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Knowledge of Things Human and DivineVico's New Science and "Finnegans Wake"$

Donald Phillip Verene

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300099584

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300099584.001.0001

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(p.207) Chronology
Knowledge of Things Human and Divine

Donald Phillip Verene

Yale University Press

1668 June 23d. Giambattista Vico is born in Naples, the sixth of eight children. His father, Antonio, originally from Maddaloni, is a bookseller, proprietor of a tiny shop in the street of San Biagio. Vico was baptized on June 24th at the nearby church of San Gennaro all'Olmo. His name, Giambattista, recalls that of his maternal grandfather, Giambattista Masullo, a carriage maker, and it likely reflects the fact that Vico was born on the eve of the feast day of St. John the Baptist and was baptized on that day.

1675 [Aged 7] Has serious fall, fracturing his skull.

1675–1677 [Aged 7–9] Years of convalescence.

1678–1679 [Aged 10–11] He attends grammar school and, because of the ease with which he learns, is admitted in a short time to the upper class, accomplishing in one scholastic year the course of study of two.

1679 [Aged 11] October. He is admitted to the first level of the “humanity” school.

1680 [Aged 12] October. His father sends him, as a day student, to attend the Jesuit Collegio Massimo al Gesù Vecchio, where his teacher is Antonio Del Balzo. He remains there for a semester.

1681 [Aged 13] April or May. Offended by an arbitrary scholastic injustice, Vico abandons the Collegio Massimo, especially as he realized that in the second semester he would have had to repeat the course of study of the first.

Summer. He studies on his own the grammar of Emanuele Alvarez and completes the part of the course of study he did not follow at school.

October. Begins to study the Summulae logicales of Peter of Spain and the logic of Paolo Nicoletti of Udine.

(p.208) October 1681–Spring 1683 [Aged 13–14] His liveliness of mind made arid by the subtle investigation of logic, Vico becomes a “deserter of studies.”

1683 [Aged 15] October. After having been present at the meeting of a local academy, revives his passion for studies and returns to the Collegio Massimo, where he attends the lectures on philosophy of Giuseppe Ricci for the academic year of 1683–84. Vico is dissatisfied and abandons it, preferring to study on his own the Disputationes metaphysicae of Francesco Suárez, on which he meditates for a year.

1684 [Aged 16] Without officially registering at the university, attends the lectures of Felice Aquadies, holder of the morning chair of canon law. In the same year he is sent by his father to attend the privately given law course of Francesco Verde, but Vico does not remain for more than two months, dissatisfied with the minute, quibbling detail of these practical forensics.

1685–1686 [Aged 17–18] Continues the study of civil and canon law. Because of the interest of Carlo Antonio De Rosa he is invited to develop a grasp of practical forensics under the attorney Fabrizio del Vecchio.

1686 [Three days before his 18th birthday] June 20th. Victoriously presents an address before the Neapolitan Sacro Regio Consiglio in defense of his father in a case brought against him by colleague and rival Bartolomeo Moreschi.

In this same period, composes a canzone to a rose, which he read to the poet Giacomo Lubrano, then seventy; the text is lost, perhaps destroyed by Vico, repentant, in his Arcadian period, for having employed in it a baroque style.

1686–1695 [Aged 18–27] As tutor to the children of Don Domenico Rocca, he accompanies the Roccas on their visits to their residences at Vatolla in the Cilento and at Portici. Contrary to what he asserts in his autobiography, Vico never interrupts any of his connections with Neapolitan intellectual circles. At the end of the 1680s he reads and annotates Latin (Cicero, Virgil, Horace) and Italian (Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio) classics.

1689–1692 [Aged 21–24] Matriculated in jurisprudence at the University of Naples.

1692 [Aged 24] Elected to the Academy of Uniti, with the name “Raccolto.”

1693 [Aged 25] Publishes the canzone “Affetti di un disperato” [Feelings of one in despair], written the previous year and dedicated to Don Domenico Rocca while serving as tutor to his children.

April. Enters into correspondence with the Florentine scholar Antonio Magliabecchi, sending him a copy of “Affetti di un disperato.”

In the spring, between April and May, publishes “Canzone in morte di Antonio Carafa” [Canzone on the death of Antonio Carafa], who died on March 28th of this year.

1694 [Aged 26] In the month of June publishes a pamphlet with three canzoni in praise of Maximilian, duke of Bavaria. To celebrate the marriage of Maximilian and Teresa Cunegonda Sobieski, which took place in this year, Vico writes an epithalamium.

November 12th. By this date receives a degree in both civil and canon law (doctor in utroque).

1695 [Aged 27] June. Epithalamium for the marriage of Giulio Cesare Mazzacane and Giulia Rocca, of whom Vico had been tutor since 1686. [Resumes residence at Naples.]

1696 [Aged 28] Between February and March. Writes an oration in honor of the Spanish viceroy Francesco Benavides, count of Santostefano, who was leaving Naples. The text was included in a miscellany of Vari componimenti, published that same year.

(p.209) June. Epithalamium for the wedding of Vincenzo Carafa di Bruzzano and Ippolita Cantelmo Stuart.

November 4th. Vico is a member of a delegation at the royal palace in Naples to celebrate the recuperation from a serious illness of Charles II of Spain. Vico participates by giving one of the Latin presentations.

1697 [Aged 29] April 26th. Delivers the funeral oration of Caterina d'Aragona. Unsuccessful at securing the position of city clerk of Naples.

1698 [Aged 30] October 25th. Following the death of Giuseppe Toma, holder of the chair of rhetoric at the University of Naples, a competition for the chair is held. Vico competes on this day in the oral examination.

1699 [Aged 31] Declared the winner of the concourse, Vico obtains the appointment, with an annual salary of 100 scudi.

Becomes a member of the Academy Palatina, founded at the Neapolitan royal palace on March 20th of the previous year by the viceroy, the duke of Medinaceli. Vico presents his dissertation “Delle cene sontuose de' romani” [On the sumptuous dinners of the Romans] before this academy.

October 18th. As part of his duties as professor of rhetoric, on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year of the University of Naples, Vico presents his oration “Suam ipsius cognitionem ad omnem doctrinarum orbem brevi absolvendum maximo cuique esse incitamento” [Knowledge of oneself is for everyone the greatest incentive to acquire the universe of learning in the shortest possible time].

December 2d. Marries Teresa Caterina Destito. Eight children are born in the marriage.

Moves from his paternal residence over the bookstore in san Biagio dei Librai, 25 to the vicolo dei Giganti in Naples.

1700 [Aged 32] September 17th. The first child, Luisa, is born.

October 18th. Second inaugural oration, “Hostem hosti infensiorem infestioremque quam stultum sibi esse neminem” [There is no enemy more dangerous and treacherous to its adversary than the fool to himself].

1701 [Aged 33] September. Conspiracy of Macchia, promoted by the Neapolitan aristocracy, to transform the kingdom of Naples from a province subjugated to Spain into an autonomous state governed under the emperor of Austria. [Carlo di Sangro and Giuseppe Capece, leaders of the conspiracy, were executed.]

1702 [Aged 34] May. Published his panegyric in Latin to Philip V, king of Spain, presented to him at the moment of his departure.

October 18th. Third inaugural oration, “A literaria societate omnem malam fraudem abesse oportere, si nos vera non simulata, solida non vana eruditione ornatos esse studeamus” [If we would study to manifest true, not feigned, and solid, not empty erudition, the Republic of Letters must be rid of every deceit].

In his autobiography, Vico reports this oration as delivered in 1701, but there was no inaugural oration that year because of the turmoil and repression of the Conspiracy of Macchia.

1703 [Aged 35] It is very probable that the draft of Vico's history of the Conspiracy of Macchia (Principum neapolitanorum coniurationis anni MDCCI historia) dates from this year, judging it according to the point of view of the Franco-Spanish government of the Bourbons, condemning its Austrian objective. There exists a first version of this (p.210) history, entitled De parthenopea coniuratione [On the Neapolitan conspiracy] (Parthenopean = Neapolitan, from Latin, Parthenope, a siren worshiped in Naples in ancient times).

1704 [Aged 36] December 19th. Vico participates in a celebration in the royal palace in Naples of the birthday of Philip, king of Spain, at which various poetic tributes are proclaimed (published the following year in a collected volume).

1705 [Aged 37] October 18th. Fourth inaugural oration, “Si quis ex literarum studiis maximas utilitates easque semper cum honestate coniunctas percipere velit, is rei publicae seu communi civium bono erudiatur” [If one wishes to gain the greatest benefits from the study of the liberal arts, and these always conjoined with honor, let him be educated for the good of the republic which is the common good of the citizenry]. This oration, written by Vico in 1704, was postponed to the following year because in the two-year period 1703–1704 there were no formal addresses opening the academic year, the body of the faculty being engaged in carrying out university concourses.

1706 [Aged 38] September 2d. Death of Vico's father, Antonio.

October 18th. Fifth inaugural oration, “Res publicas tum maxime belli gloria inclytas et rerum imperio potentes, quum maxime literis floruerunt” [Nations have been most celebrated in glory for battles and have obtained the greatest political power when they have excelled in letters]. Vico places it in 1705 in his autobiography, when instead he presented the fourth.

[Son Ignazio born.]

1707 [Aged 39] July 7th. In the course of the war of Spanish succession, the Austrian troops of the future Charles VI of Hapsburg enter Naples, and the Austrian domination succeeds that of the Spanish Bourbons.

To mark the disappearance of the danger to the city caused by the eruption of Vesuvius during July and August, the municipal administration of Naples erects a shrine to San Gennaro near the church of Santa Caterina a Formello. Vico writes the inscription for the plaque commemorating the event.

October 11th. Philip Lorenz Wierich von Daun, supreme commander of the Austrian Army in Naples, commissions Vico to write the funeral inscriptions and other epidictic display requested to honor the memory of Carlo di Sangro and Giuseppe Capace, the two major artificers of the Conspiracy of Macchia, who were executed by the Spanish during that failed attempt. Vico's work is collected with other material in Publicum Caroli Sangri et Josephi Capycii, nobilium Neapolitanorum, funus [Public funeral of the noble Neapolitans Carlo di Sangro and Giuseppe Capece], published the following year.

October 18th. Sixth inaugural oration, “Corruptae hominum naturae cognitio ad universum ingenuarum artium scientiarumque orbem absolvendum invitat, ac rectum, facilem ac perpetuum in iis addiscendis ordinem exponit” [Knowledge of the corrupt nature of man invites the study of the entire universe of liberal arts and sciences, and sets forth the correct method by which we learn them].

1708 [Aged 40] October 18th. Inaugural oration “De nostri temporis studiorum ratione” [On the study methods of our time], dedicated to the future Charles VI and read in the presence of the viceroy, Vincenzo Grimani.

1709 [Aged 41] In spring appears On the Study Methods of Our Time, printed by the Neapolitan publisher Felice Mosca. With respect to the version presented at the university, this appears richer and more thorough.

(p.211) It is probably in these same months that Vico works at revising for the press the other six orations of the years 1699–1707, without, however, ever arriving at their publication. At the end of the year he perhaps begins to sketch out the Liber physicus (Physics), that was to be a part of On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians. The book on physics, which must not ever have been finished, has been lost.

1710 [Aged 42] June 19th. Becomes a member of the Arcadia, in the Colonia Sebezia of Naples, where he is registered with the name Láufilo Terio. By way of thanks Vico sends to Giovan Mario Crescimbeni, the custode general of the Arcadia, the sonnet “Donna bella e gentil” [Beautiful and gentle lady], which had been published in 1701.

In October he publishes the Liber metaphysicus (Metaphysics), dedicated to his friend Paolo Mattia Doria, with whom he had preliminary discussions of the theses of the work. Vico intended that the Liber metaphysicus would be the first of three books, brought together under the comprehensive title On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians Unearthed from the Origins of the Latin Language in Three Books. The second book, Liber physicus, was only sketched, and the third (Morals) was only hypothesized, never written, perhaps because Vico was continuously distracted by academic duties, or perhaps because he was debilitated by a period of illness.

October 31st. Sends to Apostolo Zeno a copy of the Liber metaphysicus, asking him to review it for the Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia.

1711 [Aged 43] April 26th. Conclusion of the course on rhetoric given by Vico at the University of Naples begun in October 1710. The text of the lectures of this academic year have the title Institutionum oratoriarum liber unus [Institutes of oratory, book one]. Of the didactic material treated in Vico's university lectures for a period of forty years, there also remain compilations for the period 1730–1741 [The Art of Rhetoric (Institutiones oratoriae, 1711–1741)].

May. On the occasion of the funeral of the emperor Joseph I of Austria, who died at Vienna on April 17th, commemorated at Naples in the chapel of the royal palace, Vico, by commission of the viceroy Carlo Borromeo Arese, wrote the funeral inscriptions, now lost.

In early autumn an anonymous review of the Ancient Wisdom appears in the Venetian Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia (vol. 5, article 6, pp. 119–30), perhaps by Bernardo Trevisan.

September. Vico replies to the critique contained in the abovementioned review, printed by Felice Mosca: Risposta nella quale si sciolgono tre opposizioni fatte da dotto signore contro il Primo Libro “De antiquissima Italorum sapientia” [Response in which are dissolved the three objections made by the learned gentleman against the first book of the “Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians”].

October 7th. In his capacity as civil censor, Vico publishes the endorsement for publication of a work of Antonio Galeota in defense of Lucantonio Porzio.

The anonymous reviewer replies in Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia (vol. 8, article 10, pp. 309–38) to Vico's Response.

1712 [Aged 44] June 11th. In a letter to Crescimbeni, Vico advocates the proper position to take in confronting the schism on the part of some dissidents led by Gianvincenzo Gravina that occurred within the Academy of the Arcadia.

September. Vico publishes a second, short piece relative to the polemic concerning the Ancient Wisdom. He entitles it Risposta all'articolo X del tomo VIII del “Giornale de' (p.212) Letterati d'Italia” [Response to article X of volume VIII of the “Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia”]; it is printed by Felice Mosca. The debate is concluded with a brief editorial statement in the journal (vol. 12, article 13, pp. 417–18), appearing in the same year, expressing satisfaction with Vico's “learned and modest” second response.

September 10th. Civil censor for publication of the volume Tragedie cinque of Gianvincenzo Gravina.

Also in this year Vico continues to carry out the duties of an encomiastical poet, composing a Latin epigram for the marriage of Tommaso d'Aquino and Lucrezia Dal Verme and a poem in Latin for the marriage of Arrigo Loffredo and Ginevra Grillo.

1713 [Aged 45] It is possible that at this point Vico finds a use for the draft of the De aequilibrio corporis animantis [On the equilibrium of animate bodies], an independent development of the projected Liber physicus already conceived for the Ancient Wisdom. The work “of few pages” is the result of his meditations following dialogues with Paolo Mattia Doria, Lucantonio Porzio, and Domenico Aulisio (to whom it is dedicated). The precise year of publication is not known; all trace of it was lost in the 1800s, but it was seen at that time by Vincenzo Cuoco.

October 18th. It is probable that Vico delivers the oration at the inauguration of this academic year; he furnishes an extract of its beginning, in Italian, in his autobiography [A 123–25].

He begins the biography of Antonio Carafa, on which he works for two years, scrupulously documenting it from the papers of the archive put at his disposal by its commissioner, Adriano Antonio Carafa, nephew of the military leader.

1714 [Aged 46] Troubled by neurological pain in his left arm, Vico occupies almost all the time not spent on his university obligations with arranging the materials on Antonio Carafa. He finds time, however, to write a pair of Latin compositions for the marriages of Gaetano Argento to Costanza Mirelli and of Antonio Caracciolo to Marianna Serra.

1715 [Aged 47] During this year he finishes writing the historical biography of Antonio Carafa.

[Son Gennaro born.]

1716 [Aged 48] March. The De rebus gestis Antonii Caraphaei libri quatuor [On the life and deeds of Antonio Carafa, in four books] appears, printed by Mosca.

1717 [Aged 49] January 16th. In a note, Pope Clement XI, after having received a copy of De rebus gestis Antonii Caraphaei, proclaims that the deeds of the military leader are worthy of “imperituri monumenti letteri.” Vico, as usual avid for recognition, holds that this generic expression is an elegy of “immortal glory” attributed specifically to this work of his. But these vanities must not have been pleasing to the Neapolitan intellectuals, as attested by a satirical sonnet by Nicola Capasso.

Further Latin verses for the nuptials of notable members of the Neapolitan cultural elite.

1718 [Aged 50] [Becomes a grandfather with the birth of Luisa's first child.]

1719 [Aged 51] With this date, but without the place of publication, there is an edition of De iure belli ac pacis [On the Law of War and Peace] of Grotius (the original edition also being without publication information) that seems to be edited by Vico and to be that of which he gives an account in his autobiography [A 154–55].

August. On the occasion of the nuptials of his long-standing disciple, Adriano Antonio Carafa, and Teresa Borghese, Vico is sponsor of a poetic miscellany in their honor, to which he contributes the dedication, five sonnets, a lyric poem, and two Latin verses.

(p.213) October 18th. Inaugural oration of the new academic year. Several passages are reported in his autobiography [A 156].

1720 [Aged 52] February. At the death of the empress Eleonora Maddalena of Neuburg, widow of Leopold I, Wolfgang von Schrottenbach, then viceroy of Naples, commissions Vico to compose the funeral inscriptions. It appears that these were not to the liking of the commissioners; thus the charge passed to another pen, perhaps to Matteo Egizio. Vico comments on this in his autobiography [A. 176–77].

From the existence of a manuscript of a “commiato” [a postface in which Vico addresses his readers] to a work of jurisprudence, it can be inferred that Vico is referring to a first sketch (lost, never published) of a preliminary draft of what will shortly become the Universal Law.

Funeral elegy of the duchess Virginia Pignatelli, deceased February 24th. The text was published in the Notizie degli Arcadi morti nell'anno 1720.

July. To anticipate the content of the Universal Law, then being composed, Vico brings into print an editorial manifesto of four densely written pages. It carries no title, but is usually designated as “Synopsis of Universal Law.”

July 14th. Sends the “Synopsis,” accompanied by a letter, to Father Bernardo Maria Giacco, also the recipient of other of Vico's works.

September. Publishes On the One Principle and the One End of Universal Law, the first of the three volumes that come under the comprehensive title of the Universal Law.

Also this year, a miscellany of Latin verses are printed to celebrate the elevation to cardinal of the Jesuit Giambattista Salerni, one of the illustrous personages to whom, five years later, Vico will send as a gift a copy of the New Science.

1721 [Aged 53] There appears a long epithalamium, “Giunone in danza” [Juno in dance], in a miscellany, Vari componimenti per le nozze degli eccellentissimi signori don Giambattista Filomarino principe della Rocca e donna Maria Vittoria Caracciolo dei marchesi di Sant'Eramo.

In another celebratory volume there is a sonnet by Vico for the marriage of Antonio Pignatelli and Anna Francesca Pinelli.

Between August and September, On the Constancy of the Jurisprudent comes out, the second volume of the Universal Law.

1721–1722 [Aged 53–54] Vico sends copies of the two books of the Universal Law to several intellectuals and “persons of account,” among whom are Father Giacco, Biagio Garofalo, Prince Eugenio di Savoia, and Jean Le Clerc. To these two volumes he attaches a letter dated January 9, 1722. Thus begins an exchange of letters with Jean Le Clerc, who responds to him on September 8.

1722 [Aged 54] August. Notes, the third book of the Universal Law, appears. Vico engages in a deep reading of the Homeric poems, approached in mythological and anthropological terms.

December 12th. Following the death of Domenico Campanile, the morning chair of civil law becomes vacant. Vico writes to Prince Eugenio di Savoia, requesting that he recommend him to the administrative commission as a candidate for the chair.

1723 [Aged 55] January 19th. The proclamation appears for the concourse for the morning chair of civil law.

April 10th. Vico holds his lecture for the concourse; it concerns the passage De praescriptis verbis of the Digest (XIX, 5, 1). Vico is not supported by anyone in the bosom of the (p.214) administrative commission; thus he is advised by Domenico Caravita to withdraw from the concourse. The text of the lecture, entitled Solemnis praelectio ad legem primam “Digesti,” “De praescriptis verbis” [Solemn lecture on the first law under “Actions Using Prescribed Words” of the Digest], is distributed the day after the unfortunate examination to those whom Vico holds in high regard. He had thought, in 1728, of sending it for publication to the Venetian Raccolta d'opuscoli scientifici e filologici, where his autobiography was about to come out, but the dissertation never saw the light of print, and is lost.

Vico is partially consoled for the misadventure of the concourse by the arrival in Naples of a copy of the Bibliothèque ancienne et moderne (1722, vol. 8, pt. 2) that contains the review by Le Clerc of the first two volumes of the Universal Law. Vico summarizes it in his autobiography and it will be reflected, in part, in the New Science.

October 17th. He writes one of his letters of thanks to Le Clerc.

October 30th. Anton Francesco Marmi writes a letter from Naples to Muratori, in which he asserts that Vico is working on a book, Dubbi e desideri intorno ai principi della teologia de' gentili [Doubts and desires concerning the principles of the theology of the gentiles]. Almost certainly it concerns the Scienza nuova in forma negativa [New science in negative form].

He continues the production of verses for nuptials, and encomiums. Notable among these is the canzone “Origine, progresso e caduta della poesia” [“Origin, progress, and fall of poetry”], dedicated to Maria della Torre and published in this year in a miscellany, Rime di vari illustri poeti napoletani, edited by Aniello Albani.

In 1723 Vico terminates his autobiography as commissioned by Giovan Artico di Porcìa, creator of a project, elaborated at the end of 1721, proposing to collect the lives of the major intellectuals of the time. Until now, following Croce and Nicolini, it was always held that the first part of Vico's autobiography was finished and sent to Porcìa on the date of June 23, 1725. But that the work was sent earlier is proved by a letter of January 5, 1724, in which Porcìa wrote to Antonio Vallisneri “of having sent to P. Lodoli the life of Vico together with the description of my project, in order to bring them into print together” (see the letter in the Concordiana Collection at the Accademia dei Concordi di Rovigo, Conc. 350/69, c. 50, partially published by Dario Generali in the volume he edited on G. A. di Porcìa, Notizie della vita, e degli studi del Kavalier Antonio Vallisneri, Bologna: Pàtron, 1986, p. 23).

1724 [Aged 56] In the first days of the year victoriously defends his son-in-law, Antonio Servillo, in a legal proceeding, sustaining that a document on which the charge was founded had been falsified by the notary.

Between the end of 1723 and the first of the following year he writes out the funeral oration for Anna von Aspermont, mother of the viceroy of Naples, deceased on December 13, 1723. The volume containing the commemoration is given on June 3d to Father Giacco.

By the end of the year the Scienza nuova in forma negativa is almost completed. Hoping to obtain from Cardinal Corsini the financing of the publication, Vico writes the dedication to him and on November 18th sends it to Monsignor Filippo Maria Monti, requesting that he transmit it to Corsini, lending the strength of his influence. At first Cardinal Corsini accepts this version of the Scienza nuova in forma negativa, implying, in the custom of the time, that he is disposed to cover the costs of the publication of the work.

(p.215) December 26th. This known, Vico sends a letter in which he expresses all the appropriate gratitude.

1725 [Aged 57] July 20th. Alleging the excuse of “exorbitant expenses” that he had to sustain in his diocese of Frascati, Corsini writes to Vico of no longer being able to finance the publication of the Scienza nuova in forma negativa, brought to completion in this month. Without the subvention, Vico is not in a position himself to cover the costs of two volumes in quarto. The manuscript, having later migrated first to Venice, then back again to Naples in 1730, is lost. Between the end of June and the first days of September, Vico rewrites rapidly a new, much briefer version of it as Principles of a New Science Concerning the Nature of the Nations, which comes out in October. The costs of publication fall entirely on the shoulders of Vico who, to sustain them, has to sell a diamond ring.

September 10th. Civil censor for the printing of the book of Giovanni Giuseppe Gironda, Compendiosa spiegazione dell'impresa di Cesare Michelangelo d'Avalos.

Between October and December, diffusion of numerous copies of the New Science. Through Abbé Esperti, Vico provides for its distribution in Rome and Venice. Through Giuseppe Athias the book finally reaches Newton in London, Le Clerc in Amsterdam, and Johann Burckhard Mencken in Leipzig.

Among Vico's sonnets for occasions of this year, two distinguish themselves, done on November 1st, dedicated to the scarcely twenty-year-old Gherardo degli Angioli, the most dear of his pupils. Degli Angioli is the recipient of a letter of December 26th where, to justify the grandness of the poetry of Dante, Vico describes the time in which he lives as the age of “recoursed barbarism.”

1726 [Aged 58] A few months are enough for Vico to steel himself against the indifference and lack of acclaim with which the New Science is met. He expresses his regret about this in a letter of the first days of the year to Abbé Esperti. The disappointment is evident in the letter of January 20th to Father De Vitry, when he draws a desolate picture of academic publishing in southern Italy.

June 20th. Giovanni Nicola Bandiera makes a visit to Vico. Bandiera converses with him for three hours and later recalls the talk as forced and by a “truly dry person.”

[Appraises Valletta's library, purchased by the Fathers of the Oratory; see Vico's letter to de Vitry of January 20, 1726.]

1727 [Aged 59] Among the better known literary works Vico writes as a matter of obligation is the oration “In morte di donn'Angela Cimmino Marchesa della Petrella” [On the death of Lady Angela Cimmino Marchesa della Petrella]. It is included in a miscellany in her memory edited by Vico, in which he also inserts her poetry in Italian and Latin.

In the Acta eruditorum lipsiensia, dated August, appears the anonymous, malevolent review of the Scienza nuova prima [First New Science].

December 14th. Count Porcìa communicates to Vico that the printing of his autobiography is immanent. Porcìa notes the interest that has arisen in the New Science at Venice where, if Vico would wish to do so, he could print a second edition.

1728 [Aged 60] January 3d. Antonio Conti invites Vico to prepare a Venetian edition of the New Science. The same request arrives in a letter dated January 15th by Carlo Lodoli, the real promoter of the initiative. Antonio Conti will take up the request again in a letter of March 10th.

(p.216) March 10th. Aware that his autobiography is going into print, Vico hurries to bring it up to date, dispatching to Porcìa the part relative to the period 1723–25 concerning the drafting of the Scienza nuova in forma negativa and the New Science. Vico's Autobiography finally comes out on October 1st in the first volume of the Raccolta d'opuscoli scientifici e filologici, edited by Angelo Calogerà.

October 11th. He writes to Angelo Calogerà thanking him for the publication of his Autobiography and asking him to emend an error in the text.

December 15th. Civil censor for the printing of the Stanze in lode di Antonio Manuele of Ippolita Cantelmo Stuart.

1729 [Aged 61] January 5th. Civil censor for the printing of the Tragedie cristiane of Annibale Marchese.

January 12th. Long letter to Francesco Saverio Estevan that returns obsessively to the cause of the lack of success of the New Science. Vico continues his habitual production of encomiums, for the ordination of preachers, for a promotion to cardinal, for a funeral commemoration.

August. The issue of the Acta eruditorum lipsiensia, circulated in Naples only to a few subscribers, appears in the window of a bookseller, and at nearly the same time Vico first sees it. Ill with scurvy, he writes a very strong reply. On second thoughts, with a view toward its printing, he attenuates the tone in the most virulent parts. At the end of November the pamphlet sees the light of print, with the title Notae in “Acta eruditorum lipsiensia.” Usually, however, it is cited as Vici vindiciae [Vindication of Vico], the other title that appears on the title page.

Almost all this year Vico is devoted to the drafting of the “Annotations” of the New Science of 1725, with a view to its Venetian edition. The work begun in March of the preceding year is concluded in October. In the same month the manuscript reaches the hands of Father Lodoli.

Contemporaneous with drafting the “Annotations” to the New Science, acts as civil censor for the commentary on Dante's Commedia by Pompeo Venturi. The text is printed at Lucca in 1732.

At the end of the year there arises a conflict with the Venetian printer of the New Science, increased in size by the “Annotations,” and Vico, not wishing to appear constrained to publish at all costs his work at Venice, decides to retract the manuscript [according to the account he gives in the autobiography, A 191–92].

December 25, 1729–April 9, 1730 [Aged 61–62] Rendering himself accountable, for the second time, to publish an extremely voluminous book, Vico rewrites the New Science in only 106 days, between Christmas and Easter, reducing it to half with respect to the manuscript sent to Venice. The labor is completed, Vico's serious case of influenza during the winter notwithstanding.

1730 [Aged 62] Spring. Nominated member of the Academy of Assorditi (Urbino). June 5th. Thanks Ludovico Antonio Muratori for the nomination. For the moment rejects writing the autobiography requested of him as part of membership in the academy for the reason that his autobiography had already appeared in the Raccolta of Cologerà.

Summer. The second edition of the New Science is already half printed at the press of Felice Mosca when Vico decides to delete the Novella letteraria at the beginning, in which he had polemically traced the chronicle of the failed publishing venture in Venice. In its place he inserts the explanation of the allegorical engraving especially (p.217) made for the frontispiece of the book. While the book is in the course of being printed he prepares a series of “Corrections, meliorations, and additions” to publish in an appendix.

July 13th. Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini ascends the pontifical throne with the name of Clement XII. Vico dedicates a canzone to him.

In this year the introduction to the Rime of Gherardo degli Angioli must have been written, published the next year.

December. The Second New Science comes out. Several days after the publication, informed by Francesco Spinelli of several errors, Vico writes the “Second corrections, meliorations, and additions” printed in a booklet in January 1731.

In the 1730s Vico continues producing verses in Italian and Latin (beyond those in the courses of rhetoric, for which he draws up a manual, “De chriis”) [On the rhetorical use of thematic sentences; see Nicolini, Opere (Milan: Ricciardi, 1953), 957–69], and didactic activity, consisting of partial commentaries on Latin authors (Tacitus, Horace).

1731 [Aged 63] Spring. Freed from the fatigue of the New Science reconsiders the invitation of Muratori to furnish the autobiography in qualification for membership of the Academy of Assorditi. Updates the Autobiography of 1728 to 1731, interspersing the earlier events with additional episodes. Yet this autobiographical project falls short, and there remains only a rough draft in its original manuscript.

April 6th. Implores Emperor Charles VI to allow his son Gennaro to succeed his father in an academic career and to obtain the concession of a fixed income. Through the office of the viceroy of Naples the request is substantially granted.

April 3d–August 27th. “Third corrections, meliorations, and additions” to the New Science, including a discourse on the Law of the Twelve Tables and one on the Law of Tribonian.

June. Two Latin inscriptions for the funeral of Gaetano Argento.

October. Dedication and preface to the Sifilide of Gerolamo Fracastoro, translated by Pietro Belli.

1732 [Aged 64] March 1st. Writes to Nicola Gaetani, duke of Laurenzano, commenting on and praising his book Avvertimenti intorno alle passioni dell'animo.

September 6th. Civil censor for the printing of the Cristiade of Marco Girolamo Vica, translated into Italian by Tommaso Perrone.

October 18th. Delivers the inaugural university oration “On the Heroic Mind,” published at the end of the following month with a dedication to the viceroy of Naples.

1733 [Aged 65] July. The arrival of the new viceroy, Giulio Visconti, induces Vico to deliver a Latin elegy in his honor.

August 30th. Erudite letter on the significance of ancient masks sent to Giuseppe Pasquale Cirillo.

Probably in this year writes a new series of “Corrections, meliorations, and additions” to the New Science, still called “third” because they replace those of 1731.

Begins correspondence with Nicola and Daniele Concina, two brothers of Friuli who, admiring the thought of Vico, remain in correspondence with him until at least 1736.

1734 [Aged 66] The Spanish reconquer the Kingdom of Naples. Between May and June Vico dedicates a sonnet in praise of Charles of Bourbon, celebrating the event.

In the same period sends to him a request to obtain the position of royal historiographer.

(p.218) Translates into Italian the Pro Marcello of Cicero.

1735 [Aged 67] Course of lectures on Terence.

July 2d. Accepting Vico's application, Charles of Bourbon names him royal historiographer. In this period Vico drafts, at various times, three sonnets dedicated to Charles.

August 31st. Sonnet in honor of St. Augustine, toward whom Vico nurtures particular devotion, recited at the Neoplatonic Academy of Oziosi. In the preceding year the academy had been officially reconstituted and placed under the protection of St. Augustine.

Two sonnets for the marriage of Raimondo di Sangro and Carlotta Gaetani di Laurenzano and another two for the marriage of Antonio Capece Minutolo and Teresa Filangieri.

1735–1736 [Aged 67–68] Drafting of the definitive text of the New Science, which is then given to the printer in 1744. In following years Vico makes annotations, corrections, deletions to this version.

1736 [Aged 68] To honor his appointment as royal historiographer, he projects a history of the reconquest by the Bourbons of the Kingdom of Naples, but it is never carried out.

Takes up again De aequilibrio corporis animantis and writes a dedication of the work to Charles of Bourbon.

Civil censor for the printing of Cleopatra of Scipione Cigala.

[Son Ignazio dies.]

1737 [Aged 69] January 6th. Vico, nominated custode of the renewed Academy of Oziosi, delivers the inaugural oration, concerning the relation between philosophy and eloquence.

Commences correspondence with Muzio di Gaeta, archbishop of Bari.

November. Civil censor for the printing of the little book of Giuseppe Pasquale Cirillo, Oratio pro solemni studiorum instauratione.

Perhaps at the end of this year does stylistic revisions of the first two discourses of his pupil, Nicola Gaetani, duke of Laurenzano, concerning La disciplina del cavalier giovane, published in the following year.

Probably this year is the last use of the Institutiones oratoriae in Vico's teaching.

December. Petition to Pope Clement XII and to Clement's nephew, Cardinal Neri Corsini, to obtain a concession for his oldest son, Filippo.

1738 [Aged 70] April. Prepares the inscription to affix to the temporary altar to San Gennaro, raised on May 3d.

May 15th. Civil censor for the printing of an Oratio of Giambattista Spena.

May 25th. Civil censor for the printing of the Disciplina del cavalier giovane of Nicola Gaetani, on the manuscript of which Vico had done revisions.

In May is the marriage of Charles of Bourbon and Maria Amalia of Walburg. Vico celebrates this event by including in a miscellany done in honor of the couple a Latin oration, some inscriptions, also in Latin, and several sonnets.

In his capacity as royal historiographer expresses an opinion on the numerical indication assigned to Charles of Bourbon with regard to his position as king of Naples. There being differing opinions, the sovereign should decide, in order to avoid putting several designations beside his name.

(p.219) November 7th. Civil censor for the printing of an Orazione of his friend Giacco. In this year Vico returns to his grammatical, lexical, and stylistic commentaries on the works of Terence, Cicero, Tacitus, Petrarch, and Ariosto.

1739 [Aged 71] Continues encomiastical activity with six extended inscriptions in February for the funeral rites of Baldassame Cattaneo, with another ten in May for the first anniversary of the death of James Fitzjames, and a sonnet for the marriage of Gerolamo Pignatelli to Francesca Pignatelli.

1740 [Aged 72] In the last days of the year, asks Charles of Bourbon why his son Gennaro is not confirmed in the chair of rhetoric that Vico held for a period of forty years and now leaves for reasons of age.

1741 [Aged 73] Succeeded in his professorship by his son Gennaro.

1741–1743 [Aged 73–75] Occasional inscriptions and sonnets (for births, nuptials, deaths).

1742 [Aged 74] Receives the first printed pages of the treatise on the tarantula spider, De phalangio apulo, from its author Francesco Serao. Vico praises them in their general plan, and makes emendations. The ability of Serao is attested to by the fact that ten years before, he had been invited to write an oration in case Vico, because of age and illness, was not able to deliver his “On the Heroic Mind” [1732].

1743 [Aged 75] In the second half of the year the printing of the third edition of the New Science begins. Its publication will occur posthumously, at the end of July 1744. In December 1743 the printer's proofs of half the book are available and are reviewed by Vico.

1744 [Aged 75] January 10th. Dictated the dedication of the New Science to Cardinal Troiano Acquaviva, the Hispanic-Neapolitan ambassador at the Holy See, who was willing to sustain, at least in part, the costs of printing.

Dies during the night of January 22d and 23d. (p.220)