ARISTOTLE. Aristotelis Stagiritae opera, …

Lyon, Apud Ioannem Frellonium, 1549.


Folio. 2 vols. Roman letter, little Italic, sporadic Greek. Double-column text, numerous fine large and small woodcut initials, beautiful woodcut printer’s devices repeated on title-pages of both volumes and on the title-page of the index at the end of the first volume. With several diagrams, synoptic tables and profusely illustrated with small illustrative woodcuts in the text and as side notes. A few early marginalia commenting the section of Aristotle’s Poetics (leaves Rr6 and 7 of the Tomus Secundus. Generally clean and crisp, very occasional brownings (more marked at beginning of quire a of 1st vol.), light ink spotting throughout and a few negligible burns (except for a small hole – o,5×1 – affecting the text on leaf C8 of 1st vol.). Slightly waterstained to title of 1st vol. around a faded library stamp of the Convent of St. Dominic (Dominican Library of Lyon), some other stamps of different type used by the same library, and library numbers, impressed on title-pages and colophons, where also appear large printer’s explicit with imprint details. Short tear to central part of outer blank margin of Zz6 (2nd vol.) and little marginal worm holes and tracks to upper corner and head of final gatherings (2nd vol.); not affecting the text at all. Bound in near-contemporary vellum over paste-boards, Dominican library stamps and various labels on upper endpaper. Pastedowns cut along inner margins of vellum and re-glued to the boards. A very good copy of this mid-C16th Lyonnaise edition of Aristotle’s works.

This lovely folio edition – and quite a scarce one too – contains a preface with Aristotle’s life by the C6th commentator John Philoponus. The texts were edited and translated by several humanists and early Renaissance scholars, such as the Greek Theodore Gaza and John Argyropoulos, as well as the Italian Pietro Alcionio and Angelo Poliziano; just to name a few. The printer Jean Frellon’s emblem represents a crab topped by a butterfly with the motto “matura”, which not only is outstandingly attractive, but also meaningful, as it suggests that virtue blossoms only when one manages to find balance in life between the prudence and grounded stand of the heavy and strong crab and the light, audacious and unstable flight of the delicate and fragile butterfly.

ADAMS A1744. We could locate only three copies in British collections: the university libraries of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham. Not in BM STC French C16th and not on the online catalogue of the British Library.