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Lot 0006

Trissino, Gian Giorgio. La Sophonisba del Trissino. [without date, without printer but Venice: De Gregori, 1526]

8vo (145x100 mm), 18th century stiff vellum, gilt-lettered title at spine, blue edges, ff. 39, [1].
Elegant woodcut border at title-page.

Very scarce anonymous edition of Trissino's tragedy Sophonisba, probably printed in Venice by Gregorio de Gregori.

Sofonisba was published for the first time in Rome in 1524. Written between 1514 and 1515, is the first regular tragedy of Italian literature, which is the first work in a European language that aims to revive the canons of classical Greek tragedy. It served as an example for European tragedies throughout the 16th century.

Masinissa, son of Gala, king of the Masaesyli of western Numidia (present day Algeria) , after having fought gloriously in Spain by the Carthaginians against the Romans in 211 BC, when his father died was forced to return to Africa to restore his power. Lost the kingdom against Syphax, king of Numidia, he makes an alliance with the Romans and with his own cavalry contributes to the Roman victories until the battle on the river Ampsaga in 204 BC, in which Syphax was taken prisoner after the loss of the capital of his state, Cirta. Here it engages the historical episode of Sophonisba, Syphax's wife and daughter of the Carthaginian Hasdrubal, which conducted as a prisoner to the camp of Scipio, kills herself with the poison.

Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478-1550), was an Italian Renaissance humanist, poet, dramatist, diplomat, and grammarian. He had the advantages of a good humanistic training, studying Greek under Demetrius Chalcondylas at Milan and philosophy under Niccolò Leoniceno at Ferrara. His culture recommended him to the humanist Pope Leo X, who in 1515 sent him to Germany as his nuncio; later on Pope Clement VII showed him special favour, and employed him as ambassador.
In 1532, the Emperor Charles V made Trissino a count palatine. In spite of the banishment from Vicenza pronounced upon him in 1509 because his family had favoured the plans of Maximilian, he was held in high esteem throughout Italy. Wherever he made his home, it was a center for gatherings of scholars, litterateurs, and the most cultured men of the time. His family life was far from happy, apparently through little fault of his own.
In the history of modern European literature Trissino occupies a prominent place because of his tragedy Sophonisba (c. 1515; published 1524). Based on the life of the Carthaginian lady Sophonisba and inspired by ancient tragedies, it was perhaps the first tragedy in early modern times to show deference to the classic rules.

He was one of the many who engaged in the discussion as to what is true literary Italian. Following the lead of Dante, he advocated the enrichment of the Italian language, and espoused in his Castellano (1529) the theory that the language is a courtly one made up of contributions from the refined centers in Italy; instead of being fundamentally of Tuscan origin.

Provenance: Owner's inscription Marcus Antonius... at title-page (faded).

References: Cnce, 67633. OCLC, 67406939 (apparently only one copy of this edition in USA, located in the University of Michigan). F. M. Galante (editor), Edizioni di opere di Giangiorgio Trissino esposte in occasione del convegno, in «Convegno di studi su Giangiorgio Trissino», Neri Pozza, 1980, p. 240.


Light traces of foxing, but a good copy.

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[Theatre, Tragedy] Trissino, Sofonisba, [1526]

Estimate €500 - €600
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via Enrico Toti 1
Verona, 37129
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