OVID

178 FULL-PAGE ETCHED PLATES

OVID. Metamorphoses argumentis brevioribus ex Luctatio grammatico collectis expositae, una cum vivis singularum transformationum iconibus in aes incisis.

Antwerp, Ex officina Plantiniana, Apud viduam, & Joannem Moretum, 1591.

£5750

FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION. Oblong 8vo, pp. 361 (xxiii), A-Z8, a8, final blank. Italic letter, some Roman, sporadic Greek. Title within elaborate engraved border divided in four sections with figurative scenes from the poem, portrait of the author and 178 full-page plates; plate number 176 (p. 357) bears the signature of the artist Pierre Van der Brocht. Printer’s device on Z5 showing God’s right hand descending from the heavens and holding a compass with motto in cartouche: “labor et constantia”. Clean tear from top towards centre of leaf to Q3, small wormholes to lower margin of final quires, no loss of text. Each leaf of the book is alternated with a blank leaf on which appears a ms. C19th English translation, or paraphrase, of Lactantius’s “argumentum”, or abstract, up to Fable IX, Book 1. In C19th half calf and marbled paper over boards, brass clasp and catch, gilt spine with title and initials “J.B.”

This 16th century Antwerp production weds Ovid’s Metamorphoses with grammatical explanations in order to teach Latin to the young. The text is an anonymous adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was first attributed to pseudo-Donatus and then to pseudo-Lactance. In the manuscript books of the Middle Ages, it is sometimes drawn close to the Ars Minor, which was written by the grammarian Aelius Donatus. The dedication of the printer addresses two young children, Luis and Martin Perez de Baron.

Adams, O504; Belgica Typographia, 3913; BRETZIGHEIMER, Studien zu Lactantius Placidus und der Verfasser der Narrationes Fabularum Ovidianarum, 1937; Delen II, 92-93; Funck 374-375; F.W.H. HOLLSTEIN, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts Vol. III, 100 nrs. between 200-377; Rooses, p. 263; STC Dutch, p. 164.