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Lot 0222

Cassi, Francesco. La Farsaglia di M. Anneo Lucano volgarizzata dal conte Francesco Cassi. Pesaro, dalla Tipografia di Annesio Nobili, 1826.

2 vols bound together in 4to, contemporary half calf, gilt title and decorations at spine, pp. XII 248; (4), (8) 360 (8).

Splendid Pesaro imprint of the first edition of Cassi translation of Lucan's Pharsalia.

Lucan's Pharsalia was probably the most famous epic poem of the Roman Age after the Aeneid, telling the happenings of the Civil war between Caesar and Pompey and the end of the Republic. Lucan's poem was one of Dante's favourites, who put plenty of its characters in his Divin Comedy.

Lucan's Pharsalia has been one of the most appreciated Latin poems of epic matter, perhaps the most loved after Virgil's Iliad. It tells the struggle between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great, that lead to the end of the Republic and put the basis for the following age of Empire. The title, Pharsalia, recalls the Battle of Pharsalus, which occurred in 48 B.C. near Pharsalus, Thessaly, in northern Greece, which determined the result of the war. The poet borrows from Senecan tragedy the dark vision of civil war as impious strife between members of the same family rather than merely between citizens of the same society: thus the war is a wicked affront to human decency and the natural order of things.

Although the poem is notionally a historical epic, Lucan was actually more concerned with the significance of events rather than the events themselves. In B-Continental, the events throughout the poem are described in terms of insanity and sacrilege, and most of the main characters are terribly flawed and unattractive: Caesar, for example, is cruel and vindictive, while Pompey is ineffective and uninspiring. The battle scenes are not depicted as glorious occasions full of heroism and honour, but rather as portraits of bloody horror, where nature is ravaged in order to build terrible siege engines and where wild animals tear mercilessly at the flesh of the dead.

The Italian poet Dante, master of the Middle Age poetry, considered the Pharsalia one of the greatest Latin epics. Therefore many characters of this poem can be find in the Comoedia as well, with specific intents: the Thessalian witch Erichtho, for example, who in the Pharsalia predicts the result of the battle of Pharsalus to Pompey's son, is quoted by Virgil that tells how she had obliged him to go down in hell in order to pick up a spirit for her: this would be the reason for his knowledge of the place, that enables him to lead Dante in his voyage.

Marcus Anneus Lucanus (39-65 A.D.), known in English as Lucan, was a Roman poet born in the Spanish province, whose short life and skill of composition made him one of the outstanding figures of the Roman Empire. Born into a wealthy family, he studied rhetoric at Athens and was probably PROVIDED WITH A PHILOSOPHICAL AND STOIC EDUCATION BY HIS UNCLE SENECA. LUCAN BECAME ONE OF THE EMPEROR NERO'S CLOSE FRIENDS and was rewarded with a quaestorship in advance of the legal age. In 60 A.D., he won a prize for extemporizing Orpheus and Laudes Neronis at the quinquennial Neronia, and was again rewarded when the emperor appointed him to the augurate. Approximately this age, he circulated the first three books of his epic poem, Pharsalia (usually called also De Bello civili), which told the story of the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey which marked the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire. It was maybe the negative judgement on Caesar's rise to the power and the imperial institution that emerges from the poem that caused the breaking up of Nero's friendship to Lucan, but it is not certain; what history says is that in 65 A.D. the poet joined the conspiracy organized by Gaius Calpurnius Piso against the emperor and, when his treason was discovered, he was forced to commit suicide at the age of 26.

For Italian collectors:

Splendida e marginosa impressione pesarese della prima edizione della traduzione di Francesco Cassi della Pharsalia di Lucano.

La pubblicazione della traduzione del Cassi fu assai travagliata e impiegò molti anni ad essere completata: tra i sottoscrittori che si impegnarono a finanziarla Giacomo Leopardi, Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi, Luigi Cibrario, Benassù Montanari, Pompeo Litta, Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Pietro Giordani, G.P. Vieusseux, Cesare Arici.


Fine copy.

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[Roman History, Pesaro imprint] Cassi, Farsaglia, 1826

Estimate €200 - €250
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