A translation of Francesco Antonio Mattei’s Della scherma napoletana (“Neapolitan Fencing“) has been sitting in my pile of mostly complete projects for far too long, so I have finally taken the time to polish and release it.
Tracing his teachings through his brother, Giovanni Mattei, to Giovanni Battista Marcelli, Francesco Antonio Mattei published this clear but unillustrated work on the sword and dagger and single sword of the “Neapolitan School” in 1669, claiming to be the first to do so. Interestingly, the book states that an earlier, unfinished version of the sword and dagger content had been previously published without Mattei’s permission by an unnamed person who had been loaned the manuscript. Sadly, there do not appear to be any surviving copies of this earlier edition of the work.
This release has omitted a large amount of dedicatory poetry in Latin and Italian and has left the scattering of Latin quotations in the text untranslated. In the future a published version will be available that includes this content and also annotations explaining the many mythological, historical, and contemporary events and figures mentioned throughout.
You can download Neapolitan Fencing for free in Translations.
Keep an Eye out for Marcelli
My heavily annotated translation of Francesco Antonio Marcelli’s 1686 treatise Regole della scherma (“Rules of Fencing“) is drawing ever closer to the finish line. Keep an eye out for news here and from Fallen Rook Publishing. Francesco Antonio Marcelli being a fellow student of Giovanni Mattei (and Giovanni Battista Marcelli’s son), his book compliments Della scherma napoletana quite well, both works shedding light on some areas the other lacks detail, while also differing in intriguing ways.
We are now only seven days away from my annual fundraiser for Extra Life, an event that connects video and tabletop game enthusiasts with their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, ending in a 24-hour gaming marathon. Since 2017, I have raised nearly $5000 USD with the help of friends, family, and colleagues!
I would also appreciate if you dropped by during my marathon! I’ll need help staying awake, and having people to talk to and share old games with can make the hours fly by. You can watch on my fundraising page or directly on my Twitch channel.
I know, I know. I said the previous update to Scola, overo teatro would be the final update. However…
Recently I was creating handouts for class and was annoyed at the quality of the illustrations after printing. Thankfully, last year KU Leuven began making digitized copies of works in the Corble Collection available online. This is one of the finest collections of fencing and duelling treatises in the world and, among other treasures, it contains some very nicely preserved copies of both the 1606 and 1628 printings of Giganti’s Scola, overo teatro. As the university considers all digitized copies of works in their holdings published prior to 1900 to be public domain, I decided to retouch Giganti’s illustrations using these scans.
I’ve added the “remastered” versions to the translation, which will greatly increase the quality when printing your own copy of the book or creating handouts. You can grab the latest PDF from the Translations page. I’ve also separately bundled the full resolution retouched illustrations and made them available for download here. If you’d like to have a look at the originals, they’re in the Corble Collection along with many, many other fun things you can dive into.
Every year I raise funds for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children as part of an event called Extra Life, which connects video and tabletop game enthusiasts with their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, ending in a 24-hour gaming marathon. Since 2008, Extra Life events have raised over $100 million USD!
This is my sixth year of participating in Extra Life, and beginning at 9:30 PM EDT on November 4 I will be livestreaming my marathon, leading with the 1998 psychological horror game Sanitarium.
There are a number of ways you can help me.
Please consider making a donation! Every bit helps, and all donations are tax-deductible.
Over the pandemic lockdowns when we could not train in person, my fencing club held a weekly online reading night. As my translation of Nicoletto Giganti’s Scola, overo teatro (1606) is our main source text, we decided to work through the book chapter by chapter, giving me plenty of opportunities to re-examine my work and correct issues as they came up. At a certain point it became clear that the document had become different enough to make it worth doing a thorough editing pass before releasing it to the community again. Although there were very few substantive changes, the language has been considerably cleaned up, particularly in the forward’s crash course in the early modern philosophy of science.
As always, I welcome feedback. I do, however, have a couple major translation projects on the go and this is quite likely to be the last update to Scola, overo teatro outside of any typos or other minor issues that crop up. I have yet to update the version that appears on Wiktenauer, so if you use that as a reference, please keep in mind that the text there should be considered out of date until I get around to putting up this latest version.
This is the fifth year I will be participating in Extra Life! The event organizes video and tabletop game enthusiasts to fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, culminating in a 24-hour gaming marathon. Since 2008 Extra Life events have raised over $87 million USD!
In a little less than eight weeks, starting at 9:30 PM EST on November 5, I will be playing video games for 24 hours and streaming as I raise money for the SickKids Foundation and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. This year I will be starting my marathon with the 1994 sci-fi noir mystery Under a Killing Moon.
Please consider making a donation! Your contribution is tax-deductible and 100% goes to the SickKids Foundation. I have a number of limited incentives that will affect my stream, so grab them before they’re gone!
I’ve finished the first thorough pass of my translation of Francesco Antonio Mattei’s 1669 fencing treatise Neapolitan Fencing, aside from two minor things. First, pages 81 and 82 are missing from the only publicly available digitized copy. I made inquiries with a couple libraries that hold copies of the text, and will hopefully be able to arrange for some photographs to be taken of these missing pages.
Second, at the front of Neapolitan Fencing, after the dedication and forwards and before the main text, in addition to sixteen (SIXTEEN) Petrarchan sonnets in Italian, there are five pieces of poetry written in Latin. Translating Latin not being my favourite job in the world, I’ve left these for last. Once those two things are taken care of I can get some more eyes on the text and start thinking about getting it out into the world.
It seems like it will be another summer of solo practice for me here in Toronto. Looking for something new to keep myself engaged (not to mention a good excuse to buy a new sword), I decided to take a break from larger translation projects I’ve been working on and tackle Francesco Ferdinando Alfieri’s Lo spadone (“The Greatsword“). First appearing in 1653 as Part 3 of Alfieri’s L’arte di ben mannegiare la spada (“The Art of Handling the Sword Well“), many surviving copies are bound as separate volumes, including the Getty Research Institute’s copy, which I used for this translation.
It’s a short work that seems rather light on technical specifics, especially compared to Alfieri’s generally clear (for the first half of the 17th century) earlier work, but it was a fun project to spend a couple weekends on. I’m looking forward to doing some interpretation work later in the summer.
My annotated translation of Francesco Antonio Marcelli’s 1686 fencing treatise Rules of Fencing is now with a publisher, and over the last few months we’ve been working steadily to get it edited. No ETA yet, but I will be posting additional details as things become clearer. Stay tuned!
Coming down the pipeline is a translation of Neapolitan Fencing, of which I have nearly finished a complete first draft. The 1669 work by Francesco Antonio Mattei details the fencing system Mattei ascribes to Giovanni Battista Marcelli, F.A. Marcelli’s father. It is organized into two discourses and contains no illustrations. The first discourse details fencing with the sword and dagger, while the second discusses the single sword. Mattei’s work was criticized by the Palermitan fencing master Giuseppe Morsicato Pallavicini shortly after its publication, but was defended by F.A. Marcelli in Rules of Fencing as a “most ingenious book”.
Beyond being what appears to be the first printed description of Giovanni Battista’s southern Italian “school”, Neapolitan Fencing is interesting for its publication history. In a forward written by the work’s printer, Novello de Bonis, we are told that an earlier draft was loaned to an unnamed individual, who then sent it to the press without the author’s permission. De Bonis likens this event to a “miscarriage of genius”, and implores readers who come across a copy of this version to burn it and pity the author. Sadly, thus far I have been unable to locate any library catalogue entries that indicate any copies of this first edition survived the flames.
Somehow it’s been the better part of a year since an update!
Despite the radio silence, I haven’t been sitting on my hands. I’ve finished my edits of my translation of Francesco Antonio Marcelli’s 1686 fencing treatise Regole della scherma (“Rules of Fencing“) and it’s been out with some helpful reviewers for several weeks now. So what does my roadmap look like at this point?
Additional editing pass through the translation of Marcelli’s text
Additional editing pass through all footnotes and appendices
Review by third-parties
Not really a lot left to do! Cleaning up the plates and getting them “print ready” is slow work and something I may end up getting professional help with, but so far they’re looking good!
As feedback rolls in from people with preview copies I’ll be making additional edits to the translation as necessary.
Then it’s on to deciding how to release it. With previous translations (Giganti’s Scola overo teatro and my first version of Marcelli’s First Part) I released digitally under a Creative Commons licence, but I would love to have a hard copy of this one made available. Whether or not I self-publish on a platform like Lulu or shop it around to publishers is up in the air at this point.
For the fourth year in a row I’m participating in Extra Life! The event connects video, board, and tabletop game enthusiasts in order to raise funds for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Since 2008 Extra Life events have raised over $70 million USD!
In just one week, starting at 9:30 PM EST on November 6, I will be playing video games for 24 hours and live streaming the entire marathon as I raise money for the SickKids Foundation and the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.
Please consider stopping by, saying hello, and making a donation! Your contribution is tax-deductible and 100% goes to the SickKids Foundation. You can visit my fundraising page for more information.