Piero Boitani


2016 Balzan Prize for Comparative Literature

Balzan Research Project Summary
Ancient Literature: Survival and Rewriting

The project will have two sections: 1. Beginning and Creation: Re-Writing; 2. The Survival and Rewriting of Ancient Classics

Part 1: Survival and Re-writing of the Bible: Beginning and Creation

Institution: Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI), Lugano
Coordinator: Piero Boitani (Chair, Comparative Literature, “La Sapienza” University, Rome; Professor, USI)
Deputy supervisor: Corrado Bologna (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa; USI)

The subject of Creation for two postdoctoral scholarships stems from Boitani’s long-term interest in it, including numerous publications. Two postdoc USI students will receive a 40% scholarship for two years beginning in 2017. Their work should lead to a fully developed study and eventually a publication (Mulino, Bologna, without Balzan funding, but with acknowledgement of the project). Work between the two postdoc students will be divided as follows: 1. The theme of Creation in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; 2. The theme of Creation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Research results will be presented at yearly one-day Seminars at USI in Lugano. Upon completion of the volume, a book launch will be organized at USI and in Bologna (Il Mulino headquarters), with a lecture devoted to the theme and bearing the name of the Balzan Foundation. Other lectures bearing the name of the Balzan Foundation will be held in Rome (Accademia dei Lincei; Pontificia Università Gregoriana).

Part 2. The Classics and their Survival

Institution: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla
Coordinator: Piero Boitani (Executive Vice President and Director of the Fondazione Valla’s series Scrittori Greci e Latini)
Substitute Project Head: Emilia Di Rocco (Comparative Literature, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza)

A five-year project will lead to the publication of a number of volumes edited by the Fondazione Valla and Mondadori publishers, in the series Scrittori Greci e Latini. It will fall into several sub-projects personally directed by Piero Boitani and entrusted to scholars worldwide for research and writing. Each volume will consist of the following: 1. drafting of the critical text and apparatus; 2. translation into Italian; 3. introduction and extensive critical commentary on the work, in the tradition of the Valla Classici series; 4. scholarly essay on the survival of the work (possibly incorporated in the Introduction).

List of Sub-projects

1. Homer, Iliad. Six volumes, all edited by a mixed group of younger and well-established scholars, and coordinated by Professor Giulio Guidorizzi (Turin), who will also do the translation and write the general introduction, and entrusted to Professors A.M. Bowie (Oxford); E. Cook (Trinity, Texas); L. Edmunds (Rutgers); D. Elmer (Harvard); J. Pòrtulas (Barcellona); C. Tsagalis (Thessaloniki), each of whom will edit four books of the work.
2. Troy after Troy. Two volumes coordinated by A. D’Agostino (Milan), along the same lines as Alessandro nel Medioevo occidentale, published by Valla in 1997. It will collect classical Greek and Latin texts later than the Iliad, and English, German, Scandinavian and Slavic romances from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century. M. Capaldo (Lincei), A. Cipolla (Verona), A. D’Agostino, S. Romani, S. Lunardi (Milan) and F. Conca will collaborate on the project.
3. Stories of Ulysses. Edited by Piero Boitani, with the collaboration of an assistant (doctoral student at New York University). Three volumes that will collect works regarding the figure and vicissitudes of Ulysses after the Odyssey, in classical, medieval and modern literature, down to our own times, with original texts and translations into Italian, a general introduction, introductions to each work, and a commentary.
4. Protagoras and Gorgias, Works. Edited (text, translation, introduction, comment) by the young researcher Michele Corradi (Aix-Marseille).
5. Pseudo-Longinus, The Sublime, edited by S. Halliwell (St. Andrews) for the text, introduction and commentary, with a long essay by M. Fusillo (L’Aquila) on the Nachleben of this work.
6. Heliodorus, Aethiopica, entirely edited by Silvia Montiglio (John Hopkins, Baltimore).
7. Petronius, Satyricon, 2 volumes, coordinated by P. Fedeli (Bari and Lincei), critical text by G. Vannini (Perugia, 9.3.1976), translation by A. Fo (Siena), commentary by P. Habermehl (Humboldt), R. Dimundo (Bari), P. Fedeli (Bari and Lincei), B. Santorelli (Bari), A. Stramaglia (Cassino), A, Cafagna, (Bari).
8. Apuleius, Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass): 4 volumes, coordinated by A. Barchiesi (Siena and New York University) and by researcher L. Graverini (Siena), text L. Nicolini (Genoa), translation L. Graverini, commentary W. Keulen (Rostock), L. Nicolini, S. Mattiacci (Siena), I. Marchiesi (Hofstra, New York). An English edition is planned with Cambridge University Press, currently publishing the commentary to Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Barchiesi for the Valla Foundation.
9. Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, 3 volumes edited by F.R. Berno (Sapienza), R. Pierini (Florence), C. Torre (Milan), introduction by Remo Bodei.
10. The Martyrs of Rome, 2 volumes edited by M. Lapidge (Cambridge), with translations by P. Chiesa (Milan). A collection of the most important stories of the Roman martyrs brought together and published for the first time in modern days, with an introduction and commentary by one of the major specialists in the field.
11. Arks: Noah, Covenant, Memory. Three volumes edited by C. Bologna (Scuola Normale Superiore and USI) and M. Mocan (Roma 3 and USI). Five archetypes of “arks” widely diffused in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque culture are here identified: Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, the Church, the Body of Christ, “arks of memory”. The text – edited, translated, introduced and commented upon – include (I) Ambrose, De Noe et arca; Hugh of St. Victor, De arca Noe; (II) Hugh of St. Victor, Libellus de formatione archae; Richard of St. Victor, De arca mystica I-III; (III) Richard of St. Victor, De arca mystica IV-V; Giulio Camillo, L’Arca del Patto; Athanasius Kircher, Arca Noe in tres libros digesta.
12. The Poetry and Philosophy of Chartres. Two volumes edited by F. Santi (Cassino and Firenze), J.Y. Tillette (Geneva), I. Caiazzo (CNRS, Paris), L. Pagani, M. Giani, V. Mattaloni will bring together the texts of (I) Bernardus Silvestris (Cosmographia), Thierry of Chartres (Tractatus de sex dierum operibus), Alain de Lille (Sermo de sphaera intelligibili), William of Conches («Anima mundi»), and the Metamorphosis Golye episcopi; (II) Alain de Lille (Anticlaudianus and De planctu naturae). Some of the texts of these volumes deal with the themes of the Beginning and of Creation, which are dealt with in the section of the research project that deals with the Bible and Its Survival.

Two initiatives, including yearly book launches in Rome (suggested venues: Museo Nazionale Romano or the Accademia dei Lincei; Pontificia Università Gregoriana for 10, 11 and 12) with invitations extended to secondary schools in Rome; and the institution of one or two Balzan-Valla-Lincei Annual Lectures on the classics, European literature and the world, to be held in Rome at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, and eventually in other places both in Italy and abroad. The two lectures for 2018 will be held on 23 November at the Accademia dei Lincei by Peter Dronke (Cambridge) and Piero Boitani (Sapienza), both on the subject of Wonder.

July 2017