Period Persona – Giacomo di Grassi


Giacomo_di_Grassi

Giacomo di Grassi was a 16th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about the life of this master, but he seems to have been born in Modena, Italy and acquired some fame as a fencing master in his youth. He operated a fencing school in Trevino and traveled around Italy observing the teachings of other schools and masters. Ultimately di Grassi developed his own method, which he laid out in great detail in his 1570 work Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l’Arme (“Explanation of Striving Safely with Arms”). In 1594, a new edition of his book was printed in London under the title His True Arte of Defence, translated by an “I.G. gentleman” and published by an admirer named Thomas Churchyard.

While di Grassi’s teachings were arguably designed for the side sword, the English translation substitutes “rapier” for every mention of the sword. The translator explains – since English (of his time) distinguishes between “sword” and “rapier”, while Italian does not – that he has generally chosen to translate spada as “rapier”, because in Italy the rapier and dagger are carried, and not the sword (except in a military context), as is also the case with gentlemen in England.

Link to “His True Arte of Defence”

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