37. Miscellany of Latin and vernacular poems
Tuscany, 17th century
paper; 197 x 133 mm; fols. iii + 144 + i
This miscellany, with poems by various 16th- and 17th-century authors such as Alessandro Adimari, Antonio Aldrovandi, Lorenzo Azzolini, Bonavita Capezzali, Pier Francesco Minozzi and Ciro di Pers, belonged to Francesco Redi (1626–97), who also wrote one of its sections. Considered one of the founders of modern medicine and biology, Redi is unquestionably one of the most polymathic and interesting scientists of the Italian and European tradition, a rare figure who merged courtly life with a passion for scientific research, arts and letters, and ancient manuscripts. Chief physician to two grand dukes of Tuscany, Ferdinando II and Cosimo III, and the author of works destined to become milestones in the history of modern science, the Arezzo-born scholar was also a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia, one of the most active representatives of the Accademia del Cimento, and Archconsul of the Accademia della Crusca, where he was appointed to correct and expand the entries in the Dictionary of the Italian Language. A sophisticated man of letters, he began to cultivate poetry at an early age, not “as a profession, but as a pastime and a way to escape idleness”, as he wrote to Federigo Nomi in a letter dated 10 June 1690. One of his most notable literary works is the famous dithyramb Bacco in Toscana, a brilliant poem in praise of wine that was published in 1685 and is considered a masterpiece of escapist literature. The manuscripts collected by Redi and part of his enormous correspondence were bequeathed to the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in 1820 by Redi’s last heir, Francesco Saverio Redi. Fol. 144v (above, a detail) shows the family crest drawn in pen, possibly by Redi himself. The manuscript is open at fol. 70v, which contains Redi’s ode De Herculis et Antei pugna written in the author’s own hand.