Coriolano Cippico (1425–93) was a nobleman from Trogir (Trau) in Dalmatia (modern Croatia), then part of the Venetian maritime empire. He was a landowner, civil servant, humanist and military commander. From 1470 to 1474 he served as galley captain in a Venetian naval expedition in the eastern Mediterranean under the command of the future doge of Venice, Pietro Mocenigo.
Cippico wrote The Deeds of Commander Pietro Mocenigo in 1474/75. In its three books he describes the exploits of the campaign as Mocenigo’s fleet engaged in a systematic depredation of the western Anatolian shoreline, helped suppress a political coup in Cyprus and seal the Venetian hold of the island, supported the Venetian diplomatic outreach to the lords of Karaman, the chief Ottoman adversaries in Anatolia, and provided crucial relief to the Venetian-held Albanian stronghold of Skodra (Scutari) besieged by Ottoman troops.
Composed in an elegant humanist Latin, The Deeds details a sophisticated eyewitness account of the Christian–Ottoman confrontation in the latter part of the fifteenth century. Besides its classicizing overtones, which display the interests of a cultivated and avid antiquarian mind, The Deeds also offers an astute and perceptive observation on the nature of the entangled relationship between Venice and the Ottomans. It also makes astute and perceptive observations on the entangled relationship between Venice and the East.
The brutality of war, the constant traffic in slaves and booty and the almost casual destruction of the ancient remains of Asia Minor form the backdrop to the expert diplomacy, crusade rhetoric, humanist discourse and the cultural claims of the Venetian Republic. Cippico projects back the deeds of Venice’s commanders into the language and tropes of the classical past, while the realities of combat and reprisal that he narrates recall the detachment of Thucydides and give vivid testimony to the destruction of the last traces of that antiquity. Cippico’s work provides one of the best narratives of how the empire of the Most Serene Republic actually worked.
The present edition is the first translation of The Deeds into English and brings back to light one of the finest pieces of Renaissance history writing, often and widely reprinted and much appreciated in its time but undeservedly forgotten until recently.
Introduction, notes, bibliography, index, 20 illustrations, 3 maps.
History, cultural studies, Mediterranean studies, humanism.