FICINO, Marsilio

FICINO, Marsilio. De Vita Libri tres, quorum Primus, de studiosorum Sanitate tuenda. Secundus, de Vita producenda. Tertius, de Vita coelitus comparanda.

Lyon, Apud Gulielmum Rouillium, sub scuto Veneto, 1560.


16mo, pp. 461 (iii), a-z A-F8. One work in three volumes bound together. Roman letter, some Italic. Title page with woodcut vignette of an eagle standing on a globe placed on a plinth and sided by two snakes; motto: “in virtute, / et fortuna.” Floriated initials, meanders, head- and tailpieces. Early ms. autograph in capital letters on front cover, twice, and in cursive on t-p: “Laurens Viguier”, probably the same person who left ink underlining and marginalia throughout the book. Stamp of the library of Saint Peter ad Vicula (Rome) on t-p and library shelf mark label on front pastedown. Some rare marginal spotting and light age browning to page edges. In a fine contemporary blind-ruled calf binding with gilt-tooled fleurons at centre of covers and towards corners; skilfully rebacked. A lovely copy.

The De vita libri tres (Three Books on Life) was written in the years 1480–89 by the Italian Platonist Marsilio Ficino. It was first circulated in manuscript form and then published on December 3, 1489. It was constantly in print throughout the middle of the seventeenth century. The present copy is an excellent pocket edition. The first book is about physical health, the second is about prolonging life, and the third (De vita coelitùs comparanda) is about astral influences. The work focuses not only on the soul and the body, but also, and especially, on the notion of “spiritus”. The work focuses on the health and wellbeing of the scholar. Scholars are described as being naturally prone to extremes of melancholy and thus the ambivalent influence of Saturn, which can be remediated by the influence of the benign planets (the Sun, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury). Ficino considers three types of things beneficial to the spirit: wines and aromatic substances, odours and clean air, and music. De vita is an amalgam of philosophy, medicine, magic, and astrology. Alongside passages explaining the immortality and divine source and nature of the soul, there are astrological charts and remedies, speeches from various Greek gods arguing with one another, philosophical digressions, medieval prescriptions for various ills, attempts at reconciling the Neoplatonism of Plotinus with Christian Scriptures, and magical remedies and talismans. Ficino was one of the major philosophical voices of the Italian Renaissance, but he was also a physician, and the son of a physician. De vita is an example of the medical thinking of the early Renaissance, steeped in Galen and Hippocrates and the theory of the four humours and their attendant Aristotelian qualities (e.g., hot, cold, moist,dry), but also beginning to align this viewpoint with the awakening sense of the archetypal significance of the pagan gods, derived from the first exposure in the West for many centuries to the dialogues of Plato and to the Corpus hermeticum.

Gültlingen X p. 128: 470; FB 70552; USTC 152867.



BUDÉ, Guillaume

BUDÉ, Guillaume. Libri V. de asse, et partibibus eius.

 Venice, In aedibus Aldi, et Andreae Asulani soceri, 1522.


4to, ff. (xii) 263 (i), aa8 2b4 a-t8 u6 A-N8. Italic letter, some Greek, a little Roman. Aldine device on title and final leaf, light dampstain to lower fore-corner of d1 onwards but generally clean, nineteenth century vellum, spine gilt-tooled with gilt black morocco lettering label. Very occasional light soiling and thumb marks. An impressively clean, crisp and wide-margined copy; a beautiful sample of what an Aldine edition is, printed on excellent thick, fresh and immaculate paper.

First and only Aldine edition of this work concerning Roman coinage, weights, and measures written by the French humanist Guillaume Budé. This is the third edition, which was revised and emended by the author (first edition printed in Paris in 1514; second in 1516). De Asse contributed to the popularity of “Budaues”, as he stylised his Latin name according to the humanist fashion of the time. This essay on measures included also a plea for humanistic studies to accompany study of the Bible and theology. Similar pleas were being made by many other contemporary authors, Erasmus and Thomas More just to mention two among the most important. Jean Grolier (1479-1565) a noted bibliophile, obtained a copy of the book and sent it to Francesco Asula, an associate of the famous printer Aldus with a letter detailing how it wanted it to be printed and published. 

Provenance: George Fortescue, of Boconnoc and Dropmore (1791-1877), blindstamped arms (and ink shelfmark “102 V”) on upper cover.

Adams B3101; Ahmanson-Murphy 212; Renouard 94:3.

LAPINI, Frosino

LAPINI, Frosino. Lettere toscane…in quattro libri

 Bologna, Appresso Anselmo Giaccarelli, 1556.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. (viii) 311 (i), (no signature)4 A-T8 V4. Four books bound in one volume. Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut printer’s device on title page (Hercules fighting Hydra with his club; scene framed within an oval composed by branches of palm and olive tree; motto: “Chi non ci vuol fatica non ci nasca”, that is, anybody who cannot be bothered to toil in life, he would better not be born”, with reference to the Greek hero’s labours). Historiated initials in two size and one initial from a third different set (p. 137, I5), full-page diagram on p. 295, (T4), occasional marginal spotting, browning and ink thumb marks, marginal paper flaws to N4, quire Q with dampstaining throughout outer margin. Occasional early ink underlining and marks on margins, the rare recent pencil signs. Bookseller label on front pastedown (Libreria Antiquaria Angelo Gandolfi, Bologna), bookplate of the French bibliophile, palaeographer and librarian Léon Dorez (1864-1922) on verso of front flyleaf, ms. note of acquisition in French on recto: “Léon Dorez avril 1910”. In contemporary limp vellum, rebacked, a little worn and to cover edges, yet a resistant binding.

First edition of this work in four volumes of the Florentine humanist Frosino Lapini (1520-71). A priest and educator, Lapini was a very prolific writer within the Medicean Court. He translated Latin and Greek classics into Italian vernacular, he undertook intense editorial activity of both classics and modern works, and he engaged with the codification of rhetorical and grammatical rules, and pedagogy. These “Tuscan Letters” are a fitting example in order to understand the intellectual profile of the writer, which was informed by passion for educating and teaching, as well as ambition of being a moral philosopher. As regard to the topics and the style, his work is close to Giovanni della Casa’s Galateo (1558). The dedicatory letter introduces it as a collection of epistles sent to his pupils for real, which the author decided to publish in order to avoid them to be disposed or copied. All the letters appear to have been written in Florence or Bologna between 1553 and 1556. Through the ancient genre of the “familiar letters”, Lapini has the opportunity to illustrate a variety of subjects, stretching from the moral themes of the first book (“On good and its virtue”, “On virtue”, etc.) to properly educational topics, exploring a number of compulsory fields within the Renaissance pedagogical literature: among them, the “Govern of the Prince” (I, pp. 81-104), the “Condition of the Servant” (II, pp. 150-52), the “Strength of Honour” (III, pp. 160-164), “Friendship” (III, from pp. 201-12). Particularly remarkable, divided between book III and IV there is a section on the use of language and its regulation (“About holding one’s tongue”, starting at p. 197, and “On language”, from p. 213 onwards).

RICCI, Bartolomeo

RICCI, Bartolomeo. Epistolarum familiarium libri VIII

 Bologna, s.n., 1560.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 186 (=176), † A-Y8, lacking six leaves at the end (Y2-Y7). Roman letter, some Italic. Early ms. ex libris on title page, old red wax seal with “IESUS MARIA” stamped on it, handwritten numbers at top of page. Woodcut initials. Disbound, last quire detached, of which only first and final leaf remaining.

This is the first and only edition of this collection of letters from the correspondence of the humanist Bartolomeo Ricci da Lugo (1490-1569) – the mentor of Prince Alfonso d’Este and, then, Cardinal Luigi – with other humanists and people within the family circle. Ricci left several speeches and letters, together with a famous treatise on the stylistic imitation of the Latin classics. His Apparatus offered readers a tool to enlarge and refine their knowledge of Latin, exclusively on a classical basis. It was published following the favourable judgement of Pietro Bembo, the founding theorist of the Italian language. Both Bembo and Ricci thought the purest Latin prose should resemble the style of Cicero as close as possible. This view was broadly shared by sixteenth-century Italian humanists. In their excess of zeal, many of them were regarded as pedantic emulators, ultimately falling into the category mocked by Erasmus in his Ciceronianus. The present work starts off with a letter on the notion of homeland and the strength of the bond between men and their birthplace, which concludes with a praise of Ferrara and the ruling family of the Estensi. It then follows a letter to the reader, in which the collection of epistles is presented as a very ancient and noble literary genre with great potential of moral teaching.

 Not in Adams. EDIT16 47594; USTC 852423.

BEMBO, Pietro

BEMBO, Pietro. Della historia vinitiana…libri XII.

 Venice, Appresso Gualtero Scotto, 1552.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, (xiv) 179 (i), *42*10A-Y8Z4. Roman letter, a little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title page and verso of final leaf, historiated initials in two sizes. T-p a little soiled, occasional light spotting and waterstaining to margins throughout. A3 with candle wax on foot margin towards gutter. Old library label with shelf and case numbers on front pastedown. Light age yellowing on edge of pages. In early gilt-ruled calf binding over boards, rebacked, spine in compartments with red label and stamped gilt lettering, a.e.g.. A desirable copy.

FIRST EDITION of the vernacular translation of the Historiae Venetae libri XII of Cardinal Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), which was posthumously published in Latin in 1551 by the heirs of Aldus. An Italian scholar, poet and literary theorist, Bembo was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language, specifically Tuscan, as a literary medium, codifying the language for standard modern usage. His writings assisted in the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarch. Bembo’s ideas were also decisive in the formation of the most important secular musical form of the 16th century, the madrigal.

 The dedicatee of this work was a famous, beautiful, learned and opinionated noblewoman, by the name of Elisabetta Querini (d. 1559), who was very close to Bembo and his Venetian circle, in which figured the great painter Titian, who portrayed the lady, the man of letters Francesco Sansovino and Carlo Gualteruzzi, the artist and literate Pietro Aretino, and many other relevant protagonists of the Italian Renaissance culture. Elisabetta became the inspirational muse of the circle. She had an intimate relationship and friendship with Bembo and it is only thanks to her efforts that the scholar consented to the translation of his Latin Venetian History into the vernacular. Once Bembo became a cardinal, he moved to Rome, interrupting his assiduous frequentation with Elisabetta. Giovanni della Casa, who was apostolic nuncio in Venice, helped the exchanges between the two, and he is also likely to have had an affair with this lady in later years. Many are the sonnets devoted to Elisabetta, especially by della Casa, in which she is defined as the “Magnificent”. After Bembo died in 1547, Elisabetta strongly exerted herself in order to have the vernacular translation of the History published in Venice, an event that was initially opposed by Gualteruzzi, who was appointed to the role of commissioner of Bembo’s writings together with Elisabetta’s great-uncle, the prominent aristocrat Girolamo Querini. Eventually Elisabetta succeeded in her purpose and the translation appeared in Venice in 1552. Even though the work was signed by Gualtiero Scotto, the printer of the book, it is however common knowledge that Guateruzzi translated and edited the text, whose preface has it so: “To the magnificent and valorous milady Isabetta Querini”.

Commissioned by the Venetian Senate to Bembo, the present work is a continuation of Andrea Navagero’s History of Venice, which was first started by Sabellico, bearing the title Historia rerum Venetarum ad urbe condita (“History of Venice from the foundation of the city”).

Adams B599


Opera omnia, in unum proxime post illius mortem collecta…

 Venice, Apud Juntas, 1574.


Large 4to, ff. (xx) 213 (i), †6 2†8 3†6 A-2C8 2D6, lacking †6 with portrait of the author. Roman and Italic letter, a little Greek. Printer’s device on title page and in large on final leaf, decorated initials, several illustrations. Repair to outer margin of t-p, slightly affecting the table of contents on the verso. Some mould on margins and soiling to blank margins of initial leaves, irregular browning or dampstaining throughout. Elegant marginalia in an early hand on the first book On Sympathy and Antipathy and the book of Joseph. In a modern quarter calf binding with marbled paper over boards, red morocco label to spine in compartments with gilt lettering and fleurons, a.e.b.

This is the second edition of the posthumous opera omnia of Girolamo Fracastoro (Verona, 1476-1478 ca., Affi, 1553), first published by the Giuntas in 1555. Fracastoro was an Italian physician who taught at the University of Padua. Fracastoro was a truly Renaissance man: poet, physician, philosopher, botanist, astronomer, geographer, author of some splendid carmina, verse epics on the Old Testament figure of Joseph and the new plague of syphilis, dialogues on poetics, intellection and the soul, and works on astronomy, febrile crisis, communicable diseases, the flooding of the Nile and the elemental constitution of wine. All serious-minded works, and so all for the consumption of the learned – humanists, fellow doctors and philosophers, and ecclesiastics like the reformist bishop of Verona, Gian Matteo Giberti, the highly educated cardinal Alessandro Farnese, dedicatee of De contagione, and Alessandro’s grandfather, the Farnese pope Paul III, to whom Fracastoro dedicated his work on astronomy, Homocentricorum sive de stellis liber.

HUTTEN, Ulrich von


HUTTEN, Ulrich von. ΟΥΤΙΣ. Nemo

Augsburg, Impressum Augustae in officina Millerana, [1518]


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.



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.