Some reflections on the illustrated editions of the Italian translation of Celestina

Some weeks ago, after deciding that the banner image of PATRIMONiT looked similar to the woodcuts of the Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1519 edition of the Italian translation of Celestina, I entered a frenzy and decided to look for woodcuts that could be attributed to the same artist in sixteenth-century Italian non-Celestina editions. This proved to be a bad take, since the woodcuts of the Venice 1519 edition belong to the kind of scenes that were mass-produced, without particular traits. The artist could have been anyone. The only characteristic that kept catching my attention was that women used to wear a gown with a square cut neckline and the very same hairstyle.

Look at both young women and tell me they do not look similar: Title pages of Celestina. Tragicomedia de Calisto e Melibea (Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1519) and Stramboti composti novamente da diversi auctori che sono in preposito a ciaschuno che e ferito damore (Venice, s.i., ca. 1525).

Checking the hairstyles and necklines of some hundreds of woodcuts led me to a particularly interesting one: the Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae in Latin. But I lost my interest in the female character to the left very quickly. The archs in the background became much more relevant. The archs in the background are characteristic of the inner illustrations of Arrivabene’s edition of the Italian translation of Celestina.

Fol. CXXXVv, Comoediae (Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518) and fol. XXXII, Tragicomedia de Calisto e Melibea (Venice, Cesare Arribavene, 1519). For this last woodcut, I recommend checking a former post on how this edition exists in two states, one with this woodcut and one without it.

Even more interesting was that the archs were not exclusive of the above woodcut, but a common feature to most woodcuts of the Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae in Latin.

Look at all these archs in the background!

Provided that Sessa’s edition precedes Arrivabene’s edition by one year, could it have been a model for the woodcuts? At first glance, this seemed a quite logical conclusion. Not for nothing, Marchiò Sessa printed the Italian translation of Celestina in 1531, with Arrevabene’s woodblocks. There could have been some kind of relationship before that. However, I was to discover that Terence’s Comoediae in Latin were also printed with a very similar set of illustrations. In it, archs are replaced by curtains and columns, but the effect and the composition are quite similar.

Comoediae (Milano, Augustinum de Vicomercat, 1521). But the curtain thing goes back to the Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1504 edition.

Although I still believe that there is a strong point in favour of Sessa’s influence over Arrivabene’s woodcuts, what I find more interesting is that the Italian translation of Celestina is being illustrated according to a characteristically Italian way of illustrating Terence’s and Plautus’ Comoediae. From this point of view, Celestina is being equaled to Roman comedy.

This is not something new to Celestina. I do not need to remember how Griffin found a model for the woodcuts of the Burgos Comedia in the German illustrated editions of Terence. But it is interesting from the point of view of how Italian printers moved from the factotum figures model of Terence’s German editions to something very much of their own. Not that the factotum figures were unknown in Italy. In fact, they were used in the Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1511 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae.

Comoediae (Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1511)

This might explain why the printers of the Italian translation of Celestina had no trouble moving to the Spanish series of factotum figures and woodcuts in 1541.

In any case, what interests me most is that serendipity plays a big role in research. Were it not for a banner in an internet site, I could have missed these relationships completely. By mere chance, now I do have a great point of departure for further investigations.

Catalogue entries of copies of the Italian translation of Celestina not in my revision of Scoles’ catalogue

As part of the preliminar work for my current research I am revisiting my catalogue of the known editions of the Italian translation of Celestina (recently made available at CORE, because it does not seem as if I will be working on that for a while). Even if I thought that it was quite complete, I have found new copies in the on-line catalogues of different American and European libraries. Here is the list (26 “new”copies):

  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Roma, Eucario Silber, 29th of January 1506 (R06): 4 “new” copies

    1. Madrid, Biblioteca de D. Francisco Zabálburu (last leaves wanting)
    2. Trent, Biblioteca Diocesana Vigilianum, dvgg2Y 106 (no title page)
    3. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka, 6.19.4.87
    4. Santander, Biblioteca de Menéndez Pelayo, 30.023 (first leaves wanting)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Vicenzo Minuziano, January 1515 (M15): 4 “new” copies

    1. Huesca, Biblioteca Pública del Estado (according to CCPB)
    2. Milan, Biblioteca Sormani, VET.F VET.493
    3. Orvierto, Biblioteca Pubblica Luigi Fumi (according to EDIT16)
    4. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Milan, Ioanne Angelo Scinzenzeler, 16th March 1519 (M19): 1 “new” copy

    1. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, R/11194
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Cesare Arrivabene, 10th of December 1519 (V19): 3 “new” copies

    1. Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, L 11.4.3
    2. Venice, Biblioteca del Museo Correr, INC. I 116
    3. Como, Biblioteca Comunale (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Gregorio de Gregori, November 1525 (V25a): 3 “new” copies

    1. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)
    2. Prague, Národni Knihovna České Republiky, 9 K 547 (not in the on-line catalogue but in Google Books)
    3. Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, 137 P c Celestina (not sure if V25a, V25b or V25c)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Francesco Caron, November 1525 (V25b): 1 “new” copy

    1. Verona, Seminario Vescovile (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, [Venecia], Marchiò Sessa, 10th of February 1531 (V31a): 3 “new” copies

    1. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, PQ6427 .I8 1531 (ejemplar digitalizado en Archive.org y Hathi Trust)
    2. Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, F.DORIA 3. 27
    3. Semur-en-Auxois, Bibliothèque Municipale, I XI 2263
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Francesco di Alessandro Bindoni e Maffeo Pasini, June 1531 (V31b): 1 “new” copy

    1. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka, 6.17.7.47
  • Tragicocomedia de Calisto y Melibea, [Venecia], Pietro de Nicolini da Sabio, julio de 1535 (V35): 3 “new” copies

    1. Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 8° 44885 (lost since 1958)
    2. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka, 6.17.7.48
    3. Verona, Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia de Calisto y Melibea, [Venecia], Giovanni Antonio e Pietro de Nicolini da Sabio, marzo de 1541 (V41): 3 “new” copies

    1. Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 8° 44535-1 [Res]
    2. Paris, Univeristé de la Sorbonne, RXVIB 6= 30
    3. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)

My resources: Revised catalogue of the editions of the Italian translation of Celestina

Following an interesting Twitter discussion started by our fellow medievalist Clara Jáuregui (whose blog can be read here), I decided to heed the advice given there and upload my revision of the catalogue of the editions of the Italian translation of Celestina by Emma Scoles to CORE, the digital repository of Humanities Commons.

Screenshot_CORE

In it, celestinesque scholars will find information on the known editions of the Italian translation of Celestina by Alphonso Hordognez, with or without known surviving copies, and on their current location. This catalogue identifies ghost editions and potentially lost editions, and provides extensive bibliographical information on the editorial history of Celestina in Italian as well.

This research dates from 2012 and my ideas on the topic might have changed since then, but it should still be up-to-date regarding the number of known copies and their location, although some of the links might be outdated. I aim to complete this catalogue some time with a preliminary study on the editorial history of Celestina in Italy and more detailed informations on the particular editions, however, I felt that it was a shame to keep this useful research tool to myself for so long. Luckily, CORE offers the opportunity to share unpublished work in a quotable way. So, please, take this as a late-Christmas present and feel free to use my catalogue for your research.

Ecdotics: Working on the textual filiation of the early editions of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina into Italian

As I am currently working on the textual relation between Christof Wirsung’s translations of Celestina into German and their Italian model, I felt the need to create a list of separative errors that I could use as an orientation to determine from which edition of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina Christof Wirsung translated in 1520 and in 1534. The critical apparatus of Kathleen Kish’s 1973 edition1 is not to be blindly trusted, as Beniamino Vignola stated in his review of 19762 and I have verified myself, therefore, I have decided to ellaborate my own critical apparatus and to collate, in a first stage, all editions of the Italian translation of Celestina until 1520, when Wirsung’s first translation was published. Moreover, I have turned this into an occassion for using the on-line version of Juxta, the well-known free collation software, known as Juxta Commons to differientiate between the two.

The most remarkable feature of Juxta Commons so far is the possibility of sharing so-called “comparison sets”, that is, texts and their collations. For you to see how well it works, I have shared the comparison set devoted to Alphonso Hordognez’s dedicatory letter to Gentile Feltria de Campofregoso, in which I have asked the programme to ignore punctuation and capitalisation differences. Despite not having been able to create a filter to ignore irrelevant graphical variants (a feature I would appreciate very much, filtering by variant type), I think that the “heat map” (Juxta Commons’ name for the overlay of the texts with differences highlighted by color) is quite easy to use and gives a good general overview of where differences are.

Although the text corresponding to the 1515 Venetian edition is missing (I have not received my digital copy yet), the above collation offers us some relevant separative errors. These errors leave us so far with a milanese and a venetian branch in the stemma:

  • Milan editions replace “la presente opera” with “questa” in “il nostro auctore per la presente opera chiaramente cel dimostra”
  • Milan editions correct “nobile fortuna” to “mobile fortuna” in “Quali obstano ale adversita dela nobile fortuna” (although this is a correction that could arise independently at any stage of the textual history of the Italian translation of Celestina)
  • Venice 1519 turns “de miei falli” into “degli error miei”

In general, I think Juxta Commons serves its purpose well, although I miss the “attach image” option of the desktop edition and being able to ascribe variants to different categories and filter by them. Having created this collation set from plain text files, I am considering using TEI-encoded files the next time. However, I cannot still figure out which features of TEI-encoding would improve this collation set, as I am exclusively interested in separative errors. Any suggestions?


1Kish, Kathleen (ed.), (1973), An edition of the first Italian translation of the “Celestina” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

2Vignola, Beniamino (1976), “Su un’edizione della prima traduzione italiana della Celestina“, Cultura Neolatina XXXVI, pp. 129-137.

My resources collection: Digital editions. Alphonso Hordognez’s translation into Italian.

Alphonso Hordognez finished translating Celestina into Italian some time in 1505. His translation was first printed in 1506 in Rome (there will be time another day to discuss if there was a 1505 edition) and, since then, it knew several editions in the first half of the sixteenth century, the last known of which appeared in 1543. Copies belonging to many of these editions have been digitised and are freely available on-line: