Translator reading from BL Royal 16 F IX, f. 1
Detail of a miniature of the translator reading. Image taken from f. 1 of Historia destructionis Troiae in a French translation. Written in French.
The most important work of Guido delle Colonne is Historia destructionis Troiae (“History of the Destruction of Troy”), which he completed about 1287. Guido delle Colonne (in Latin Guido de Columnis or de Columna) was a 13th-century Italian judge and writer, living at Messina. The book was based on De excidio Trojae historia written by Dares Phrygius and Ephemeridos belli Trojani written by Dictys Cretensis. Thought to be a condensed version of the French Roman de Troie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Guido’s work was widely translated throughout Europe. The Latin version of the Troy legend was important in bringing the story to Italians and, through various translations, into English literature. William Caxton, the first English printer, translated it from a French source and published it in Bruges about 1474 as The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, the first book Caxton printed and the first book printed in the English language. Guido delle Colonne was also a poet of the Sicilian school, a group of early Italian vernacular poets who were associated with the courts of the Holy Roman emperor Frederick II and his son Manfred, and was strongly influenced by the poetry of France and Provence. Dante praised two of Guido’s canzoni in De vulgari eloquentia.