Carsughi, Ranieri:

Ars Bene Scribendi / Studiosis Rhetoricae / Adolescentibus / Proposita olim in Collegio Romano / ... Carmen Didascalicum. Adduntur praeterea nonnulla eiusdem Epigrammata.

- Romae, 1709. Ex typographia Antonii de Rubeis. - 106, [1] p.; 8
Signatur: Sch 070/027 Notation: L 332 D 029


We republish Carsughi's "Art of writing" since it is almost impossible today to track down a copy of this significant work of Jesuit rhetorical teaching. When Dr. Yasmin Haskell discovered the book in the fonds Desbillons of Mannheim University Library, she graciously agreed to write an introduction for us.
The table of contents below was compiled by the editor of the Editio Theodoro-Palatina.
Note: On Nov. 2 a revised version of the introduction has replaced the first one

Father Rainier Carsughi's Ars Bene Scribendi / Studiosis Rhetoricae / Adolescentibus / Proposita olim in Collegio Romano / ... Carmen Didascalicum was published in Rome in 1709. Carsughi (1647-1709) taught the rhetoric class at the Roman College of the Society of Jesus for seven years, before ascending the Jesuit hierarchy to the level of provincial of Rome.(1) At the prompting of friends, Carsughi set about polishing his didactic poem for publication, but was overtaken by illness and death. At the end of the first book we learn that the Ars bene scribendi was read in the Collegio Romano to celebrate the peace between Louis XIV of France and Charles II of Spain, and in honour of the marriage of the Spanish king to Louise of Bourbon (p. 22). That said, the structure and contents of the poem suggest that it was initially designed for classroom use. The Ars bene scribendi thus differs from many contemporary Jesuit didactic poems, in which professors sought less to instruct their students than to impress their colleagues.(2)

The poem is divided into four books treating the following topics: the art of reading approved writers and taking notes; the method of writing; imitation; the virtues and vices of style.(3) Each book is broken down into numbered paragraphs, with marginal headings providing easy points of reference for the reader/ user. Like Vida's De arte poetica, Carsughi's Ars bene scribendi is much more of a practical poem on composition than their common ancient model, Horace's Ars poetica. Where Horace seems to have felt that there were already too many hacks in Rome, Vida and Carsughi believe that style can, to some extent, be taught. Vida's poem, however, is less of a targeted textbook than Carsughi's; Vida's advice is directed not only to young poets, but to their parents, and beyond them, to a wider humanist audience. Moreover, the De arte poetica teaches by illustration as much as by prescription, and has always been appreciated as an accomplished Neo-Latin poem in its own right.(4) But if the Ars bene scribendi was never to achieve the modern classic status of the De arte poetica, Carsughi is not without literary pretensions, and achieves a smoothly sententious style perhaps more consciously Horatian than Vida's. On the other hand, Carsughi's poem exhibits some of those broadly Virgilian features common in Jesuit didactic poetry of all varieties.(5)Like Vida, and also in accordance with established Jesuit preference, Carsughi holds Virgil up as the supreme model for imitation in poetry (pp. 15-16).(6) The influence of Vida's poem on Carsughi's is also immediately apparent. The first section, on fostering a pure style by careful reading of the classics, is ultimately Quintilian. To illustrate the principle, however, Carsughi elaborates a metaphor of plunder borrowed from Vida.(7)

While many of Carsughi's precepts are 'classical', the poem is also an index of Jesuit humanist pedagogy in action at the turn of the eighteenth century. Carsughi enjoins us to put every fragment of time, no matter how insignificant, to good use. He adduces the example of Pliny, who did not leave his books behind in the city when he went fishing, and Alexander, who slept with a copy of Homer under his head (p. 18).(8) On the other hand, the Jesuit teacher is no slave-driver, and recognises the importance of breaks, at least at two hour intervals (pp. 18-19).(9) A necessary complement to reading is note-taking, as an aid to the memory.(10) Carsughi's advice on this subject, derived from Sacchini, is eminently practical: keep two notebooks, one for jotting down interesting passages as they occur to you, another in which this material is disposed and rubricated for easy reference. Or, if your hand grows weary from writing everything out twice, let the margin serve instead of a second book, and create an index (pp. 21-2).(11)

In Carsughi's second book, the voice of the schoolteacher may be heard in: 'Why do you approach the censor so late? Why do you bring me something to read late in the evening, when you are going to recite it the following morning? Perhaps you are seeking a flatterer, not a judge?' (p. 33). The Jesuit poet devotes some of his most heated rhetoric to the moral dangers of lewd literature. In book four, he warns his boys to abstain from reading Italian writers, who are especially corrupting.(12) He encourages them to write about sacred subjects (pp. 56-8).(13) But like all good teachers, Carsughi has a sense of humour. In a section on recitation at the end of the second book he warns: 'I know how much the untutored voice or gesture can hinder the public speaker. Everything you say falls flat, every detail becomes banal. The weary listener stares up at the ceiling, betraying his boredom with a gloomy face. I am he, I admit it, I have been there. I will say no more' (pp. 35-6).(14)

The poet's sense of humour reveals itself again - albeit grimly! - in the closing epyllion of the fourth book. The Horatian theme is the desirability of concision. When Theodosius is punishing the rebel Thessalonicans, a father pleads with a soldier for the lives of his two sons. The father must choose between them. He prevaricates - for over fifty verses! - and the impatient soldier slaughters both boys. The moral?: 'Do you hear? While the father was trying to save both, he handed both over to death. Our compositions are the darlings of our minds, the children of our hearts. If someone wants to keep everything, omitting nothing for the sake of brevity, he will retain nothing, and he says less when he says much. Lose something unless you want to lose everything' (p. 63). On this effective and pithy note, Carsughi wisely lays down his own pen.

Dr Yasmin Haskell, Newnham College, Cambridge
British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow



Manuscript note by the book collector, François-Joseph Terrasse Desbillons SJ (1711-1789).
Title page
p. 3 Printer's Preface
p. 4 (Continued)
p. 5 (Continued)
p. 6 (Continued)
p. 7 (Continued)
p. 8 (Continued)
p. 9 Permission
p. 10 Imprimatur
p. 11 Liber I. De Arte legendi probatos Scriptorum libros, et selecta adnotandi. 1. Legendum.
p. 12 (Continued)
p. 13 2. Legendum cum delectu, et primo cavendum a libris obscaenis. 3. Tironibus legendi sunt probatissimi.
p. 14 4. Damna ex malorum librorum lectione.
p. 15 5. Unus praecipue Auctor legendus. 6. Insinuantur, qui potissimum legendi.
p. 16 7. Quomodo legendum.
p. 17 8. Quando legendum. 9. De horis subsecivis.
p. 18 10. Moderate, et attente legendum.
p. 19 11. Lectioni adiungenda est adnotatio.
p. 20 12. Exempla lectionis, et adnotationis assiduae.
p. 21 13. Modus adnotandi.
p. 22 (Continued)
p. 23 Liber Secundus. De methodo scribendi. 1. Post diuturnam lectionem scribendum est aliquid.
p. 24 2. Initio superanda difficultas scribendi.
p. 25 3. Serio cogitandum quid scribas, ne argumentum maius sit scribentis viribus.
p. 26 4. Nec declinandum ab argumentis arduis. 5. Genius potissimum consulendus.
p. 27 6. Materies, sive, ut dicunt, silva rerum scribendarum disponenda.
p. 28 7. Ante scribendum, implorandum est praesidium Deiparae V[irginis].
p. 29 8. Modus scribendi diversus.
p. 30 9. Forma scribendi aptanda est argumento.
p. 31 10. Quae scripta sunt, corrigenda.
p. 32 11. De nimio corrigendi studio. 12. Scripta subiciantur aliorum iudicio.
p. 33 (Continued)
p. 34 13. Cave ab ostentatione eorum, quae scripsisti. 14. Cavendum quoque a nimia facilitate vulgandi operis.
p. 35 15. De actionis cura, si recitandum sit.
p. 36 (Continued)
p. 37 Liber Tertius. De Imitatione. 1. Imitandum.
p. 38 2. Imitandi sunt auctores optimi.
p. 39 3. Imitatio non est furtum.
p. 40 (Continued)
p. 41 4. In fures, qui expilant aliorum scripta.
p. 42 5. Imitatio sit prudens, non temeraria. 6. Imitatio non sistat in vocibus, sed sententias potissimum spectet.
p. 43 (Continued)
p. 44 7. Imitatio assurgat aliquando ad aemulationem. 8. Exemplum aemulationis in Michaele Angelo Bonarota, qui Architectos antiquos secutus, tandem assecutus est, ac superavit.
p. 45 (Continued)
p. 46 9. Artificium quo Bonarota decepit admiratores nonnisi operum antiquorum.
p. 47 10. Bonarota tholum Vaticanum attollens, Pantheon antiquum aemulatur, ac superat.
p. 48 (Continued)
p. 49 Liber quartus. Stili virtutes quaedam, et vitia. 1. Locutio sit Latina.
p. 50 2. Sit Latina, etiam in iis qui superiores disciplinas tractant, quantum fieri potest.
p. 51 3. Magis tamen laborandum de sententia, quam de vocibus. 4. Forma dicendi sit gravis, non fucata vanis argutiolis.
p. 52 5. Exemplum gravitatis in Virgilio.
p. 53 6. Dicendi genus sit solidum, ac naturale.
p. 54 7. Temperandum ingenio, et luminibus ingeniosis.
p. 55 8. Orator caveat, ne poetice loquatur; Poeta, ne oratorie.
p. 56 9. Vitanda obscuritas loquendi. 10. Et multo magis obscaenitas.
p. 57 (Continued)
p. 58 11. Tractentur Sacra, et Divina.
p. 59 12. Studendum brevitati. 13. Nec repetenda pluries eadem.
p. 60 14. Progrediendum semper. 15. Resecentur aliqua studio brevitatis. 16. In caede Thessalonicensi, Genitor, dum utrumque filium servare studet, utrumque amitti[t].
p. 61 (Continued)
p. 62 (Continued)
p. 63 17. Simile quid accidit prolixe scribenti.
p. 64 (Continued)
p. 65 Epigrammata. De Christo nato. - Divus Joannes Baptista cur in utero materno saliens?
p. 66 Prodigium D. Mariae Magdalenae de Pazzis, in funere. - Rusticus in flammas se conicit, ut Eucharistiam ab incendio servet.
p. 67 Codrus pro Patria non timidus mori, Christus pro genere humano. - Eucharistia Cibus Fortium.
p. 68 Puer extinctae Parentis lacte nutritur: Homines Christi sanguine. - In Divam Luciam immobilem.
p. 69 Filius naufragus supra Patris cadaver ad litus defertur: Homines per Christi mortem ad salutem enavigant. - In Petrum negantem. - Post Bacchanalia dies Cinerum.
p. 70 Beatus Aloysius Gonzaga ab igne illaesus.
p. 71 Arborum de Christi Cruce certamen. - Alleluia vulnere Cantoris Sacri interruptum.
p. 72 De Divini Spiritus Adventu post Christum ad Caelos, interposita micanti nube, sublatum. - Christus Mense Martio moritur.
p. 73 De incerta Divini funeris die. - Christus ad columnam. - Stabat Mater.
p. 74 Cristallum Pudicitiae Symbolum. - Jordanis.
p. 75 Dives Avarus eget. - Leo beneficii memor.
p. 76 De Pisce Remora. - In Pyramides Aegyptiorum Regum Sepulcrales.
p. 77 Palladis cum Neptuno certamen. - Caesaris lacrimae, dum videt Pompeii caput.
p. 78 Contio Caesaris, Pompeii recisum caput dum videt, ex Lucano. - Ex laetitia Mors.
p. 79 Ad Absalonem.
p. 80 Idem argumentum. - Aristoteles Euripo sese demergit.
p. 81 Regis Darii Mater, Alexandro mortuo, se necat. - Monima Regina a Diademate suo mortem non impetrat.
p. 82 Eques Laurentius Berninus, et P. Athanasius Kircher eadem nocte moriuntur. - Pictor, depictum a se Deum Iudicem spectans, moritur.
p. 83 Puer a Pomo suffocatur. - Pyrrhum victorem Femina interficit.
p. 84 In Sepulcrum Alexandri Septimi P[ontificis] M[aximi]. - In funere Andreae Abbatis Bernardi Theologiae studiosi in Seminario Romano. - Extinctae Galliarum Reginae.
p. 85 In funere Ferdinandi Secundi Magni Etruriae Ducis. - In funere Eminentissimi Francisci Card[inalis] Nerlii Praesulis Florentini.
p. 86 In funere Caroli Cardelli, integerrimi, et nobilis Adolescentis Romani. - In funere Excellentissimae Dominae Olympiae Aldobrandinae Pamphiliae.
p. 87 In Psittacum. - Utile damnum.
p. 88 Coma discolor barbae. - Cervi duo Romani Collegii Porticum intrant. - Rhetor cenaturus sine Vino, Magistro intercedente absolvitur.
p. 89 Orpheus Uxorem ab Inferis repetit. - Ingenium Praecox.
p. 90 Equus, et Asinus: Apologus ex Aesopo.
p. 91 Diogenes moriens Sepulcri honorem contemnit. - Ultio nocet Ultori.
p. 92 Criminum confessio severa veniam obtinet. - Infanti Austriaco.
p. 93 In Vesuvium Montem, Neapoli proximum. - Ad Nobilem Hospitem, dum Gymnasium invisit.
p. 94 Philosophus in procelloso mari timet. - Romani sub iugum mittuntur a Samnitibus.
p. 95 Nero, Alexandri Simulacrum inaurari iubet.
p. 96 Nero adhuc Clemens capitali sententiae subscribere recusat. - Aloysiam Hispaniarum Reginam Rex Galliarum Ludovicus adoptat.
p. 97 Idem argumentum. - Rex Aegyptius Pyramidi attollendae filium suum alligat.
p. 98 Hispaniarum Regi Carolo II. in Nuptiis cum Aloysia Borbonia. - Iudicium Salomonis.
p. 99 Plato iratus. - Diogenes mendicat a statuis.
p. 100 Agathocles ex Figulo Rex Siciliae fictilibus cenat. - Fabius Cunctator.
p. 101 Annibalis cum Scipione colloquium. - Mutus Croesi filius repente loquitur.
p. 102 Philippus Aristoteli, nato Alexandro filio. - Alexander Genitori Philippo invidet.
p. 103 Alexander claudo Genitori gratulatur.
p. 104 Alexander vulneratus Mortalem se fatetur. - Alexander moriens consolatur amicos.
p. 105 Virgo egena comas vendit. - In Leonem Florentinum.
p. 106 (Continued)
p. 107 Errata

1. For a concise history of the Jesuit curriculum, see A. Scaglione, The Liberal Arts and the Jesuit College System (Amsterdam and Philadelphia, 1986). Of Carsughi's personality, the printer writes in his preface: 'All recognised and appreciated that there was nothing in his countenance of severity, gloom or arrogance' (p. 6).

2. This article is an abbreviated extract from my book, Pruning the Tree of Knowledge. Labour and Learning in Jesuit Latin Didactic Poetry, in preparation for Oxford University Press.

3. Several of Carsughi's topics are foreshadowed in Father Joseph Jouvancy's Magistris scholarum inferiorum Societatis Jesu De ratione discendi et docendi ...(Florence, 1703). I am grateful to Dr Wolfgang Schibel for correctly suspecting the influence of Father Francesco Sacchini's De ratione libros cum profectu legendi libellus, Deque vitanda moribus noxia lectione, oratio (Ingolstadt, 1614). Sacchini's oration was delivered to the rhetoric class at the Roman College in 1603. Not much had changed in the Jesuit classroom when Carsughi came to write his didactic poem a century later!

4. See, for example, the edition of R. G. Williams, The De arte poetica Of Marco Girolamo Vida: translated with commentary, and with the text of c. 1517 edited (New York, 1976); P. Hardie, 'Vida's De arte poetica and the Transformation of Models', in Apodosis. Essays presented to Dr W. W. Cruikschank to mark his eightieth birthday (St Paul's School, London, 1992), pp. 47-53.

5. E.g. the proem and sphragis of book one; good Father Oliva as something of a Corycian gardener (pp. 20-21); hactenus in the first line of book two; the epyllion at the end of book four (but also book three).

6. In oratory his first choice is Cicero (p. 15). For Ciceronianism in the Jesuit Ratio studiorum see A. P. Farrell, S.J., The Jesuit Code of Liberal Education (Milwaukee, 1938), pp. 177-80.

7. Virgil is said to have 'laid waste to Homer, and, returning to Latium, adorned it with Greek spoils'. He also leafs through the 'rotten songs of [Roman] poets', despoiling the tomb of Lucretius, and digging gold out of the ruins of Ennius (p. 12). Cf. Vida, De arte poetica 3. 185ff. Vidan echoes may also be detected in Carsughi's third book, on imitation.

8. Cf. Sacchini, De ratione libros ... legendi, Cap. 6, 'De subsecivis lectionibus', for the same classical examples.

9. On the novel provision for physical recreation and relaxation in the Jesuit educational system, see F. de Dainville, S.J., L'Éducation des Jésuites (XVIe - XVIIIe siècles), texts rénunis et présentés par Marie-Madeleine Compère (Paris, 1978), pp. 518-33.

10. The best book on this subject in general is A. Moss, Printed Common-Place Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought (Oxford, 1996). Carsughi's models in note-taking are all Jesuits: Jacobus Lainez, General of the Society at the time of the Council of Trent; Famianus Strada, famous as author of the Prolusiones academicae (Rome, 1617); Joannes Paulus Oliva, General of the Society, 1664-1681.

11. Cf. Sacchini, De ratione libros ... legendi, Cap. 12, 'Quid curandum, ut excerpendis labor sit totus saluber'. (Sacchini recommends the margin-and-index method for those who cannot employ an amanuensis.)

12. Cf. Jouvancy, Ratio discendi, Cap. 1, Art. 3, 'De studio linguae vernaculae'.

13. Note also the apology for Christian vocabulary at the beginning of the fourth book (p. 49). Cf. Sacchini, De vitanda moribus noxia lectione, passim. In his second book, Carsughi rhetorically rejects the Muses and Apollo in favour of the Virgin (and praises Father Athanasius Kircher for his devotion to her). For the history of this motif, see A. Nüssel, 'Sed quid ego hic Musas? On Invocations in Aonio Paleario, De Animorum Immortalitate (1535) and Scipione Capece, De Principiis Rerum (1546)', in Poets and Teachers: Latin Didactic Poetry and the Didactic Authority of the Latin Poet from the Renaissance to the Present, ed. Y. Haskell and P. Hardie (Bari, 1999), pp. 35-56.

14. Performance was central to Jesuit humanist education, whether in oratory or amateur dramatics.

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Mannheim, 2. November 1999