LAPINI, Frosino. Lettere toscane…in quattro libri
Bologna, Appresso Anselmo Giaccarelli, 1556.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. (viii) 311 (i), (no signature)4 A-T8 V4. Four books bound in one volume. Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut printer’s device on title page (Hercules fighting Hydra with his club; scene framed within an oval composed by branches of palm and olive tree; motto: “Chi non ci vuol fatica non ci nasca”, that is, anybody who cannot be bothered to toil in life, he would better not be born”, with reference to the Greek hero’s labours). Historiated initials in two size and one initial from a third different set (p. 137, I5), full-page diagram on p. 295, (T4), occasional marginal spotting, browning and ink thumb marks, marginal paper flaws to N4, quire Q with dampstaining throughout outer margin. Occasional early ink underlining and marks on margins, the rare recent pencil signs. Bookseller label on front pastedown (Libreria Antiquaria Angelo Gandolfi, Bologna), bookplate of the French bibliophile, palaeographer and librarian Léon Dorez (1864-1922) on verso of front flyleaf, ms. note of acquisition in French on recto: “Léon Dorez avril 1910”. In contemporary limp vellum, rebacked, a little worn and to cover edges, yet a resistant binding.
First edition of this work in four volumes of the Florentine humanist Frosino Lapini (1520-71). A priest and educator, Lapini was a very prolific writer within the Medicean Court. He translated Latin and Greek classics into Italian vernacular, he undertook intense editorial activity of both classics and modern works, and he engaged with the codification of rhetorical and grammatical rules, and pedagogy. These “Tuscan Letters” are a fitting example in order to understand the intellectual profile of the writer, which was informed by passion for educating and teaching, as well as ambition of being a moral philosopher. As regard to the topics and the style, his work is close to Giovanni della Casa’s Galateo (1558). The dedicatory letter introduces it as a collection of epistles sent to his pupils for real, which the author decided to publish in order to avoid them to be disposed or copied. All the letters appear to have been written in Florence or Bologna between 1553 and 1556. Through the ancient genre of the “familiar letters”, Lapini has the opportunity to illustrate a variety of subjects, stretching from the moral themes of the first book (“On good and its virtue”, “On virtue”, etc.) to properly educational topics, exploring a number of compulsory fields within the Renaissance pedagogical literature: among them, the “Govern of the Prince” (I, pp. 81-104), the “Condition of the Servant” (II, pp. 150-52), the “Strength of Honour” (III, pp. 160-164), “Friendship” (III, from pp. 201-12). Particularly remarkable, divided between book III and IV there is a section on the use of language and its regulation (“About holding one’s tongue”, starting at p. 197, and “On language”, from p. 213 onwards).