ARISTOPHANES. Kōmōdiai endeka. [Comoediae undecim]

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


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incorporating much of the more ancient commentaries of Appolonius, Callimaches, Didymus and others, which were superseded in later editions by much newer but also much inferior work.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




IAMBLICHUS (Nicolaus Scutellius, Tr.), De mysteriis Aegyptiorum, Chaldaeorum, Assyriorum [with] PROCLUS, In Platonicum Alcibiadum de Anima, atque Daemone [with] Id., De sacrificio et Magia [with] PORPHYRIUS, De Divinis atque Daemonibus [with] PSELLUS, De Daemonibus [with] HERMES TRISMEGISTUS, Pimander [with] Id., Asclepius.

Lyon, Apud Ioannes Torsaesium, 1549.


16mo, pp. 543 (i), a-z8 A-L8. Roman and Italic letter. Title page with vignette showing Jean de Tournes’ printers device: a cartouche in shield-like shape bearing the motto “quod tibi fieri non alteri ne fereris”, enclosed in a circle by an ouroboros. Verso of final leaf with pyramid within a circle and motto “nescit labi virtus”. Capital spaces with guide letters, decorated initials. Some age yellowing and dumpstaining, affecting especially the second half of the book at lower gutter. Rebacked, marble pastedowns, in C18th gilt ruled calf with central panels on covers and fleurons, gilt spine with raised bands and label with authors’ names, some skilful repairs, a.e.g. Except for some waterstaining throughout, this is an excellent copy.

First Jean de Tournes edition of this collection of five treatises by some chief Neoplatonic philosophers, translated by Marsilio Ficino, which first appeared in 1497 in Aldus’s Venice workshop. De mysteriis Ægyptiorum (“The Egyptian Mysteries”) was written by Iamblichus in the fourth century. It stands as his response to the philosopher Porphyry of Tyre concerning the Egyptian magic and the ritualist interpretation of theurgy (the branch of magic allowing man to communicate with the good spirits). It follows the commentary of Proclus on Plato’s Alcibiades, Porphyry’s De divinis atque dæmonibus, Psellus’s de Dæminubus and finally the Pimander and Asclepius by Hermes Trismegistus. The latter work is translated by Apuleius.

“This volume is interesting for a number of reasons. It is a 1549 compilation of various writings on demons and magic, followed by the Pimander…The volume is prefaced with a dedication letter from Ficino to Giovanni de’ Medici, in which the Italian philosopher notes that only an ignorant person would believe that demons and magic are not Christian.” Susan Byrne, Ficino in Spain

“According to Ludwig HerholdLateinischer Wort- und Gedankenschatz (162), «Nescit labi virtus» («Die Tugend kann nicht fallen») is the motto of «Philipp von Croy, Herzog von Aerschot». The family Croy or Croÿ, of Picard origin, expanded into the Low Countries in the late Middle Ages and there acquired the town of Aarschot (or Aerschot) in Brabant and held a number of important positions under the Imperial house of Habsburg. Although several Croys were named Philip, only two of these were dukes of Aarschot. One Philip (1496-1549), an imperial official in the Low Countries and a knight of the Golden Fleece, was created the first duke of Aarschot by Charles V in 1533. His son Philip (1526-1595), also a knight of the Golden Fleece, was governor of Antwerp and of Flanders, Spanish ambassador to the Diet of Frankfurt in 1562, and third duke of Aarschot. These are the only personages that match Herhold’s identification.”

Adams, I3; USTC 150230.