Opera. Vrania, siue de stellis libri quinque. Meteororum liber unus. De hortis Hesperidum libri duo. Lepidina siue postorales pompae septem.

n.p., n.pr., n.d [Venice, G. De Gregori, 1515-20?]


8vo, ff. 254, (i), lacking last blank. Italic letter, some Roman. Light age yellowing, the occasional ink spot or mark, a couple of leaves slightly wax stained; t-p a little dusty. A fine, clean copy in elegant C18 green French crushed morocco, panels bordered with triple gilt rule, gilt title and tooled bands to spine with central gilt fleurons, a. e. g.; marbled endpapers. Marginal annotation in early hand to verso of f. 130.

A rare contrafaction, probably by Giovanni or Gregorio De Gregori, of the 1513 Aldine edition of Pontano’s most extensive and original collection of poems on astrology, meteorology, horticulture and pastoral literature. The counterfeit is distinguishable from the Aldine by the absence of the device on title page, of the extensive errata and corrigenda, and of the colophon, at end.

Giovanni Gioviano Pontano (1429-1503) was a poet, humanist, and statesman. He was the presiding spirit of the Academia Pontaniana, and had a long and prosperous career at the court of Naples, as a tutor, political adviser, military secretary and ultimately as chancellor. He was the most innovative and versatile Latin poet of Quattrocento Italy who composed brilliant Latin poetry in many genres and transcribed and annotated the works of several ancient authors. Among his most important works, much appreciated by his contemporaries, are astrological treatises, the elegiac work “De amore coniugali” and the five dialogues that he composed over the thirty-year period from around 1471 until his death. His successor as head of the Academia in Naples, Pietro Summonte, looked after the correct transmission of Pontano’s texts which were published by Filippo de Giunta and Aldo Manuzio.

The present volume opens with Aldo Manuzio’s dedication to Giovanni Kollauer, secretary of the German emperor, and includes: the “Urania, sive de stellis”, a didactic composition in Latin hexameters embodying the astronomical science of the age and adorned with mythological episodes; the “Meteororum Liber”, a scientific work on the sublunary world and the origin of atmospheric phenomena; “De hortis Hesperidum”, dedicated to Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, on the cultivation of various types of citrus trees; the eclogues “Lepidina”, “Meliseus”, “Maeon” and “Acon”, part influenced by Sannazzaro, with the shepherd Meliseus as Pontano’s alter ego; two books of Catullan hendecasyllables; the ”Iambici” and “De tumulis”, on the topic of death, both inspired by tragic events (the loss of his children and wife, and of friends and personalities at the Neapolitan court) and modelled on the “Anthology of Planudes”; poems celebrating Pontano’s love for his family and the exploits of Saints and historical figures.

Fascinated with the natural world, Pontano was among the defenders of astrology in the debate started by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. The “Urania” in 5 books deals with three main topics: planets (book 1); fixed stars (books 2-4); the influence of the stars on the various regions and peoples of Earth (book 5). The “De hortis”, whose title recalls the tale of the Garden of the Hesperides, is based on Virgil’s “Georgics” and aims at explaining the presence of the citrus trees in the Neapolitan area; two, other books, addressed to Marino Tomacelli, Pontano’s friend and a member of the Academy, concerns a private episode of the poet’s life, the holidays at the bay of Baia, near Naples, spent with friends, including charming aristocratic women (Ermione, Fannia, etc.).

USTC, 850323; EDIT16, 48450. BM STC It., 533 and BM STC Fr., 361; Baudrier, VII, 19; Brunet, IV, 807; Renouard, 318:4. Houzeau-Lancaster, I, 2334.


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