Venice: Octavianus Scotus, 1484.
2nd Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003514
23 March 1484. Folio (332 x 228 mm). 270 unnumbered leaves, Roman type, 63-65 lines of commentary enclosing the text of the poem, historiated woodcut initials, the "Registro" leaf K6 with large printer's device on recto printed in red and black and with initals "OSM"; title from first line of Proemio, leaf a1v. Signatures: a10 b-z8 &8 A-H8 I-K6. Gathering z is misbound before x1. Bound in 20th century blind-stamped and ruled calf over wooden boards, spine with 5 raised bands. Some scattered small wormholes from the beginning to leaf b5, partially closed on inital text leaf a1, only little even browning throughout, some mainly marginal brown-staining, occasionally more pronounced and affecting text, o4 torn and repaired without loss, possibly a paper flaw, a few short marginal tears mostly repaired, lower fore-corner of "Registro" leaf repaired without loss of letters; old marginal pen annotation in at least two hands, some of which slightly trimmed; old pencil drawing of a man's head in profile to margins of 3 leaves, some passages underscored or highlighted in blue pencil by a further reader. Provenance: the noble Florentine Strozzi family.* "Del heredi di Carlo Andrea Strozzi" (old inscription on front free endpaper); "D. M. Esmeraldo Strozzi" (later signature beneath); old and lengthy inscription in Italian relating to the book's ownership (beneath second signature); Athenaeum Library (blindstamp to front free endpaper and to a few leaves)Despite the minor detractions a fine, wide-margined copy, barely ever found complete as here. ----
SECOND EDITION with the Landino commentary. Cristophoro Landino's edition of Dante's Comedia is the greatest single achievement of fifteenth-century Dante criticism. Although it was not the first printed edition (Foligno, April 1472), or the first printed commentary (Jacopo della Lana, Milan 1478), Landino's (1424-98) commentary published in 1481 was the first vernacular on the Comedia to appear in nearly a century. It was immediately successful and remained the most widely used edition throughout the following century, until being placed on the Index along with the Comedia. Landino's commentary was written in an intellectual atmosphere dominated by Marsilio Ficino's Christian Platonism. As such, it is concerned with uncovering the hidden spiritual meaning of what Ficino himself called Dante's "pious work." Where Landino's predecessors interpreted the Comedia as a vision or as an eschatological work whose purpose it was to remove men from their present state of misery, Landino saw Dante's pilgrimage as an allegory of the upward movement of the human soul freed from the domination of the senses, and striving for moral and intellectual fullness. Landino lauds Dante, not only for restoring the poetry of the ancients, but for his use of the vernacular. Indeed, these early editions of Dante almost single-handedly promoted the Tuscan dialect into a national language, effectively establishing an Italian literature.
"'The Divine Comedy' of Dante could have been written at no other time than at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It was essentially an age of freedom and daring in thought and speech, which it was natural to express in verse. To this Dante added a deep knowledge of the learning of his time, and he was himself a profound and original political thinker whose ideals outran the strifes and feuds which divided Italy, to which, however, we owe his best work. For it was the total downfall of his political hopes on 27 January 1302 that condemned Dante to perpetual exile and turned him to the writing of the epic which begins with the vision of himself lost in a forest, his way barred by a wolf, a lion and a leopard on the Thursday before Easter, 1300. Dante's theme, the greatest yet attempted in poetry, was to explain and justify the Christian cosmos through the allegory of a pilgrimage. To him comes Virgil ..., the symbol of philosophy, to guide him through the two lower realms of the next world, which are divided according to the classifications of the 'Ethics' of Aristotle ... Hell is seen as an inverted cone with its point where lies Lucifer fixed in ice at the centre of the world, and the pilgrimage from it a climb to the foot of and then up the Purgatorial Mountain. Along the way Dante passes Popes, Kings and Emperors, poets, warriors and citizens of Florence, expiating the sins of their life on earth. On the summit is the Earthly Paradise where Beatrice meets them and Virgil departs. Dante is now led through the various spheres of heaven, and the poem ends with a vision of the Deity. The audacity of his theme, the success of its treatment, the beauty and majesty of his verse, have ensured that his poem never lost its reputation.The picture of divine justice is entirely unclouded by Dante's own political prejudices, and his language never falls short of what he describes . . . The epithet 'Divina' was not added till 1555, when it appears on the title-page of Lodovico Dolce's edition." (PMM 8).
*Senator Carlo Strozzi (1587-1671) formed an important library and collected a valuable miscellany known as the Carte Strozziane, of which the most important part is now in the state archives of Florence. He was the author of a Storietta della città di Firenze dal 1219 al 1292 (unpublished) and a Storia della casa Barberini (Rome, 1640).
References: BMC V 279; ISTC id00030000; Goff D-30; GW 7967; Hain-Copinger 5947; IGI 361; Mambelli 11; Oates 1825; Proctor 4581; cf. PMM, Printing and the Mind of Man, 8.
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