ALDINE PRINCEPS IN BOZERIAN BINDING
Venice, Aldus, 1503.
EDITIO PRINCEPS. 2 volumes 8vo. (242) (216) unnumbered ff. Volume I: Α-Γ⁸, Δ⁴, Ε-Η⁸, Θ⁶, Ι-Λ⁸, Μ⁶, ΝΞ⁸, Ο¹⁰, Π-Ρ⁸, Σ¹⁰, Τ-Υ⁸, Φ⁶, Χ-Ω⁸, ΑΑ-ΒΒ⁸, ΓΓ⁶, ΔΔ-ΖΖ⁸, ΗΗ⁶. Volume II: ΘΘ-ΙΙ⁸, ΚΚ¹⁰, moved from volume I [Lacking (chi)⁴ the register and Aldine device] ΛΛ⁸, ΜΜ¹⁰, ΝΝ-ΟΟ⁸, ΠΠ-ΡΡ⁸, ΣΣ¹⁰, ΤΤ⁸, ΥΥ⁶, ΦΦ-ΧΧ⁸, ΨΨ⁴, ΩΩ⁸, ΑΑΑ-ΒΒΒ⁸, ΓΓΓ⁶, ΔΔΔ-ΖΖΖ⁸, ΗΗΗ⁶, ΘΘΘ-ΚΚΚ⁸, ΛΛΛ⁴. (Δ4, Φ6, ΗΗ6, ΣΣ10 and ΥΥ6 are blanks, all present.) Greek letter. Capital spaces, with guide letters, Aldine dolphin device to verso of last. A fine, clean copy in lovely dark blue straight grained morocco gilt, c.1800 in the style of Bozerian, covers with border of leafy scroll within gilt rules, inner dentelles gilt with Greek key roll, spines richly gilt, yellow silk endpapers, all edges gilt, a little rubbed at extremities.
EDITIO PRINCEPS of eighteen Euripidean plays (though the title page mentions only seventeen), including ‘Rhesus,’ sometimes attributed to Sophocles, but often considered a later addition to the corpus. All the tragedies with the exception of ‘Electra’ are present, as well as the satyr play ‘Cyclops.’ Edited by Aldus, all but four are here published for the first time. Frequently based on myths, Euripides explores a variety of themes in his work, from Xenia and the role of women in Alcestis, to the revenge and betrayal of the cuckolded wife in Medea, to hubris and misogyny in Hippolytus, to the aftermath of the Iliad in Andromache and Trojan Women, and a new take on Odysseus’ dealings with the Cyclopes in ‘Cyclops.’
“It would seem from the preface that only 1000 copies were printed” (Dibdin), making it a set of particular rarity as well as beauty. This collection was the first to unite the disparate manuscripts of Euripides, and therefore formed the foundation for much later study of the tragedies. Much of the lasting importance of Euripides is due to his literary innovations which must have been striking to his contemporaries. He created deus ex machina as a literary device, prominently featured strong women and slaves for the first time, and focused on real people and raw human emotions. His influence can be detected in the works of Joyce, Racine and Corneille.
This copy is deliberately, for aesthetic reasons, incomplete of the register and the Aldine device of the first vol. The binder, most probably at the behest of the owner, wanting to create a uniform size for the two volumes, moved the last play of Volume I to Volume II, and then discarded the register and Aldine printer’s device as this now appeared in the middle of the text, rather than the end of the volume. The binding is very fine and, though unsigned, is undoubtedly the work of Bozerian, perhaps the most fashionable of the late C18th French binders. A beautiful copy of one of the most important of the Aldine Editio Princeps.
BM STC It. C16th p. 239. Dibdin I 524 “frequently found in an imperfect or indifferent condition”. Adams E 1030. Renouard 43:10 “première et rare édition d’Euripide”. Brunet II 1095 “Cette édition est recherchée et les beaux exemplaires se trouvent difficilement.”