Il Cesano, dialogo di M. Claudio Tolomei, nel quale da pi dotti huomini si disputa del nome, col quale si dee ragionevolmente chiamare la volgar lingua

Autore TOLOMEI, Claudio (1492-1555).
Tipografo Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari
Dati tipografici Venezia, 
Prezzo 2800.00
Il Cesano

Bound in painted vellum for Luigi Silva

[Bound with:] PLATO(427-ca. 347 BC)-RUSCELLI, Girolamo ed. (1518-1566)-ERIZZO, Sebastiano tr. (1525-1585). Il dialogo di Platone, intitolato il Timeo, overo della natura del mondo. Tradotto di lingua greca in italiano da m. Sebastiano Erizzo, gentil'huomo venetiano. Et dal medesimo di molte utili annotationi illustrato, et nuovamente mandato in luce da Girolamo Ruscelli. Venice, [Orfeo Dalla Carta] for Comin da Trino, 1558.

Two works in one volume, 4to (205x143 mm). I: [4], 97, [3] pp. Collation: A-N4. Printer's device on title page and l. N4v. Woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. On the title page the ownership inscription and armorial stamp of Luigi Silva (the stamp is repeated at l. A2); II: [4], 41, [1] leaves. Collation: *4 A-L4 K2. Printer's device on title page and l. L2r. Woodcut initial and ornaments. On the front flyleaf the manuscript pressmark “J:I:i0:”. Small hole in the blank margin of l. A2, wormholes to the lower margin of about 10 leaves of the second work not affecting the text, small loss to the outer corner of l. D2 not affecting the text, some marginal stains, all in all a good, genuine copy. Precious and unusual 18th-century Venetian (?) painted vellum binding; panels bearing at the centre a piece of marbled paper surrounded by strips of vellum decorated with geometric and floral patterns painted in green, black and brown watercolour; inked pressmark “J:I:10” on the vellum spine; edges decorated with coloured floral motifs; marbled endleaves showing the same pattern as the piece of paper pasted on the panels. On the front pastedown a bookplate from the Libreria Mediolanum. The book comes from the collection of Marquis Luigi Silva (fl. 18th cent.), a scion of the Milanese family of (De) Silva, whose important library was sold at action in Paris in 1869.

I) FIRST EDITION of this dialogue composed between 1525 and 1529, but printed only in 1555, on account of censorship. The interlocutors Pietro Bembo, Gian Giorgio Trissino, Baldassarre Castiglione, Alessandro de' Pazzi, and Gabriele Cesano discuss the name to be given to the Italian language. While the former argue that the Italian language should be called vernacular, Florentine, courtly or Italian, Cesano, who was close to the positions of Tolomei, supports a Tuscan lexicon, referring to its use among the educated people living in that region.

The debate over the Italian language, the so-called ‘Questione della lingua”, in a country that was politically divided but already had a shared culture, inevitably involved issues relating to the country's cultural, social and ultimately political identity. The debate had become even more urgent at the end of the fifteenth and during the first half of the sixteenth century due to two main factors: the foreign invasions of the peninsula that had brought about a long period of almost uninterrupted war (1494-1559) and resulted in the end of the independence of most of the Italian States, and the enormous diffusion of the press. The Cesano was presumably written around 1525 to offer a synthesis of all major proposals circulating in those years within the debate over the Italian language (cf. D. Pettinari, Quale “patria” per la nostra lingua? Lo spazio letterario come veicolo per la codificazione linguistica nel Cinquecento, in: “La letteratura degli Italiani 3. Gli Italiani della letteratura”, Atti del XV Congresso Nazionale dell'Associazione degli Italianisti Italiani, Torino, 14-17 settembre 2011, C. Allasia, M. Masoero & L. Nay, eds., Alessandria, 2012).

Claudio Tolomei, scion of a noble and ancient family of Siena, studied law in his native city and entered the service of several popes. In 1526 he participated in the attack against Siena ordered by Pope Clement VII, which led to his sixteen-year exile from that city. He then found a patron in Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, who sent him on a mission to Vienna. He became officer of justice at the court of Luigi Farnese, Duke of Parma, and, after the latter's assassination, lectured for a short time on Aristotle's moral philosophy at Padua. In 1548 he returned to Rome and was elected bishop of Korcula (a small island in the Adriatic). In 1552 he became a member of the commission charged with protecting the liberty of Siena after Spanish troops had been driven out of the city. He was also one of the four deputies sent by the new government to France to thank King Henry II for his protection. His fame, however, rests primarily on his poetical and philological works, and especially on his efforts for the Italian language (cf. L. Sbaragli, Claudio Tolomei, umanista senese del Cinquecento, Siena, 1939, passim).

II) FIRST EDITION, second issue (the first is dated 1557 on the title page), of the first translation into Italian of the famous Platonic dialogue Timaeus, which was particularly relevant in the philosophical debates of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The myth of Atlas, contained therein, greatly influenced the definition of Renaissance utopias. The text was translated from the Greek by Sebastiano Erizzo, scholar, senator and member of the Council of Ten, who translated various Platonic dialogues and wrote, among other things, a commentary on Petrarch (cf. R. Bobba, Di alcuni commentatori italiani di Platone, in: “Rivista italiana di filosofia”, VII, 1892, pp. 213-225).

The project of translating the entire Platonic corpus into Italian was conceived by Girolamo Ruscelli, who gathered for this purpose a group of Greek scholars, including Sebastiano Erizzo. “To face such a difficult task, Ruscelli had organized a team of ‘seven very good people', guided and coordinated by himself, a group that had to have an excellent knowledge of the Greek language, a solid mastery of the Italian one […], and a knowledge of Platonic thought and of all its commentators […] It is probably no coincidence that Erizzo was the first in the group to inaugurate the enterprise, which remained, to tell the truth, limited to the translation of the Timaeus, for the Venetian had proven – and will do so throughout his career – to be solidly linked to the Platonic philosophy, so as to proceed on its own, once Ruscelli died, to the translation of other Platonic dialogues, which were then printed in 1574” (F. Tomasi, Una scheda su Sebastiano Erizzo traduttore del ‘Timeo', in: “Quaderni Veneti”, 3, 2014, pp. 47-48).

Sebastiano Erizzo (1525-1585), scion of a noble Venetian family, had a sound humanistic education in his youth and perfected his studies in Greek and Latin literature at Padua. During his life, he was entrusted with many important commissions by his government. He was elected several times as Savio di Terraferma (responsible for the administration of the Venetian inshore territories) and senator. He also became a member of the Council of Ten, one of the major governing bodies of the Venetian Republic. Today, Erizzo is primarily remembered for a juvenile collection of stories, Le sei giornate (1567), an important numismatic treatise, Discorso sopra le medaglie antiche (1559) and for a commentary on Petrarch (1561) (G. Benzoni, Sebastiano Erizzo, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, Roma, 1993, 43, pp. 198-204).

I: Edit 16, CNCE48105; Bongi, I, p. 460; O. Castellani Pollidori, Il Cesano de la lingua toscana, edizione critica, Florence, 1974; II: Edit 16, CNCE24748; F. Federici, Degli scrittori greci e delle italiane versioni delle loro opere, Padua, 1828, p. 136; J. Hankins, Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance, Rome, 2005, II, p. 164; S.F.W. Hoffmann, Bibliographisches Lexikon der Gesammten Litteratur der Griechen, Leipzig, 1845, III, p. 147.

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