Del tempio alla divina signora donna Giovanna d’Aragona, fabricato da tutti i più gentili spiriti et in tutte le lingue principali del mondo. Prima parte [all published]

Autore RUSCELLI, Girolamo ed. (ca. 1515-1566).
Tipografo Plinio Pietrasanta
Dati tipografici Venice, 
Prezzo € 3500.00
Del tempio alla divina signora donna Giovanna d'Aragona

Three parts in one volume, 8vo (151x102 mm). (24), 1-388 [i.e. 404], 1-128, (4), 145-159, (37) pp. Pages 361-368 repeated in numbering. Collation: [flower]-[3 flowers]8 A-Z8 2Z8 AA8 BB2 a-h8 i2 l-n8 o2. Leaves [2 flowers]8, [3 flowers]8, and o2 are blank. Woodcut arms of Cristoforo Madruzzo on title page. Woodcut historiated initials at the beginning of each poem. Slightly later vellum over boards, spine with raised bands and inked title (lacking ties, small round worm holes). Ownership entry, dated 1739, of Jacopo Soranzo, whose library was sold in Padua in 1780. Manuscript correction at l. f6r. Worm holes to the margins of the first leaves not affecting text, other worm hole on the blank outer margin for about half the volume, a few quires slightly browned, all in all a very good, genuine copy.

RARE FIRST EDITION, in the issue bearing the arms of Cristoforo Madruzzo on the title page and the date 1555 (some copies have instead Plinio Pietrasanta's device and the date 1554; a second edition appeared in 1565), of this extraordinary multi-language poetic anthology in praise of Giovanna d'Aragona Colonna, the sister-in-law of Vittoria Colonna and the sister of Maria d'Aragona, Marquise of Vasto, to whom Ruscelli had previously dedicated the Lettura sopra un sonetto dell'Illustriss. Signor Marchese della Terza (Venice, 1552).

Girolamo Ruscelli, born in Viterbo, was one of the most active and prolific editors and reviewers of the 16th century. He began his career in Rome, where he founded the Accademia dello Sdegno; he then moved to Venice in 1549 and started working for Sessa and Valgrisi. The manuscript of the Lettura was used by Ruscelli as a presentation card to enter the fierce Venetian publishing world and, at the same time, to procure friendships and high-level protections. A note ‘To the readers' in that work announces Ruscelli's forthcoming publication of Del Tempio alla Signora Donna Giovanna d'Aragona, attempting to attract the attention of all major Venetian poets and scholars of the time (cf. C. Di Filippo Bareggi, Il mestiere di scrivere: lavoro intellettuale e mercato librario a Venezia nel Cinquecento, Rome, 1988, pp. 78-80).

Following Ruscelli's long dedication to the Cardinal of Trento Cristoforo Madruzzo, is a note explaining how, in 1551, during the meeting of the Accademia dei Dubbiosi, it was debated whether to dedicate the Tempio to Giovanna only or to her sister Maria as well. The members had eventually decided that the work was to be dedicated only to Giovanna, as Maria had already received the poetic praises of the Lettura (cf. M. Maylender, Storia delle Accademie d'Italia, Bologna, 1926-1930, p. 225).

In his note to the readers, Ruscelli then reports some interesting information on the choices he had made for the anthology. The collection consists of compositions by all the major writers and noblemen and women of the time, who, at different times, had sent their poems to Ruscelli; the order of the compositions is therefore completely random and simply reflects the order of arrival. Given the enormous amount of material, Ruscelli apologizes for the possible omissions and/or false attributions, and states that he will correct all errors in the second volume; for reasons of space, the second volume was also to include compositions that had to be left out of the first, but this second volume never came to fruition. Although he admits that certain lyrics are not on a par with others, Ruscelli specifies that the material had not been selected and that all the submitted poems were accepted as contributions to the beauty and virtue of Giovanna d'Aragona.

The anthology contains a total of 294 authors (men and women), of which 207 write in Italian, 69 in Latin, 11 in Greek, and 7 in Spanish. Among them, we can mention: Alessandro Leonardi, Alessandro Piccolomini, Alberto Lollio, Andrea Muzio, Annibal Caro, Anton Giacomo Corso, Antonio Terminio, Bartolomeo Arnigio, Benedetto Varchi, Bernardo Tasso, Bernardino Partenio, Bernardino Rota, Bernardino Tomitano, Carlo Fiamma, Costanzo Landi, Curzio Gonzaga, Domenicio Venier, Ercole Bentivoglio, Ferrante Carafa, Francesco Nevizzano, Francesco Robortello, Gaspare Erizzo, Giacomo Marmitta, Ginez de Canizares, Giovanni Battista Grimaldi Riccio, Giovanni Battista Palatino, Giovanni Battista Pigna, Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinzio, Giovanni della Casa, Giovanni Francesco Arrivabene, Giovanni Andrea dell'Anguillara, Giovanfrancesco Peranda, Girolamo Fracastoro, Girolamo Muzio, Girolamo Zoppio, Girolamo Ruscelli, Girolamo Parabosco, Giuliano Goselini, Iacopo Lelio Cenci, Lelio Carani, Ludovico Domenichi, Ludovico Madruzzo, Luigi Tansillo, Luigi Contarini, Luca Contile, Natale Conti, Odoardo Gomez, Orazio Toscanella, Panfilo Monte, Pietro Aretino, Rinaldo Corso, Sebastiano Erizzo, Simone della Barba, Scipione Ammirato, and Vincenzo Brusantini. The women are: Anna Golfarina, Coletta Pasquale, Fausta Tacita, Gaspara Stampa, Isabella Pepoli de' Riarii, and Laura Terracina.

After the death of Vittoria Colonna in 1547, with whom they had animated the Neapolitan literary circles of the early 1540s, contributing to the dissemination of the reformist ideas of Juan de Valdés and Bernardino Ochino, Giovanna and Maria d'Aragona became the two most prominent and sought after patrons of the Italian literary world. But with the election of Pope Paul IV, a harsh enemy of the Colonna family and the promoter of the first Index of prohibited books which banned all poetic works of non-religious content, Giovanna d'Aragona Colonna was put under house arrest. In December of 1555, she managed to escape disguised as a peasant, along with her six children. The news of her escape caused a sensation in the peninsula, especially because she had left her husband and was living an extremely independent life for a woman of her time (cf. D. Chiomenti Vassalli, Giovanna d'Aragona fra baroni, principi e sovrani del Rinascimento, Milan, 1987, pp. 148-149).

It is in this context that Ruscelli and, two years after, Betussi (Immagini del tempio della Signora Giovanna d'Aragona) published their works in praise of Giovanna d'Aragona as a “preemptive strike in the broader forum of Italian public opinion against a pope from whom neither they nor their patrons could expect anything but aggression” (D. Robin, Publishing Women. Salons, the Presses, and the Counter-Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy, Chicago-London, 2007, p. 102-108).

Edit 16, CNCE34714; BMSTC Italian, p. 592; A. Erdmann, My gracious silence, Luzern, 1999, p. 190.

  • Del tempio alla divina signora donna Giovanna d'Aragona
  • Del tempio alla divina signora donna Giovanna d'Aragona
  • Del tempio alla divina signora donna Giovanna d'Aragona