Ottavio Farnese

Ottavio Farnese (1598–1643). Quaestiones definitae ex triplici philosophia, rationali, naturali, morali, in Parmensi Academia publicè triduum disputatae. Parma: Anteo Viotti, 1613. Purchased on the L. C. Harper Fund, 2012.

Ottavio Farnese was the natural son of the duke of Parma. Unable to produce a male heir, the duke legitimized Ottavio, groomed him to be head of state, and gave him a princely education. His studies culminated in a three-day academic marathon, during which he defended 2370 philosophical theses laced with citations to Aristotle and other reputable authorities. This lavish volume commemorates the performance of that precocious youth, then at the age of fourteen.  It contains an engraved title page after the court artist Giovan Battista Trotti and an extraordinary series of calligraphic allegorical vignettes by one Brondulus, perhaps one of his tutors. Unfortunately, Ottavio fell out of favor with the duke, who disinherited him after the birth of another son with better dynastic credentials. He conspired against his father, and after he was found out, he was thrown into prison for the rest of his life.

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