Orazione d'Orlando Pescetti dietro al modo dell'instituire la gioventù, alla magnifica, et inclita Città di Verona. Indiritta al molto illustre Signor il Signor Conte Giulio Nogarola degnissimo Proveditore della dettà Communità

Autore: PESCETTI, Orlando (c. 1556-1624)

Tipografo: Girolamo Discepolo

Dati tipografici: Verona, 1592


4to (199x145 mm). [20] leaves. Collation: A-E4. Large printer's device on title page. Text in italic and preface in roman type. Woodcut historiated initials. Later cardboards, inked title on spine (pen trials on both panels). A very good copy.

Rare first edition dedicated by the author to the Count Giulio Cesare Nogarola.

Pescetti was born in Marradi in the Apennines between Tuscany and Romagna around 1556. After studying in Florence, he moved very young to Verona, where he devoted himself to teaching and literary activity, earning a good reputation, until the end of his days. Pescetti was involved in a number of literary disputes, including one that arose between the Sienese writer Orazio Lombardelli and the Veronese scholar Gian Domenico Candido over the use of the letter “z”, in which Pescetti intervened in support of the former's arguments in a pamphlet entitled Breve discorso in favore del buon uso della Z (Verona, 1588), which was followed by two replies published in the same year. Also in 1588 he entered the bitter dispute between Torquato Tasso's supporters and detractors, siding with the latter and exposing his arguments in the booklet Del primo infarinato (Verona, 1590). He later took part in the querelle over the legitimacy of tragicomedy as a literary genre that arose following the publication of Battista Guarini's Pastor Fido, siding with the latter in his Difesa del Pastor Fido (Verona, 1601) and other writings. Finally, in the contentious dispute that broke out between innovators, determined to reject the linguistic principles advocated by the Accademia della Crusca, and conservatives, proud custodians of the linguistic purity of 14th-century Florentine, Pescetti, welcomed into the ranks of the Accademia in 1603, sided with the latter. In reply to L'anticrusca (1612) by the Paduan lecturer in eloquence Paolo Beni, he composed the Risposta all'Anticrusca (Verona, 1613), in which he reiterated the concept of linguistic purity, present, in his opinion, only in ancient Florentine tongue. Pescetti was the author of several works, including the tragicomedy Regia pastorella (Verona, 1589; reprinted Bologna, 2012), the poetic collection Rime di versi in lode dell'Illustr.ma signora Chiara Cornara (Verona, 1596), two collections of Italian and Latin proverbs (Verona, 1598 and 1602), and above all the tragedy Il Cesare (Verona, 1594), which won him some fame and is said to have influenced Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Pescetti died in Verona between 1622 and 1624 (M. Garbellotti, Pescetti, Orlando, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, vol. 82, 2015, s.v.).

Pescetti's dedication to teaching took concrete form in the Orazione dietro al modo dell'instituire la gioventù(‘Oration about the Way of Instituting the Youth'), the importance of which lies not so much in the outlined curriculum, indeed not so dissimilar to the Jesuit Ratio studiorum, but in having conceived a secular public school with selected teaching staff. Aware of the inadequacies of current educational methods and convinced of the reforming power of education, Pescetti addressed the pamphlet to the city of Verona, setting out a very detailed program to restore and strengthen the city's school system. The direction of the school was to be entrusted to four ‘wise men', also charged with the task of choosing suitable teachers and examining anyone who wished to devote himself to teaching. Accepting Pescetti's proposal, in a resolution dated 1607, the city council actually appointed three citizens to oversee the work of the schools active in the city. The public school designed by Pescetti envisaged age-based classes and the payment by pupils of a fee proportionate to their economic condition (the poor were exempt), part of which was also to be used for the creation of a library open to all. Pescetti urges city authorities to address the problem of secular education as part of their duties, not relying solely on religious institutions for this. In this sense Bishop Gian Matteo Giberti, while obviously promoting religious education, had already maintained that municipal authorities should hire teachers to educate boys.

Pescetti argues that on good education depends good government and on good government depends the happiness of men. He therefore questions why teaching is held in such low regard and warns against the dangers of education entrusted to private tutors, because dialogue and discussion with other students are, in his view, a fundamental part of the educational process. Pescetti also advocates the importance of teacher training and the need to control teachers and schools at a time when anyone could decide to become a teacher and open his own school without the need for authorizations.

He then makes concrete suggestions on teaching programs, which are divided into nine classes, public library, teachers' salaries, school fees, and authority controls. To those who objected to him that the Jesuits, who had been called to open a school in Verona in 1576 by Bishop Agostino Valier, would oppose his project as it would restrict their educational activity, Pescetti replies that they would get over it and deal with higher forms of teaching (p. 29). Note that, unlike in Jesuit schools, Pescetti's program required the payment of a tuition fee.

Pescetti's reform, as mentioned above, was partially accepted by the municipality with a provision of the city council of December 16, 1607, which established three school inspectors, and remained in force, so to speak, until about 1639, when the teaching of the schools was entrusted to the Somaschi fathers, later replaced by the Jesuits, who in 1656 returned to the city after having been ousted from it for a long time because of the interdict. The plague of 1630, which had killed more than 30,000 Veronese, had in fact disrupted the entire city structure and forced a complete reorganization of communal life (cf. G.B. Gerini, Gli scritti pedagogici italiani del secolo decimosettimo, Turin, 1900, pp. 112-133; see also G.P. Marchi, Per una storia delle istituzioni scolastiche pubbliche dall'epoca comunale all'unificazione del Veneto all'Italia, in: “Cultura e vita civile a Verona. Uomini e istituzioni dall'epoca carolingia al Risorgimento”, G.P. Marchi, ed., Verona, 1979, pp. 50-54; and R. Sani, Educazione e istituzioni scolastiche nell'Italia moderna (secoli XV-XIX): testi e documenti, Milan, 1999, pp. 95-98).

Edit 16, CNCE36339; USTC, 847756.