Venice, in aedibus Aldi & Andreae Asolani Soceri, 1523.


8vo. ff. 176. Italic letter. Anchor device on title page and last. A fine copy in high quality early 18th C crimson morocco, tooled in gilt to a double-ruled panel design, floral corner ornaments, pointille and circle roll to central panel, spine gilt in compartments with small crown stamp, black morocco lettering piece, 2 small paper library labels. Contemporary marbled endpapers, French curl on wide comb pattern, a.e.g. Lower outer corners a little worn at edge. Armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on pastedown, Shirburn Castle armorial blindstamp at head of first two ll.

First and only Aldine edition of Claudian’s works, edited by Aldus himself, in the typical portable format that characterises many of Aldus’ editions of the great Latin and Greek authors. Claudian (d.c.AD 404) was in fact the last great Latin poet in the classical tradition. He was court poet under Honorius, whom he praised in a number of eulogies and defended in invectives against his enemies. He also wrote panegyrics of Honorius’ ministers and of his general Stilicho, an epithalamium and four shorter poems for the marriage of Stilicho’s daughter to Honorius, and a number of idylls and epigrams on a great variety of subjects (the Nile, a locust, an electric ray, etc.). Of these, the best-known deals with an old man from Verona and was translated by the 17th C poet Abraham Cowley. Claudian’s finest work, however, is ‘The Rape of Proserpine’. Divided into four books, of which only 1100 lines survive, it tells with great charm the familiar story of Proserpine’s abduction by Pluto. Mythological episodes are frequent in the poetry of Claudian, who remained attached to the old pagan religion.

The finely executed binding (q.v. Henry Davis Gift II #140, 144) was probably made in London in the opening years of the C18th.

BM STC It. p. 186. Adams C 2073. Brunet II p. 87. Graesse II p. 193. Dibdin I p. 468: “In fine condition, it is a rare occurrence”. Renouard 96:1.


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