The Medieval Review 13.02.09

Incardona, Valentina. Tito Livio Frulovisi, Claudi Duo. Teatro Umanistico, 5. Florence : SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2011. Pp. lxii, 120. . . 36.00 EUR. ISBN: 978-88-8450-419-7.

Reviewed by:

Eva Del Soldato
University of Warwick
e.del-soldato@sns.it

Maybe because it has been considered scarcely original, and slavishly moulded on the classical roman comedies, humanistic theater has rarely received an adequate editorial attention. This would be enough to welcome "Teatro Umanistico", the series directed by Stefano Pittaluga and Paolo Viti and started in 2011, as an important achievement. Among the titles included in the project there are works by Mercurino Ranzo, Giovanni Michele Alberto Carrara, Marcellino Verardi, Tommaso di Mezzo and some anonymous authors. But among these names, the most important is that of Tito Livio Frulovisi, two of whose pieces have already appeared in the series: the Oratoria and the Claudi Duo. Frulovisi had certainly an interesting life: born in Ferrara, he travelled for a long time the Italian peninsula. He mainly lived in Venice, where he almost certainly studied with Guarino Guarini: Guarino's influence addressed the interests of Frulovisi towards pedagogical theatre and he wrote in the city of the lagoon the most part of his comedies, while working as a teacher. In the meantime Frulovisi became notary in Padua, but around 1436 he went first to Greece, and then to England, entering the intellectual circle of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Frulovisi produced for the Duke a biography of his late brother, the king Henry V, recently unmasked (Rundle, 2008) as a derivation from another writing on the same subject (the Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti). Frulovisi went back to Italy, which he left again in order to visit Spain and France, where he became a physician. He eventually returned to Venice, where he probably died around 1463.

Though important Italian scholars, such as Remigio Sabbadini and Antonio Staüble, devoted essays and pages to the figure of Frulovisi, his international peregrination made him even more interesting to anglophone scholarship. There was also a material conjecture to favour it: in fact the manuscript containing the whole theatrical work by Frulovisi is conserved in a codex unicus (C. 10) at the St. John's College Library in Cambridge, and was published in 1932 by Charles W. Previté-Orton. Eventually, in 2003, Grady Smith published the first modern translation of a work by Frulovisi, significantly the Peregrinatio, that is the first comedy Frulovisi wrote in England, which is also considered the first Neo-Latin comedy composed in the British islands. Furthermore, distinguished latinists like Henry David Jocelyn and David Rundle offered important essays which helped to reassess Frulovisi's biography and production. To these works on Frulovisi, it has still to be added an article in German by Walther Ludwig. Therefore, the "Teatro Umanistico" editions of the Oratoria, by Cristina Cocco (already published for the first time in Cagliari in 1994), and more recently of the Claudi Duo by Valentina Incardona, represent the most significant contributions from Italian scholarship after many years, during which Frulovisi met with his biggest success abroad. If the Oratoria was the last comedy composed by Frulovisi before leaving Venice, likely due to some struggles, the Claudi duo was instead his third work, wrote as a defence in the midst of the accusations by his adversaries, who blamed Frulovisi of immorality and of having plagiarised an otherwise unknown comedy written by Giacomo Langosco.

Valentina Incardona offered a very clean edition of the text. Though the text itself did not present many problems--like the other comedies, it exists in the single exemplar conserved at Cambridge and obviously in the princeps published by Previté-Orton--Incardona offers nevertheless a very carefully prepared apparatus: she lists significant graphic deformities and organizes a complete source apparatus, which well explains the dialogue between the piece by Frulovisi and his classical models like Terentius and Plautus. On the other hand the closest point of reference of Frulovisi is Lucian of Samosata, who experienced a noteworthy success in the fifteenth century and is the author of a work entitled Timon, which presents a plot very similar to the Claudi duo. As stated by the editor (LI) it is not possible to establish in a definite way if Frulovisi read the text by Luciano in the original Greek version, or in a Latin translation, but what is remarkable to emphasize is the similarity between the central theme of the two works: the absurdity of the lust for money, which causes only anguish and anxiety. In fact the Claudi duo (the two cripples) of the title are Plausipeno and Plutus, the god of wealth, who only eventually will reenter the house of the human protagonist. Nevertheless, Plausipeno will learn wisdom during the time he spent in poverty.

In her complete analysis of the work, Incardona rightly emphasizes the hints about the representation of the play which can be drawn from the text itself, for example about the employment of music or directing notes (XXVI-XXVII). A young scholar, Incardona has certainly done an appreciable job, even though she is at times too rigid in her exposition and tends to add footnotes, which are not always necessary. But again, one can only rejoice about the possibility of having available this text in a reliable modern edition, which hopefully will allow Frulovisi to enjoy more attention both from Italian and international scholars.