Philostratus de vita Apollonii Tyanei.
[Lyon?], [B. de Gabiano?], [c.1506?]
8vo. 210 unnumbered ll., [pi]8 a-z8 A-B8 C6. Italic letter, little Roman. Worm holes, mostly interlinear, affecting a few letters, marginal spotting in a few places, clean marginal tear to 38, light ink mark to two ll., minor ink burn to monogram on t-p, slight browning to few gatherings. A very good, large copy, on thick paper, virtually untrimmed, in contemporary northern Italian calf, triple blind ruled to a panel design, floral decoration in blind to outer border, mudejar ropework to centre panel, heavily wormed and damaged, towards spine (missing), stitched on four single tanned parchment supports, stitched silk endbands, two tanned leather pieces used as sewing guards. Crossed-out, slightly later inscription ‘Bapt[ist]a (?) Belagni possidet’ inked to front pastedown, 6-line Italian verse in two hands inked to fep, initials V.Z. and inscription ‘W la sig.ra del [drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow] mio’ to t-p, extensive contemporary or early Latin annotation, title inked to upper and lower fore-edge. Folding box.
The binding is ‘an example of a late C15-early C16 Italian longstitch binding that has been given endbands with coloured secondary sewing, additional boards and a full-leather cover… three examples of this phenomenon [are recorded]: one in the Getty Institute in California (1511), one in the Biblioteca Communale in Siena (1496) and one in the library of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice (1495)…[this] example has added tanned, pierced sewing supports on the spine.’ (Prof. Nicholas Pickwoad)
Fascinating copy of Philostratus’s ‘De vita Apollonii Tyanei’, printed probably in Lyon c.1506 and edited by the humanist Filippo Beroaldo. Philostratus (c.170/172–247/250) was a Greek sophist who studied in Athens and later settled in Rome, where he joined the intellectual circle of Julia Domna, wife of Emperor Septimius Severus and mother to Caracalla. For the Empress he authored five works, including the influential ‘Lives of the Sophists’. ‘De vita’ narrates the life and travels of the Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana (c.40-c.120), with stories of marvellous cities, kings, Brahmins, Gymnosophists, and dragons. These accounts were an opportunity to depict the Mediterranean world of the Roman Empire as well as distant places like Babylonia, Ethiopia and India. In the dedication to the Count of Milan, Apollonius’s peregrinations are presented as a subject both pleasing and educational.
The text is based on Alamanno Rinuccini’s translation from the Greek edited by Filippo Beroaldo, professor of rhetoric at Bologna, for the Faelli imprints of 1501 and 1505. The edition features the same italic characters used in counterfeit Aldine editions printed in Lyon, whilst Aldus’s papal privilege for the use of his types was still in force. Most of these editions were destined for the Italian market; like this copy, first bound in Italy.
The careful, nearly contemporary annotator was probably a lovelorn student. He penned on the fep the first two lines—‘Oh how much love I always felt for you / And now you are trying to leave me’—from Baldassarre Donato’s music piece ‘Le Napolitane’, published in Venice in 1550. The following two—‘Pale woman, I don’t want to love you / Naughty golden mouth do not abandon me’—do not appear to be part of the same song, though, like the first, they reprise in subject, language and form the successful mid-C16 Neapolitan genre of the ‘villanella’. He probably penned his beloved’s initials and a dedication to her, with the drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow, on the t-p. Another, slightly later hand wrote on the fep the lines ‘Ungrateful, disloyal and faithless / I write this to you to unburden my heart’, probably the incipit to another song.
Baudrier VII, 15; Renouard 307:16; Gültlingen I, 67/36; Brunet IV, 621; BM STC Fr. p. 350; Shaw 17.