Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT Case MS 6A 29
Girolamo Bacelli
Copy of the Iliad in Tuscan Translation
Florence, between 1500 and 1599

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The first Italian translations of Homer’s Iliad date back to the sixteenth century. At this time, six vernacular translations were published in major Italian cities such as Venice, Florence, Rome, Padua and Turin, testifying to the enduring interest that Renaissance humanists had for the Greek author and his works. Among the aforementioned editions, a translation into Tuscan of the Iliad’s first six books and part of the seventh was completed by Girolamo Baccelli (1515 – 1581?). Born into a noble Florentine family, Baccelli studied and excelled in the studia humanitatis and medicine to the point of becoming a member of the Accademia Fiorentina, a philosophical and literary academy founded in Florence under the patronage of the Gran Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de’ Medici.

The manuscript of Baccelli’s translation, which he composed in hendecasyllables, is entitled Dell’ Iliade d’Homero lib. p__⁰__[-vij] in lingua toscana composto [i.e. tradotto] p Ms Girmo Baccelli. _The text includes a series of corrections made by another hand, possibly that of his brother, Baccio. At the end of the manuscript a note reads: “non finito per colpa della morte” (unfinished because of [the author’s] death). Unknown are the causes that led to Girolamo’s death and that kept him from completing the translation of the _Iliad alongside that of the Odyssey, which was published posthumously in 1582. According to the autographed dedicatory letter to this edition that Baccio Baccelli wrote to Francesco I de’ Medici, the translation of both of Homer’s works had been commissioned originally to Bacelli’s brother by the Medici Grand Duke.


Italica fortemente inclinata a destra, di modulo grande e ricca di legamenti.
Da notare: le aste alte concluse da vistoso bottone e spesso ripassate nel tratto superiore (r. 14: qual fu degli); la doppia forma di d (diritta, r. 3: del; tonda, r. 13: ardito); i legamenti antiorari (r. 20: popolo).

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Item fully digitized here.