4to (194 x 137 mm). 85,  pp. (the last blank). Printed shoulder notes. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, larger version on last leaf recto, woodcut frontispiece (preceding first text page) of St. Catherine in clouds above the towers and Duomo of Siena, within type-ornament border, 2 woodcut historiated initials. Small stain to A3, cut close but with no text loss. Modern boards.***
Only Edition of an energetic refutation of Erasmus’s defense of marriage, published posthumously by the author’s nephew. Erasmus had argued in favor of marriage in a rhetorical exercise (suasoria), part of his De conscribendis epistolis (Basel, 1522). In the present work, couched as a dialogue between Cosmophilus (standing in more or less for Erasmus) and Aporeticus (the doubter, or one who hesitates), the Dominican polemicist took Erasmus at his word. In arguing against Erasmus’s suave mockery of clerical and monastic celibacy, Politi countered Erasmus’s evasive and ambiguous charm with by-the-book methodical argumentation, adopting the “classical method of faithfully lining up the texts to be refuted or condemned and systematically replying to them one by one” (Telle, p. 327, trans.).
In the 1522 version of his suasoria (though not in an earlier version, the 1518 Encomium matrimonii), Erasmus jocularly described the case of no less a Catholic figure than Thomas More (referred to as “Mauricius meus”), who had remarried soon after his first wife died, as an encouraging example for his pupil William Blount, Lord Mountjoy (addressed as “Iovius noster”), who had recently lost his third wife and was contemplating a fourth marriage. Politi was unaware of the allusion, and he unknowningly and rather comically blasted the saint and martyr More as “shameful with love of lust” (amantem ... probrosae libidinis, p. 76).
Politi was an interesting character. A citizen of Siena, trained in the law, he joined the Dominican order having been inspired by Savonarola’s writings (against which he later railed). Always outspoken, he was persistently at loggerheads with the heads of the order, partly for his pro-Marianism. The authorities eventually decided to use his argumentativeness for their own purposes, and as an anti-Reformist controversialist he became a weaponized voice of the Church. To Politi, for example, was given the charge of countering Luther (cf. the Apologia pro veritate Catholicae, Florence: Giunti, 1520). Rejecting inquisitorial methods, he worked to convert “heretics” through persuasian, succeeding in several notable cases. Caravale in DBI speaks of the “asperity” of his character and the force of his convictions. Politi’s numerous works included attacks on Savonarola (1548) and on Macchiavelli (1552) and treatises on predestination, original sin, and the Immaculate Conception. He was made Archbishop of Conza in 1552, but died before reaching Rome.
OCLC gives 6 US locations. Adams C-109; EDIT-16 CNCE 26497. Cf. Contemporaries of Erasmus 3:105-6; Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 84, art. Giorgio Caravale; E. V. Telle, "La Digamie de Thomas More, Erasme et Catarino Politi," Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 52, no. 2 (1990): 323-32. Item #4091