I sei primi libri dell’Eneide… tradotti à piu illustre et honorate Donne. Et tra l’altre à la nobilissima et divina Madonna Aurelia Tolomei de Borghesi.

Venice, Giovanni Padovano [Federico Torresano & Niccolò Zoppino], 1544


8vo. ff. 24, 23, (i), 20, 19, (i), 27, (i), 25, (vii). Italic letter, a little Roman, illustrated frontispiece incorporating medallion portraits of Emperors, Roman soldiers and politicians, woodcut portrait of the author preceding each book and 21 other woodcuts in the text, representing scenes from the poem, such as Aeneas telling the story of the siege of Troy (book 2), the tomb of Polydor, youngest son of Priam (book 3), etc. Minor tear to lower margin of title page, some pages mis-numbered, light age yellowing, occasional spotting and soiling, light marginal damp staining affecting last two quires. A good copy in elegant C19th century brown morocco, gilt panelled covers, Aldine device stamped in blind, gilt title to spine in compartments, a.e.g., marbled Bookplate of Sir Edward Sullivan, 1st Baronet (1822-1885) and Milltown Park Library labels.

A rare and beautifully illustrated poetic translation of the first six books of Aeneid, first published by Comin da Trino in 1540. This multi authored work with each book dedicated to a different Tuscan noblewoman and with overall dedication to Aurelia Tolomei, was very popular in the 16th century and had several reprints. It was composed within the Sienese Academia degli Intronati, traditionally associated with the use of the vernacular which promoted a program of translations of the Classics addressed to a mainly female reading public. The dedicatees of the translation were Sienese women who composed poetry in the Petrarchan style, but were also engaged with contemporary politics and extremely well connected intellectuals. The six books were translated by, respectively, Alessandro Sansedoni, Bernardino Borghesi, Bartolomeo Carli Piccolomini, Aldobrando Ceretani, the Florentine Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici and Alessandro Piccolomini. The dedicatees are Aurelia Tolomei, Giulia Petrucci, Aurelia Petrucci, Girolama Carli Piccolomini and the Venetian noblewoman Giulia Gonzaga. The dedicatory letters feature many intertextual introducing the matter of the books: the anger of Juno against Aeneas with the support of Neptune and pity of Dido; the fire of Troy and the escape of Aeneas and his family, his exile and journey throughout Italy and the death of his father Anchises. Most important is the epistle to Eufrasia Placidi de Venturi in book 6. In his dedication Alessandro Piccolomini informs Eufrasia that he completed the translation of Aeneid the previous summer but has not sent it to her because he’s working on his translation of Xenophon’s “Oeconomicon”. The letter contains a comparison between Eufrasia and Aeneas’ golden bough.

RARE. No copies of this issue recorded in the US. Brunet V 1308; Renouard 130: 4 (“rare”). Fontanini includes only 1540 (p. 296). Sander, 7648. Not in USTC. Not in Adams. Not in BM ST (only earlier editions listed). Not in Mortimer, Harvard College Library.


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