ARISTOTLE; SEGNI, Bernardo (comm.). L’Ethica d’Aristotile tradotta in lingua vulgare Fiorentina et comentata per Bernardo Segni.

Florence, appresso Lorenzo Torrentino, 1550.




£ 3,000


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. 547 (xiii), a-z4 A-Z4 Aa-Zz4 AA4. Roman and Italic letter, the sporadic Greek word. Title within full-page architectonical border, an elegant portico with view of the city of Florence and the coat of arms of de Medici family at top. Large decorated initials and several diagrams throughout, sometimes full page. Margin edges at foot of last few gatherings slightly affected by some dampstaining, absolutely negligible. A fresh, crisp and extremely clean volume bound in C18th gilt-ruled speckled calf, rebacked and lightly rubbed on covers and along edges. Richly gilt spine, cracked and skilfully repaired, with red morocco label. A very fine copy.


Bernardo Segni (1504-58) was born to an old and wealthy family of Florentine merchants. He studied letters and law at the University of Padua and he then entered in the service of the duke of Florence Cosimo I de Medici, carrying out a number of diplomatic postings in Europe. He was an ambassador at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. He translated into vernacular Sophocles’s Oedipus, Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics (Florence 1549), and the present book, which is the Nicomachean Ethics of the great Greek philosopher, published in 1550. This is the first Segni edition, the first “full vernacular interpretation of Aristotle, including both translation and chapter-by-chapter commentary” (Lines, “Rethinking Renaissance Aristotelianism”, in Renaissance Quarterly, 66.3, Fall 2013, p. 838). “Practically unstudied, Segni’s work represents an important moment in the evolution of vernacular Aristotelianism (and philosophy more generally) in the Renaissance’ (idem, p. 824). However, the humanist Segni is best known as a historian. He wrote ‘Istorie fiorentine’ (1527-1555) in fifteen books and ‘Vita de Niccolo Capponi’, who was his uncle. In his introduction to the Ethics, Segni exalts the Tuscan language and underlines the need for vernacular editions of Greek and Latin texts; he quotes frequently from Dante throughout his commentary. He also draws extensively on the earlier commentary tradition, including the works of Byzantine scholar Eustratius (c.1050-1121), English scholastic philosopher Walter Burley (c.1275-1344/45) and the fifteenth-century Florentine erudite, Donato Acciaiuoli (1429-1478). Written at the height of the Counter-Reformation, during the Council of Trent, another notable feature of Segni’s interpretation is the frequent reference to Catholic doctrine, at the implied expense of Lutheran teachings. The first vernacular edition of the Nicomachean Ethics was a French translation by Nicolas Oresme, printed in 1488.


EDIT16 2929; USTC 810926; COPAC records copies at the British Library, Bodleian Library, John Rylands Library, Cathedral Libraries and the National Trust, Cardiff University, National Library of Scotland, UCL and the Warburg Institute.