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Brunetto Latini's (aka Latino's)
Li Livres dou Trésor


 
Summary
Written in verse in about 1266, the Li Livres dou Trésor is an allegorical and didactic encyclopedic text by Brunetto Latini, an Florentine writer and notary whose rhetorical skills were immortalized by both Giovanni Villani and Dante Alighieri. The Trésor follows in a long tradition of compendiums of classical material for a didactic audience, such as Cassiodorus, Boethius, and Martianus Capella. Latini deviates from this tradition, however, by writing in the vernacular. Indeed he states in his introduction "...and if anyone should ask why this book is written in Romance according to the usage of the French, even though we are Italian, I would say that there are two reasons: one, that we are in France, the other, that French is more pleasant and has more in common with all other languages." The text is divided into three books—wisdom, ethics, and rhetoric—that not only present summaries of classical knowledge for a lay audience on theology, universal history, science, geography, and natural history, but also provide practical advice on economics and politics. Latini's work was extremely popular, being copied in over seventy manuscripts and translated into Italian, Provençal, Castilian, Catalan, and Aragonese.

It is sometimes called The Book of the Treasure in English.

MSS

The manuscript tradition for the Trésor is vast. Click here for a full listing of the tradition, or see below for the manuscript witnesses associated with Italy:

MSS copied in Italy:
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Arsenal 2678 15th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 570, end of 14th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 569, 15th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 1113, 14th
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Maz 3871, end of 14th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 1114, 16th
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 2024, end of 13th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 726
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 1110, 13th


MS which may have been copied in Italy:
Bergamo, Biblioteca Civica, Cassaforte 2.5, 13th /14th
Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, II.280, 13th /14th c
Lyon, Bibliothèque municipal, 781, late 13th early 14th
Lyon, Bibliothèque municipal,948, 13th /14th c
Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, I.G.017, 13th /14th c
Oxford, Bodlian Library, Douce 319, late 13th early 14th
Rome, ms. reg. lat. 1320, 14th c
Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, DVIII, 14th c

MSS with Italian scribal hand, but indeterminate place of production:
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 19090, end of 14th /15th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 571, 13th c
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 1109, 1310

Editions


 Latini, Brunetto. Li livres dou tresor. Edited by Francis J. Carmody. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1948.

Latini, Brunetto. The Book of the Treasure. Edited by Paul Barrette and Spurgeon Baldwin. New York: Garland, 1993.









































Secondary Literature



Beltranni, Pietro G. “Appunti su vicende del Trésor: composizione, letture, riscritture.” In L’enciclopedisomo medievale, 311-28. Edited by M. Picone. Ravena: Luogo, 1994.

Holloway, Julia Bolton. Brunetto Latini; An Analytic Bibliography. London: Grant and Coulter, 1986.

Prince, D. E. “Textual History of Li Livres dou Trésor. Fitting the Pieces Together.” Manuscripta 37 (1993), 276-89.

Venturi, I.“L’iconografia letteraria di Brunetto Latini,” Studi Medievali ser. 3, 38 (1997), 499-528.

 See also Arlima.

 

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