Antiquitatum Romanarum Lib. X and De Compositione
Robert Estienne, Paris, 1546/1547
EDITIO PRINCEPS. Folio, pp (ii) 3 – 538 (ii), (ii) 3 – 128 (iv). Two parts in one, separate title page to each part. Greek letter, Garamond’s grecs du roi type; titles, corrections and colophons in Roman. Large ornate woodcut ornaments and initials. Titles with woodcut snake and olive branch, “For a good king and a mighty warrior” in Greek beneath. Early armorial and Lyon Public College stamp c.1800 in blank portion of first title page. 18th C(?) autograph “Aubert” on front pastedown. In early 17th century gilt panelled sheep, spine repaired at head and tail, red morocco label, covers abraded, red speckled edges. A few small marginal spots or stains, very slight foxing in places, a very good, clean, well-margined copy.
Title page “ex Libris Abr. Prataei”, of Abraham du Prat (1616 – 1660), French physician who corresponded with Hobbes, translated Caspar Bartholin’s Anatomicae institutiones, and a prominent member of l’Académie Montmor, a group of scholars who met in Paris to discuss scientific questions. The Academy’s members included Pierre Gassendi and Blaise Pascal, and former members were consulted on the proposed constitution of the Académie des sciences which was founded two years after its dissolution. Above the ex libris, du Prat notes Estienne’s age and year of death. The facing page has a later annotation with details of the book and its printing and an observation by Fabricius: “typis vere regiis ac nitidissimis..” Historian and rhetorician of the first century BC, Dionysius of Halicarnassus left Greece for Rome where he researched and composed a history of the city in twenty books. This tenth book is nearly complete while later ones are fragmentary. Informed by the classical concept of history as a source of exemplary and instructive ethical models, the text aimed to justify Roman rule over Greece and argued for a Greek origin of Roman ancestry. It is followed by De compositione, seu orationis partium apta inter se collocatione, a work on different styles of rhetoric. According to Henry Estienne this text was selected for publication by Francis I. The volume attests to the royal connection by use of the printer’s royal, rather than personal, device and motto and the inclusion of “Ex privilegio Regis” as well as references to Estienne’s status as royal printer both on the title pages and in the colophons. The text is based on a manuscript copied by Angelos Vergetios for the king and this edition offers an early example of the grecs du roi letters designed by Garamond to emulate the writing of this same scholar: “Their design was based on the handwriting of a clever calligrapher, Angelos Vergetios – “notre ecrivain en grec,”as François I styled him.” (Updike, 1922, Vol I, p236) The attractive nature of this edition is much acclaimed. Brunet describes it as “magnifiquement exécutée” and tells us “les beaux exempl. sont recherchés des curieux” and Renouard “non moins beau que ceaux d’Eusèbe”. Dibdin records this “splendid edition” as having been called by Harwood “one of the most beautiful books the Greek Press ever produced”. A number of C17th and C18th scholars of some distinction have the surname “Aubert”; unfortunately we have been unable to precisely identify this one.
Adams D626. Brunet II p726. Renouard 68: 24. Dibdin I p507