The two works that begin the dispute Caro-Castelvetro

Autore: CARO, Annibale (1507-1566)-CASTELVETRO, Ludovico (1505-1571)


Dati tipografici:

Formato: in quarto


[CARO, Annibal (1507-1566)].Apologia de gli Academici di Banchi di Roma, contra M. Lodovico Castelvetro da Modena. In forma d'uno Spaccio di Maestro Pasquino. Con alcune operette, del Predella, del Buratto, di ser Fedocco. In difesa de la seguente Canzone del commendatore Annibal Caro. Appartenenti tutte à l'uso de la lingua toscana et al vero modo di poetare. Parma, Seth Viotti, November, 1558.

4to (207x150 mm). 268, [16] pp. Collation: A-Z4 a-m4. With the woodcut printer's device on title page and at the end. Contemporary limp vellum, manuscript title on the spine (rear wrapper lightly spotted). Manuscript note on the front cover “M31.Sb7.no26”, partly repeated on title page “S.B. n7”. Other unreadable note on title page and long manuscript note on the margin of p. 170 about the poet Arnolfo. Title lightly soiled, some light damp stains and browning,
title and last leaf with a few marginal repairs, but a good copy with large margins.

 (offered with:)


[CASTELVETRO, Ludovico (1505-1571)].Ragione d'alcune cose segnate nella canzone d'Annibal Caro Venite a l'ombra de gran gigli d'oro. [Modena, Cornelio Gadaldini the Elder, 1559].

4to (194x143 mm). [2, the first is a blank], 116, [2] leaves (with two leaves inverted in the first quire). Collation: +4 A-Z4 Aa-Ff4. With the author's emblematic woodcut on title page.Old boards, manuscript title on the spine (partly repaired, new endpapers). On title page is a contemporary entry of ownership by one “Flavio Musco” or “Mafio” and the note “dono dell'autore”, probably by the same hand. Some light browning, a good copy.

THE DISPUTE began in 1553 when Castelvetro attacked Caro's canzone “Venite all'ombra dei gran gigli d'oro”, a poem in praise of the Farnese and the royal House of France. Often rancorous and distasteful their exchange, consisting of four major documents, nevertheless reflects many aspects of the contemporary debates on language and literary models. As a defence to Castelvetro's initial critique Caro wrote the Apologia, a commentary of his poem, in which focused on the linguistic liveliness of the canzone and his desire to imitate the spirit rather than the language of Petrarch. Castelvetro's reply, Ragione, engages in a more detailed criticism. Soon a pamphleteering warfare started, which involved Caro and his supporter Benedetto Varchi on the one hand, and Castelvetro on the other. Later Caro tired of a merely literary conflict, sought to use the vast punitive machinery of the Church against his opponent by denouncing him to the Sacred Inquisition (cf.S.Lo Re, Lodovico Castelvetro e e Annibal Caro: storia di una controversia tra letteratura e eresia, in: “Lodovico Castelvetro. Letterati e grammatici nella crisi religiosa del Cinquecento. Atti della XIII giornata Luigi Firpo Torino, 21-22 settembre 2006”, M. Firpo & G. Mongini, eds., Firenze, 2008, pp. 91-112, and R. Leo, Tragedy as Philosophy in the Reformation World, Oxford, 2019, pp. 91-93).

“Al di là degli elementi contingenti, la celebre disputa Caro-Castelvetro, che raggiunse toni di grande acrimonia (non si dimentichi che il Caro, oltre ad additare il suo rivale come eretico, lo accusò di essere il mandante dell'omicidio di un suo seguace), cela in sé la lotta fra l'intellettuale cortigiano protetto dal potere della chiesa, da un lato, e l'intellettuale riformato che metteva in discussione dalle fondamenta la legittimità di quella autorità, dall'altro ”(cfr. E. Garavelli, “Nelle tenzoni alcuna volta si commenda una sottigliezza falsa più che una verità conosciuta da tutti: Lodovico Castelvetro polemista, in: “Omaggio a Lodovico Castelvetro (1505-1571), Atti del seminario di Helsinki, 14 ottobre 2005”, E. Garavelli, ed., Helsinki, 2006, p. 83).

I) FIRST EDITION (variant with the device as a woodcut on the title instead as an engraving). A second edition was printed at Parma in 1573.

Annibal Caro, a native of Civita Nuova (Marche), studied at Florence, where he was on friendly terms with Benedetto Varchi. He became tutor in the family of Lodovico Gaddi, a rich Florentine, and then secretary to his brother Giovanni, by whom he was presented to a valuable ecclesiastical preferment at Rome. At Gaddi's death, Caro entered the service of the Farnese family, and became confidential secretary in succession to Pierluigi, duke of Parma, and to his sons Ottavio, Ranuccio and Alessandro. This post enabled him to obtain benefices and income sufficient to assure him the tranquillity necessary for his literary pursuits. Caro's most lasting influence was as a translator of the Aeneid (1581) in blank verse, which became a Renaissance classic and influenced other Italian epic poets in their choice of meter. His other poetry is distinguished by considerable elegance, and particularly by the freedom and grace of its versification. Indeed it may be said to have brought the ‘verso sciolto' to the highest development it has reached in Italy. His prose works consist of translations from Aristotle, Cyprian and Gregory of Nazianzus; and of letters written in his own name and in those of the cardinals Farnese. Having left the service of the Farnese in 1563, Caro spent the last few years of his life in a small villa in Frascati editing his letters and lyric poems, and bringing his version of the Aeneid to completition. His only play, Gli straccioni (The Scruffy Scoundrels), was published posthumously in 1582 (cf. C. Mutini, Annibal Caro, in: “Dizionario biografico degli Italiani”, XX, Roma, 1977, pp. 497-508).

Edit 16, CNCE 9646G; Adams, C-739; Index Aureliensis 132.465; Universal STC, no. 819038; G. Melzi, Dizionario di opere anonime e pseudonime di scrittori italiani o come che sia aventi relazione all'Italia, (Milano, 1848), I, p. 5.

II) FIRST EDITION. There exists a variant issue without the emblematic woodcut on the title page. The work was reprinted at Venice in 1560, at Parma and Basel in 1573.

Lodovico Castelvetro, a native of Modena, expressed an early passion for the study of humanistic letters. He pursued a course of study at the Universities of Bologna, Ferrara, Padua, and Siena. Bowing to his father's wishes, Castelvetro earned a doctorate of law at Siena before moving to Rome, where his family hoped that his maternal uncle, Giovanni Maria della Porta, would be able to use his political connections to advance his nephew's career. Finding life in Rome unbearable, around the time of its sack in 1527 by the imperial forces of Charles V, Castelvetro returned to Modena, where he found intellectual satisfaction in the company of the humanists allied with Giovanni Grilenzono's circle of friends. Castelvetro and Grilenzono studied ancient languages while also practicing vernacular languages. Under Castelvetro's leadership, humanist scholarship flourished in Modena, with Castelvetro's contem­poraries referring to him as ‘another Socrates'. Castelvetro's association with the allegedly heretical Academy of Modena culminated in what may have been an unfounded accusation to the Sacred Inquisition of Rome. Castelvetro found himself in the position of having to travel to Rome in 1560 to refute the accusation. Threatened with torture, Castelvetro fled Italy, was excommunicated, and spent the rest of his life in exile. After leaving Rome, Castelvetro found temporary refuge in Ferrara, Chiavenna, Lyons, Geneva, and, finally, Vienna, where Emperor Maximilian II's patronage provided the opportunity for Castelvetro to publish his most significant literary contribution: his commentary on Aristotle's Poetics (1570). In his dedicatory epistle to Emperor Maximilian II, Castelvetro avowed his intent to complete Aristotle's unpolished treatise in order to prescribe rules for writing dramas. In it he also emphasized realism in drama, clarified the distinction between rhetoric and poetry, and defended poetry as a means of pleasure alone -as opposed to the earlier opinion that poetry should instruct as well as delight. Another critical notion that Castelvetro took issue with was the Platonic concept that poets are possessed with a divine sort of madness. Castelvetro asserted that this was a myth perpetuated by the ignorant masses and by poets themselves. Additional commentaries on Petrarch's Rime, published in 1582, and on the first twenty-nine cantos of Dante's Inferno, among other textual corrections and considerations of the development of the Italian language, comprise the remainder of Castelvetro's critical endeavors. (cf. D. Cantimori, Eretici italiani del Cinquecento, Firenze, 1939, pp. 553-556; and V. Marchetti & G. Patrizi, Lodovico Castelvetro, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, XXII, Roma, 1979, pp. 8-21).

Edit 16, CNCE 10038; Index Aureliensis 133.549; Universal STC, no. 819468; G. Melzi, Dizionario di opere anonime e pseudonime, (Milano, 1852), II, p. 407.