FWF project on Basinio Da Parma's Hesperis granted

The LBI was applying for a third party funded project on Basinio da Parma's epic poem Hesperis with the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF). This year, the project has been granted, and starting on 1 August 2018, the team around Anna Chisena, Marco Petolicchio, and Florian Schaffenrath will work on this critical edition. What is the project about?

No tourist who visits the city of Rimini today can miss visiting the famous Tempio Malatestiano, the cathedral of Rimini. In the fifteenth century, Sigismondo Malatesta (1417–1468) embellished the church on a grand scale and made it a memorial to his own honour. One of the earliest descriptions of the Tempio is contained in the first large-scale epic poem of the Italian renaissance, Basinio da Parma’s Hesperis, a poem which follows in the footsteps of Virgil’s Aeneid. In its thirteen books, the poem describes the battles of Sigismondo against his enemies from Naples, Alfonso and Ferdinand of Aragon. During the conflicts Sigismondo became a unifying figure for the whole of Italy. Besides dramatic battle descriptions, numerous elements of fantasy also appear in the piece, including, for instance, the remarkable scene in which Sigismondo is told him his own future after being brought to the Island of the Blessed.

Although the Hesperis is one of the most important poems of the Italian quattrocento, there is no modern edition of the text and no translation exists. We still have to rely on the edition published by Lorenzo Drudi in 1794 (!), which was completed on the basis of one single manuscript. In the preliminary research for this project we have discovered twelve manuscripts of the Hesperis, some of them with exquisite illustrations.            

It is the aim of this project to produce a modern critical edition of the Hesperis by collating all the manuscripts known today. As the result will not be a typical printed book, but rather a digital edition, it will be possible for the user to switch directly from the critical text to digitized and transcribed manuscripts, to the translation, or to the commentary section where the historical background especially, literary sources, and parallels to other passages in Basinio’s oeuvre can be explained in detail.