La Geneologia de gli Dei de’ gentili

BOCCACCIO, Giovanni (1313-1375) – BETUSSI, Giuseppe, trans. (c. 1512-c. 1573)

Published by Giovanni Antonio Bertano, Venice, 1574
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Bibliographic Details


Title: La Geneologia de gli Dei de’ gentili

Publisher: Giovanni Antonio Bertano, Venice

Publication Date: 1574

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: Very Good

Description:

4to (204 x 148mm). [1], [16] 263pp., [2] leaves, including final blank. Signatures: A-KK (8). Front flyleaf with likely 18th-century half-title added in manuscript, calligraphic script over undulating ownership inscription on ribbon "De Me Gio[vanni] Agostino Panater" and palm (or quill?) on island in sea with ship (signature repeated on title). Woodcut printer’s device of Bertano of young stork bring food to decrepid parent in the nest and motto on filial piety, "Pietas Homini Tutissima Virtus" (Compassion is the safest power). Few woodcut initials throughout. Italian translation by Giovanni Betussi. Dedicated to Count Collaltino di Collalto. Contemporary limp vellum, ms. title to spine; (spine darkened, head cap chipped with loss, text block loose in binding; intermittent browning, title with old owners’ signatures cancelled, minor marginal worming, added half-title with ink oxidation). The whimsical added title complements this monumental Italian humanist work; a defense of poetry and a synthesis of ancient mythological sources, which justified the study of pagan literature within a Christian context. Betussi’s Italian translation of Boccaccio’s medieval work on progeny in classical times, a veritable mythological encyclopedia that aimed to solve questions about lines of succession. Boccaccio’s Genealogia sought to preserve the past from oblivion by creating an almanac of inter-related families, including the competing noble houses, in order to organize lines of descent. With the Genealogia, Boccaccio aimed to "solve" contradictory accounts of hereditary matters by assuming the existence of pagan gods and organizing their progeny - Jupiter I and Jupiter II, for instance. Perhaps most contentious was Boccaccio’s identification of Demogorgon as the ultimate progenitor of all pagan divinities (description starting on page 5), who was also associated with Satan’s netherworld conspirators. The Genealogia reputedly had been copied and transmitted before its completion, apparently without the consent of Boccaccio. The earliest Latin editions all follow the first of 1472. This is a later edition of Giuseppe Betussi’s Italian translation of the Genealogia; Betussi’s first was printed in Venice by Comino da Trino di Monferrato in 1547. Nearly a dozen subsequent editions follow this date, well into the seventeenth century. Betussi was a prominent man of letters in Padua’s Accademia and was at the avant-garde of those promoting the substitution of Italian for Latin as the language of scholarly literature. To his edition, Betussi added a ten-page biography of Boccaccio and alphabetical indices corresponding to page numbers, not book or chapter. The Genealogia became a standard reference works for readers who wished to disentangle the complexities of Greco-Roman mythology. The work was enormous in scope, covering approximately 950 individuals, groups, and beasts, both named and unnamed, in fifteen books and 723 chapters with over a thousand citations from Greek, Roman, medieval and Trecento authors. Near the end of the sixteenth century, the Genealogia, while mostly out of the public eye, still provided source material for numerous authors including Edmund Spenser and his work on Christianized paganism. This edition rare, OCLC lists one other in Toulouse. Bookseller Inventory # D11148

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