CANNIZZARO, FRANCESCO ADOLFO (b. Messina, 13 July 1867; d. Rome, 24 April 1914), Italian autodidact of Oriental languages and translator of the Vidēvdād. In 1887 he entered the University of Rome, where he divided his time between the study of law and pursuit of his philological and orientalist interests (attending a course in Sanskrit with Professor A. De Gubernatis) until 1893. In 1894 he received a degree in jurisprudence from the University of Catania. Although deeply involved in civic and political affairs (on the socialist side), he devoted considerable energy to the study of the Avesta, particularly the Vidēvdād, which he translated almost completely in 1907 and 1908. This work was published posthumously with the title Il Vendidad reso italiano sul testo zendico di C. F. Geldner da Francesco Adolfo Cannizzaro corredato di una intro­duzione e di note del Prof. Italo Pizzi dell’Università di Torino under the auspices of the Accademia Peloritana, Messina, in 1916. Although admirable for its time, it has been largely superseded today.

In 1908 Cannizzaro traveled for several months in Germany, visiting Leipzig and Berlin, where he made contact with such scholarly figures as Professors Geld­ner and W. Geiger. He died a few years later of an incurable illness at the age of forty-six years.

Aside from his translation of the Vidēvdād his principal contribution to Avestan philology was a short essay entitled “Il capitolo georgico dell’Avesta. Ven­dîdâd III,” which appeared in Atti dell’Accademia Peloritana di Messina in 1913. Other scholarly publi­cations included Genesi della evoluzione del mito, Mes­sina, 1893 (which also discussed Iran); Origini religiose dell’India e della Grecia di P. Regnault, Messina, 1895; and a series of ethnological essays in Archivio delle tradizioni popolari (Palermo).

(Antonio Panaino)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 7, p. 760