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Fiore di virtù

The Fiore di virtù (Flower of virtue) is a collection of moralized stories, often exemplified by animals, from the fourteenth century. It has been attributed to Ghuidotto da Bologna, Tommaso Gozzadini, and others. There are several surviving manuscripts containing the text, and it was printed in many editions starting in the fifteenth century.

The stories are similar to those in bestiaries, the Physiologus, and other related works. The author appears to have been influenced by Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) and Bartholomaes Anglicus (De proprietatibus rerum). The 35 chapters follow a pattern of alternating between a virtue and a vice, with each exemplified by an animal, with an appropriate moralization.

Ghuidotto (or Guidotto) da Bologna was a thirteenth century Dominican friar who taught rhetoric in Siena between 1278 and 1282. He is the author of Fiore di rettorica, a treatise on rhetoric. The similarity of the titles may have caused him to be taken as the author of Fiore di virtù as well. A fifteenth century manuscript at the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli (Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, XII.E.11) begins "Comincia il libro della virtù e proprietà degli animali ridotto allo spirito per frate Ghuidotto da Bologna et e chiamato fiore di virtù maggiore" (Here begins the book of the virtue and property of animals reduced to the spirit by Friar Ghuidotto of Bologna and called the flower of greater virtue).

Tommaso Gozzadini was also a friar, living in Bologna from 1260 to 1330. He studied law and worked as a notary for several decades, and was active in government. Whether he was the author of the Fiore di virtù is uncertain.

[Adapted in part from Wikipedia]