Breviarium rhetorices: ab optimis quibusq[uam] graecis & latinis auctoribus excerptum: quod adulescentes ad artificium rationemq[ue] dicendi: facili compendio perducet. I. Antonius Caesarius ad lectorem [...] Colophon: Veicetiae, per Henricum librarium Veicetinum. & Io. Mariam eius filium, kalen. Ian. M.D.IX

Autore: PARRASIO, Aulo Giano (1470-1521)-CESARIO, Giovanni Antonio (fl. early 16th cent.)

Tipografo: Enrico & Giovanni Maria di Ca' Zeno

Dati tipografici: Vicenza, January 1st, 1509


4to (202x150 mm). [32] leaves. Collation: a-h4. Woodcut decorated initials on black ground. Title page in roman and gothic types. Text in roman type. Colophon on l. h4r. Later orange cardboards, inked title on spine. Bookplate with the manuscript initials “V.S.” on the front pastedown. Occasional light foxing and staining. A very good copy.

Extremely rare first edition of this school manual on rhetorics written by Parrasio during his teaching years in Vicenza. Parrasio arrived in Vicenza towards the end of 1507 together with his Calabrian pupil Giovanni Antonio Cesario, who signes the address to the reader in verse printed on the title page of the present edition. In January Parrasio delivered an oration Ad municipium Vicentinum and began his courses that he held until the following year. In May 1509 he was in Abano to cure the podagra he was suffering from. In Vicenza, beside the present edition, he also published two more school books in collaboration with the typographer and bookseller Ca' Zeno: a collection of Ciceronian clausulae taken from the Familiares and a grammatical collection which gathers works by Valerius Probus, Phocas, and others.

Around 1489 Parrasio had attended the lectures of Francesco Pucci in Naples, from whom he had learned the philological method of Agnolo Poliziano. In the Collectanea super primum Rhetoricum ad Herennium Pucci places rhetoric within the philosophical discourse and, among followers of Quintilian such as Valla and Guarino and followers of Cicero such as Pontano, takes a position decidedly close to that of the latter. Parrasio's Breviarium rhetorices presents theses close to those of Pucci. He distinguishes between two species of rhetoric, the “common” and the “proper”. To the former suits the definition of simply “speaking well”, to the latter applies the Ciceronian definition of “bene dicere ad persuadendum” (‘well saying in order to persuade'). The purpose and subject matter of the two species of rhetoric are also different: the former uses for the inventio the topica and posterior analytics, while the latter is applied to the famous three genres, demonstrative, deliberative and judicial. In essence, then, only the latter is the true ars rhetorica and, as such, is a full part of the “civil science”. Parrasius then takes up and deepens Pucci's ideas about the purpose of rhetoric, which he identifies as persuasion through diction; in his view, rhetoric does not differ from logic and dialectic except for its ultimate purpose, which is the practical aim of persuasion (cf. L. Ferreri, L'influenza di Francesco Pucci nella formazione di Aulo Giano Parrasio con particolare riguardo alla riflessione sui compiti e i fini della retorica, in: “Valla a Napoli”, M. Santoro, ed., Pisa & Rome, 2007, pp. 203-207).

Aulo Giano Parrasio was born near Cosenza in Calabria and began his career in Naples, where he became friendly with Giovanni Pontano and his circle. Forced from Naples by the French invasion, he moved to Rome entering the academy of Paolo Cortesi. Here he also became acquainted with Tommaso Inghirami and Pierio Valeriano. Later he moved to Milan (where he married the daughter of the Greek humanist Demetrius Chalcondylas), to Venice, to Vicenza, and back to Cosenza - each move being forced either by external circumstances or by academic quarrels. In 1514 pope Leo X called him to Rome as professor of eloquence, a post he had to abandon because of ill health a few years later. He then retired to Cosenza on a small pension from the pope.

Parrasio was certainly one of the greatest humanist commentators on the ancient poets. Unlike many scholars of his day, Parrasio established his textual criticism on the systematic, indeed obsessive, collection and study of codices owned and annotated by the founding fathers of humanism, from Petrarch to Barzizza, from Loschi to Decembrio. His library, which he bequeathed to Antonio Seripando, included manuscripts that once belonged to such illustrious contemporaries as his father-in-law, Demetrius Chalcondylas, editions edited or commented on by such accomplished philologists as Calderini and Beroaldo, and theoretical treatises of Valla, Merula, Poliziano, and Pontano, whose margins bear the results of his researches in his unmistakable hand (cf. F. Stok, Parrasio, Aulo Giano, in: “Dizionario biografico degli Italiani”, vol. 81, 2014, s.v.; see also F. Lo Parco, Aulo Giano Parrasio. Studio biografico-critico, Vasto, 1899; U. Lepore, Per la biografia di Aulo Giano Parrasio (1470-1521), in: “Biblion”, I/1, 1959, pp. 27-44; F. d'Episcopo, Aulo Giano Parrasio: fondatore dell'Accademia Cosentina, Cosenza, 1982, passim; and A. Greco, Aulo Giano Parrasio, in: “Letterature comparate, problemi e metodo: Studi in onore di Ettore Paratore”, Bologna, 1981, III, pp. 1329-1341).

Edit 16, CNCE10948; USTC, 821756.