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Unpublished Manuscripts of Italian Bestiaries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2020


Before the history of Italian bestiary literature can be satisfactorily written, considerable preliminary work remains to be done. When Lauchert published his Geschichte des Physiologus (Strassburg, 1889), although he devoted a certain amount of space to the poets from the Sicilian school to Ariosto, he was not aware that any bestiaries earlier than that of Leonardo da Vinci existed in Italian prose. Three years later, Goldstaub and Wendriner, Ein Tosco-Venezianischer Bestiarius (Halle, 1892), published the text of a manuscript belonging to the Biblioteca Comunale at Padua, and also an account of seven other manuscripts, all of which are in Florentine libraries. This book (cited hereafter as G-W) is the most comprehensive study of the Italian bestiaries now available, and may safely be taken as the basis for further investigation. The present paper, based in large part on work done in the libraries of Florence, Naples and Paris, is offered as a contribution to the study of the subject, and will, it is hoped, be of value in indicating a large amount of material, including several important manuscripts, which was entirely unknown to Goldstaub and Wendriner. An important phase of the subject, namely, the use of bestiary material by the Italian poets of the thirteenth century, has been investigated by Dr. M. S. Garver, of Yale University, in a dissertation which he hopes to publish soon.

Research Article
PMLA , Volume 20 , Issue 2 , 1905 , pp. 380 - 433
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 1905

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page 380 note 1 See pp. 187-91. Cf. his review of Goldstaub and Wendriner, in Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, 1892, p. 756: Während Bestiarien in Prosa …. in italienischer Sprache bisher nicht bekannt waren, haben in jüngster Zeit die Herausgeber der vorliegenden Publication eine Anzahl von italienischen Bestiarien-Handschriften …. entdeckt.

page 380 note 1 R4 and St, although the former in certain parts does show some relationship to the other mss.; see G-W, p. 104. I disregard also the Bestiario moralizzato, in sonnets of the thirteenth century, published by Monaci in 1889; the Mare amoroso, sometimes ascribed to Brunetto Latini; and the bestiary portion of Cecco d'Ascoli's Acerba, which latter is being studied by Mr. J. P. Rice of Yale University. An unpublished ms. in the Vatican Library, Cod. Capponiano 200, of the fourteenth century, contains, ff. 233-7, “La propietà d’ alcuno animale;” judging from the brief quotation in Salvo-Cozzo, Codici Capponiani della Bib. Vat., Roma, 1897, this text has no relation to our mss.

page 380 note 2 Three in the Riccardian Library, called in G-W: R1; R2, R3; two in the Laurentian: L1, L2; and the text published: P. I keep these symbols, except that I shall call the Padua ms. “Pad “to distinguish it from the Paris ms., “Par.” To the other new mss. I give similar symbols, as N for Naples; St1 for Strozzi, to distinguish from the St of G-W, which might now be called St2; etc.

page 380 note 3 Cf. G-W, pp. 10, 90.

page 380 note 1 Cf. G-W, pp. 327-35.

page 380 note 2 G-W, p. 230.

page 380 note 3 G-W, pp. 222-32.

page 380 note 1 The collection of examples in this ms., which I shall refer to as “Ham,” was published by Tobler, Lateinische Beispielsammlung mit Bildern, in Zeitschrift f. rom. phil., xii, 57-88. Tobler has also published the rest of the ms. in various periodicals, beginning with the Abhandlungen der Akademie zu Berlin, 1883.

page 380 note 2 See Brush, The Isopo Laurenziano, Columbus, 1899, pp. 9, 44, 66. Brush did not use G-W. For description and table of the six mss., see G-W, pp. 74-89.

page 380 note 1 This seems to have escaped the attention of Goldstaub, for there are no references in G-W to the poems of the Cod. Vat. 3793 beyond vol. iii of the edition of D'Ancona and Comparetti, Le Antiche rime volgari, Bologna, 1875-88; whereas the sonnets, containing most of the bestiary material, are in vols. iv and v.

page 380 note 2 D'Ancona e Comparetti, op. cit., vol. iv, p. 379 (No. 682). For a full discussion, see K. McKenzie, A Sonnet ascribed to Chiaro Davanzati and its place in Fable Literature, in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. xiii (1898), pp. 205-20. Cf. p. 217: “He [Chiaro] says enough to show distinctly which type he followed, though we are not able to distinguish his immediate source;” not knowing the text of this fable in R1 and N, the writer was at that time unable to form the theory now put forward.

page 380 note 1 Alfonso Miola, Le Scritture in volgare dei primi tre secoli della lingua ricercate nei codici della Bib. Naz. di Napoli, in Propugnatore, xiv, ii, pp. 161-7. Mentioned also by Frati, Ricerche sul Fiore di Virtù, in Studj di Filologia Romanza, vi (1893), 281; and by Gaspary, Italian Literature (English edition, 1901, p. 370), notes to ch. viii. A list of the fables is given by Brush, Isopo Laurenziano, pp. 25, 41, who makes them number sixteen by including the chapter on the ibis; he speaks of the work as akin to the Fiore di Virtù, and evidently did not know that it was a bestiary, or that other texts of the same fables existed.

page 380 note 1 Chapters 49-61 in R1, most of which are also in R3 and N. See G-W, pp. 109-126, and cf. table below.

page 380 note 1 Antonio Marsand, I Manoscritti italiani della regia biblioteca parigina, Parigi, vol. i, 1835; vol. ii, 1838. See No. 87 in vol. i, (7740; “Qui si comincia il libro degli animali,” etc., membr., 2 col., sec. xv) and No. 709 in vol. ii (77402; same title, membr., 2 col., sec. xiv); and cf. No. 88 (7740 bis; “Cura de’ falconi”). Mazzatinti, Manoscritti italiani delle biblioteche di Francia, Roma, 1886, vol. i, gives our manuscript as No. 450, formerly 77402, and the work on falcons as No. 928, formerly 7740. Marsand distinctly states that there are two mss. of the Libro degli animali.

page 380 note 1 A chapter without heading begins f. 24 a: “Lo pelo delo Lefante ae tale natura che lo fumo che escie de quello pelo si fae fugire,” ecc. I do not count this as a separate chapter, in spite of the fact that it appears to be one in this manuscript, because in R1, R2, R3, N and Ham it is appended to the chapter on the elephant. With it on f. 24 a appears a picture illustrating the characteristic of the stag as found in several other manuscripts; hence I infer that the chapter “Della natura del Ceruo” occupied, with the text of the chapter “Della natura dela pernice,” the lost folio that originally came between f. 23 and f. 24.

page 380 note 1 The unfinished fable of the bull [lion, and goat], f. 29 b, was undoubtedly finished on the next page, now lost, and followed, as in R1, R3, and N, by the fable of the lion's share.

page 380 note 2 This is true in the other manuscripts also, where the explicit follows the fables, and applies to the whole work; that of N has been already given, that of R3 reads (f. 108 b): “Finiscie Ilibro della natura degli animali deo grazias amen.” R1, Pad, and Par have no explicit. That the copyist of Par, at least, regarded the fables merely as so many bestiary-chapters, is indicated by his chapter-headings; e. g., f. 27 a, “Della natura de la cichala” is really the fable of the grass-hopper and the ant.

page 380 note 1 Cf. Lauchert, op. cit., p. 43; Gaston Paris, in Romania, xxii, 626; G-W, pp. 123-6. I have not, to be sure, found the name elsewhere in a form resembling fiucloco; presumably the copyist of Par heard it given orally, and reproduced the sound as best he could.

page 380 note 2 Text, hitherto unpublished, of the chapter on the lion in R1, f. 12 b: Lo leone si è la piu nobile bestia che sie, ed è apellatto signore del‘altre bestie per le nobile chonperacioni ch’ egli a in se. E questa è una delle sue nature, ch’ egli chuopre e disfa le pedate cola choda sua acio che chaciatori no lo trouino ne sapiano la uia onde egli è andatto. La sechonda natura si è che quando egli è ala cima del monte si disiende ala valle per gran força e se alchuno chaciatore s'è pasatto per la uia ond’ egli vane, si lo chonosie per l'odore. E anche n'è un altra che dorme chogli ochi aperti. Anchora n'a un altra, ch‘egli fa i figluoli suoi morti, e stano chosi tre die, e in chapo di tre di viene lo padre e mughia sopra loro si fortemente che lioncini si fano viui. L’ altra natura si è che quando egli mangia se alchuno gli pasase dinanzi e nol guardono in visso si gli lascia andare sanza fargli alchuno male; e s'eglino il guatano in visso, inchontanente chore loro adosso et fa loro quello male che puote. L'altra natura si è che quando egli è nella selua e l'uomo gli passa dinanzi e inginochiglisi a mano gunte e domandigli merciede lo leone a merciede di luy …. (The allegorical interpretation follows. Cf. text of Pad and elaborate discussion, G-W, pp. 24, 167 f., 287 f.)

page 380 note 1 See Century Dictionary, s. v. antelope and antilope; Lauchert, op. cit., pp. 31, 301; G-W, p. 158, etc.; B. Latini, livre I, c. 177; Monaci, Un Bestiario moralizzato, Roma, 1889, No. 11; Odo of Cheriton, in Hervieux, Fabulistes Latins, iv, pp. 191, 327; etc. The animal can be caught only when its horns become entangled in bushes.

page 380 note 1 Cf. B. Latini, Tesoro (i. e., Italian translation by Bono Giamboni, ed. Gaiter, Bologna, 1877) v, cap. 42: Anteleus è una fiera bestia, la quale non può pigliare niuno uomo per alcuno ingegno, chè le sue corna sono grandi, ecc. Also Best. moral., l. c.:

L'antalupo doi corne à ‘la testa

Talienti, acuti e foroti oltra mesura, ecc.

Chiaro Davanzati mentions this animal, which he calls antolosa, twice;

D'Ancona and Comparetti, op. cit., Nos. 205 and 241.

page 380 note 2 Cf. Trattati religiosi e libro de li exempli, ed. Ulrich, Bologna, 1891, No. 23; Cecco d'Ascoli, L'Acerba, Venezia, 1820, iii, 40; and further references given by G-W, p. 203.

page 380 note 3 This is particularly important in connection with Dante's lonza (Inferno i and xvi), a much discussed problem, on which see especially D'Ovidio, Studii sulla Divina Commedia, Milano, 1901, pp. 302–25, 585; and P. Chistoni, La Lonza dantesca, in Miscellanea in onore di A. Graf, Bergamo, 1903, pp. 817-48. I hope to return to this subject at a later time.

page 380 note 4 See Lauchert, op. cit., p. 4; G-W, p. 264.

page 380 note 1 See G-W, pp. 109-26, 222 ff. The chapters in question are Nos. 47 and 49-60 in R1. Of these, 50 and 55 appear in Par (see table below). One characteristic of these chapters is references to the Phys. by name.

page 380 note 2 Aulus Gellius, Noct. Att., v, 14; Romulus, also Steinhöwel's Aesop, iii, 1; Gesta Romanorum, ed. Oesterley, No. 104; Jacobs, Fables of Aesop, i, 243. Similar stories in India, cf. Jacobs, Indian Fairy Tales, London, 1892, p. 237. Italian versions, ed. Ghivizzani, No. 41; Uno da Siena, No. 42.

page 380 note 1 Called by Joinville “La Massoure.” De Romanis did not see the meaning of the words a la mensura, and attempted to explain them as equivalent to per frode! These details in the life of St. Louis are mentioned, e. g., by Villani, 1storie Florentine, lib. vii, cap. 37 (“Monsura”).

page 380 note 2 Ch1 says: in de la parte di Damiata. This reading I take to be due to confusion with the capture of Damietta by St. Louis. Ch1 calls the hero of the story “Guelfieri dell’ Astore.”

page 380 note 3 See Romania, x, pp. 459, 591, and xxii, 358; Zeits. f. r. p., xxi, 404. I have not seen the article by Arbellot, Les Chevaliers limousins à la première croisade.

page 380 note 4 Ed. Paul Meyer, Paris, 1875-9, line 7548; see notes in vol. ii, pp. 379, 528. On the chronicle, see Arbellot, Elude historique et bibliographique sur Geoffroy de Vigeois, Limoges, 1888. The story is also in Etienne de Bourbon, ed. Lecoy de la Marche, p. 188.

page 380 note 1 For further references, see A. C. L. Brown, Iwain, in Harvard Studies and Notes, viii (1903), pp. 129-132; Foerster, Ivain, edition of 1902, p. xxvi; W. L. Holland, Crestien de Troyes, Tübingen, 1854, pp. 160-2; Fauriel, Histoire de la poésie provençale, Paris, 1846, ii, 377-80; Michaud, History of the Crusades, New York, 1881, i, p. 180; Maimbourg, Histoire des Croisades, Paris, 1687, i, 269; Johnston, in Proceedings of the Am. Philol. Assn., xxxii (1901), p. li; Revue de l'Orient latin, vii, 334; Hare, Southwestern France, London, 1890, p. 348. Prof. A. C. L. Brown and Prof. W. A. Nitze inform me that they treat this matter in articles on Ivain which they expect to publish during the present year. An important article on Golfier has just appeared: A. Thomas, Le Roman de Gonfier de Lastours, in Romania, xxxiv, 55-65.

page 380 note 2 Goldstaub knew the brief description of Ch1 given by Zambini (see below), but knowing neither ms. itself, nor the extracts in the Effemeridi, nor Par, he was able to make no use of it; cf. G-W, p. 82.

page 380 note 3 Saggio di un Codice Chigiano in lingua d’ Italia del duecento, in Effemeridi letterarie di Roma, nuova serie, tom. ix (1822), pp. 158-65. The article is signed “F. R.,” but the author's name is given by Zambrini. The description reads in part as follows: “Codice veramente antichissimo, in brutta pergamena a due colonne, ornato di magre figure a colori si sconcie, e di siffatta ortografia feminile [!], che non ho mai visto di peggio.” F. R. thought that the manuscript was written “in Sicilia, e degli ultimi anni di Carlo d’ Angiò pria che suonasse a Vespero.” There is a file of this periodical in the Boston Public Library.

page 380 note 1 F. Zambrini, Le Opere volgari a stampa dei secoli xiii e xiv, terza ediz., Bologna, 1866, pp. 400-2, s. v. Saggio; and in subsequent editions; but lacking in the second edition.

page 380 note 1 Loc. cit. In editions subsequent to the third the extracts of R1 are omitted by Zambrini.

page 380 note 2 Otium Senense, in Rivista Critica d. lett. ital., i (1884), 154-7. Teza mentions further a single leaf in the Archivio di Stato at Siena, containing a fragment of the bestiary portion of Cecco d'Ascoli's Acerba (cf. same periodical, ii, 61). Goldstaub knew of the existence of Sn, but did not use it; cf. G-W, p. 256.

page 380 note 3 Loc. cit.; cf. G-W, p. 83.

page 380 note 4 According to Rossi, Il Quattrocento, p. 250, Bernardo Pulci (1438-88), not Luca (1431-70), wrote a poemetto in ottave on the Passion of Christ. Negroponte (the island of Eubœa) was taken by the Turks from the Venetians in 1470; a poem on the subject, printed anonymously at Florence about 1471 and several times reprinted, is the same as the one here mentioned, according to Colomb de Batines, Appunti per la storia lett. d’ Italia, in L'Etruria, I (1851), 599 ff. Jacopo Modesti da Prato is mentioned by I. del Lungo, Prose volgari e poesie lat. e gr. del Poliziano, Firenze, 1867, p. xviii, as a pupil of Poliziano.

page 380 note 1 This mutilation had already been made when the catalogue of the Rossian library was printed,—Catalogus selectissimae bibliothecae Nicolai Rossii, Romae, 1786, No. 27; a note on the title of the bestiary says: “Cum figuriis pictis, quarum multae abscissae sunt.” This catalogue gives a list of the contents; the bestiary is preceded by “Elucidario, o sia Dialogo tra maestro e discepolo in prosa,” and is followed by “Canto dell’ Assunzione di M. Vergine in ottava rima,” which closes the manuscript.

page 380 note 2 See the list given by T. Casini, Appunti sul Fiore di Virtù, in Rivista Critica d. lett. ital., iii (1886), 154-9.

page 380 note 3 Cf. Frati, Bicerche sul Fiore di Virtù, in Studj di Filologia Bomanza, vi (1893), 279.

page 380 note 4 Cf. Varnhagen, Die Quellen der Bestiär-Abschnitte im Fiore di Virtù, in Raccolta di Studi dedicata ad A. D'Ancona, Firenze, 1901, 515-38.

page 380 note 1 Cf. Frati, op. cit., p. 281; and Casini, loc. cit.

page 380 note 2 See G-W, pp. 81 ff., 160 ff. I suggest that this text be called St2, to distinguish it from St1.

page 380 note 3 It was mentioned by Bartoli, Storia della letteratura italiana, iii, 348, Firenze, 1880. Cf. G-W, p. 187.

page 380 note 4 Cf. text of cod. Estense, Frati, op. cit., p. 430.

page 380 note 5 Casini, loc. cit., gives the date as 1368.

page 380 note 1 The two serpente chapters (biscia, aspido) are among those called by G-W interpolations. On these and the other kinds of serpents, see G-W, pp. 116-20, 278, 298-300.

page 380 note 2 Volgarizzamento delle Favole di Galfredo, Bologna, 1866, pp. 249-56. This is the only one of our texts that Ghivizzani knew. Cf. Brush, op. cit., p. 6. Not mentioned in G-W. The manuscript is on paper, and contains 94 folios, about 15 × 20 cm. First come, in prose or verse, legends, etc., of the Virgin and of Saints Giuliana, Barbara, Crestina, Teodora, Cristofano; a short treatise on physiognomy (Fisonomia); a collection of rhyming proverbs alphabetically arranged, such as:

Amor non gia chura ragion ne misura.

Volpe ama frode e femmina lode.

Then a legend of three monks who went to the paradiso diluziano, beginning:

Il paradiso diluziano si e in terra in questo mondo

nelle parti d'oriente ed e sopra vno monte altissimo, ecc.

There are other short pieces before the fables; after them a paraphrase of the Pater noster.

page 380 note 1 Text of Ham given by Tobler in Zeits. xii, as already noted; cf. his references, p. 85. The four tales are in various versions of the Vitae Patrum. The first, second and fourth are in D. Cavalca's Volgarizzamento dette Vite de’ Santi Padri, nos. 139, 140, 128 (Parma, 1841, vol. vi); but the translation, though similar, is not the same. Whether they are in the collection of saints’ lives in R3, ff. 115 a-248 b, I am at present unable to say; R3 contains also a trattato di fisonomia, ff. 70 b-72 a.

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