Two famous works dealing with the topic of Troy written in captivity in Naples
12 Guido de Columna, Historia destructionis Troiae, in the Italian translation of Francesco Ceffi and Giovanni Boccaccio, Il FilostratoManuscript on paper. Italy, Naples, dated 1414 and 1413.
294 x 220 mm. 177 leaves, foliated from 1-128 in the first part in red ink (127 and 128 blank) and from 2-46 in the second part (first leaf missing), 2 additional blank leaves. I18, II14, III18, IV14,V18,VI14,VII18,VIII14, IX18-1, X10, XI20-2 (2 blank leaves missing). – Written space: 215 x 157 mm, 33-35 lines in the first part. Il Troiano written in a single column, Il Filostrato in double columns.The manuscript is not ruled; only the written space is marked with a frame drawn in pencil on each page.Written space in the second part c. 201 x 188 mm with double columns of 4 stanzas each. Rubrics and five-line initials in red.Watermark: mountain with 3 peaks and cross erected on the top, on 2 additional leaves watermark composed of a sun with 10 rays and the letter B below. One threequarter penwork border in red, one full page pen-and-ink-drawing. – Good condition; first leaves slightly worn. – Red half morocco binding enclosing an older binding: presumably the original limp vellum binding with the inscription Troiano e Filostrato on the front cover; title on spine on a paper label: Il Troiano, shelf mark (57) on the front cover.Worm holes in the wooden boards of the front and back covers.
PROVENANCE: European private collection.
TEXT: On the front pastedown of the vellum binding a poem of 16 lines, below 5 lines with family entries, dating from 1424 back to 1414 – One leaf inserted at the front with a summary of both literary works, the additional poems, and naming the copyist in an 18th-century chancellery script, in Italian. The naming of the scribe Jedice di Guigliadore is accompanied by a handwritten note of a later date Mazzingli – One leaf with a full-page pen-and-ink drawing showing a battle scene in front of a harbour preceding Il Troiano – fol. 1–126: Il Troiano; fol. 127 and 128 blank – New foliation for the Filostrato beginning with 1 again – fol. 2-45v: Il Filostrato (fol. 1 with the title missing) – fol. 45v: A sonata by an unidentified author – fol. 46-47: A poem in terza rima by an unidentified author – fol. 47v-48v blank. Both texts were written by the same hand and close with a detailed colophon. In the Troiano it reads (fol. 126):“Finisce il libro del troiano schritto p(er) me Jedice di Ghuigliadore da Firenze nella prigione della vicheria di Napoli al x° d’aprile 1414. Deo grazias amen.” The colophon at the end of the Filostrato (second foliation fol. 45v) reads: “Finisce I(l) libro del filostrato chopiato p(er) / me Jedice di Ghuigliadore da fi(renz)e / I(n) p(r)igione al xxx di Gienaio 1413 ./. / deo grazias amen ./.” Jedice di Guigliadore has obviously copied the two famous literary works during his time in a Neapolitan prison – an occurrence that is not as rare as one would assume: in a manuscript with Italian poems by Andrea de’ Medici, dated 8 January 1468 (Holkham Hall) an entry is included stating that the manuscript was written in prison (De Ricci 1932, p. 46). The scribe started with the Filostrato, which he finished on 30 January 1413, and he completed the transmission of the history of the destruction of Troy on 10 April 1414. Guigliadore’s handwriting is an easily legible Italic script in brown ink, only occasionally interspersed with abbreviations; the chapter headings and the foliation are rubricated in red. No details about the scribe and his output are known. Guido de Columna a Neapolitan jurist, who spent his life in Messina, wrote his Latin history of the destruction of Troy in the year 1286. Soon translations were edited of this Latin narrative that was widely read at schools due to its easily comprehensible language: in 1324, in the course of the awakening awareness of the power of the vernacular used by Dante, the text was translated into Italian by the Florentine notary Filippo Ceffi. His translation still served as a model in the 15th century, when Guido’s Historia destructionis Troiae was printed for the first time in 1481 in Venice. The works of the Florentine poet Giovanni Boccaccio (1313- 75, cf. also our no. 30) were very popular during his lifetime. In his short epic Filostrato written in 1335-38 the poet adopts one episode from the Trojan saga:Troilus, the son of Priamos, succeeds in winning the love of the widow Cressida, but soon she leaves him in favour of Diomedes. In search of diversion the spurned lover goes to war and is killed on the battlefield. This small episode induces Boccaccio to reflect on the various kinds of love. The Neapolitan codex unites two of the most celebrated 13thand 14th-century literary works dealing with the topic of Troy. The two colophons give a detailed account of the manuscript’s circumstances of production: the scribe Jedice di Guigliadore of Florence was an inmate of the Neapolitan prison when he copied the two books.
ILLUMINATION: It is conceivable that for want of colours whilst in prison Jedice decorated the first page of the Troiano with a three-quarter border of red penwork. An uncoloured full-page pen-and-ink drawing depicting a battle scene precedes the Troiano text. In front of the city wall with fortified towers of the seaport Tenedon – one can make out a lighthouse and three sailboats sailing with the wind – two enemy cavalry regiments have gathered together: to the left Achille with his men, to the right Ettore, in whose entourage Troiolo is killed in the battle with Achilles. The illuminator has created an attractive setting for this scene and skilfully arranged the different components. Ships and buildings form the background for the assembly of the cavalry regiments that have moved into position, in full armour and with closed visors.The first row of warriors with Achilles, Hector and Troilus is rendered in full length in front of a sea of helmets. On stylistic grounds this pen-and-ink drawing can clearly be associated with contemporary Neapolitan painting.
LITERATURE: The manuscript is hitherto unpublished.