Focus on the John Hay Library, Number 6
Featuring new, interesting, and unusual items from the Library's Special Collections


1482 and 1483 editions of Horace with commentary by Landino Foster Horace Collection Bookplate

Artifacts over 500 years old have intrinsic historic interest - who made them? for what purpose? how were they constructed?... While the origins of early printed books have been extensively studied and described, equally of interest, though more difficult to ascertain, is the succession of readers who owned, read and interacted over time with these texts.  The Brown University Library is fortunate to be the present owner of two editions of Horace's Opera with commentary by Cristoforo Landino (1424-1504), which were previously owned and annotated by the Renaissance scholar Pomponius Leto (1425-1497), poet-courtier Bernardo Tasso (1493-1569) and Bernardo's son, Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), greatest Italian poet of the late Renaissance.  Tasso's masterpiece, Gerusalemme Liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"), an epic poem set during the First Crusade, created great controversy among Italian critics some of whom compared it unfavorably to Ludovico Ariosto's chivalric poem Orlando Furioso.  The mounting controversy combined with Tasso's propensity to bouts of mental instability led to his confinement in the hospital (or lunatic asylum) of Saint Anna in 1579.  When he was released in July 1586 he left his books behind, among them presumably the two that have come to Brown. 

In 1904, a year described by Librarian Harry Lyman Koopman as "the richest in the history of the Library ... as regards value of gifts received," forty seven volumes were donated by Dr. James E. Sullivan, the highlight of which was an edition of the Landino Horace published in Venice in 1483.  Attached to the inside front cover of the volume is a sheet of paper which identifies annotations in three hands, Leto and Tasso father and son.  The information on the sheet is said to have been dictated by Giuseppe Angelini on 17 January 1874.  Another loose sheet of paper, also in Italian, further discusses the attribution of the annotations. In an article, "Tasso's Horace, at Brown", published in the Providence Sunday Journal, 1 May 1904, Harry Lyman Koopman describes this text and the  annotations in it by Tasso to Horace's Ars Poetica.  These annotations received further scholarly attention in 1941 when Frederic Wheelock published an analysis of the annotations ascribed to Pomponius Leto in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, LII.

see: Angelini attributions
see: Unidentified note on attributions
see: "Tasso's Horace, at Brown" (pdf format)

In 1926 Dr. Charles Nichols donated a copy of Horace's Opera published in Florence in 1482 with commentary by Cristoforo Landino, from which the 1483 edition above had been pirated. This edition is also annotated by the same three hands.  Torquato Tasso's annotations are confined to the Ars Poetica section. Since Tasso wrote and revised treatises on poetics throughout his career his annotations to Horace's Ars Poetica in the volumes now at Brown are an intriguing subject of study.  These annotations are transcribed, translated, analyzed, and tentatively dated in Rudolph Altrocchi, "Tasso's holograph annotations to Horace's Ars poetica", in PMLA 43:3 (Sept. 1928). 

CLVII (verso) and CLVIII (recto) from Horace. Opera (Florence, 1482) with annotations by Torquato Tasso

See all eight pages of Tasso's annotations to Horace's Ars Poetica.

The annotations conclude with a couplet which occurs nowhere else in Tasso's writings.  In his article Altrocchi describes the progression of tone in the annotations:

We can follow the poet-prisoner of St. Anna in the emotional crescendo occasioned ... by the connotations of the Horatian precepts as he moves from mere literary criticism ... to bitter, passionate indignation at the Florentine pedants ... and as, finally ... he relegates his enemies to eternal flames and gives vent to his utter desperation in a lyric outburst:

Dove mi dica ognun dove fu visto
Di me infelice piu di me piu tristo.

[Where, tell me, where was ever seen
One unhappier, sadder than I.]

 

Couplet by Tasso in the margin on page CLXIII (recto) of Horace. Opera (Florence, 1482).

These two volumes were to be the foundation of a strong collection of Horace's works at Brown, for in 1934 Julia Foster, widow of William Eaton Foster, Class of 1873 and Librarian of the Providence Public Library from 1877 to 1930, presented one volume of her husband's collection, Horace's Opera (Florence, 1482), to the Library as a token of her intent to donate the entire collection. This second copy of the Landino Horace is also heavily annotated but by an unknown hand.  The opening leaf with illuminated initial and coat of arms is shown below.  

Horace. Opera (Florence, 1482).  Foster Horace Collection copy.

The entire 600 volume Foster Horace Collection with its finely printed editions from the presses of Aldus, Elsevir, Estienne, Plantin, Baskerville, Bodoni, Didot and others came to Brown in 1940.  The collection bookplate appears at the top of this page. For further information on the Foster Horace Collection see the article by Ben C. Clough (1889-1975), professor of English and Classics and curator of the Josiah Carberry papers inBooks at Brown, Vol. V, No. 2, December 1942 (pdf format).


Sources:

Catalog records: 1482 Florence edition | 1483 Venice edition

Rudolph Altrocchi, "Tasso's holograph annotations to Horace's Ars poetica", PMLA 43:3 (Sept. 1928), pp. 931-952 (Rock 1-SIZE PB6 .M6 and forthcoming on JSTOR for Brown users)

Frederic Wheelock, "Leto's hand and Tasso's Horace", [Cambridge] Harvard University Press, 1941, Reprinted from Harvard studies in classical philology, LII (Rock PA6411.Z5 W4 )

PMLA : Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Vol. 115, no. 7 (Dec. 2000), Special Millennium Issue. New York, N.Y. : Modern Language Association of America, 2000.  Facsimile on p. 1827 reproduces page from Brown University copy of Cristoforo Landino, In Q. Horatii Flacci Carmina interpretationes, 1482 (Foster Horace Collection, RARE 1-SIZE PA6393 .A2 1482) with annotations by Torquato Tasso. Facsimile originally printed in PMLA 43:3 (Sept. 1928), opp. p. 934, illustrating Rudolph Altrocchi, "Tasso's holograph annotations to Horace's Ars poetica".  (Hay Foster 1-SIZE PA6393 .A2 1482a)

Harry Lyman Koopman.  "Report of the Librarian to the President of Brown University", 1903/04. (1-X B81a University Archives)

Gerusalemme Liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered")
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #13 (Berkeley Digital Library)
Published 1581 in Parma, Italy. Translated by Edward Fairfax (1560-1635); translation first published in London, 1600. 
The text of the online edition is based on that edited by Henry Morley, LL.D. (New York, 1901).


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