ARISTOPHANES

ARISTOPHANES. Kōmōdiai endeka. [Comoediae undecim]

Leiden, Ex Officina Plantiniana, Apud Christophorum Raphelengium,…, 1600.

£2000

12mo, pp. (iv) 620, A-G8 H4 I-Z8 a-q8 s2 (wanting A3 and final blank). Greek letter, sporadic Roman. Plantin device on title page and autograph of the English courtier Sir Robert Stapylton (1607-69)), dated 1654, plus another early autograph. Bookplate of the Right Honourable John Hookham Frere (1769-1846) on front pastedown. Slightly trimmed, annotated and underlined throughout with pencil, lightly browned and dampstained, leaves m2, n2 and o with marginal worm tracks and occasional minimal affection of text; q with part of upper margin torn apart with loss of a few letters. Faded pencil annotations on front and rear endpapers, marbled pastedowns. In a late elaborate mid C18th silver binding with floral motives, boards covered in scarlet velvet, clasps and catches. An interesting yet slightly defective copy in a remarkable binding and with a prestigious provenance.

An acclaimed and attractive pocket edition of the plays and dramas of Aristophanes printed at the Plantin Press. Aristophanes was the greatest of the Athenian comic dramatists and one of her greatest poets. For richness and fertility of imagination probably only Shakespeare is comparable and Aristophanes’ direct influence on English literature was considerable; the comedies of Jonson, Middleton and Fielding derive from him. Apart from constituting one of the surviving glories of Hellenic culture Aristophanes’ comedies are an invaluable source for its social history. His surviving plays, out of a probable forty or fifty, provide us with an accurate if satirical commentary on the political, religious, sexual, economical and domestic life of Athens over a period of thirty six years. His changes in style and content match the concurrent constitutional and social changes in the State itself. The plays’ themes are invariably contemporary, a mocking mirror to the condition of the city. This edition has the benefit of the scholia of Thomas Magister, John Tzetzes and Demetrius Triclinus themselves incorporating much of the more ancient commentaries of Appolonius, Callimaches, Didymus and others, which were superseded in later editions by much newer but also much inferior work.

 Adams A1717

 

GELLI, Giovanni Battista

GELLI, Giovanni Battista. La sporta. Commedia…

 Florence, Appresso i Giunti, 1593.

£450

8vo, pp. 87 (i), A-E8 F4, lacking final leaf F4 (with printer’s device and motto “nihil candidius”). Woodcut vignette of the Florentine lily within border and two putti on title page, lower corner torn and restored with new paper, loss of imprint date. Clean tear at foot of C2, very occasional light spotting and age yellowing throughout. Decorative paper on pastedowns, unclear early ink handwriting (probably autograph and shelf mark) on front fly. In vellum over thick boards.

The comedy La sporta was first published in 1543 by the Giuntas and republished by the same family of printers a few times throughout the sixteenth century. The title can be translated as “The Pot”, or “The Sack”. This work follows in the footsteps of the traditional Renaissance comic genre and it draws its main arguments and topoi from Plautus’s Aulularia: a stingy elderly person; a pot full of money jealously kept in secret; a cunning and good-hearted servant; a pregnant young lady, daughter to the old skinflint, who will succeed in marrying the poor student she fell in love with thanks to her father’s hidden treasure. Gelli also uses elements drawn from the fashion and cultural trends of the time, and he employs deliberately ideological motives, such as the use of particular Florentine linguistic features and satire aimed to the popular devotion. In the prologue the author defends his courageous attempt to mix and blend very diverse elements within the genre of the erudite comedy because, he says, direct experience of popular life and its language are, after all, an undeniable matter of fact which cannot be left out of our consideration, or ignored as unworthy. The cohesion and consistency of the comic genre allows the author to deal with topics that would be otherwise more fitting for a treatise on language or the degeneration of the religious practice. Giovanni Battista Gelli (1498-1563) was a Florentine man of letter. He is known also for his works Capricci del bottaio and La Circe, which are ethical and philosophical dialogues. 

PLAUTUS, Titus Maccius (LAMBIN, Denis)

PLAUTUS, Titus Maccius (Lambin, Denis, Ed.) Marcus Accius Plautus, ex fide atque auctoritate complurium librorum manuscriptorum opera emendatus, ab eodemque commentariis explicatus, nunc denuo plurimis, quae in praecedentibus editionibus irrepserant, mendis, repurgatus.

[Geneva], Apud haeredes Eustathij Vignon, 1595.

£300

4to, (viii) 920 (lii), ¶4 A-Zz8 2A-2K8 2L4 2M-2P8 2Q2. Roman and Italic letter, some Greek. Printer’s device on title page, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Ms. annotations and autographs on t-p (Laurentius Burnell? Fraudir Rindaid?), occasional marginalia. Light age yellowing, some waterstaining affecting outer foot margins and lower gutters. In C19th half calf over wooden boards covered in marbled paper, gilt title to spine.

This is the unequalled Lambin’s (Lambinus) edition of the works of Plautus, which originally appeared in 1576. “The celebrity of Lambinus in almost every classical work which he edited, has already been frequently noticed. Of this admirable edition, Lambinus lived to finish only the first twelve comedies; but his colleague, Helius, professor of Greek, completed the work, partly by transcribing what remained in Lambinus’s hand-writing on the subsequent comedies, and partly by the insertion of his own notes, and emendations of the text. In forming the edition, many MSS. And ancient publications were consulted”. “In this excellent edition of Plautus”, says Harwood, “Lambinus hath manifested great learning and critical sagacity” T. F. Dibdin, An Introduction to the Knowledge of Rare and Valuable Editions of the Greek and Latin Classics, 1804, pp. 299-300.

“Denys Lambin, or Dionysius Lambinus (1520-1572), won a wide reputation by his great editions of Latin authors…His knowledge of Cicero and the older Latin writers, as well as the Augustan poets, has never been surpassed and rarely equalled” J. E. Sandys, A Short History of Classical Scholarship, 1915, pp. 220-21.

GLN-3810; Adams P1512. CDM, p. 145; Drummond, Aberdeen, n° 3235; Girard-Le Bouteiller, Basse-Normandie, t. 3, n° 2225 ; Malicki, BJ 16, n° P-842; Shaaber, Univ. of Pennsylvania, P 408; Shaw, Cathedral Libr., 2, P 1140; Verhelst, Limburg, n° 324.

HUTTEN, Ulrich von

ULYSSES: ‘“NOBODY IS MY NAME. MY FATHER AND MOTHER CALLED ME NOBODY, AS DO ALL THE OTHERS WHO ARE MY COMPANIONS, AND I AM THE LEADER OF THE MEN WHO WERE LOST DUE TO THE STORM.”’ (Odyssey, 9.366-367)

HUTTEN, Ulrich von. ΟΥΤΙΣ. Nemo

Augsburg, Impressum Augustae in officina Millerana, [1518]

£7000

FIRST EDITION OF Hutton’s second Nemo, enlarged and revised. 4to, 12 unnumbered leaves, A-C4. Roman letter, sporadic Greek. Title within full-page woodcut vignette of Nemo, who is the protagonist of this short poem, with a scene from the Homeric episode of Ulysses and the Cyclops Polyphemus in the background (work of the artist Hans Weiditz); decorated initials. T-p with thumb marks on margins and two small red ink spots on the illustration. Light age browning on page edges, occasional spotting. C17th extensive red ink annotations on verso of t-p, among them a passage from the poem “De venere” in Eoban Hesse’s scholiastic medical work De tuenda bona valetudine (see 2° ed., 1555, f. 42 recto), and on verso of final leaf (reference to “Johann Faust” [Fust] as the inventor of printing, called “ars calcographica”, in Mainz during the reign of Emperor Frederick III) and underling throughout by the same hand; also other earlier ms. notes. In modern calf over boards with red morocco label to spine. An excellent copy.

This is the second edition of Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523)’s Nemo, drafted before 1510 and first published in 1516. The author was a German humanist, poet, and a friend of Erasmus. He fostered the reorganisation of the Holy German Empire, promoting its independence from the papacy. Moreover, he had enormous influence on nineteenth-century Germany. He was crucial to the formation of the German national identity. Hutten supported the revolt against the Archbishop of Trier in 1522, which miserably failed, forcing him to find refuge in Zwingli’s Zurich, where he spent his later years. He appreciated the innovative religious and political stance of Luther and the Reformation. Thanks to Nemo, von Hutten gained vast popularity as a skilled man of letters. This is a poem of 78 elegiac couplets, alternating hexameters and pentameters, preceded by a long letter of the author to his friend Crotus Rubianus, who collaborated with him on the edition of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum (1515-19). No doubt, originally Hutten’s Nemo was only a student joke. This second expanded version is preceded by an epigram in which the humanist Konrad Mutian “Rufus” (the mentor of the famous poet Eoban Hesse) addresses Crotus describing in Homeric terms the satirical persona that Hutten adopted in Nemo. Nemo is not an invention ex nihilo of Hutten. An abundant literature dealt with this topic in the Middle Ages, which sprang from the literary puns of clerics or monks, who amused themselves by giving an identity to the pronoun “nemo”, meaning “no one” in Latin, by which many sentences of Ecclesiastes or Psalms begin. Clerics even devoted him a sermon or hagiography. Saint Nemo was popularised by these parodic sermons and, of course, also the famous Outis of the Odyssey, the wily Ulysses who saves his life and that of his companions from the fury of Polyphemus by calling himself Nobody, definitively informed this figure. Hutten has long been identified with this character: a much travelled nobody confined to exile. A letter from Hutten to Julius von Pflug, the last Catholic bishop of Naumburg and an early reformer, concludes this work.

 VD H6384; USTC 700207.

ARISTOPHANES

Aristophanis facetissimi Comoediae undecim. Plutus, Nebulae, Ranae, Equites, Acharnes, Vespae, Aves, Pax, Concionantes, Cereris sacra celebrantes, Lysistrate.

Venice, in aedibus Bartholomai Zanetti Casterzagensis, sumptibus vero D. Melchionis Sessa, 1538.

£1500

8vo, ff. 280, A-2M8, final leaf blank. Greek type, a little Roman. Decorated initials, t-p with small printer’s device (a cat with a mouse in its mouth), repeated on verso of second-to-last leaf in larger and more elaborate fashion within a figurative frame with the motto: “Dissimilium infida societas”. Occasional dampstains, small wormholes, and age yellowing throughout. Ink title to foot fore-edge of text block, in contemporary thin vellum over boards in double layer (inner layer derived from a ms. parchment leaf), spine slightly wormed, in four compartments with raised bands, two of which damaged, showing ties. Remains of ties, lightly rubbed on covers and edges. Blurred handwriting, perhaps of ownership, on upper part of front cover. A clean copy in excellent condition.

Aristophanes was the greatest of the Athenian comic dramatists and one of her greatest poets. For richness and fertility of imagination probably only Shakespeare is comparable and Aristophanes’ direct influence on English literature was considerable; the comedies of Jonson, Middleton and Fielding derive from him. Apart from constituting one of the surviving glories of Hellenic culture Aristophanes’ comedies are an invaluable source for its social history. His surviving plays, out of a probable forty or fifty, provide us with an accurate if satirical commentary on the political, religious, sexual, economical and domestic life of Athens over a period of thirty six years. His changes in style and content match the concurrent constitutional and social changes in the State itself. The plays’ themes are invariably contemporary, a mocking mirror to the condition of the city. This edition has the benefit of the scholia of Thomas Magister, John Tzetzes and Demetrius Triclinus themselves incorporating much of the more ancient commentaries of Appolonius, Callimaches, Didymus and others, which were superseded in later editions by much newer but also much inferior work.

 Adams, A1709.