FROM THE LIBRARY OF LOUIS IV’S FIRST MINISTER


Nizoliodidascalus, Siue, Monitor Ciceronianum Nizolianorum.

Geneva, Henri Estienne, 1578.

£1,250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (viii), 200. Roman letter, some Greek, Estienne’s ‘Noli Altum Sapere’ woodcut device on title, small woodcut initials and headpieces, ‘bibliotheca Colbertina’ in C17 French hand at head of title, Antoine Buade’s armorial bookplate on pastedown (Guigard II p. 101), C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blind stamp to head of first three leaves, a few early marginal annotations in Greek with underlinings. A very good, clean, well margined copy in contemporary limp vellum with yapp edges, lacking ties.

First edition of Henry Estienne’s erudite attack on Mario Nizzoli’s popular ‘Thesaurus Ciceronianus’ and all such ‘Ciceroniana’, the last in a trilogy of works on the subject, starting with ‘De Latinitate falso suspecta’ (1576) and his ‘Pseudo-Cicero’ (1577). It had become fashionable in the sixteenth century to imitate the style and phraseology of Cicero, which Estienne agreed was fine to up a point, as long as it was practiced with discernment. In order to imitate Cicero correctly you had to know his work well which involved considerable labour, until Mario Nizzoli came to the rescue with his Thesaurus, providing easy access to Cicero’s works which were deconstructed and arranged alphabetically. Although the work itself was judiciously constructed it lead to a plethora of bad imitations of Cicero, to the point that all Latin not sufficiently Ciceronian was looked down upon.

Henri Estienne was critical of these excesses and pointed out the idiocy of slavishly following Cicero to the exclusion of all other great Roman writers. “Il s’attache à faire voir le ridicule de ces intolérants singes de Cicéron, qui non contents de ne l’étudier que dans un dictionnaire, se privent volontairement des enseignements précieux qu’offrent les autres grands écrivains de l’antique Rome.” Renouard p. 413. The work is dedicated to Henri’s friend Hubert Languet, renowned for his strong political opinions, notably in his ‘Vindiciae contra Tyrannos’ published by Henri Estienne and translated into French by Francois Estienne.


A very good, totally unsophisticated copy with tremendous provenance. From the library of Antoine Buade, Comte de Paluau, whose small but important library “formé avec gout” (Guigard II p. 101) was sold in 1633, thence to the immense library of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The library of Colbert grew with the man himself. Born in 1619, from 1645 to 1651 he was assistant to Michel Le Tellier, secretary for the army, from 1651 to 1661 he served as financial intendant for Cardinal Mazarin, and from 1661 to 1683 he was first minister for Louis XIV, one of the most influential men in C17 France. Colbert appointed the mathematician and scholar Pierre Carcavi to oversee his library, and in 1667 when Carcavi became a keeper for the Royal Library, Etienne Baluze succeeded him. Under Baluze the library grew enormously.

When Colbert died in 1683 his library contained 23,000 books and 5,212 manuscripts. It passed to his son, the marquis de Seignelay, and Baluze continued to be its librarian until 1700. It was sold in 1728, most of his manuscripts were purchased by the King, while his printed editions were sold at auction all over Europe. This then passed, with many of Colbert’s books, to the extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield.

Not in BM STC Fr. C16. Renouard p. 446 no. 2. Adams 1781. Schreiber 202 “criticises and satirizes the Ciceronians’ orthodoxy in basing their Latin style and vocabulary exclusively on the popular Ciceronian Thesaurus of Nizolius. Estienne argues that strict adherence to Nizolius’ lexicon took away any incentive to a personal style.”

L869

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