Pietro Aretino

Aretino, Pietro

Italian poet (1492-1556). Autograph letter signed. Venice. Folio (220 x 320 mm). 1 page on bifolium. With autograph address on verso ("Ala eccellenza Del Signor Don Ferrante Gonzaga Grandissimo Capitano il famoso"). Traces of seal and endorsements.
$ 38,010 / 35.000 € (95679/BN63356)

Fine letter to Don Ferrante Gonzaga (1507-57), the brother of the Duke of Mantua, imploring him to intercede on behalf of Giantomaso da l'Isola di Dovara, who was condemned to the galleys for stealing grain. Aretino, famously nicknamed "the scourge of princes" by his biographer Edward Hutton, adopts the guise of a supplicant to the great condottiere Don Ferrante Gonzaga, on whose "giudizio savio" he can rely. He paints a pitiful picture of the situation of the unfortunate thief, buried in prison half-dead for more than a year, and the fate of his five children, tormented by misery: "Non negarei che Giantomaso da l'Isola di Doara [...] non meritasse per conto di sí prosuntuosa licenzia; il laccio al collo, non che il remo in le mani; caso dico che lo stento de i suoi cinque figliuoli (da lo strazio de la miseria destrutti) non l'avesser promosso a lasciare ogni pericolo de colpa, et di pena da parte, solo per remediare a lo ignudo, a lo scalzo, et al famelico de le sue ossa, del suo sangue, et dele sue carni [...]".

- With somewhat false modesty, Aretino signs the letter as Gonzaga's "inutile servo". His petition proved successful: in a subsequent letter, dated 27 March 1553, he praises Gonzaga for having preserved Giantomaso from the "purgatory of the oar". - The sentiments expressed in Aretino's letter, calling for clemency and understanding, echo his tragedy "Orazia" from 1546, in which the single survivor of the contest between the Horatii and Curiatii (representing ancient Rome and its rival, Alba Longa) is condemned to death, yet spared following the pleas for clemency from his father. Gonzaga is one of the notables praised by Fama in the prologue..

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