AUGURELLUS, Jo. Aurelius.

Venice, in aedibus Aldi., April 1505

Octavo (161 x 97 mm.), 128 unnumbered leaves with two blanks at the beginning and at the end, Aldus's device on the last leaf. Contemporary limp vellum, gauffred gilt edges.A very fine compy with contemporary manuscript note on the first blank leaf.First Aldine edition of Augurellus' Latin poems, “beautiful and rare” (Renouard). It is the only edition of Neo-Latin lyric poems figuring within the famous Aldine Classics series in octavo format, which proves the good reputation enjoyed by the author and specially by his Latin production among the contemporaries.Giovanni Aurelio Augurelli, also called Augurello (1456-1524), was an Italian humanist and a poet, who devoted his life to Classical studies, teaching and literature. Recognized during his lifetime as one of the most learned humanists of his generation, he was an intimate friend of Bernardo and Pietro Bembo, knew Marsilio Ficino and Politian and frequented the main humanistic circles in Florence, Padua, and Venice. While in Padua, he studied Petrarch under Gian Giorgio Trissino; on that occasion, he developed an original Petrarchism, which later found expression in his vernacular poems. Persuaded of the need to strengthen the studies on literary vernacular language, he was among those who supported and encouraged Pietro Bembo to write a pivotal work of Renaissance literature such as the Prose della volgar lingua.Articulating his collection of Latin poems in metrical genres, Augurellus intended it as an homage to Horace, the leading lyric poet of Roman Classical literature and the undisputed model of Latin lyric poetry during Humanism. Indeed, Horace's poems are recalled in the titles given to the three sections of the work, that is, respectively, the iambi (in three books), the sermones (in two books), the carmina (in two books). The collection includes verses composed for a variety of occasions and addressed to patrons, friends, and social contacts, so that they represent an important biographical source for the author himself. “It is an elegant poetry, demonstrating a mastery of the language and an ease of versification” (Weiss); in fact, a modern reader could retain the impression that sentiments are quite superficial and that the virtue of the collection lies precisely in its rhetorical dimension. Of special significance is the poem in hexameters Chrysopoeia (‘the art of producing gold'), later developed and published as a single work in 1515; its importance lies in the fact that not only it is the first alchemical poem in Latin, but also, when considered in relation to the previous tradition, stands out as a very turning point in the production of alchemical works.References: Renouard, 49; Adams A-2152; Ahmanson-Murphy 73; Kallendorf-Wells 81; IA 110036.; R. Weiss, in DBI 4 (1962); M. Ciardi, Letteratura, arte e alchimia. La Chrysopoeia di Giovanni Aurelio Augurelli, in Atti del XVI convegno nazionale di storia e fondamenti della chimica, 2016, 11-23.


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