(Rome: Valerio & Luigi Dorico; Venice: Tolomeo Gianicolo, 1547-48). 183 x 96 mm. (6 3/8 x 3 3/4"). 8 p.l., 175, [1] (blank), 181, [3], 184, [6] leaves (final blank). Three volumes bound in one. FIRST EDITION.

Appealing period-style Venetian red morocco, gilt, by Francis Bedford, covers framed by gilt and blind rules, gilt leaves at corners, gilt lettering in central panel, raised bands decorated with gilt, panels tooled in blind with floral rolls, gilt-ruled turn-ins, edges gilt and elaborately gauffered. Title within architectural woodcut frame, printer's full-page Golden Fleece device at end of second and third parts, a double-page diagram showing Belisarius' camp, and a double-page woodcut map of Rome. Adams T-954. A little wear to joints, spine lightly (but uniformly) sunned, short faint scratch to lower cover, leaves lightly pressed (in keeping with bibliophilic fashion at the time of binding), but not washed; A VERY FINE COPY with only trivial imperfections, especially smooth, clean, fresh, and bright internally.

This is the scarce first printing, unexpurgated, of the first serious epic in Italian, produced by Trissino (1478-1550) after many years of labor. Following Aristotelian rules and borrowing from the manner of Homer, Trissino felt that this work would not only bring something of the divine essence of Ancient Greek to Italian literature, but also supersede Ariosto's unworthy "Orlando Furioso," written for a vulgar audience, with something more elevated. This edition contains passages--later taken out--that show an anticlerical bias (the Papacy, for example, is rebuked for selling bishoprics and benefices). Besides its distinction as an epic in the vernacular, the present work is also of interest typographically. It was printed in a mixture of italic and Greek letters (the "o" becomes an omega, the "e" an epsilon) because of the author's belief that such a hybrid would aid in the reader's understanding of pronunciation, a subject on which Trissino had written extensively in his important "Il Castellano della Lingua Italiana," a dialogue on the relative merits of the several Italian idioms. He also makes the now-standard distinction between the letters "u" and "v," which were then interchangeable. Our binding, by accomplished 19th century craftsman Francis Bedford, reflects the style of Venetian bindings at the time of publication.

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PJP Catalog: NY19BF.066