C16 ENGLISH BINDING

Annotationes in Sophoclem et Euripidem

[Geneva, Henri II Estienne,] 1568.

£2750

FIRST and ONLY EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xvi) 207 (i). Roman letter, with Italic and Greek. Printer’s device to t-p, floriated initials. Light age browning, t-p lightly thumbed, lower outer blank corner of third fol. torn, very faint water stain to lower gutter of a few gatherings, the odd thumb mark. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary dark brown English calf, C14 ms vellum strip on spine and front pastedown, double blind-ruled border, oval centrepiece gilt, interlacing ribbons, curvy tendrils, leaves and fleurons in contrasting blind, spine in five compartments, raised bands, gilt lettering, some loss at joints and lower edge of rear cover. C18 armorial bookplate of Beilby Thompson of Escrick to front pastedown, early autograph ‘Geo: Seignior’, casemark (?) ‘m/1’, monograms ‘GHS’ (Seignior’s?) and ‘SWF’, little annotations ‘2’ and ‘of’ (?) to t-p, contemporary autograph of William Harrington (?) and monogram ‘TG’ to eps, modern bookplate to rear pastedown. In box.

The exquisite binding bears the same centrepiece as fig. 3.37 in Nixon and Foot, ‘English Bookbinding Styles, 1450-1800’, produced in Cambridge in the 1570s. An early owner of this copy was George Seignior (d. 1678), reverend, classical scholar and fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, to which he donated part of his books in 1676.

Very good, well-margined copy of the FIRST and ONLY EDITION of Henri Estienne’s commentary on the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. Estienne (1528/31-98) was a French printer—the eldest son of Robert—and scholar of Greek and Latin. After being entrusted with his father’s presses in 1559, he published numerous new or revised Latin translations of Greek authors like Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle and Aeschylus, as well as editions of the Greek New Testament. This commentary was intended, as shown by cross-references, as a companion volume to his editions of Sophocles and Euripides’s tragedies of the same year. It begins with a learned ‘tractatus’ on Greek orthography discussing the use and printed reproduction of diacritics like accents and breathings, and word alterations like crasis and elision. In the ‘annotationes’, Estienne makes continuous references to the codex tradition and editions like those of Rancoretus and Turnebus, seeking to redress major ‘lectiones depravatae’—mistranscriptions and philological misinterpretations—made by his predecessors. He also provides sophisticated brief studies of Sophocles’s lexicon and Euripides’s appropriation of Homer’s poetics. A nicely bound and finely printed jewel of classical scholarship.  

Beilby Thompson (1742-99) of Escrick, Yorkshire, was a British landowner and politician.

Rénouard 131:4; Brunet II, 1082; mentioned in Dibdin II, 411.

L2869

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