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The fortune of the "Flower of virtues" between Slavia and Romania

by: Paolo Puccetti
original title (in Italian): La fortuna del Fiore di virtù tra Slavia e Romània
pp: 340

Book's frontpage

The present work has as its object a bilingual Romanian and Slavonic manuscript, located within the library of Academia Românǎ in Bucharest, catalogued B.A.R. ms. 4620. It is a miscellaneous codex variously dated by different scholars. Ms. 4620 contains, from folio 457 recto to folio 627 verso, the oldest known witness of the Romanian tradition of the Italian text known as "Flower of virtues" together with a parallel Slavic version. The Slavic version is written in a language full of peculiarities that significantly diverge with the language used in the text from both the Old Slavonic Church and the local literary Slavic dialects.
The two versions, Slavic and Romanian, are arranged into alternating paragraphs on a single column: first Slavic with black ink, to follow the Romanian in rubric. The Romanian version has already been published (Moraru, a., Georgescu, M., editors, Floarea darurilor, Sindipa, Bucureşti, Editura Minerva, 1996). Here the author proposes the edition of the Slavic version of Fiore di virtù with philological and linguistic apparatus, together with an Italian translation. The Fiore di virtù is an Italian text of the exempla genre composed during the first half of the XIV century. It was circulated in various editions throughout Europe until the XVIII century.
The text is divided into 35 chapters arranged in such a way as to alternate between the odd chapters dealing with virtues and the even chapters dealing with the opposed vices, with the exception of the final chapter which remains isolated. Each chapter is organized into four sections: a definition of the virtue or vice, an analogy with an animal, then authoritative judgments, finally a moral tale.
The different cardinality of the two sets of vices and virtues serves to highlight the element that lies beyond the one-to-one relation obtaining between them: the final virtue – moderança – is the real flower of all the virtues, the synthesis prefigured by the seventeen preceding thesis-antithesis dyads. The classical inventory of bestiaries beginning with the Physiologus lacks an animal with which to represent this new virtue. Moderation is a completely human virtue: it ultimately reveals itself as the source of righteousness, thus announcing the dawn of the new humanistic outlook and marking the shift from Middle Ages to Renaissance.
The sources of "Fiore di virtù" are found in medieval bestiary tradition which goes back to the Physiologus. The author thus demonstrates that in the Fiore di virtù there appears an animal up to that time unknown to the bestiary genre; an animal that will thenceforth experience great success as a symbolic element within the Western world, right through to our own day: the ermine, watershed of a cultural transformation. Finally, the author locates the source of the new symbol in the misinterpretation of the word mygale as used in Greek encyclopedias.


Table of contents

Testo del ms. rom. 4620 - edizione imitativa
Testo del ms. rom. 4620 - edizione interpretativa
Manoscritti di redazione italiana e relativa bibliografia
Tavola degli incunaboli di redazione italiana




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