Other Literary Forms
Foremost among Girolamo Fracastoro’s prose work is the treatise Syphilis (wr. 1553, pb. 1939). Other scientific pieces include Homocentricorum sive de stellis (1538; homocentricity on the stars), De causis criticorum dierum libellus (1538), De sympathia et antipathia rerum (1546; on the attraction and repulsion of things), De contagionibus et contagiosis morbis et eorum curatione (1546; De contagione et contagiosis morbis et eorum curatione, 1930), and De vini temperatura (1534). Also of interest are three Humanistic dialogues: Naugerius sive de poetica dialogus (1549; English translation, 1924), and the unfinished “Turrius sive de intellectione dialogus” and “Fracastorius sive de anima dialogus,” which were published posthumously in the Opera omnia of 1555.
A play, La Venexiana (the Venetian, or Venetian comedy), was discovered in 1928 by Emilio Lovarini, deciphered from manuscript miscellany collected in 1780 by Iacopo Morelli. No other text is known, and no mention was made of the play in its time, although it seems to have been written after 1509. The work was published in 1950 in a bilingual edition with introduction and English translation by Matilde Valenti Pfeiffer. A pseudonym, Hieronymous Zarello, was applied to the work, but the Fracastoro expert Girlando Lentini attested its authenticity in his August, 1948, article, “Non piu anonima la Venexiana,” in the Giornale di Sicilia. The play was published twice by Lovarini, in 1928 and in 1947. The work has been described by Pfeiffer as “one of the earliest character plays in world literature.” Its alternation of long and short episodes during the course of four days and its shift of place and mood anticipate the dramaturgy of William Shakespeare. In five acts, its six characters convey the vulnerability of romantic love. The play moves quickly; the characters are quaint and boldly drawn; the language is unusually pithy and droll. It is a rare document of Venetian life, as its epigraph avers: “Non fabula non comedia ma vera historia” (“Neither fable, nor comedy, but real history”).
Another work, “Apocalisse” (apocalypse), extant among Fracastoro’s manuscripts as late as 1700, is now lost. W. Parr Greswell notes as well that Fracastoro’s “Citriorum epigrammata” and many of his smaller pieces are lost. In referring to Fracastoro’s accumulated writings, it is important to note Murray Bundy’s observation that “little attempt has ever been made to establish a critical text or to determine chronology.”