ON THE WARS THAT LED TO THE DEMISE OF ROME AND RHODES

De civilibus romanorum bellis historiarum libri quinque et liber Illyricus & Celticus, Libycus & Syrius, Parthicus & Mithridaticus. (with) De Bello Rhodio libri tres. (with) Scholia in Cornelium Tacitum De situ, moribus, populisque Germaniae.

Mainz, Johannes Schöffer, 1529 (and) Hagenau, Johannes Setzer, 1527 (and) Nürnberg, Friedrich Peypus for Leonhard von Aich, 1529.

£4,950

4to, three works in one. 1) pp. [28], 723, [1]; 2) ff. [56], A-O4; 3) FIRST EDITION. ff. [4], 59, [9]. Predominantly neat Roman letter, some Italic in 3); titles within elegant ornamental and architectural borders, large printers’ device on colophons, few decorated initials; light marginal damp stain to first few leaves and in final gatherings, general age yellowing. A very good copy in beautiful contemporary German brown calf on thick-wooden board, decorative pattern typical of the Saxon area around 1530 (K. Rabenau, Deutsche Bucheinbände der Renaissance um Jakob Krause Hofbuchbinder des Kurfürsten August I. von Sachsen, 1994, esp. pls 7-8); richly blind-tooled, double fillet; on front cover, central panel with a naked standing Lucretia committing suicide under decorated arch, flowers to corners, stamped date and title ‘APIA: ALEXA’ and ‘MDXXIX’, external roll of all’antica motif, four gilt roses; spine crammed with tooled four-leaved clovers; original clasps; spine defective at foot; contemporary owner’s inscription on front pastedown ‘Rodolphus Zimermann’.

Beautifully bound collection of three uncommon works of the Renaissance. First the main Greek account of the Roman civil wars in the third and most popular sixteenth-century Latin edition. The ground-breaking translation by Pier Candido Decembrio of the princeps is here improved following a new collation of extant manuscripts. Appian of Alexandria (c.95-165 AD) was a Greek historian as well as a renowned lawyer in Rome and administrator of the imperial province of Egypt. Only half of his 24 books on Roman history survive, the most relevant part being the five volumes devoted to the Roman civil wars. They offer an invaluable picture of the internal fights marking the twilight of the Roman Republic. This edition also comprises the ethnographical books on Illyrians, Celts, Syrian, Parthians and Northern Anatolians (Mithridatici). 

Then follows the second edition of the account of the fall of Rhodes in 1522. The text, originally dedicated to pope Clemens VII, is introduced here by a plea addressed to the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz Albert of Brandenburg from Philipp Melanchton. Dwelling on the advance of the Turkish army in Europe, Melanchton strongly urges Albert, primate of Germany, to promote reformation, peace and religious reconciliation in the country, acknowledging the evangelical communities sprung from Luther’s recent break with Rome. Very little is known about Fontaine, except for the information he provided in this and other publications. A Flemish Knight of Rhodes, he acted as a judge in the local appeal court and was close to the vice-chancellor Giles Caoursin; he witnessed the siege by the Ottoman fleet and took part in the meetings between the Sultan and the Grand Master of the Knights after the capitulation of the island in December 1522. His first-hand report had enormous success, with several reprints and translations into Italian, French, German and Spanish (see A. Freeman, ‘Editions of Fontanus, De bello Rhodio’, The Library, 1969, ser. 5, XXIV, pp. 333-336).

Finally, the third part of this volume is taken up by the first edition of an erudite and patriotic commentary on Tacitus’s Germania, including the Latin text. The commentary is by the humanist and early Lutheran pastor Andreas Althamer (1500-1539).

1) BM STC Ger. 38; Adams, A 1344; Graesse, I, 169.

2) BM STC Ger. 310; Adams, F 719; Brunet, II, 1339-1331; Graesse, II, 612; Göllner, 278; Atabey, 445. Hartfelder, 199.

3) BM STC Ger. 848; Adams, T 47; Graesse, VII, 12.

L1935

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