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Lot 0307

BOCCALINI, TRAIANO-TACITUS. Commentarii di Traiano Boccalini Romano sopra Cornelio Tacito, come sono stati lasciati dall'Autore. Cosmopoli, Appresso Giovanni Battista della Piazza, 1677.

[bound with:]

BOCCALINI, TRAIANO. Osservationi di Traiano Boccalini Romano sopra il primo libro dell'Historia di Cornelio Tacito.

[bound with:]

BOCCALINI, TRAIANO. Considerationi di Traiano Boccalini Romano sopra la vita di Giulio Agricola scritta da Cornelio Tacito.

4to (242x190 mm), original paperboards, covered with contemporary colored paper (light traces of use), pp. (8), 519, (1, blank), 262, (2, blanks), 47, (1, blank).

First edition of this important commentary on Tacitus, printed with the fictitious place "Cosmopoli".

Boccalini was refused permission to print his book by the ecclesiastical censors. In 1627 his children showed it to the Venetian Council of Ten, which considered the work too inflamatory to print, but granted them a pension in return for the surrender of their father's manuscript. In spite of this, the children sold copies and the book circulated widely in manuscript form before finally finding its way into print in 1677 under a fictitious 'In Cosmopoli' imprint (see Dizionario biografico degli italiani XI pp. 16-17).

Between 1580 and 1700, more than 100 authors wrote commentaries on Tacitus, the majority political, of which surely the most brilliant [is the work] of Traiano Boccalini written around the year 1600. The author spent much of his life as a judge in a Roman tribunal and as an administrator in the Papal States. However, his sympathies, in the political and ideological conflicts of the early seventeenth century, were not with Rome but with the republic of Venice, «the honour and the strength of Italy», a «miraculous city» which has «the divine benefit of liberty» and a model government, including, so he claimed, an aristocracy uncorrupted by luxury. Boccalini disliked monarchies in B-Continental and hated Spain in particular as a cruel and despotic regime which reminded him of Rome under Tiberius.

In an age of absolute monarchs, powerful favourites and bloody civil wars, the Roman histories of Tacitus had a particular resonance and his writings were scoured for historical lessons. As Burke states: «His ironic manner reveals a contempt for flattery and other forms of servility and also a certain impatience with theory, but leaves ambiguous his attitude to the Roman monarchy. Although he obviously disliked what went with it, Tacitus may well have regarded the institution as the lesser evil. As a result of his ambiguity he could be claimed as an ally by both the opponents and the supporters of monarchy in early modern Europe. The parallels between the Rome of Tiberius and the courts of early modern Europe were constantly made explicit, whether the commentators believed that human nature never changes, or, with Lipsius and Montaigne, that Tacitus was of particular relevance to their own troubled times».

References: BL, Italian p. 118. Burke, Tacitism, scepticism, and reason of state, in Burns (editor), Cambridge history of political thought 1450-1700, pp. 484-487. IT\ICCU\TO0E\001666. OCLC, 496661619.


A very fine and untrimmed copy.

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[Roman History, Forbidden Books] Tacitus, 1677

Estimate €700 - €900
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