means of the precepts and the teachings given to us by Aristotle in his Poetics'. Once again, he follows the order of Mazzoni's Difesa in presenting his arguments. But Aristotle is his authority, ‘for Aristotle … has acquired such credibility with everybody that his opinions are believed to be, so to speak, irrefragable'. There is perhaps little in this document that Bulgarini had not said before, although the tone is now more extreme and rabid. In connection with Mazzoni's first ‘particella', he re-examines the materials and the audience of poetry, leaning heavily upon Aristotle but also seeking verification in Giovanni Battista Pigna […] On this basis, Bulgarini again condemns Dante's use of scientific materials. Essentially, these are undesirable in themselves as the objects of poetry because they are true, not feigned; this means that they can never meet the requirements of necessity and verisimilitude. Of the two possible ways of treating philosophical arguments -the verisimilar imitation of actions attributed to a philosopher, or the disputation over technical matters- Dante has chosen the latter, which is not in any sense poetic. Returning, in his remarks on the fifth ‘particella', to the classification of the Divina Commedia, Bulgarini finds that it is a mixture of several genres: it is not comic in persons or materials or manner, although its language is frequently low; it is tragic in its effect -the sufferings of the damned move to pity- but it has a happy ending; the special grace accorded to Dante makes of him a heroic person, and in general the personages of the Paradiso are of epic stature; besides, the verse form (the terza rima) is proper to the epic. Considering these qualities, Bulgarini decides that the poem does not fit completely into any one of the classes and that the only genre in which it might be placed -if it is a poem at all!- would be that of satire, ‘because of the defamation' (‘per conto della maladicenza', p. 82)” (B. Weinberg, A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance, Chicago, 1961, pp. 870-871).

Bellisario Bulgarini was born in Siena into a wealthy family of young nobility. After his marriage to Aurelia Borghesi in 1561, he divided his life between public offices and special assignments, such as the reforms of the local university and the civic Monte; the care of his family and the concern for his children; the management of the family bank and ‘emporium' which was probably located in the same palace where he lived; the management of his properties in the countryside, in which activity he was later assisted above all by his son Ascanio; and finally, the study and writing of poetic and philological works, including his anti-Dante treatises. In fact, Bulgarini owes most of his fame to the role he played in the controversy that arose in the second half of the 16th century, over the character and poetic value of Dante's Commedia. In fact, the few works he published during his lifetime (Alcune considerazioni, 1583; Repliche, 1585; and Risposte, 1586; Difese, 1588; Riprove, 1602; Annotazioni, 1603; and Antidiscorso, 1616) all concern this dispute, while much of his philological and literary work remained unpublished. In the dispute over the Italian language, he followed in the footsteps of Claudio Tolomei, hoping for a Tuscan solution to the question (cf. D. Danesi, Cento anni di libri: la biblioteca di Bellisario Bulgarini e della sua famiglia, circa 1560-1660, Pisa, 2014, pp. 17-25; see also A. Accame Bobbio, Bulgarini, Bellisario, in: “Enciclopedia Dantesca”, 1970, s.v.).

Girolamo Zoppio was born into a noble family of Bologna, where he studied philosophy and obtained a doctorate in 1574. He lectured on rhetoric and poetry at the University of Macerata and founded there the Accademia dei Catenati, which published and staged his only theatrical work, the tragedy Athamante (1579). In 1586 he returned to teach at Bologna. He was involved in the quarrel over Dante between Jacopo Mazzoni and Belisario Bulgarini, opposing the latter's views, and published Ragionamenti del signor Hieronimo Zoppio in difesa di Dante, et del Petrarca (Bologna, 1583), Risposta alle oppositioni sanesi fatte a' suoi ragionamenti in difesa di Dante (Fermo, 1585), Particelle poetiche sopra Dante (Bologna, 1587), and La poetica sopra Dante (Bologna, 1589).

Edit 16, CNCE7813; Cornell University, Fiske Dante Collection, I, part II, p. 157.