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Mantuan and Religious Pastoral: Unprinted Versions of His Ninth and Tenth Eclogues*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Lee Piepho
Sweet Briar College


In the dedicatory letter to the first printed edition of his Adulescentia, Baptista Mantuanus (“Mantuan” in England since the Renaissance) asks all readers holding manuscript copies of the earlier, unprinted version of his collection to destroy them—a request in effect so discouraging that, despite publication in the twentieth century of several important works by Mantuan, no manuscript copies of early versions of his eclogues have ever come to light. We are therefore indebted to Paul Oskar Kristeller for recording six manuscripts—five in Italian libraries and one at the Bodleian Library, Oxford—containing copies of what I have discovered to be early versions of Mantuan's ninth and tenth eclogues. Examination of these manuscript copies reveals new information as to the date and circumstances of composition and initial publication of the two eclogues.

Research Article
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1986

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Preparation of this article benefited greatly from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to participate in the Summer Institute in the Archival Sciences, led in 1985 at the Folger Shakespeare Library by Jean-Claude Margolin. Specific thanks are due to the suggestions of Professor Margolin, Charles Fantazzi (in reviewing the translations), and (in reading portions of the transcriptions) Laetitia Yean die and Frank Mantello. A shorter version of my discussion of Mantuan's texts was read as a paper at the Sixth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies. Texts of Mantuan's two eclogues are printed with the kind permission of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and the Collegio di Sant’ Isidoro, Rome.


1 Besides letters and orations, these include an early collection of elegies edited by Girardello, Rodolfo in “Vita e testi del beato Baltista Spagnoli,” Carmelus, 21 (1974), 3698 Google Scholar and an important treatise on Thomism, Opus aureum in Thomistas, edited by Kristeller, P. O. in Le thomisme et la pensée italienne de la Renaissance (Montreal: Instit. d'Etudes Médiévales, 1967), 137-84Google Scholar. Edmondo Coccia has compiled the standard bibliography of works by Mantuan printed through 1959: Le edizioni delle opere del Mantovano (Rome: Instit. Carmelitanum, i960).

2 Iter Italicum: A Finding List of Uncatalogued or Incompletely Catalogued Manuscripts of the Renaissance in Italian and Other Libraries (Leiden: Brill, 1963- ), II, 54, 55, 134, 167-68, 436.

3 With minor variants, copies of the ninth eclogue, all in italic hand, are also contained in the following: MS. C 61, fols. 56v-59v, Biblioteca Comunale Augusta, Perugia; MS. F 5, fols. Iv-5v, Biblioteca Comunale Augusta, Perugia; MS. J IX 13, fols. 64-67v, Biblioteca Comunale degli Intronati, Siena; MS. Ottob. lat. 2280, fols. 173v-178, Bibl. Apostolica Vaticana, Rome; MS. Lat. Misc. c. 62, fols. 76v-79v, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

4 The Eclogues of Baptista Mantuanus, ed. Wilfred P. Mustard (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1911), p. 62. Quotations from the printed version of Man tuan's Adulescentia are taken (with citation by page number, unless otherwise indicated) from this edition.

5 Santa Teresa, Graziano di, “Nuova cronologia della vita del B. Battista Mantovano,” Ephemerides Carmeliticae, 9 (1958), 428 Google Scholar.

6 Mantuanus, Baptista, Opera poetica, ed. by Badius Ascensius (Paris: Ascensius, 1513), II, 131 Google Scholar.

7 Saggi, Lodovico, La congregazione mantovana dei Carmelitani sino alla morte del B. Battista Spagnoli (1516) (Rome: Instit. Carmelitanum, 1954), p. 103 Google Scholar.

8 Hofmann, Walter von, Forschungen zur Geschichte der Kurialen Behörden vom Schisma bis zur Reformation (Rome: von Loescher, 1914), II, 113 Google Scholar.

9 Garrod, H. W., “Erasmus and his English Patrons,” The Library, 5th ser., 11 (1949), 1112 Google Scholar. Garrod's article contains a lively discussion of the strena as a part of English court custom.

10 Bourgain, Pascale, “L'édition des manuscrits,” Histoire de l'édition française, eds., Henri-Jean Martin, Roger Chartier, and Jean-Pierre Vivet (Paris: Promodis, 1982- ), I, 55.Google Scholar

11 His De vita beata is the exception, having been first printed by Thierry Martens in 1474 (Coccia, p. 140). In a letter to Giovanni Francisco Pico della Mirandola, Mantuan claimed that the works appearing in 1488 and soon afterwards had been sent to the printer without his knowledge by well-meaning friends (Monumenta historica Carmelitana, ed. by Benedictus-Maria a S. cruce Zimmerman [îles de Lerins: the Abbey, 1907], p. 494). That he was later to recommend the accuracy of the texts of Benedictus Hectoris Faelli [Opera omnia, ed. Laurentius Cuperus [Antwerp: Johannes Bellerus, 1576], IV, i, 69), who printed most of these early editions, suggests, however, that Mantuan played an active part in their printed publication.

12 See his account of a discussion with William Grocin concerning the small sum that the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, had given Erasmus for dedicating a translation of Euripides’ Hecuba to him: answering Erasmus’ objection, Grocin responded “nihil horum esse, sed obstitisse suspicionem, ne forte idem operis alibi dedicassem alteri. Earn vocem admiratus, quum rogarem vndenam ea suspicio venisset homini in mentem, ridens, sed Quia sic’ inquit ‘soletis vos'; significans id solere fieri a nostrae farinae hominibus [What was the matter was he had suspected me of having already dedicated the book to someone else. This surprised me. How, I asked, could the archbishop get such an idea into his head? Grocin laughed his sardonic laugh. ‘Because it is what you people do,’ he said; meaning that it was usual with folk of the literary kidney]” Opus epistolarutn, eds. P. S. Allen, H. M. Allen, and H. W. Garrod (Oxford University Press, 1906-58), I, 5 (quoted by Garrod with his translation, p. 2). As Garrod goes on to point out (p. 2), Erasmus had in fact dedicated the work five years earlier to a lesser patron.

13 Ventura, A. and Pecoraro, M., in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, dir. Alberto M. Ghisalberti (Rome: Instit. della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960- ), VIII, 105 Google Scholar.

14 An interesting, important letter to Mantuan's fathef, printed in Monumenta, pp. 483-92, survives from this period.

15 See my article on “Versions by Thomas, Lord Fairfax of Some Poems by Mantuan and Other Neo-Latin Writers,” Renaissance and Reformation, ns 8 (1984), 114-20.

16 “The Organization of Mantuan's Adulescentia and Spenser's Shepheardes Calendar: A Comparison,” in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Bononiensis: Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, ed. R. J. Schoeck (Binghamton, N. Y.: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1985), 578-79.

17 “cum iam auctor ad religionem aspiraret,” Eclogues, 97.

18 “in claustra silentia,” ibid., Eel. VII, 1. 149.

19 “post religionis ingressum” (Eclogues, 108), part of the subtitle of the printed version of Mantuan's ninth eclogue. See also the headnotes of the manuscript versions of the ninth and tenth eclogues.

20 Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary, s.v. “cornu.“

21 “Ferte per antiquos patrum vestigia gressus” (1. 121).

22 ”. . revocate vagantes / per valles per saxa greges[,] per lustra ferarum[.] / Figite in Antiquis iterum magalia Campis” (II. 136-38).

23 By, e.g., Leonard Grant, W., Neo-Latin Literature and the Pastoral (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965), p. 92 Google Scholar.

24 Carrara, Enrico, La poesia pastorale (Milan: F. Villardi, 1909), pp. 4067 Google Scholar.

25 The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (New York: Harcourt, 1982), p. 29.

26 As B. D. Napier remarks, “in view of the very nature of the sheep—affectionate (II Sam. 12:3), unaggressive (Isa. 53:7; Jer. 11:19; John 10:3-4), relatively defenseless (Mic. 5:8; Matt. 10:16), and in constant need of care and supervision (Num. 27:17; Ezek. 34:5; Matt. 9:36; 26:31)—and the corresponding relationship between the sheep and the shepherd, it is not at all surprising that in figurative-theological language the sheep and the shepherd are repeatedly, and often movingly, employed” in the Bible: Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, eds. George Arthur Buttrick, et al. (New York: Abingdon, 1962), IV, 316. Renato Poggioli's assertion that there can be no heavenly paradises in successful pastoral (The Oaten Flute: Essays on Pastoral Poetry and the Pastoral Ideal, [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975], 19) would doubtless have puzzled Mantuan—or Boccaccio and Milton, for that matter. Cf. Nicholaus Lyranus on Ezekiel 34:13-14 cited above: “That is, in the church militant through a gift of grace and in the church triumphant in the gift of glory. These things are described here by means of most fertile pasturelands and other physical objects because in the Old and New Testaments things of the spirit are often described by means of corporeal similtudes, so that (according to what Gregory writes in his thirty-seventh homily) “the mind might rise from things known to things unknown and, through what it knows, might learn to esteem highly and love what is unknown to it’ (Id est in ecclesia militante per dona gratiae, et in triumphante per dona gloriae, quae designantur hie per pascua uberrima et caetera corporalia: quia spiritualia sub similitudinibus corporalium in scriptura veteris ac novi testamenti frequenter designantur, ut secundum quod Gregorius, Horn. XXXVII. Surget animus ex his quae novit ad ea quae non novit, ac per hoc quod novit, diligere discat, et incognita amare).” Biblia sacra cum glossa … ordinaria, Nicolai Lyrani Postilla et Moralitatibus… . (Lyons: Gaspar Treschel, 1545), IV, fol. 259.

27 Whence, e.g., Fontenelle's attack on their earthiness (Eclogues, 48) and Alexander Pope's condemnation of their use of religious allegory in Poems, ed. John Butt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963), p. 122.

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