RICCI, Bartolomeo

RICCI, Bartolomeo. Epistolarum familiarium libri VIII.

Bologna, s.n., 1560




£ 185


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 186 (=176), † A-Y8, lacking six leaves at the end (Y2-Y7). Roman letter, some Italic. Early ms. ex libris on title page, old red wax seal with “IESUS MARIA” stamped on it, handwritten numbers at top of page. Woodcut initials. Disbound, last quire detached, of which only first and final leaf remaining.


This is the first and only edition of this collection of letters from Bartolomeo Ricci da Lugo (1490-1569) – the mentor to Prince Alfonso d’Este – to fellow humanists and people within the family circle. Ricci left several speeches and letters, together with a famous treatise on the stylistic imitation of the Latin classics, known as the ‘Apparatus’. This book offered readers a tool to refine their knowledge of Latin, using exclusively classical examples and it was published following the favourable judgement of Pietro Bembo, the theorist of modern Italian. Both Bembo and Ricci thought that the purest Latin prose should imitate the style of Cicero, as close as possible.


This view was broadly shared by sixteenth-century Italian humanists. Because of their efforts to imitate Cicero, many of them were regarded as pedantic emulators of the sort mocked by Erasmus in his ‘Ciceronianus’. The present work starts with a letter about the writer’s love for his homeland, the city of Ferrara, and its ruling family, the Estensi. There follows a letter to the reader about the power of letters to transmit moral teachings effectively.


Bibliography: Not in Adams. EDIT16 47594; USTC 852423.