POSSEVINO, Jean-Baptiste (1552-1622). Dialogo dell’honore … nel quale si tratta a pieno del duello, della nobilità, et di tutti i gradi ne’quali consiste l’honore. Venice: Gabriel Giolito, 1565.
Small 8° (160 x 98mm). Title with woodcut cartouche and printer’s device, larger Giolito device on verso of final leaf, woodcut initials. (Hole in blank area of title, some light staining at lower margins.) Contemporary French limp vellum gilt à la fanfare, covers with large and small compartments surrounding a central oval reserve, the inner compartments tooled with various fleurons, the remaining ground filled with scrolling leaves, ferns, florettes and dots, flat gilt spine similarly tooled, gilt and gauffeured edges within the middle of external edge a crowned heart with an arrow, remains of silk ties (some soiling and an internal tear to upper part of spine, endpapers renewed); modern olive morocco case.
A SUPERB COPY, PRESERVED IN AN EXTRAORDINARY GILT BINDING WITH GAUFFERED EDGES, OF THIS IMPORTANT 16TH-CENTURY ENCYCLOPAEDIC CONVERSATIONAL LEXICON.
First published in 1553 in Venice at the same press as this edition, the text soon became a huge success. The author, Giovanni Battista Possevino, was a learned man from Mantua, where his Piedmontese parents (his father was a goldsmith) had been gradually admitted to the social circles around the famous Renaissance court of the Gonzaga dukes. Born in 1520, Giovanni moved to Rome in the mid-1540s in the service of the Mantuan cardinal Gregorio Cortese. He clearly moved easily in the upper echelons of the clergy, rooted in the most influential, notable and noble families of Italy, because shortly after working for Cortese he became secretary to the papal 'cardinal nipote' Alessandro Farnese and finally to Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este. His professional position and education undoubtedly eased his access to the leading men of letters at the papal court in Rome. It was probably at this time that Possevino composed his Dialogo del l'Honore, a well-organised and structured conversational lexicon that would ease courtly conversation on a broad range of subjects on any given occasion, as it presents complex topics and questions in a concise form, and, most importantly, in Italian rather than Latin.
USTC no. 851110; EDIT 16 26472