Alessio Cotugno

Alessio Cotugno

Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fellow
Alessandro Piccolomini’s Institutione and its Contexts (1542-1560): Textual and Intellectual History.


Alessio Cotugno received his PhD in Philology from the University of Naples Federico II-SUM with a thesis on G.A. Dell’Anguillara’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (the first critical edition of this text with commentary is now in press). Cotugno has been Research Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University and at the University of Warwick, where he was also Marie Curie Fellow. His publications cover topics such as Renaissance volgarizzamenti of Aristotle and Ovid, and the lexical history of ideas in Italian. His first monograph entitled Dal Risorgimento al Rinascimento appeared in 2017 with Marcianum Press; his book La scienza della parola. Retorica e linguistica di Sperone Speroni is forthcoming from Il Mulino in 2018.

Project Summary

Alessandro Piccolomini’s Institutione, a lengthy pedagogical and ethical treatise first published in 1542 and in a revised edition in 1560, was one of the most influential Renaissance adaptations of Aristotle’s Ethics. This project will analyze for the first time the textual history of the Institutione in light of the Cinquecento’s linguistic, literary, political, and religious history. Through a close study of the two editions, of the different contexts of their production, of their sources and reception, this study will trace the mechanisms underlying the transformation of this extremely popular text (fourteen Italian printings) from a pedagogical courtly compendium to a book of spiritual formation. This project will also show that a thorough investigation of the Institutione in its different versions, and of their relationship with contemporary works by Sperone Speroni and Benedetto Varchi, illuminates the development of mid-sixteenth-century philosophical prose in the vernacular. Indeed, the Institutione responds to current debates about the vernacular’s appropriateness as a philosophical medium and promotes Aristotelianism as a perfect fit with the Counter-Reformation. As such, this research has important historical and methodological implications, providing both insights into a crucial segment in the history of Renaissance Italy, and a new understanding of the reception of Aristotle’s Ethics in sixteenth-century Italy.