An Anthology of Dante’s ‘Minor’ Works (MS Can. Ital. 114)
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Can. Ital. 114 Italy, Florence; 15th century, before 1475; Filippo Benci.
Paper; mm 195x287; ff. II+196, written in a merchant cursive script by Filippo Benci. Verses written in one single column, prose in full-page layout. Red rubrics. Pen-flourished initials for the beginning of the texts, and some coloured initials in red. Italy, Florence; Matteo Luigi Canonici, 1727–1805; Giuseppe Canonici , -1807. Purchased by the Bodleian Library in 1817. The manuscript contains the Vita Nuova, a series of Dante’s lyric poems, and the Convivio.
Filippo Benci was a member of a Florentine family of linaioli, linen workers, who in the fifteenth century owned a considerable library consisting of simple yet thoroughly copied or commissioned volumes, like this ‘Dantean anthology’ encompassing Vita nuova (New Life), lyric poems, and Convivio. This manuscript derives from Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century edition of Dante’s works, but adds the Convivio and some lyrics to the selection while excluding the Commedia (of which the Benci family owned other copies). Filippo’s brothers were part of the Florentine cultural élite: Tommaso and Giovanni Benci were called comphilosophi by Marsilius Ficinus, who in 1463 asked Tommaso Benci to translate his Pimander into the vernacular. Their grandfather, Giovanni di Taddeo Benci, was a friend of Coluccio Salutati.