A Fantastic Florentine Spectacle: The Victory of the Persian Warrior-Queen Tomyris over Cyrus the Great of Persia


LA VITTORIA DI TOMIRI REGINA DEI MASSAGETI riportata sopra di Ciro primo re di Persia battaglia da rappresentarsi in Firenze sulla piazza di S. Croce da un numero di circa 600. giovani cittadini in aggiunta alle grandiose feste solite farsi in questa città per la Natività del gloriosissimo protettore S. Giovanni Battista nel corrente anno 1772.

Florence: nella stamp. di S.A.R. per Gaetano Cambiagi, 1772


Quarto: 24 p. With a folding engraved plate.


Bound in 19th c. half-morocco with gold tools to the corners and spine. The Prince Piero Ginori Conti - Giannalisa Feltrinelli copy.

Extremely rare: Only 2 copies worldwide recorded outside of Italy, neither of them in North America.

A description of a spectacle staged at Florence in June and July 1772, on the occasion of the feast of Saint John the Baptist, the city's patron saint. The main event took the form of a mock battle in Piazza S. Croce with allegorical floats, horses, camels, and two armies made up of over 600 men in costumes designed by Francesco Mainero. The theme was the victory of the Persian warrior-queen Tomyris, ruler of the semi-nomadic Massagetae, over Cyrus the Great in 530 B.C.

The spectacle was performed on Sunday, the 28th of June and was repeated "for the satisfaction of the public and tourists" on July 2nd, 5th, and Sunday the 12th. In addition to the staged battle, there were "Giocchi di Bandiere" (elaborate dances involving banners and flags), and a horse race modeled on the Palio of Siena.

The folding engraved plate illustrates one of the crucial moments of the main spectacle: the two armies are deployed in the square, and Tomyris, having emerged from her golden tent, challenges Cyrus to battle. The plate also shows the magnificent structures created for the festivities. The square in front of the still-unfinished Santa Croce was transformed into an amphitheatre with three tiers of seats crowned by a colonade, pierced by four great gates, and festooned with brilliant tapestries. At the foot of the main scene are additional images of a camel, a mule, soldiers, and one of the intricate parade chariots.

Moreni I, p. 377