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Descrizzione della barriera, e della mascherata, fatte in Firenze a' XVII. et a' XIX. di Febbraio 1612 al serenissimo signor Prencipe d'Urbino.
Florence, Bartolomeo Sermartelli and brothers, 1613 - 4to (212 x 150 mm), pp [iv] 112, with large woodcut printer's ornament on title; a fine, crisp copy in contemporary vellum, lettered in gilt on an orange ground on spine, blue edges. First edition of this account of a Medici court masque in which Galileo's discoveries of the satellites of Jupiter are heralded and the satellites appear as characters on stage. Villifranchi reports on the Medici festivities organized for the Carnival of 1612. On p 32 Galileo Galilei is celebrated for his 'marvellous telescope' and discovery of the satellites of Jupiter; these were staged for the first time in the allegorical representation of the planet: 'E piu a basso tra le nuvole apparivano le Quattro Stelle erranti intorno a Giovee, ritrovate dal Signor Galilei Galilei Fiorentino, Mathematica di Sua Altezza ingegno rarissimo, e singolare a tempi nostril per opera del maraviglioso Occhiale ?'This work 'includes verse by G.A. Cicognini for the Comparsa de' Cavalieri delle Stelle Medicee (pp 31-48)' (Harvard catalogue).'Although Galileo was not successful in his first attempts to tie the court writers to his wagon, the Medicean stars eventually became an integral part of the discourse of the court. The medal celebrating Galileo's discovery of the satellites was eventually struck. Jupiter sitting on a cloud with the four stars circling about him was presented as an emblem of Cosimo II, whose effigy occupied the other side of the medal. The stars were represented in sonnets, in theatrical machines, in operas, in medals, and in frescoes celebrating the divine pedigree of the house of Medici. We encounter them again in the most important court spectacle of the carnival of 1613 [i.e. 1612] - the barriera of 17 February. It began at two o'clock Florentine time in the theater of the Pitti Palace in front of a selected courtly audience. After a virtuoso display of spectacular theatrical machines and effects designed by the court engineer Giulo Parigi, the spectacle deployed its mythological plot. Cupid set his own realm over Tuscany, inaugurating a Golden Age, but peace was soon threatened. Cupid and his knights (six court pages) were faced by a monstrous dragon spitting flames and smoke and twelve Furies led by Nemesis. Although the dragon, Nemesis, and the Furies were eventually made to disappear into a trap conveniently connected to hell, Cupid and Tuscany were not safe yet. Sdegno Amoroso (Disdain of Love) and his five ferocious and barbarous looking "Egyptian knights" jumped on stage from the hellmouth. A new tilt began, but peace and Tuscany's Golden Age were quickly re-established by divine (Cosimo I's?) intervention. Thunder was heard, and Jupiter arrived on a shimmering cloud (part of a very complicated machine that changed in appearance as it moved about the stage). Jupiter was not alone: 'Down below, among the clouds, appeared the four stars that circle Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei from Florence, Mathematician to His Highness, with the marvellous spyglass, and like the ancients who transposed to the sky their greatest heroes, he - having discovered these stars - called them Medicee, and has dedicated the first to His Most Serene Highness, the second to Prince Don Francesco, the third to Prince Don Carlo, the fourth to Prince Don Lorenzo'. The machine brought Jupiter close to the grand duchess, to whom he sang an aria; then it slowly disappeared from the stage. In the process the four Medicean stars turned into four flesh-and-blood knights: 'After Jupiter finished his song some thunders were heard, the cloud vanished and there appeared four stars which soon turned into four knights who stood up'. The Cyclops (who had come on stage right before Jupiter's arrival) handed thunderbolts to the four knights. With such weapons, they were ready to start the new joust in Jupiter's name. The name of the tilt was 'The Arrival of the Knights of the Medicean Stars'. Peace soon followed. The ladies in the audience joined the knights on stage [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: WP Watson Antiquarian Books]
Last Found On: 2017-02-28           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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