QUINTILIANUS, Marcus Fabius. Institutionum oratoriarum Libri XII.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1542.




£ 1,250


4to, pp. 551 (=651), (li), a-z8 A-Y8. Roman letter, very sporadic Greek type. Printer’s device on title page. Capital spaces with guide-letters. Slightly trimmed. Early marginalia in a clear Latin calligraphy and underlining by different hands, a few seemingly washed or erased, in any case well faded. Occasional recent pencil marks. In a modern straight-grain gilt morocco binding, fleurons at centre of covers and borders, spine in compartments with alternate pattern of fleurons and dices, dentelle borders, a.e.r.. A fine copy.


This is a scarce edition of the ‘Institutes of Oratory’ by the Spanish-born Roman rhetorician Quintilian (ca. 35-100 AD), one of the most renowned and popular authors about the theory and practice of rhetoric. This work had an incredible influence on Western political thought and speech-writing. In Rome, Quintilian met with great success as a teacher and he was the first professional orator to be able to set up a public school, whilst receiving a salary from the State. He continued to teach for twenty years and had the younger Pliny and the two nephews of Domitian among his pupils. Though his writing is often difficult because of his epigrammatic style, he successfully avoided being affected or extravagant. Despite the fact that much of it is highly technical, the ‘Institutio Oratoria’ has still much that is of interest to‑day. In the first book, his precepts regarding the education of the youth have lasted for centuries. 


Bibliography: Adams Q64.