Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Francesco Petrarch, De remediis utriusque fortunae (Cremona: Bernardinus de Misintis and Caesar Parmensis, 17 Nov. 1492)

De remediis utriusque fortunae. Ed: Nicolaus Lucarus[Niccolo Lucano]

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As early as 1337, Francesco Petrarch (1304-74) retired to the Avignon suburb of Vaucluse, and started working on De viris illustribus and the epic, Africa. After receiving the title of poet laureate in Rome in 1341, he went straight to meet his friend Azzo da Correggio, a patrician of Parma. Petrarch stayed at the Castle of Correggio (in Selvapiana, near the Apennines, in the suburbs of Parma), twice between 1341 and 1345. He liked Selvapiana very much, calling it the 'Helicon of Italy', and this city, along with Vaucluse, became the source of his poetic inspiration. De remediis utriusque fortunae is a book on Christian morals in Latin prose, dedicated to Azzo, who recovered and then soon lost control of Parma during this period. Petrarch started writing the book in 1354, with the intention of offering guidance and consolation to his friend Azzo, as the title suggests, but it was not until 1366 – four years after Azzo's death – that the work was completed.

De remediis utriusque fortunae is composed of two parts: a remedy for prosperity, and another for adversity. Its argument is that what is generally recognized as good fortune is in fact worthless and miserable in all cases, whereas what is generally regarded as a misfortune and calamity is actually the very thing that can prepare one for a good death, and an aid in attaining salvation. The work is written in dialogue, a form preferred for introductory theological books during the Middle Ages. Reason debates with Pleasure and Hope in Part One, and with Sorrow and Fear in Part Two. Well over a hundred examples are listed in each part, and the book discusses aspects of fortune and misfortune in detail. This work is a form of Petrarchan 'consolation' (consolatio) literature, influenced by the anonymous De remediis fortuitorum, which was thought to have been written by Seneca in the Middle Ages, and by Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, as well as by medieval 'contemptus mundi' literature.

Today, De remediis utriusque fortunae is not considered to be representative of Petrarch's work, and thus it is not well-known when compared to works such as the Song Book, dedicated to Laura, and The Letters. However, it was the most widely read and best-known work by Petrarch in the 14th and 15th centuries, along with On the Solitary Life and My Secret Book, and it was translated into many languages. Many manuscripts are extant, including contemporary English and French translations. The book's Christian morals and numerous quotations from the classics influenced many writers in the later Middle Ages, and medieval writers frequently made use of it.

The editio princeps is generally thought to be the edition printed by Heinrich Eggestein around 1473-75; it was reissued in 1490 with little modification. The Keio copy, published in Cremona in 1492, was edited by Niccolò Lucano (d. 1515), a professor of rhetoric and a historian based in Cremona. It is said that the Cremona edition supplies a more precise text than the editio princeps, and so most of the later editions, including modern editions, are based on it. The complete works of Petrarch, based on Lucano's edition, was compiled in 1496 and again in 1501. A handwritten table of contents is inserted in the opening of the Keio book, and marginal notes in the same hand can be seen here and there.

  Petrarch's Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul: A Modern English Translation of De Remediis Utriusque Fortune, with a Commentary, ed. and trans. by Conrad H. Rawski, 5 vols (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991)
  Nicholas Mann, Petrarch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)
  近藤恒一『ペトラルカ—生涯と文学』(東京: 岩波書店, 2002)
  A Dialogue between Reason and Adversity: A Late Middle English Version of Petrarch's De Remediis, ed. by F. N. M. Diekstra (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1968)

(TM; trans. by MO)


Petrarca, Francesco
Place of Publication
Bernardinus de Misintis and Caesar Parmensis


Date of Publication

19th-century half calf binding over paper boards with marbled papers.

Bibliographical Notes

164 leaves (of 166); some annotations and underlines by a contemporary hand; spaces for large initial capitals with guide-letters; printer's device on C7v.

Goff P409, HC 12793*, BMC VII 956, IJL2 291
Acquisition Year

1. Horace B. Webster. 2. Syracuse Public Library.