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Lionardo Salviati and the collection of Proverbi toscani: Philological issues with Codex CI. I 394.


This article offers an overview of my research conducted on Proverbi toscani, a collection of proverbs kept at the Biblioteca Ariostea in Ferrara and generally attributed to Lionardo Salviati. I attribute and date the five unidentified writers who transcribe proverbs in the codex, focusing on the question of authorship, and I aim to elucidate the different phases in which additions were made from the late 16th century to the second decade of the 17th century. First, by way of analyzing the different handwritings in the document and their characteristics, I demonstrate how the codex cannot be considered solely Lionardo Salviati's manuscript, but rather the product of an entourage of copyists. Next, I resolve the still unclear issue of Salviati's own handwriting, which, starting from Peter Brown's study (1962), I intend to identify with strong evidence. As a result, I attribute only a small section of the collection to Lionardo Salviati himself. Finally, I argue against the attribution of a group of proverbs to Gianfilippo Magnanini, identifying them instead as the work of his son Ottavio Magnanini. I also compare Codex Cl. I 394 with Codex Cl. II 25, which I identify for the first time as a copy of the collection of Proverbi toscani.


attribution, authorship, codex, handwriting, paleography, philology, proverbs, Salviati


In March 1588, Lionardo Salviati, the author of Avvertimenti della lingua sopra 'l Decameron and a commentary on Aristotle's Poetics (Aristotelis poetica graece cum paraphrasi thusca Leonardi Salviati), (1) moved to the court of Alfonso II d'Este in Ferrara. Born in Florence in 1539 (2) and a member of the Cavalierato di Santo Stefano since 1569, (3) Salviati had been personally involved in Cosimo I de' Medici's promotion of the Florentine language at a time when 'no activity, literary or artistic, was considered extraneous to the purpose of the state' (Brown, 1974: 12). In 1564, Salviati read his oration in praise of the Florentine language (Salviati, 1564) and, after Benedetto Varchi's death, he was appointed consul of the Accademia Fiorentina. In Florence, under the rule of Francesco de' Medici (who had succeeded his father Cosimo), Salviati continued his activity and was introduced in 1582 to a literary group of young Florentine men. They called themselves the 'Brigata dei Crusconi' and held informal gatherings to discuss literary and cultural issues. It was only with Salviati's influence, though, that they finally established themselves as a formal linguistic institution, known as the Accademia della Crusca, governed by written statutes.

By the 1570s, however, Salviati had begun to make contact with other Italian courts, in pursuit of obtaining more recognition for his literary abilities. After a rejection by the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, Salviati repeatedly contacted Alfonso II D'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and was finally accepted at his court on the recommendation of Ercole Cortile. (4) He spent the last few months of his life at the Duke's court before returning to Florence, where he died in the Convento degli Angeli on July 11, 1589. (5)

A small codex, currently kept in the Biblioteca Ariostea in Ferrara, Cl. I 394, can be used to date the period Salviati lived in Ferrara. The manuscript, which contains a collection of proverbs, has been almost entirely forgotten by scholars studying Salviati and his works, and it is frequently mentioned in bibliographies as one deserving more thorough analysis. Rather than being examined comprehensively, it is usually studied in fragments and compared to the larger and better-known collection by Francesco Serdonati, (6) or it is referenced as proof of Salviati's authorship for other manuscripts associated with him. However, several philological issues warrant a re-examination of this collection, especially concerning the different stages of the manuscript's creation.

Even though Codex Cl. I 394 may be less important than other works by Salviati, it is an important source of proverbs and idiomatic expressions which give insight into the linguistic, cultural, and social matters of the time. (7) Besides adding new material to the better-known 15th-century proverbs and widening the framework of studies on paroemiography, (8) Salviati's collection also provides information on the creative processes of the author, his library, his knowledge of similar works, and, from a philological point of view, the history of Codex Cl. I 394.

This article is concerned exclusively with the paleographic issues of Codex Cl. I 394. A future critical edition of the collection of Proverbi toscani will offer a more detailed and broader analysis, with a transcription of these proverbs that completes what has been started by Franca Ageno and Peter Brown (Ageno, 1959, 1960; Brown, 1962). In this article I study three different aspects of Codex Cl. I 394:

* its authorship;

* the chronology of the five heretofore-unidentified hands that transcribed proverbs within it;

* the problems of attributing these handwritings.

In an attempt to resolve these complex issues, I explore the different phases of additions of proverbs from the late 16th century to the second decade of the 17th century (following the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca's publication in 1612), aiming to conduct a thorough analysis on the assembly of the codex. By analyzing the different handwritings in the manuscript and noting their peculiarities, I demonstrate why Codex Cl. I 394 cannot be considered solely Lionardo Salviati's autograph but is, instead, the product of a group of copyists and collaborators on which Salviati could rely with later additions. I further attempt to clarify the still-unclear issue of Salviati's own handwriting, starting from Brown's study (1962) and adding some observations of my own as well as a new piece of investigation never studied before. I also argue against the attribution of a group of proverbs to Gianfilippo Magnanini, a scholar from Ferrara closely related to Lionardo Salviati, and I suggest instead that they could belong to his son Ottavio Magnanini.

Codex Cl. I 394 (mm 210x145x40) is a 580-page paper manuscript entitled Proverbi toscani. Con aggiunte del Salviati, e del Magnanini. (9) It contains 3131 proverbs organized alphabetically. The numbers on the pages are handwritten and are numbered from 2 to 335. However, many pages are left blank after each group of proverbs, suggesting that space was left for additional proverbs and annotations, and giving the collection an unfinished quality. This explains the different drafting stages of the codex, made by at least five different people, a fact that has led to a debate over which one is actually Salviati's handwriting.

A long-standing tradition has credited Codex Cl. I 394 to Salviati. The prevalent handwriting in the collection does, indeed, appear to be the very same one that scholars have found in other manuscripts accredited to him. (10) This is why Cl. I 394 has traditionally been considered Salviati's autograph, even though the subtitle suggests that he is only responsible for certain additions (Con aggiunte del Salviati, e del Magnanini).

One of the best-known advocates of Salviati's authorship of Codex Cl. I 394 is Franca Ageno, whose article 'Le frasi proverbiali di una raccolta manoscritta di Lionardo Salviati' claims that the codex was written by Salviati himself (Ageno, 1959). Her argument is based on the remarkable resemblance she found between Codex Cl. I 394 and Codex Magi. VII 306, a collection of poems Salviati wrote for close friends (Benedetto Varchi, Alessandro Canigiani, and Anton Francesco Grazzini) and kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. Ageno finds the same features in both, including the physical characteristics of the codex (the same paper, the same ink that has destroyed the pages, and the same pagination with blank pages between sections) and, most importantly, the script, which can definitely be considered the same as the prevailing writing in Codex Cl. I 394. This same handwriting occurs in another manuscript, containing Salviati's commentary and translation of Aristotle's Poetics into vernacular, the Ms. Naz. II II 11, kept at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. With these findings, Ageno concludes that the handwriting in these three manuscripts must belong to Salviati.

However, the hypothesis that Lionardo Salviati wrote a work of such length seems quite improbable. In a letter to Benedetto Varchi (11) dated March 4, 1563 [1564] (12) Salviati writes, in reference to his lecture in praise of the Florentine language (Salviati, 1564), that his near-sightedness impedes him from being able to read articles as well as other orators can. Consequently, it is plausible that Salviati may have not written his manuscripts on his own, resorting instead to a copyist. This particular argument, contradicting Ageno's assumption, is supported by Brown in his article 'Nota sui manoscritti di Lionardo Salviati' (Brown, 1962). Basing his claim on a comparison with specific manuscripts written by Salviati, Brown demonstrates how Salviati's hand cannot be identified in the handwriting repeatedly found in some of his manuscripts, including Cl. I 394.

According to Brown, this particular hand must be that of Salviati's copyist Fabrizio Caramelli, an individual mentioned in many letters as someone Salviati could trust. Brown calls (what he claims to be) Caramelli's handwriting Hand A, which I adopt for convenience in this article. However, in my analysis I develop his categorization further to include another four hands, giving them different names. My research revealed that the five hands in the codex can be summarized as follows:

* Hand A, which wrote one third of the proverbs in the codex;

* Hand [alpha], which has handwriting very similar to Hand A and wrote a considerable amount of proverbs;

* Hand S, which wrote 13 proverbs as well as some additions and corrections to the proverbs written by Hand A;

* Hand B, which can be recognized in only a couple of proverbs and belongs to an earlier period than the others, between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century;

* Finally, Hand C, which wrote more than 200 proverbs and is the only one to have written in the 1600s (making it the most recent).

The chronological order of the hands' writing in the manuscript is inferred from page 67 of the codex, the only one that presents all five hands (Figure 1).

Hand A belongs to the individual who wrote the majority of the proverbs in the entire collection of Codex Cl. I 394, as well as some of the accompanying explanations (Figure 2). (13) Hand A has a very clean and polished script, not only in its appearance, but also in its overall layout: the first proverb of each alphabetic group protrudes; the spacing between lines is regular, while longer proverbs that extend beyond one line are indented. Explanations, written separately, are always given space that seems to have been set aside in advance, as if the copyist had already known which proverbs would be elaborated. However, not all of the blank spaces are filled with explanations, suggesting that the collection was not finished and needed to be revised further. (14) The presence of a few incomplete proverbs with suspension points, as well as proverbs that are interrupted unexpectedly, also supports this hypothesis.

The second hand to appear in the codex, which I call Hand oc, writes in a script typical of the late 1500s and resembles Hand A (Figure 3). The similarities between Hands A and Hand [alpha] are numerous enough that one could think the same person simply wrote additional proverbs after a lapse of time, and the slight differences in script are just due to the natural evolution of the copyist's writing habits. Still, there are a few differences that give reason to believe otherwise: namely that Hand a tried to imitate the penmanship of Hand A in order to maintain the original layout and organization of space in the codex. Additionally, even though these two hands have the same way of writing b, h, and l, and the same incline of letters, their ways of writing/, p, and pp are clearly different. (15)

The third handwriting present in the manuscript is one that Peter Brown has researched thoroughly and claims to be Lionardo Salviati's--this is the hand I refer to as Hand S (Figures 4 and 5). Other than Brown's pieces of evidence in support of his argument, I provide additional examples, in particular a letter that without doubt confirms the authenticity of Salviati's handwriting.

Salviati wrote the following proverbs in Codex Cl. I 394, trying to conform to the indentations, spacing, and margins found in the section written by Hand A:

* Andare a chius'occhi [To go with closed eyes] (16) (c. 15);

* Andarsene con la piena, e Allegrezza di pan caldo [To go with the flow--Glee of warm bread] (c. 15);

* Can che lecchj cenere, non glifidar farina [Do not entrust flour to the dog that licks ash] (c. 67);

* Chi vuol de' pesci bisogna, che s'immollj [He who wants fish must soak himself] (c. 67);

* Egli e piu la giunla, che la derrota [The addition matters more than the basis] (c. 115);

* Haver fat to un bianco pane [T o have made a white bread] (c. 156);

* Il buon vin fa gromma, el cattivo muffa [Good wine makes tartar, bad wine makes mold] (c. 169);

* La 'nvidia e tra gli arteficj [Jealousy is among creators] (c. 189);

* Mutarsi l'indizionj [To change one's purposes] (c. 205);

* Perdersi l'acconciatura [To lose one's coiffure] (c. 256);

* Quand'egli e tempo diritto, non val canto di picchio [When the time is right, the woodpecker's singing does not matter] (c. 268);

* Ricor l'ulive a mezzo [To pick ripe olives] (c. 278).

All of these proverbs are written at the end of each alphabetical group after Hand A and Hand [alpha], except for the proverb Il buon vin fa gromma, el cattivo muffa, placed in between two other proverbs by Hand A.

There are also substantial corrections by Salviati, such as those on pages 217 and 219, in which two proverbs written by Hand A are completely rewritten by Salviati, so that they are illegible. Furthermore, Salviati intervened with a precise correction: after having crossed out the proverb A can che lecchi cenere non gli fidar farina on page 7 with the note ha a ire al C--Can [It needs to go under C--Dog], he wrote down a variant at the end of group C: Can che lecchi cenere non gli fidar farina. This minor correction regarding the preposition a shows how conscientious Salviati was, paying attention to minute variants of a proverb, a tendency one finds in other works of his. Given this evidence, however, one cannot argue that Salviati necessarily read the entire codex. The safest inference is that the correction on page 7 shows him reading up to this page. Similarly, the corrections on pages 217 and 219 may lead one to think that he read up to those pages. However, two proverbs already written by Hand A, namely Allegrezza di pan caldo on page 5 and Perdersi I'acconciatura on page 247, are repeated unchanged on pages 15 and 256. This seems to justify the argument that Salviati did not check the entire collection of proverbs; otherwise he would not have repeated two proverbs already mentioned in the list. More likely he randomly checked only a few parts of the codex.

Peter Brown's identification of Hand S is based on the analysis of several manuscripts known to be written by Salviati (Brown, 1962). Brown isolates some peculiarities in Hand S: his way of writing the letters p, g, and f; the special closing loop in letter l that causes a smear on the paper; the way in which he writes ti; and, most importantly, the absence of links between letters and their significant incline. In order to develop his argument, Brown analyzes a letter written by Salviati to a friend, Pier Vettori. The letter is dated March 1568 and is preserved at the British Library in London. At the bottom of the letter, there is a note in which Salviati apologizes for being unable to write the letter himself due to a fever that kept him bedridden. The postscript of the note belongs to Salviati, whereas the letter, signature included, must have been written by one of his copyists or secretaries.

Using the note's script as a guide, Brown is also able to conclude that Codex Magi. VII 715 (housed at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence) is written by Salviati (Figure 6). This manuscript contains the third lesson on Aristotle's Poetics and its implications for poetry, which Salviati read at the Accademia Fiorentina in 1566. The prefatory letter, in particular, exhibits the same characteristics of the handwriting in Salviati's letter to Pier Vettori, and thus it belongs to Salviati as well.

Given that some of Salviati's manuscripts have not been credited to him, despite receiving ample attention, we may also shed light on manuscripts that have heretofore been credited to him erroneously, because they may not have had a paleographic analysis. For instance, Severina Parodi considers the aforementioned letter to Benedetto Varchi, kept in the historical archive of the Accademia della Crusca, to have been written and signed by Salviati (Parodi, 1969) (Figure 7). Yet the letter cannot be considered his autograph, even though the signature has all the characteristics of Hand S. The handwriting of the body of the letter is clearly different from those of Codex Magi. VII 715 and the note addressed to Pier Vettori; additionally, it shows no similarities with Hand A either. In fact, this letter to Varchi is written in the same handwriting I found in two letters at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence in folder Magi. VIII 1399, also assumed to be written by Salviati. These two letters, one from Rome and the other from Ferrara, are addressed to Giovan Battista Strozzi and dated 1588-1589, a few months before Salviati's death.

Therefore, it is apparent that Salviati turned to an entourage of copyists to manage his correspondence and write his works from different locations over various years. This is confirmed by Salviati: in a letter written to Grand Duke Francesco de' Medici in February 1584 [1585], (17) he writes that a copyist has been transcribing an array of his texts. In another letter to Duke Alfonso II d'Este, Salviati mentions a copyist who was busy writing his texts for a salary of two crowns a month (Campori, 1874: 154).

Salviati's use of copyists did not stop him from writing annotations and corrections in the manuscripts. For instance, even though in the aforementioned Codex Naz. II II 11 the comment on the Poetics by Aristotle is written by Hand A, many notes and annotations can be seen along the margins of the pages, as well as corrections in the spacing between the lines, all written by Lionardo Salviati. The number of corrections and notes reveals careful attention to a work that was intended to be of the highest quality, and, most of all, belonged to the Medicis' exaltation of the Florentine language.

Further evidence of Fland S is found in Codex Cl. I H, which is preserved in the Biblioteca Ariostea in Ferrara and includes Giambattista Guarini's Pastor Fido (Figure 8). Having finished his pastoral work, Guarini wished to purge the text of dialectal traces of the Paduan area from which he came. (18) To this end he sent Pastor Fido to Lionardo Salviati for editing. In a letter dated July 14, 1586, Guarini asks Salviati to check it 'con occhio di severo maestro e critico' [with the eye of a harsh master and critic] (Guarini, 1594: 40). In fact, in Codex Cl. I H, Guarini's text of Pastor Fido is followed by many pages of critical comments by Lionardo Salviati. (19) Among these, only a few, namely cc. 105r-106v from Scene 6 of Act 2 to Scene 8 of Act 3, show the same handwriting of the 13 proverbs of Cl. I 394 and the letter to Pier Vettori.

The most convincing document, never analyzed as evidence of Hand S, is a document kept at the Biblioteca Ariostea in Ferrara, M. 343 2. This document contains the second eulogy written in praise of Don Garzia de' Medici, the young son of Cosimo I and Eleonora di Toledo, who died in 1563 at the age of 14. It is part of a cycle of three orations, all printed, yet featuring manuscript notes by Lionardo Salviati (Salviati, 1562 [1563]a, 1562 [1563]b, 1562 [1563]c). The first and third orations (M. 343 1 and M. 343 3, respectively) actually only contain the printed text and Salviati's written dedication to Alessandro Canigiani, a close friend of his, at the end of the book. (20) The second oration (M. 343 2), however, includes, a manuscript letter addressed to a Dottor Sacciuto o Ser Tutte Salle [Doctor All-knowing] (Figure 9). The letter was in response to the critique, written in the margins of the oration by two readers, although it was principally directed at the biting criticism of one of them. The criticism of the other hand is not addressed. (21)

Luigi Manzoni, the letter's first editor (in 1873), points out that it is full of different stages of composition, reflecting the way thoughts came to Salviati (Manzoni, 1873: 111). Indeed, the letter is characterized by many corrections along the margins and in the spacing, giving the impression of a laborious revision: some corrections were made as Salviati wrote the letter, evident from the identical ink, whereas others were written later, probably during the proofreading phase. Sometimes multiple corrections were even written twice, or else portions of text were crossed out and rewritten while words and sentences were added or inserted. Moreover, many revisions were then crossed out due to second thoughts, others were crossed out imperfectly, and still others were incomplete and simply replaced by a different sentence or word altogether.

Hand S, untidy because of the quick writing, seems to conform to the violent tone of a letter intended to justify Salviati's position against his censor's accusations. (22) The most likely possibility, consistent with the strong emotions in Salviati's response, is that Salviati must have written the letter himself; it is doubtful that a copyist would have written such a fervid letter. This is why the letter should be considered as the most important piece of documentation concerning Hand S and his way of working. It is therefore the work with which all the other manuscripts attributed to Salviati need to be compared in order to determine their authorship.

Hand S is present in other manuscript letters kept at the Archivio di Stato in Florence, under the folder 'Mediceo del Principato.' (23) In some letters, Salviati only put down his signature, whereas in others he wrote the dedicatory sentence. Still in some others he wrote the titles of the Grand Duke at the end. Only four letters sent to Grand Duke Francesco I, though, were written entirely by Salviati (Mediceo del Principato 744 [c. 46], 751 [cc. 37 and 338], and 752 [c. 1]). One might think that Salviati's copyists were appointed to write the official correspondence with the Duke of Tuscany. However, because the four letters concerned personal requests or political matters, it is likely that to maintain privacy Salviati wrote them himself: in the first, Salviati discusses a conspiracy against the Grand Duke; in the second he entrusts his nephew, Cosimo Mannelli, to the benignity of the Grand Duke; the third discredits accusations of favoritism toward the Duke of Ferrara during the years he sought recognition from Alfonso II d'Este; and the fourth asks for help for a niece mistreated by her husband. Another letter written entirely by Salviati is kept in Mediceo del Principato 744 (c. 129), dated 'Di Casa, Allj February 18, 1581 [1582]' [At home, on February 18, 1582]. From his home in Florence, Salviati writes to Francesco I, notifying him about a document regarding a practitioner of magic, Antonio Milizia. In this document, Salviati argues that Milizia adequately defended himself against charges of conspiracy for allegedly planning to poison the Grand Duke.

Minor handwritten interventions are present in two letters from Mediceo del Principato 738 (cc. 246 and 307). Both letters request manuscripts Salviati needed to complete his 'rassettatura' of the Decameron, an attempt at rewriting Boccaccio's masterpiece according to the moral principles of the counter-reformation. (24) The first letter asks the Duke to provide Salviati with the texts of the Decameron kept at the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence, 'che ebbero quegli altri correttori' [those that the other editors used], (25) while the second asks for access to two texts of the Decameron left in a locked box by Vincenzo Borghini. Lastly, a document kept in Mediceo del Principato 755 (c. 441), containing the draft of his Decameron's dedicatory epistle to the Duke of Sora, shows a few corrections by Salviati.

The fourth handwriting in Codex Cl. I 394, Hand B, is found only in four proverbs and can be easily recognized for its unique features (Figure 10). These include an overall less carefully written script and less accurate spatial organization. Such traits would belong to a person educated between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, the generation preceding Salviati's.

The last hand in Codex Cl. I 394, Hand C, believed by scholars to be Gianfilippo Magnanini, wrote 262 proverbs, all found at the end of each alphabetic group (Figure 11). The only exceptions are the proverbs belonging to the first letter of the alphabet, which had been written by Hand A. Neither the margins nor the spacing of Hand C's proverbs follows the layout established by Hand A.

In addition to the proverbs, Hand C also intervened with marginal annotations and notes, as well as variants of proverbs or words in the spaces between lines throughout the manuscript. These notes are sometimes alternatives to the original proverbs, and at other times simply clarifications. The following are two examples of variants or explanations written by Hand C beside proverbs written by Hand A:

* Chi vive a speranza muor cacando [Who lives in hope dies shitting--Hand A] (c. 29) Muore alio spedale [Dies at the hospital--Hand C];

* Andare col cembalo in colombaia [Crashing cymbals in the quiet dovecote Hand A] (c. 1)

Pubblicare i fatti tuoi [To advertise your business--Hand C].

For his own proverbs and those written by previous hands. Hand C even gives their sources, namely Benedetto Varchi's Hercolano and the first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca of 1612.

The Hercolano, printed posthumously in 1570, is a grammatical reference work in which Varchi purposely uses proverbs to explain various grammatical rules. (26) The edits written by Hand C abbreviate the Hercolano as Here, and include the page number for the proverb in Varchi's original. Hand C copied most proverbs from Varchi's work, taking them mostly from the first book, in which Varchi makes a long list of proverbs of everyday speech. The copyist often copies many proverbs, joining them without repeating the initial verb, as in Dargli il cardo, il mattone, la suzzacchera [To give him the cardoon, the brick, that disgusting beverage made of sugar and vinegar] (c. 94). Sometimes he groups many proverbs, drawing a vertical line and writing the explanation beside it, as found in Varchi's text: Dar la soia, Dar l'allodola, Dar caccabaldo, Dar le moine, Dar la quadra, Dar la trave [To give the soy, to give the lark, to give a caress, to give the simpering gestures, to give the square, to give the beam] all mean Motteggiare [to joke] (c. 94).

Hand C's explanations of proverbs come from Varchi, even though those found in Codex Cl. I 394 are shorter than the originals. In the following examples, the first explanation belongs to Hand C, the second to Varchi's Hercolano:

Hand C                            Hercolano

* Alzare il franco ('Aggiunte'
to letter A)
[To lift the hip]

Mangiare assai [To eat a lot]     Quando uno mangia assai, e del
                                  buono, e s'intende sempre in

                                  [He who eats a lot, and well,
                                  is always good in

Hand C                            Hercolano

* Dare il gambone (c. 95)
[To give a big leg]

Lodar alcuno per mantenerlo       E quando egli dice, o vuol fare una
in su l'opinione sua              cosa, non solamente acconsentire,
                                  ma lodarlo, e insomma mantenerlo
[To praise someone to             in sulioppenione, e prosopopea
maintain his reputation]          sua, e dargli animo a seguitare

* Imboccare col cucchiaio         [When a man wants to do something,
voto (c. 170)                     don't just agree with him, but
                                  praise him to help his reputation
[To feed with an empty spoon]     and give him courage to continue]

Di chi vuol insegnare,            Di coloro che voglion parere
e non insegna                     d'insegnare, e non insegnano

[Some who want to teach           [Some want to appear to teach,
can't teach]                      but they don't teach].

When the proverb appears in the course of Varchi's text and not in a section specifically dedicated to everyday language, the explanation is inferred from the context. An example might be Cercare cinque pie al mon tone [To search for five feet in a ram], followed by the definition Cercar troppo sottilmente gli errori altrui [To look for mistakes too finely] (c. 67).

As mentioned before, a second source of proverbs for Hand C was the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca. When he reads a proverb in the Vocabolario, even though it is already present in the section written by Hand A, he writes it again in his section or slightly changes it. This is why cross-references between the proverb section written by Hand A and the section by Hand C are densely distributed throughout the entire collection, especially where there are the most additions by Hand C (letters C and D). For instance, consider the following examples, in which the first proverb is written by Hand A and the second by Hand C:

Hand A                            Hand C

Empier lo stefano (c. 105)        Averpieno lo stefano, cio e il ventre
                                  [To have a full belly] (Additions to
                                  letter A);

Haver il diavol nell'ampolla      Avere il Diavolo nell'ampolla [To
(c. 148)                          have the devil in the ampoule]
                                  (Additions to letter A);

Confessare il cacio (c. 37)       Confessare il cacio. Dir quanto
                                  se detto, o fatto [To confess the
                                  cheese] (c. 67)

Far fuoco nell'orcio (c. 117)     Far fuoco nell'orcio. Non
                                  lasciarsi intendere [To make fire
                                  in ajar] (c. 131)

Entrar in mar senza biscotto      Imbarcarsi senza biscot to [To
(c. 102)                          embark without a biscuit] (c. 170)

As he had for the Hercolano, Hand C uses an abbreviation for the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, Voc. Crusca, and notes the relevant page number in the dictionary. In some instances, a second number follows the first page number, to indicate which column within the page contains the proverb. Sometimes the exact entry with the proverb is provided, in most cases a verb or a noun. For instance:

* Adagio a' ma' passi (Voc. Crusca. 18) [Slowly with my steps]

* Dar il pepe (Voc. Crusca, 249) [To give the pepper]

* Fare un penzolo (Voc. Crusca, penzolo) [To dangle]

* Non faresti pepe di Luglio (Voc. Crusca, pepe) [You would not make pepper in July]

* Perdere il trotto per l'ambiadura (Voc. Crusca, 46; in this case there is a mistake since the page is in fact 49) [To lose the trot for the amble].

In other instances, the explanation of a proverb, borrowed from the dictionary, is added. For instance, the aforementioned Andar col cembalo in colombaia displays the marginal annotation Pubblicare i fatti tuoi, taken from the dictionary's Pubblicare i tuoi fatti, quando e' dovrebbono esser segreti, perche e cosa contraria, e pessima il far romor nelle colombaie [To publish your business when it should be kept secret, for it is a bad thing to make noise in the dovecote]. (27)

Hand C has been attributed to Gianfilippo Magnanini, an intellectual from Ferrara, by numerous scholars, also shown in the cover of Codex Cl. I 394 (Con aggiunte del Salviati, e del Magnanini). (28) However, edits with direct references to the first edition of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, which was published in 1612, make it impossible that Gianfilippo Magnanini read the vocabulary and that these additions would be in his handwriting. Gianfilippo Magnanini in fact died in 1598, an aspect critics have always overlooked. If Gianfilippo Magnanini cannot be Hand C of Codex Cl. I 394, then who is? Most likely, it was his son Ottavio Magnanini, (29) or at least a copyist in Ottavio's entourage who read Codex Cl. I 394 and made additions.

As one reads in Salviati's will, written by Francesco Parenti in early 1589, (30) Salviati's books in Ferrara were given to Duke Alfonso II, while the rest of his property was left to his beloved friend Gianfilippo Magnanini. It is not implausible that Codex Cl. I 394 was preserved in Gianfilippo Magnanini's library and that Ottavio later decided to make his own contributions to the collection with proverbs available in the recently published dictionary by the Accademia della Crusca.

To find evidence of this, it was first necessary to identify Ottavio's handwriting, or the handwriting of one of his copyists, which fortunately is available in multiple documents. The final eight pages of the aforementioned Codex Cl. I H, containing the Pastor Fido by Guarini, are written in handwriting that Giuseppe Antonelli argues to be Ottavio Magnanini's (Antonelli, 1884: 23-27). Similarly, Codex Cl. I 204 is said to be written entirely by Ottavio Magnanini, including several annotations, notes, and corrections made in two different phases of writing. Further evidence of Ottavio's handwriting can be found in Codex Cl. I 175, preserved at the Biblioteca Ariostea in Ferrara and containing various works by Ottavio Magnanini, and in a letter, dated January 16, 1621, preserved at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, in folder Carteggi Vari 207.173. More samples are also present in Codex Cl. I 285. The script of each of these sources shows striking resemblance to what I call Hand C in Codex Cl. I 394 in their abbreviations of some adverbs and their execution of the letters l, z, and e. Taking this into consideration, it is plausible to think that Hand C must be Ottavio Magnanini's.

In addition to identifying the five hands of Codex Cl. I 394, another aspect of the history of the codex merits further exploration. Cl. I 394 was considered the only codex of its tradition, yet it seems to have a copy. This manuscript, labeled Codex Cl. II 25 (Figure 12), has never actually been studied as a copy, even though it is clearly a reproduction--albeit an incomplete one--of Codex Cl. I 394. It seems much more of a service copy than Codex Cl. I 394. since the groups of proverbs are arranged in a list format. Perhaps a list of proverbs without any space for additions (as in Codex Cl. I 394) was needed to check them and later use them for a lexicographical compendium. The manuscript excludes annotations or notes and all proverbs written by Hand C, whereas the proverbs written by Hand A, Hand a, Hand S, and Hand B have been transcribed. This provides important information about when Cl. II 25 was written: if the 17th-century additions to Cl. I 394 are not present and if these additions refer to the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, edited in 1612, then Cl. 1125 must have been written before 1612. (31) Finding this copy of Cl. I 394 codex would be helpful in revealing more important information about the history of the codex.

The analysis of Salviati's proverbs is only one aspect of research that may also include comparisons with other collections of the same period, such as Francesco Serdonati's. (32) A useful comparison might even be between Salviati's proverbs and those of successive centuries, especially the 19th century, when the revival of popular literature brought a new approach toward proverbs and a flourishing of proverb collections.

When conducting such analysis, a philological investigation would be crucial to any manuscript that has not been studied completely. Its proverbs would also need to be transcribed in order to be accessible to a larger community of scholars. Beyond this, the social and literary context would need to be established and defined so that the manuscript could be interpreted accordingly. Hopefully this research will proceed in the near future, so that the collection of Proverbi toscani by Lionardo Salviati might gain the attention it deserves. In the words of Charles Speroni, 'il Rinascimento ha conosciuto una straordinaria fioritura di collezioni proverbiali, tale che, nello scrivere la storia della paremiografia italiana, uno dei piu importanti capitoli sara senza alcun dubbio quello dedicato alia tradizione proverbiale del XVI secolo' [The Renaissance experienced an extraordinary flowering of collections of proverbs, to such an extent that, in writing the history of the Italian paroemiography, one of the most important chapters will undoubtedly be devoted to the proverbial tradition of the 16th century] (Speroni, 1953: 3). Given the wealth of proverbs and idiomatic expressions that can be unearthed from the works of Lionardo Salviati, Francesco Serdonati, and the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, one can only agree with him.

DOI: 10.1177/0014585814543072


I wish to thank my advisor at the University of Florence, Professor Nicoletta Maraschio, as well as my second advisors, Professor Anna Antonini (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa) and Dr Giulia Stanchina (Accademia della Crusca), for their guidance. I am grateful to Dr Elisabetta Benucci and Dr Fiammetta Fiorelli for allowing me to use the immense patrimony of the historical archive at the Accademia della Crusca, and to Professor Teresa de Robertis (University of Florence), for helping me through the paleographic issues of Codex Cl. I 394. I am also indebted to Professor Piero Fiorelli, whose knowledge was immensely helpful. I thank the staff of the Accademia della Crusca, the Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze, the Archivio Centrale di Stato di Firenze, the Archivio Storico Comunale di Ferrara, the Archivio di Stato di Ferrara, and, most of all, the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea for their assistance. Last but not least, I would like to thank Professor Hermann Haller (Graduate Center, CUNY), who read the article and helped me with the translation.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


Proverbi toscani. Con aggiunte del Salviati, e del Magnanini, Cl. I 394, Biblioteca Ariostea--Ferrara


Normal: Hand A; **: Hand a; underlined: Hand S; *: Hand B; italics: Hand C.

[c. 66]

Conti chiari, amicizia lunga

Ciascun va col suo senno al mercato

Can rignoso, e non forzoso guai alia sua pelle. / Il comentatore del 34 lo recita. Cane orgoglioso non prosperoso guai la pelle

Carestia prevista non venne mai

Che hanno a far le lance con le mannaie

Corpo satollo anima consolata

Chiama, e rispondi

Cosa da 'l di delle feste

Cosa da pigliarla con le molli

Cosa da darla a' cani

Cosi muor chi ha havere, come chi ha a dare

Chi mal baila ben sollazza. Lo Straparola. 156

[c. 67]

Come l'huom salvatico. Si rallegra del mal tempo

Can che morde non abbaia invano

Come una serpe tra l'anguille

**Chi s'appella ha mala novella

**Chi s'impaccia co' grandi maestri, l'ultimo a tavola, e 'l primo a' capestri

**Cotal grado ha chi tigna pettina

Can che lecchi cenere, non gli fidar farina

Chi vuol de' pesci bisogna, che s'immolli

*Chi fa la notte dimenare il letto, il giorno lo tien fermo a suo dispetto

Cercare cinque pie al montone; cercar troppo sottilmente gli errori altrui. Varchi. Ere. 10

Confessare il cacio; dir quanto s'e detto, o fatto. Varchi. Ere. 58

Cantar d'Aiolfo. dir quanto s'e detto, o fatto. Varchi. Ere. 58

Cavare i calcetti. 71. cavar di bocea

Chi ha cavallo in istalla pua andare a pie. 72

Canzone dell'uccellino. 73

[c. 68]

Cacciare un porro altrui. Varchi. Ercol. 77

Conoscere il melo dalpesco; i tordi dagli stornelli; i bufoli dall'oche; il cece dal fagiuolo, la traggea dalla gragnuola. Varchi. 78

Cadere di eolio alcuno. Perder la gratia. 79

Cantare a uno la zolfa, o il vespro, o il mattutino, conoscere il tratto. 93

Come i colombi del Rimbussato, cio e perduto il volo. 94

[c. 79]

Da del tuo al diavol, e mandal via

Dura cosa e l'aspettare

Danari, senno, e fede ce n'e men, che l'huom non crede

Dar la lattuga in guardia a' paperi

Dar lepecore in guardia a' lupi

Del senno di poi n'e ripien le fosse

Dove va la nave puo ir' il brigantino

Distendersi piu che 'l lenzuolo non e lungo

Dagli moglie, e halo giunto

Darsi degl'impacci del Rosso

Darsi di Monte morello nel bellico, o nel capo


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Salviati L (1562 [1563]a) Orazione di Lionardo Salviati nella morte dello Illustrissimo Don Garzia de' Medid. Florence: Giunti.

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Salviati L (1564) Orazione di Lionardo Salviati nella quale si dimostra la florentina favella e i fiorentini autori essere a tutte l'altre tingue, cosi antiche, come moderne, e a tutti gli altri scrittori di qualsivoglia lingua di gran lunga superiori. Florence: Giunti.

Salviati L (1571) Orazione del Cavalier Lionardo Salviati, recitata da lui in Pisa, il 22 di Aprile 1571, al capitolo generate della religione di Santo Stefano. Florence: Filippo Giunti.

Salviati L (1582) Il Decameron di messer Giovanni Boccacci, cittadin Fiorentino, di nuovo ristampato, e riscontrato in Firenze con testi antichi, e alia sua vera lezione ridotto dal Cavalier Lionardo Salviati deputato del Serenissimo Gran Duca di Toscana, con permessione de' Superiori. Venice: per li Giunti di Firenze (August); Florence: Giunti (October).

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Sanga C (1988) La koine italiana. In: Holtus G, Metzeltin M and Schmitt C (eds) Lexikon de romanistischen linguistik, Vol. 2.2. Tubingen: M. Niemeyer, pp. 81-98.

Sanga C (1990) La lingua lombarda. Dalla koine alto-italiana delle origini alia lingua cortigiana. In: Koine in Italia dalle origini al Cinquecento. Bergamo: Lubrina, pp. 79-162.

Santi V (1892) Leonardo Salviati ed il suo testamento. Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 19: 22-32.

Serdonati F (1987) Dizionario biografico degli italiani. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

Soldati P (1935) Jacopo Corbinelli e Lionardo Salviati. Archivum romanicum 19: 415-423.

Sorella A (ed.) (1995) Benedetto Varan. L'Hercolano. Pescara: Libreria dell'Universita Editrice.

Speroni C (1953) The Italian Wellerism to the End of the Seventeenth Century. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca con tre indici delle voci, locuzioni, eproverbi latini, e greci, posti per entro l'opera. Con privilegio del Sommo Pontefice, del Re Cattolico, della Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia e degli altri Principi, e Potentati d'Italia, e fuori d'Italia, della Maesta Cesarea, del Re Cristianissimo, e del Serenissimo Arciduca Alberto (1612). Venice: Tipografia Alberti.

Archival manuscripts

Ferrara--Biblioteca Ariostea

Cl. I H:    Sopra la tragicomedia del Guarini, censure, e correzioni
            del sig.r Lionardo Salviati

            Hand S: cc. 105r-106v

Cl. I 175:  Scritture varie di Ottavio Magnanini

            Ottavio Magnanini's hand

Cl. 1 204:  Discorso in sette capi distinto, sopra l'inscrizione
            fatta d'ordine dell'Illustrissimo e Reverendissimo Signor
            Cardinal Serra Legato di Ferrara, dal Signor Ghino de'
            Ghini a Pie della statua eretta a N. S. Papa Paulo Quinto
            nella piazza d'arme della fortezza di Ferrara, d'Ottavio

            Magnanini Ottavio Magnanini's hand

Cl. I 285:  Abbozzamento della 'ntroduzione alii saturnali di Ottavio

            Ottavio Magnanini's hand

Cl. I 394:  Proverbi toscani

            Hand A, Hand a, Hand S, Hand B, Hand C

Cl. II 25:  Proverbi italiani

            Copy of Codex Cl. I 394, except Hand C

Florence--Accademia della Crusca (Archivio Storico)

Carte Segni, fascetta 110,      Lionardo Salviati's letter to
fascicolo 9.1:                  Benedetto Varchi Signature by
                                Hand S

Florence--Archivio di Stato

Carte dei 409, 52 bis:          Salviati's baptismal records
                                from Santa Maria del Fiore

Mediceo del Principato 738:     cc. 246 and 307; letters to the
                                Grand Duke con cerning the
                                'rassettatura del Decameron;'
                                minor interventions by Hand S

Mediceo del Principato 744:     cc. 46 and 129; personal letters
                                to the Grand Duke entirely by
                                Hand S

Mediceo del Principato 751:     cc. 37 and 338; personal letters
                                to the Grand Duke entirely by
                                Hand S

Mediceo del Principato 752:     c. 1; personal letter to the
                                Grand Duke entirely by Hand S

Mediceo del Principato 755:     c. 441; Decameron's dedicatory
                                epistle to the Duke of Sora with
                                a few corrections by Hand S

Mediceo del Principato 765:     c. 475; letter to the Grand Duke
                                concerning a copyist

Notarile Moderno, Serie         c. 63 ss; Lionardo Salviati's will
Protocolli Ser Francesco
Parenti a Firenze
1140-1149, Pezzo 1149
(gia 1186) 10:

Florence--Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale

Carteggi Vari 207.173:          Letter by Ottavio Magnanini
                                Ottavio Magnanini's hand

Magi. VII 306:                  Poesie diverse
                                Hand A

Magi. VII 715:                  Del trattato della poetica,
                                lettura terza
                                Hand S

Magi. VIII 1399:                cc. 123r-124r; Lettere di
                                vari letterati a G. B.
                                Strozzi il Cieco e ad altri

Naz. II II 11:                  Aristotelis poetica graece
                                cum paraphrasi thusca
                                Leonardi Salviati
                                Hand A with notes and
                                annotations by Hand S

Daniela D'Eugenio



(1.) For further information, see Salviati (1584, 1586), Boschieri (1998), and Follini (1810).

(2.) Although many biographies report 1540 as the year of Salviati's birth, the year 1539 seems more plausible. The baptismal records of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence report that on Friday June 27, 1539. Lionardo Salviati (not 'Leonardo Salviati,' as many biographers spell his name) was born at two o'clock in the morning. In Codex 409 (Carte Dei--inserto 52 bis) there is a reference to his birth on June 26, 1539. In all likelihood Lionardo Salviati was born on June 26 and registered the following day. No archival material supports the year 1540.

(3.) The Cavalierato di Santo Stefano was established in 1562 (first on the Island of Elba and then in Pisa) by both the Medici family and the Catholic Church, for primarily civil and religious purposes (Brown, 1974). Salviati wrote an oration (Salviati, 1571) about his nomination on June 29, 1569 as Cavaliere di Santo Stefano.

(4.) Ercole Cortile was the Este family's ambassador at the Medici's court in Florence (Brown, 1974).

(5.) For more analytical information about Salviati's life, see Brown (1974).

(6.) Francesco Serdonati (who was born in 1540 and died some time before 1611) was a polygraph, a compiler, and a Latin and Greek scholar. He taught grammar in Florence, Padua, and Ragusa and in 1602 he moved to Rome. His main work is his collection Proverbi Italiani, in manuscript volumes (Serdonati, 1987). Pietro Ferrato published more recent editions of his proverbs (see Ferrato, 1870, 1871, 1873a, 1873b, 1873c).

(7.) Salviati's proverbs, along with Serdonati's collection and Giuseppe Giusti's Proverbi Toscani (Giusti, 2011), will shortly be available in a database of Italian proverbs created by the Accademia della Crusca entitled 'Proverbi Italiani.' Recently, on the occasion of the 10th convention of the Association for the History of the Italian Language in Padua, Marco Biffi presented an article entitled 'La raccolta di proverbi del vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca', in which he provided an updated description of the Accademia's projects on proverbs and a comparison between the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, Salviati's collection, and Monosini's Flos Italicae Linguae (Biffi, 2013).

(8.) For further information, see Franceschi (1978, 1994, 1999, 2000) and Mancini (1981).

(9.) The title Proverbi toscani can be misleading, in that it suggests that the Tuscan vernacular is the vehicular language throughout the collection. In fact, Salviati's collection gathers Italian proverbs, whose linguistic features are not too different from the standard Italian at the time.

(10.) Ferrato (1871), Manzoni (1873), and Antonelli (1884) have considered Codex Cl. I. 394 to be written almost entirely by Salviati.

(11.) The letter is kept in the archive of the Accademia della Crusca, Carte Segni, fascetta 110, fascicolo 9.1.

(12.) According to the Florentine calendar of the time, the year began on March 25 (this style is called ab incarnatione). Henceforth, when the date of a document refers to the Florentine style, I report the original date in the document and provide the date according to the modern style (with the year beginning on January 1) in brackets.

(13.) Usually the contents of the proverbs can be easily understood, but in some cases, namely wellerisms, a very brief explanation is provided to clarify the meaning. The name wellerism comes from Sam Weller, the main character in Dickens's Pickwick Papers, who used to tell anecdotes, jokes, and witticisms related to historical figures, well-known characters, or even invented people. Wellerisms usually have the structure 'As + someone + said,' followed by a funny sentence or an anecdote (Speroni, 1953).

(14.) Also, the blank pages that follow each alphabetic section seem to confirm this idea.

(15.) Ageno (1959: 240) refers to Hand a as a different copyist accurately imitating Hand A.

(16.) My own literal translations in English appear in brackets. Unless otherwise noted, all English translations are mine.

(17.) This letter is kept in the Historical Archive in Florence, Mediceo del Principato 765, c. 475.

(18.) By 'Paduan' I refer to the area also known as the valley of the Po river, characterized by distinctive linguistic features. For further information, see Sanga (1988, 1990).

(19.) For more analytical information, see Pasquazi (1957) and Battaglin (1964-1965).

(20.) In the first oration: 'Al Magnifico ms. Alessandro Canigiani mio osservandissimo' [To magnificent Mr. Alessandro Canigiani my beloved]. In the third oration: 'Al Magnifico ms. Alessandro Canigiani suo osservandissimo a Roma' [To magnificent my beloved Mr. Alessandro Canigiani in Rome].

(21.) In general, the annotations deal with linguistic and thematic issues. The first hand, writing in a darker ink, is more biting and critical than the other, pointing out improprieties of style, inadequate words, and repetitions. Furthermore, it does not appreciate the overall tone of the text, which it considers unsuitable for the genre of the oration. The second hand often disagrees with the first one and expresses a more positive attitude. Manzoni thinks that the letter is addressed to Alessandro Canigiani (Manzoni, 1873: 111). Conversely, Paolo Soldati argues that the letter is addressed to Jacopo Corbinelli (Soldati, 1935: 415-423; see also Brown, 1971 and Crescini, 1981).

(22.) In this letter, Salviati reproached his correspondent for all his defeats, his weak knowledge of Greek, his ineptitude in writing, and his disdain for literary and linguistic works of great importance (such as Bembo's Prose della vulgar lingua and Varchi's Hercolano).

(23.) All these letters were published by Ferrato (Ferrato, 1875).

(24.) For further information, see Brown (1957), Mordenti (1982), and Salviati (1582).

(25.) He is referring to Vincenzo Borghini and his entourage of representatives from the Accademia Fiorentina.

(26.) For further information, see Sorella (1995).

(27.) It is worthwhile to note that most of the proverbs included in the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca are the same as those in Codex Cl. I 394. They present the same graphic and syntactic structure; only minimal changes may occur in the way a word is written, or in the position of the words in the proverb itself, or in the explanation. Given the wealth of similarities, it is clear that the dictionary's source of proverbs is the collection of Codex Cl. I 394. For further information, see Biffi (2013).

(28.) Gianfilippo Magnanini was born in Fanano between 1535 and 1545. He died in Ferrara on July 14, 1598. The author of a pastoral entitled Ormisdo, he was also secretary at Cornelio Bentivoglio's court and later superintendent of Duke Alfonso II's mail service in Ferrara. He was appointed member of the Accademia della Crusca in 1589 (Magnanini G, 1987).

(29.) Ottavio Magnanini (1574-1652) was, like his father, a respected man of letters, a university professor of philosophy and medicine, and a secretary of the Accademia degli Intrepidi in Ferrara (Magnanini O, 1987).

(30.) Archivio Storico in Florence, Notarile Moderno, Serie Protocolli Ser Francesco Parenti a Firenze 1140-1149, Pezzo 1149 (gia 1186) 10. For further information, see Santi (1892).

(31.) As to where Ms. Cl. II25 was created, I believe that the copyist was from northern Italy. A few linguistic aspects led me to this conclusion, such as the substitution of c with z after any other consonant, and the oscillation between single and double consonants, both of which are typical of northern Italian dialects (such as the Ferrarese dialect).

(32.) For further information on Serdonati's collection and the manuscripts of this tradition, see Fiorelli (1999).

Corresponding author:

Daniela D'Eugenio, Graduate Center, CUNY, Comparative Literature, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.

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Author:D'Eugenio, Daniela
Publication:Forum Italicum
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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