INCUNABLE EDITION OF CLASSICAL GREEK GRAMMAR BOOK

Thesaurus Cornucopiae et Horti Adonidis.

Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1496.

£37,500

FIRST EDITION. Large folio, ff. (10), 270, A10, aα-zψ8, &ω4, AA-DΔ8, EE6, FZ-GH8, HΘ6, II8, KK6, LΛ8. Greek letter (types 1:146Gk, 2:114Gk), a little Roman; two tiny wormholes to first gathering and small marginal worm trail at foot of eε-gη, occasional light foxing in extreme margins; three paper flaws to blank spaces of last leaf. A very good, wide-margined and unwashed copy in early nineteenth-century ¾ green  morocco, gilt on spine with floral decoration, title gilt on tan morocco label; title lettered on lower-edge in contemporary hand; armorial bookplate of Marco Antonio Borghese, Prince of Sulmona (1814-1886), and modern label on front pastedown; a few contemporary scholarly annotations, underlinings and one correction in first gatherings; several pen corrections made directly in the Aldine press, mostly previously unrecorded.

An excellent copy of the first edition of Aldus’ collection of grammatical works for students of ancient Greek, including many previously unpublished essays such as those of the Homeric commentator Eustathius of Thessalonica. This ‘Treasure of abundance’ was one of the founding pieces of the Aldine printing programme, devised in the first place to spread the knowledge of Greek in Italy and the rest of Europe. It consists of a well-considered selection of writings and lexicons by Byzantine Greek grammarians, referring especially to the Homeric poems. In compiling this book, Aldus was helped by exceptionally skilled teachers of the subject, like Urbano Bolzanio (1442-1524), Arsenios Apostolios (1465-1535), Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494) and Poliziano’s pupils Guarino Favorino (1450-1537) and Scipione Carteromaco (1466-1515). Aldus’ Latin preface to ‘every scholar’ is of great interest. Not only does it provide key evidence for dating the beginning of his own activity – he states that he has worked for 7 years with barely an hour of solid rest –, but it also announces what was to be his most famous achievement, the complete Greek edition of Aristotle’s works.

This copy bears six corrections made in the Aldine workshop straight after printing. Only two of them have been already recorded and concern the very last words of ff. 197r and 207r, which were crossed out with a pen stroke. A third and more extensive emendation involves the declension of the term ‘shame’, as illustrated in the second essay of the collection (f. 6v). The passage was expunged and the manuscript internal reference to leaves 268 (‘ζήτει φύλλον 268’) added instead. A couple of lines above, a vowel was amended twice in the same word and an accent and a subscribed iota were added. The faulty numeration of leaves 187, 188 and 213 was also consistently rectified, alongside the incorrect ‘K’ in the title of f. 227r, replaced with ‘Λ’. These corrections were made in many copies of this edition, but often have been washed out or even deliberately erased as insignificant marginalia, even the most important one – that in f. 6v with the internal reference in Greek.

ISTC, it00158000; BMC, V, 555; GW, 7571; Hain, 15493; Goff, T-158; Hoffmann, II, 116; Brunet, VI, 806; Graesse, VII, 130; Renouard, 9:1 (‘belle edition, devenue très rare’).

K47

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