Andrea Rapicio
Prominent Istrians


«Salve terra parens»

Trieste between myth and reality in the short poem ISTRIA written by the bishop of Trieste, Andrea Rapicio (1533-1573)

[Ivica Martinović, Dubrovnik. PATRIMONIUM IN MANUSCRIPTIS CONSERVATUM, EUROCLASSICA CONGRESS Dubrovnik, 29.03-02.04.05, pg. 58-73. Unpublished manuscript heritage of the Croatian Latinists in the libraries and archives of Dubrovnik: preliminary report - see URL below.]

Together with Raffaele Zovenzoni and Pietro Bonomo, Andrea Rapicio is one of the greatest representatives of the Trieste humanism, especially of the late humanism. He lived in the middle of the 16th ct. At that time, there was a profound crisis in Trieste, due to poverty caused by plague epidemic, Turks invasions and merchant smuggling from the inland to the Venetian properties.

Rapicio was born in 1533, as a nobleman; his family wasn't related to the 13 noble families of Trieste, but his ancestors from the 13th cent. took the active part in the town administration. The fact that most of them were on good positions as clargymen and lawyers had a great influence on the young Rapicio.

As a boy, he left his hometown and came to Capodistria - Koper, which at that time was considered to be one of the most important cultural centres in the area of the north Adriatic. His ambitious father Domenico Rapicio saw this Istrian town as the best place for his son to acquire basic knowledge of Latin, poetry and rhetoric. Very soon, when he was not even 12, he moved to Vienna. Soon after that, in 1545 entered the University of Vienna to study law. In the beginning of the 16th ct., University of Vienna was going through the period of crisis, especially after the death of patron Maximilian I. There was scarcity of financial means. Epidemic and the danger of Turk invasions resulted in drastic decrease in the freshmen number. Still, the tendency to renew the University in the field of organization as in the field of content was already present. So the University was to be transformed and diffused into a non-clerical institution governed by the state. Rapicio’s stay in Vienna was very self-productive and it was then that he wrote many of his poems and met many influential people at the court. Sigismundus Herberstein, whose name is very often found in the poems of Trieste, was one of them. Already elder baron of Carniola, who still went on with his diplomatic activities and was a chairman of the Court Chamber, accepted young Rapicio as his countryman and offered him his protection. Very soon, in 1550, Andrea Rapicio left Vienna to continue studying law in Padova.We can see in one of his autobiographical poems that it was a case of a very urgent escape to avoid getting ill of a disease that was spreading all over the town. This wasn't surely the only reason why he came back to Italy. Many students, who began their studies in Wien, decided later to complete their education in Padova or in Bologna. For centuries, the University of Padova was a famous Roman law school which in the 16th cent. reached it's top. That period was also the period of the political predominance of Serenissima. Professors preferred to teach in a concrete way, which prepared students to practise law. In practice, those graduated students from Padua were the most respected in their field of work. The professors were directly amenable to the Republic of Venice, which appointed them and was paying them. They were not inclined to any rigid ideology and academic wondering which came from the German regions was still in practise in the period of Rapicio's stay in Padova. In 1552, Rapicio's first collection of poems was published: FACILIORIS MUSAE CARMINUM LIBRI DUO, where we can find many names of colleagues and professors he studied with. Andrea Rapicio graduated in December in 1554 and returned to Trieste very soon. This was a sad return, as his older brother died the very day he graduated and in the year 1555 also started the plague epidemic, which shortened his father’s life, and it was then that the poverty began and lasted for many years.

After he had come home, young Rapicio had a hope to live in peace about which he wrote in his poems but the whole thing was nothing but an illusion. Even though those were the years when he wrote a short poem Istria, which is his masterpiece published in 1556 and then republished in 1561, he didn't spend too much time on Muses because his poetic passion was overwhelmed by his political engagement. His father, however, gave all his inheritance for his sons' best education so the poverty of his family made young Rapicio accept the job of a town orator and a secretary of the Wien court in 1555. Rapicio was in favour of Trieste free navigation (from 1562 he participated in numerous diplomatic meetings together with the representatives of Serenissima) and he also wanted to end the Carniola smuggling to Venetian regions.

For everything he did and for the diplomatic ability he showed concerning law business, Ferdinand I appointed him the court secretary in 1562. He was the right man on the right place. Although there weren't many educated people but those educated who would accept to work hard in diplomacy were even in the smaller number. Small number of diplomats was a big problem at the court in that time. They wanted to create an administration to rule in the absolute way and were faced with the lack of competent people ready to do so. Who they wanted most were multilingual educated people coming from the borderline regions such as Subalps region. Concerning all this, Rapicio was perfect for this job.

In 1565, archduke Karl appointed Rapicio bishop of Trieste but at that time Rapicio was still a lay brother. The fact that his diplomatic career at the court became ecclesiastic one shouldn't surprise us because in the first part of the 16th cent. there was a tendency among educated people of humanism, which was in favour of bishop appointment and cardinal’s garments. With all the limits imposed, ecclesiastic career was still more desirable than the lay one. Bishops often entrusted vicar with their work even though they didn’t want to escape from the work of spiritual guidance; many implications (administrative, judicial and political) were preventing them to do their job on their own. But very soon the idea of a bishop who should lead an exemplary life was created. He should take care of a spiritual and physical benefit of his believers, take into consideration the needs of the region and have clergy under control. One of the men of influence was Carlo Borromeo, the bishop of Milan from 1564, who was also a friend of Rapicio.

In the historiography of Trieste and in the collective mind still prevailed the image of a bishop who would help or start Counter Reformation in Trieste. He should firmly try to exterminate every kind of heresy, should unable the protestants spreading their ideas, should bring order among the religious questions and should make believers follow the rules in an orderly manner. In short, Rapicio would become the head of the Trieste spiritual guidance so he could end the reform Bonomo had started, but among the “Orthodox” Catholics. It is evident that this interpretation is very limited (we refer here to his friendship with people who were suspected to be heretic, as Aonio Paleario was), however we can’t deny that Rapicio’s attempts to improve morality were of great importance and very energical. His work doesn’t seem to be based on religious erudition: he worked hard in refining illiterate clergy’s customs with practical aims. His efforts probably seemed exaggerated to the city authorities that didn’t want to accept his interfering that would in any way touch their authonomy. Even the archduke Karl was opportune to call Rapicio in order by writing him a letter in which he demanded him to stay away of the matters which were under authority of the captain (at that time Antonio della Torre e Croce was the one) and the city judges. His work was also evident in the town cultural life. They say Trieste would have been introduced to Renaissance-the late one-if Rapicio hadn’t died premature. We haven’t got much information about his last years. In 1570, as emperor’s deputy he participated in the pastoral visit, under the guidance of the abbot Porcia, and the Pope referred laudably to him. Afterwards he continued his diplomatic career for the Habsburgs trying to obtain economical benefits for his family and for himself.

Andrea Rapicio died in December in 1573. The ancient sources bring information that Rapicio was poisoned at the dinner he organized in order to reconcile two families of Trieste. This was never clarified and his murder (if there was a murder) remained unsolved. Those who supposed to be guilty were never found. We can’t even say for sure that there was an investigation taken by the city authorities. When his stepmother Caterina asked for a financial support in the letter addressed to the Court Chamber (which is still kept in the Archives in Graz), she didn’t mention the possibility of the bishop having been murdered nor she even asked for the justice to be done. We can sum up that suspicious of the bishop having been poisoned were nothing but rumours spread by the people who still remembered the assassination attempt on Domenico Rapicio, Andrea’s father. So the rumours that Rapicio obtained damnatio memoriae were exaggerated and the members of his family were not forced to leave the city. The only one who moved to Pisino (Pazin) was Fabrizio Rapicio looking for the job. In this way his family tree died out systematically in Trieste.

His main literary works are: two collections of poems (one written in hand and preserved in the city library of Trieste and another, published in Venice in 1552), the short poem Istria, which exists in two versions, two funeral speeches for Karl V and for Ferdinand I (preserved in Österreichische Nationalbibliothek). We also must add to these some minor works of his theme, the pattern or the metre, they should also try to situate the work into contemporary historical and social situation and at the end respect the ideas, experience and the imagination of the author. Even though the poetry of humanism lack the sound and is full of the mythological fake and clumsy as well in the way of expressing thoughts, it contains biographical, chronological and geographical information which are of great interest.

Poematum liber secundus, a collection written in hand, came to us as an autographical written document and is preserved in the Trieste City Library (R.P. ms. 1-23). At first sight it seems probably that Poematum liber secundus, which also consists of numerous poems composed but never finished, chronologically precedes Facilioris Musae carminum libri duo because some poems which we can find here were published in the collection issued in Venice in 1552. But we have to take in consideration that in that last collection the poet signs as Andreas Rapicius nobilis Tergestinus and in the one written in hand as Andreas Rapicius i(uris) c(onsultus) Tergestinus which proves that Poematum liber secundus was written after he had graduated in Padua, in 1554. In my opinion Rapicio wrote it in the first years of his stay in Trieste. There he wrote some poems of his youth that remained unpublished (here poems with the style scripsit puer and the poems having as a theme his intention to study law can be placed) and some poems which are slightly changed and were already published in Facilioris Musae carminum libri duo; then he completed the collection with the new poems which he composed contemporaneously with the second compilation of Istria. Even though Poematum liber secundus wasn’t completely finished, it circulated among educated people of Trieste in the sixties of the 16th ct. and was imitated by the young writer who worked together on the collection of poems for the noblewoman Salomè della Torre. These poems were preserved in the form of a manuscript in Marciana and show us that the poetry of Rapicio was being read countinousely in Trieste even when the future bishop was to abandon muses. Not less complex is the supposed existance of Liber prior o primus. If it had ever exited it is definitely lost for us.

We have already said that the collection published as Facilioris Musae carminum libri duo, was issued in Venice in 1552. The first part consists of 75 compositions and the second of 45 of them. The poet was 19 years old then. Scheme of poems shows us a clear composition criteria: laudable poems dedicated to friends and patrons were put in the second part, while themes of the first part are various, composed in short forms and witty.

I dare say Andrea Rapicio isn’t a great poet. His poetry was written in the late Humanism when many collections of poems were published but those poems were deprived of real inspiration and closely attached to an office or a private anniversary (titles were vague like Elegiae, Epigrammata, Odae, Silvae, Nugae, Carmina, Poemata). It doesn’t make sense trying to find perfection in these poems nor inspiration of Virgil or Horace but prejudices that sometimes go along with this type of a poem (which is usually evaluated as artificial and insincere) need to be overcome. In the last few decades the interest in the literature of humanism has been growing which is closely related to revaluation of it’s formal characteristics. Those who read these poems shouldn’t be superficial severe critics but should identify with the author trying to understand the reasons which made the author choosing the

The most interesting of his poems is Istria which made him famous. The first edition was in 1556. Rapicio was 23 and was trying to become the secretary of the Court. In the brief introduction he dedicated the poem to Sigismundus Herberstein. Rapicio says that Herberstein must have the poem in his heart, as the poem describes the area the diplomat knew well. It is also well known that he devoted himself, and with the results, to the history and geography studies like people in Celtis', Cuspinianus' and Lazius' circles did.

After the first edition, Rapicio continued with polishing up the poem and with its modifications he republished it in the work of Wolfgang Lazius Typi chorographici provinciae Austriae in 1561. Lazius was a professor of medicine at the University of Vienna, he was also a historian, a headmaster of the Court Library and a member of the Secret Council. This publication even remained unknown to the Rapicio’s scholars who agreed upon the fact that the second edition was published after his death not early than in 1730, in Biga librorum rariorum provided by Raimundus Duellius. Raimundus Duellius lived in Saint Polten monastery in Austria and was a collector of the antique material from the baroque period. It was he who decided to republish the work of Lazius because very few pieces of his work were preserved. In doing this he also republished Istria which was contained in it, and a historical work of Silvio Piccolomini which he obtained from Apostolo Zeno. Istria issued by Duellius is to be considered a re-print of the edition of 1561.

After a long period of oblivion, the poem of Rapicio was discovered accidentaly by Pietro Kandler, a local history scientist in Trieste. At that time he was a law student in Pavia and he published the poem in 1826. Up to that moment Istria had been mentioned only in a few quotations in the history work of Ireneo della Croce. The second edition (the one from Biga librorum rariorum) was published by De Favento, a gymnasium professor almost half of the ct. after, in 1870. A year after, De Favento published also the first edition of the poem. Even though this is not philologically supported, those editions can be considered practically up to today the most profund studies of the poem wich was alo translated several times.

Istria in the second edition consists of 460 hexametres. We could define it as a short epic poem if we look at the form and the content. It is however difficult to place it in the poetic and geographical literate genres popular at that time, like odes, topographical descriptions and didactical poems even though it has many characteristics of the mentioned genres. However humanistic description of the geographical characters in broader terms are not very different in the content, but they are different in the poetical and rethorical form (epic poem, elegy, ode). The common denominator could be tendency to sacrify the very aim - the description of the contemporrary political, social and cultural situation - to the literate form and to insist on referring to the antique sources in order to prove also very well known assertions.

Among antique sources Plinius is the one worth to be mentioned. His description of X regio in the third book of Naturalis historia consists of two different parts: the trip around (periplous) which is enumeration of the sea-shore toponyms, and listing of the inland places which are territories of the single tribes. Separation of seashore places from that continental can also be found in the poem of Rapicio. We can certainly say that Plinius is the basic model of the description in the era of humanism especially in the preparation of the material. Humanistic sources possibly known by Andrea Rapicio are Italia illustrata by Flavio Biondo, Pietro Coppo’s works, especially Del sito del Istria, and De situ Histriae written by a doctor in Piran who was Rapicio’s contemporary and whose name was Giovanni Battista Goineo; De situ Histriae was published later as he escaped to avoid a heresy trial. My opinion is that Rapicio’s description of Istria is not only based on geographical, antique and humanistic texts but also on the personal experience. His genre and his form can be comprehensible only thank to being compared with geographical sources in prose whether they are antique or coeval to the author. There are many information about Istria that are repeated in the work of all those authors we’ve mentioned so it is sometimes really difficult to establish from which source Rapicio obtains information. The structure of the contents relates him manly to the work of Biondo and that of Coppo.

Rapicio said it was love to his country that inspired him to write his poem. His affection towards places of his homeland can be understandable by leaving out modern State categories because his affection was like the one of those historical and philological movements characteristic for Italian and later on German humanistic circles. Educated members of those circles, not only the Italians who could evocate the greatness of the Roman Empire but the Germans as well, broadened consciousness of their homeland; at that time, the Germans just started to develop their national consciousness. They all referred to places they belonged to which very often derived from ancient times but they didn’t look for ties they may have in the wide linguistic or ethnical community. It is not surprising then that affection towards hometown found its way of expression in the work of humanists: Renaissance with it’s anthropocentric tendencies not only saw an individualistic side of a man but it saw a man as a  member of the community as well, a community which has on her own individuality, features and dignity.

Eastern border of Istria for Rapicio is Timavo. Timavo and Pucinum, two wonders of the nature, open the poem. After having mentioned Timavo, he also mentioned Trieste and praised it for being the homeland of his family. Then the poem was interrupted by a long digression in which the author praised the virtues of the captain Hoyos and those of the emperor Ferdinand I.

Just after a long digression, there starts the true description of Istria: in front of the reader’s eyes the idyllic Sylvula (Servola - Škedenj) (158-174), Mugilia (Muggia - Milje), famous by it’s beautiful women and educated men (175-197), then we can observe the river Formio (Risano – Rižana), ancient Italic border (197-206). There is also Aegida - Iustinopolis (Capodistria - Koper), where the poet learned the basis of Latin, tutored by Febeo (207-248). Descriptions of Istria continues with the fertile Insula (Isola - Izola) (249-255); then follows Pyrranea tellus (Pirano - Piran), which evocates in the poet's memory the sea journeys and memories of his friend Floro (256-271) while Humagum (Umago - Umag) makes him remember care-free hours spent in fishing and in having fun (272-277). Aemonia (Cittanova- Novigrad) was deprived of it's greatness by barbaric invasions (278-286). Rapicio sees river Nauportus (Quieto - Mirna) as the ocassion to make a digression about the Argonauts (286-295). Parentium (Parenzo - Poreč) is reduced to the mass of the ruins (296-298). Reffs near Rovigno - Arupinae cautes – makes the author think about the summer vocation spent with his friend Gradenigo (299-325) and other coevals. Talking about Pola he follows traces of its ancient greatness: he describes glorious remains of the amphitheatre and of the building called Zadro (326-338). This is where his description ends. Rapicio doesn’t continue his journey along the coast and takes Arsa (Raša, antique Arsia) as a border, in the honour to Pliny’s tradition. Besides this border the poet mentions islands Arsiades, sacraria divi Viti (Fiume - Rjeka) and the city of Senia (Segna - Senj); where from he expands his view to the other coast of the Adriatic Sea where cities Senae and Senogallia (339-349) can be seen. Then he turns back towards the continent and lists the names of the places without order, he mentiones Buleae (Buie - Buje), Monton (Montona - Motovun) and Pisinae arces (Pisino - Pazin). The last place to be mentioned has it's own importance only for the fact it was left to be mentioned in the end of the poem, it is Stridonia tellus, the native place of St. Jerome. Even Rapicio by agreeing to the theory of Istria (408-415), wants to localize this place - which was the question for years - in his own homeland.

Istria ends with elevation of the region according to the model of the Virgil’s so-called laudes Italiae (416-433). The poet hopes to end his life in peace in his homeland, he wants it more than any kind of wealth or honour (434-470). This wish is not only heratage based on literate motives of the agricultural tradition but the sincere feeling of the person who achieved sucess and got rid of illusions that any town tourtured by internal struggles could achieve a long-lasting peace. If we think about Rapicio's death and suspicious of him being murdered, those lines striving for long and serene oldness taste very tragically and bitterly.

Let's see now some other places of Trieste and it's surroundings which can be found in the first part of the poem; I read the first lines of Oscar Sossich's italian translation (1924)

Vitiferi colles Adriae, qua pulchra Timavi   Colli dell’Adria vitiferi e belli, donde il Timavo
cornua septeno properant ad litora cursu,   spinge il suo corso nel mare con sette amenissime foci,
seu vos mellifluo perfundit rore Lyaeus   sia che voi cosparga Lieo di dolci rugiade,
sive alius vestros montano vertice fructus   sia che un altro dio sui gioghi vostri montani
excolit, o patrii colles, salvete, nec umquam   v’educhi i frutti, salvete o patrii col colli, né Giove
Iuppiter innocuas infestet grandine vites.   mai con la grandine voglia colpire gl’innoqui vigneti.
Non me despecti fallacia munera vulgi   Certo né i premi fallaci del volgo spregiato né i sogni
irrita vel tumidae rapuerunt somnia famae,   vani e bugiardi di tumida fama, mi furono sprone
ut vos cantarem, quorum pia munera norunt   a cantare di voi e dei vostri doni ben noti
et Thule et Meroe postrema limina terrae.   fino a Tule ed a Mero, ultime terre del mondo.
Est aliud nobis studium: quis talia demens   Altro zelo m’infiamma, altrimenti uno stolto soltanto
audeat, humanum longe excedentia captum?   s’assumerebbe un’impresa che varca ogni umano sapere.
Suasit amor patriae et fecundae praemia terrae,   Patrio amore mi spinse e i frutti di fertile terra,
vester honos, cuius caelo se gloria tollit.   vanto vostro, che al cielo s’innalza quall’inno di gloria.

For Rapicio the symbol of Trieste is Timavo, whose territory was also well known to the elders, for example Strab. V 1, 8, Verg. Aen. I 242-246 Antenor potuit … fontem superare Timavi, / unde per ora novem vasto cum murmure montis / it mare proruptum et pelago premit arva sonanti, Mart. IV 25, 5-6 et tu Ledaeo felix Aquileia Timavo, / hic ubi septenas Cyllarus hausit aquas.

There follows the reference to Bacchus and listing of wines which ends with praising of the wine Pucinum:

Te colimus, Pucine pater, cui Livia quondam   Te veneriamo, o padre Pucino, che
a Livia serbasti rettulit acceptos annos et tempora vitae.   tanto a lungo una volta i suoi anni felici di vita,
Muneris id, Pucine, tui: qui dum ardua montis   questo è merito tuo, o Pucino, che abiti i colli
saxa colis rupesque altas et Iapidis oras,   aridi e l’alte rupi scoscese e i lidi giapidi
longe alios fructus virtute et laudibus anteis.   e ch’ogni altro frutto sorpassi in valore ed in fama.
Sunt in conspectu positae refluentibus undis   Là dove le onde spumanti si frangon sul lido, son poste
mille urbes, totidemque ferax tenet oppida tellus.   mille città e castelli, altrettanti su fertile suolo,
Haud procul hinc Phrygii visuntur stagna Timavi,   indi non lungi si vedon gli stagni del frigio Timavo
unde fluunt gelidae septeno gurgite lymphae.   donde le gelide linfe si versan da sette bei gorghi,
Hic dum rimoso condit se fomite et undas   mentre ei qui si nasconde in bucherellate caverne
secretis auget venis caecisque latebris,

  alimentato da vene secrete, da cie cieche latebre

stillatim manat, vires cursumque secundans.   goccia a goccia stilla e le forze ed il corso seconda.
Vulgus iners densa noctis caligine saeptus   Certo accecato da densa caligine il volgo ignorante
credidit hos fontes aliis scatuisse lacunis   immaginò che da altre paludi sorgesse quest’acqua
atque Antenoreis fluxisse in vallibus, unde   e riboccasse alle valli d’Antenore, donde il Brenta
Meduacus, plenis hodie lapsurus in aequor

  placido giunge accresciuto alle venete onde del mare

cornibus, assurgens Venetas excurrit in undas.   dove sfociar lo vedremo fra giorni con lena maggiore.
Sed vanum quodcumque ferunt, hic ille Timavus,   Vane parole di gente accecata. È qui quel Timavo
quem sacri celebrant vates, hic Cyllarus hausit   che celebrarono i sacri poeti; è qui che alle sette
septenos latices fontano e gurgite et illos   fonti freschissime Cillaro estinse la sete e seduto
inter saxa sedens Pucinis miscuit uvis.

  sopra quei carsici sassi mescè del Pucino le uve

Hinc, ubi Iapidium laevum latus obtinet atque   Qui dove stender vediamo Giapidia e il suo fianco sinistro
iratum pelagus sinuoso murmurat ore,   e rumorose le onde si frangon sul lido lunato
Tergestae urbs procul apparet, qua gaudeo luci   lungi appare Trieste, dove mi vanto esser nato,
emicuisse puer superasque in luminis oras,   gli occhi aprendo alla luce ed ai raggi gloriosi del cielo;
antiquam repetens sobolem, cui nomina quondam   qui rinnovai quell’antica schiatta, cui diede già nome
nota diu numerosa dedit Rapicia proles.   tutta la prole Rapicia, illustre per numero e fama.

Pucinum of v. 40 was the favourite wine of Augustus's wife, Livia, who thought to own her long life to this refreshing beverage (Plin. nat. XIV 6, 7: Iulia Augusta LXXXII annos vitae pucino vino rettulit acceptos, non alio usa; gignitur in sinu hadriaci maris non procul a Timavo fonte, saxeo colle, marino adflatu paucas coquente amphoras, nec aliud aptius medicamentis iudicatur). The toponym Pucinium wasn't indentified with certainty but it probably derives from a settlement north of Trieste (Duino – Devin, Prosecco – Prosek, Opicina – Opčine).

The word Phrygii, which refers to stagna in v. 52, is equal to «Troy»: Antenor of Troy according to the mythologists, colonized the Roman region Venetia (cfr. Claudian. de III cons. Honorii 121 Phrygii numerantur stagna Timavi). According to the humanistic poet Zovenzoni even the origins of Trieste can be based on the same mythological events (I 97, 1): Urbs Tergesta, Phryges cum te posuere coloni. Cfr. also Lucan. VII 191 ss. Euganeo, si vera fides memorantibus, augur / colle sedens Aponus, terris ubi fumifer exit / atque Antenorei dispergitur unda Timavi, Sil. XII 214-216 atque Antenorea sese de stirpe ferebat / haud levior generis fama sacroque Timavo / gloria et Euganeis dilectum nomen in oris, Sidon. carm IX 195-196 nec quos Euganeum bibens Timavum / colle Antenoreo videbat augur.

The history of Trieste, besides all this has also been enriched with another mythological legend, the one about the Argonauts (vv. 62 ss.). According to Rapicio, they came to the Adriatic Sea not navigating Meduacus but Timavo river, and Pollux, Leda’s son together with the horse Cillar, accompanied them in their expedition (cfr. Mart. IV 25 5-6: et tu Ladaeo felix Aquileia Timavo / hic ubi septenas Cyllarus hausit aquas). It is not then fundamental to determine weather the poet had in mind Brenta (Meduacus Maior) or Bacchiglione (Meduacus minor). GOINEO, who has already been mentioned (Corografie, 70-71), in his polemics with Biondo who identifies Timavo with Brenta (Meduacus), quotes some educated people of Trieste who had discussed this question: praesertim cum de hac ipsa re ita sentiat Petrus Bonhomus, Tergestinus Episcopus … summa humanitate, prudentia, sapientia et Evangelicae doctrinae purissima et sincerissima cognitione excellentissimus, ut praetermittam Bernardinum Baldum Jurisconsultum consultissimum in quo incredibilem quandam infinitarum prope rerum memoriam atque scientiam semper suspexi, amavi, et colui; quibuscum de Timavo aliquoties sermonem habentem mihi, ita esse, ut dixi, constantissime asseruerunt. Goineo’s text is interesting as it shows that Timavo and the myths referring to Timavo, were arguments that educated people of Trieste liked in their discussions in the period of Rapicio. Those arguments could have influenced the future bishop in his selection of the theme of his poem. Rapicio however could have used the antique sources which say that the commercial importance of the region near mouth of river Timavo helped to spread the believes that the Argonauts had reached the Adriatic exactly by navigating this river (H. PHILIPP, RE A-1, 1936, c. 1244, s.v. Timavus). Pliny states (nat. II 18, 127) that the Argonauts reached the sea non procul Tergeste.

For Rapicio, the first city on the Istrian coast, which, as it is said, starts with Timavo, is Trieste (v.68). Even for Strabo, Timavo is considered to be west border of Istria, cfr. V 1, 9. In this statement, Strabo put together information that he obtained from two different historical moments. First, in the time of the Cesar, Timavo, together with the port, the saint wood and the islands in front of the mouth of the river belonged to the territory of Aquileia, while the inclusion of Pola in Italy happened later. However, according to Pliny, the first city on the coast of Istria is Aegida, not Trieste (nat. III 19 129) oppida Histriae civium Romanorum Aegida, Parentium, colonia Pola, quae nunc Pietas Iulia, quondam a Colchis condita … mox oppidum Nesactium et nunc finis Italiae fluvius Arsia. Among the humanistic geographers, the only one who included Duino, Muggia and Trieste in Istria is COPPO (Corografie, 31); while GOINEO (Corografie, 57) rejects completely such division (Verum ne qui fortasse malevoli nobis obiciant, Ptolomaeum et Livium in Istria complexos esse Tergestum, quod nos tamen ab ea exclusimus, respondemus hoc pacto, ab his auctoribus non posse aliquem certos Istriae terminos elicere, quum ex his, quos secuti sumus, certissimos et apertissimos colligere possit). Rapicio joined this issue which had been obviously very discussed among his contemporaries, in some of his verses which don't appear in the second edition of his poem ( v. 78): multi etiam falso hanc urbem regionibus Histris / disiungunt, statuuntque alio sub litore: verum / quid vetat hanc iisdem populis adiungere gentem? (Many people wrongly separate this city from the other istrian regions and place it on a different side: but what forbids these people to be related to those equal to them?)

The Argonauts are the protagonists in the last story I want to comment (v. 290 Argivae robora pubis, cfr. Catull. 64,4= Verg. Aen. VIII 518 cum lecti iuvenes, Argivae robora pubes) but here the poet refers to another mythological tradition which talks about the Greek heroes navigating Nauportus and not Timavus.

Nec procul hinc celebris Nauportus panditur inque   Non lontano da qui si spiega il Nauporto ben noto
Adriacum properat pelagus, celeresque carinas   che nell’Adriaco mare si versa allargando le foci
admittit plenis venientes cursibus ad se.   per ospitare le navi che svelte a lui drizzano il corso
Huc (si vera fides) Argivae robora pubis   Qui, se vera è la fama, i giovani Argivi un giorno
vectam humeris navim per celsa cacumina montis   trasser la nave che a spalla avean portata per l’alte
extulerant, Istri subiens quae fluminis undas   cime dei monti e dopo varcate le lunghe giogaie
dum medios audet penetrans inter iuga cursus   sempre seguendo il corso tortuoso dell’Istro, stanchi
rumpere, fessa olim patriis consedit arenis,   quivi il viaggio finivan fissando la stabile sede.
unde ipsa antiquum felix tenet Istria nomen.   Indi l’antico suo nome deriva dell’Istria felice.

Rapicio’s Nauportus is probably the river Quieto (Mirna) which is navigable and the sea enters by far it’s mouth. So it is not the case of the same Nauportus mentioned by Tacitus (I 20) and Plinius (nat. III 18 humeris transvectam Alpis diligentiores tradunt, subisse autem Histro, dein Savo, dein Nauporto), who referred to today’s Ljubljanica. DE FRANCESCHI, one of Rapicio’s critics, in one of his articles from 1870 explained that Nauportus was not the ancient name of Quieto but later was given that name to it because of the stirring between Pannonian Emonia (Ljubljana) and the istrian one (Cittanova - Novigrad).

In the v.295, finally he connects the origins of the istrian peninsula’s name with the river Hister which Pliny rejects (nat. II 18, 127 Histriae, quam cognominatam a flumine Histro … plerique dixere falso), but can be found in Isidorus (etymol. XIV 4, 17 Istriam Ister amnis vocavit, qui eius terram influit); this gives to the Rapicio’s poem the reflex of an ancient archaism.

On the grounds of what I have said and what I must leave out because of the time limit imposed, I could say that two aims in composing his poem governed Rapicio. On one hand he wanted to express the greatness of the homeland which was the habit of humanistic scientist at that time, so having this in mind we can explain his persistence in remembering all those places which could have contained ancient signs while those places without historical tradition or that haven’t been mentioned by Greek or Latin sources, were left out or barely mentioned. On the other hand in his poem he wanted to revive the Istria of his time where many of the mentioned friends lived. Those evocations of reality sometimes full of pain and misery disturb the pastoral idyll and happiness disguised by distant heroic deeds.

The poet doesn’t want to hide from the reader the bad economic conditions or illness or political conflicts which submerged Istria but persists in pointing out the potentials of the region, even the intellectual ones. Two-sided approach can be seen in the description where one moment we have sad and bare countryside and the other moment it is idyllic and peaceful. His countryside descriptions are sometimes very real as are seen with the eyes of a 16th ct. traveller but sometimes they depend too much of the Latin poetical models like Virgil’s Georgica.

After the Second World War the interest for the Trieste of the16th cent. began to cease so even the educated humanist Rapicio fell into oblivion. The reasons of his oblivion are many, I’ll state only two of them: for many years researches were focused on the characters close to the Protestantism (for philosophical, theological and political reasons) while those who remained faithful to the catholic Church were put aside even though their contribution in the Church’s renovation by conducting decisions brought in the Trento’s convention was not small. Istrian regions that belonged to the Habsburgs were not studied enough, there are very few information about religious events in Trieste. In this case we cannot use the precise descriptions written during the visitations of the pope’s or patriarch’s delegates because the Austrian authority tried in any way to restrain inquisition in their territory. This author and his work, which I analysed in my graduation thesis, presented at the University of Ljubljana in 2003, discovers that the study of the manuscript but also of the press of the 16th cent. can lead to interesting historical discoveries concerning our towns, which were Italian, Croatian and Slovenian but united by the humanistic tradition.

Basic references to the work of Andrea Rapicio

  • Andreae Rapicii Tergestini poematum liber secundus, Biblioteca Civica di Trieste, R.P. ms. 1-23 (olim Alpha BB 4), membr. saec. XVI, 165 x 120 mm, foll. 18
  • Andreae Rapitii, nobilis Tergestini, facilioris Musae carminum libri duo, quorum prior epigrammata quaedam continet, Venetiis 1552
  • Andreae Rapicii iurisconsulti Tergestini Histria, ad Sigismundum Herbersteinum regii fisci praef. etc., Michael Zimmermann, Viennae Austriae 1556
  • Istria Andreae Rapicii iurisconsulti Tergestini. Ad illustrem virum d. Sigismundum, liberum baronem in Herberstein et c. fisci Austriaci praefectum, in Lazius, Wolfgang, Typi chorographici provinciae Austriae, Viennae 1561, Eev - Ff v
  • Andreae Rapicii iurisconsulti Tergestini oratio de morte Caroli quinti imp. caes. opt. max., Raphael Hofhalter, Viennae Austriae 1559
  • Andreae Rapicii episcopi Tergestini design. oratio in funere Ferdinandi Rom. imp. caes. aug. p. f., 1565, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien, 8109, chart. saec. XVI, 205 x 290 mm, foll. 34.


  • Euroclassica_zbornik_Dubrovnik.doc - &,d.cWw&cad=rja

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Created: Sunday, August 23, 2015; Last Updated: Sunday, August 23, 2015  
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