Hīrodotou logoi ennea, oiper epikalountai Mousai. Herodoti libri nouem quibus musarum indita sunt nomina.

Venice, in domo Aldi, mense Septembri, 1502.


EDITIO PRINCEPS. Folio. Ff [cxv]. 2ΑA-2ΡR⁸, 2ΣS⁴. Greek letter. Aldus’ anchor and dolphin device on t-p and on verso of last, capital spaces with guide letters at beginning of each book, beautiful woodblock printed paper endleaves in purple and yellow, almost certainly venetian, bookplate of the Italian statesman Giacomo Manzoni (1816-89) on pastedown, Douglas Maxwell Moffat’s at side, (purchased from Davis & Orioli in 1932, with their letter confirming the sale loosely inserted). T-p very fractionally spotted, last leaf a little yellowed in margins, small hole restored in lower margins of penultimate two leaves, occasional very minor marginal waterstain to a few leaves. A very good copy, crisp and clean, on beautiful thick paper, with excellent margins, in handsome eighteenth century Italian dark calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rule and gilt leaf roll, arms of Marco Foscarini gilt at centres, (Guigard II p. 221), spine with gilt ruled raised bands, title and printer gilt lettered direct, head and tail of spine with minor restoration, joints and extremities a little cracked or rubbed, all edges sprinkled red and blue.

The superb Editio Princeps of the works of Herodotus, ‘The Father of History,’ published and edited by Aldus Manutius, on the basis of numerous manuscripts as he stresses in his dedication to Giovanni Calfurnio da Brescia, and one of his finest and most important productions. This copy was bound for Marco Foscarini (1696 – 1763) (with his arms gilt on the covers) Venetian poet, scholar, writer and statesman who served as the 117th Doge of Venice from May 31, 1762 until his death. He studied in his youth in Bologna, and was active as a diplomat, serving as ambassador to Rome and Turin; he also served as the Procurator of St Mark’s. He amassed an important collection of books and early manuscripts.

The work recounts the history of the great Persian invasion of Greece between 490 and 479BC but two thirds of it is devoted to the earlier history of the two protagonists, touching on many of the adjacent countries as well, and describing them and their people in considerable detail,  Everything about this edition was attended to with the greatest care, from the typography and layout to the superior quality of the paper and impression, and the editing of the manuscript sources.  Aldus valued Herodotus not only for his ‘sweet, candid and flowing language’, but also for the merit of his contributions to the study of the past and foreign cultures.  He defends the study of Herodotus and sets the stage for his popularity in the 16th C.

We do not know when and how the Histories were first written down; very likely they arose out of recitations or readings that Herodotus gave over a number of years, both in other Greek cities and in Athens at the height of its Imperial power. The works of Herodotus created an intellectual field that we still call by the name Herodotus gave his own investigations; history. The magnitude of Herodotus’ achievement as the first historian is hard to appreciate, however, precisely because the genre he invented became so important to our own thinking about the world, it is difficult to imagine it not existing. His history constructs a huge roadmap of the known human world, past and present, in which everything is linked through story to everything else.  He weaves a dense web of casual connections, created in a large part by personal reciprocities, than span generations and cultures. “Herodotus is the earliest historian; his predecessors were by contrast chroniclers.  He was the first to collect his materials systematically, to test their accuracy as far as he could, and to arrange his story so as to appeal to, as well as to inform, his readers…certainly for the Persian war his authority forms the basis of all modern histories; and, more than that, it is the stuff of legends.  Herodotus is far more than a valuable source: always readable, his work has been quoted and translated ever since” (PMM). A very good copy of a particularly beautiful and important work.

“In the opinion of Wesseling this is a very faithful and accurate edition, compiled with great care, and executed with considerable typographical elegance.  Bergler, in Act. Erudit. An. 1716 p.378, ranks it with the very best productions of the Aldine press; and in point of fidelity it is greatly preferable to the Medicean MS so loudly boasted of by Gronovius. … M. Renouard … abandons the idea which he had first entertained, of there being copies of this work on large or thick paper.  He conceives, and perhaps with justice, that the paper, which is of very beautiful quality, is of a uniform size; and that the size of the paper depends on the care of the binder.” Dibdin II p.19. 

BM STC It. P.326. Adams H394. Brunet III 122 “cette première édition d’herodote est l’une des meilleues qu’Alde ait publiées d’aucun grec; l’impression et le papier en sont de toute beauté.” Renouard p.35, 8. Printing and the Mind of Man 41. Sandys, Hist. of Classical scholarship II p.98, 104. Ahmanson-Murphy 62. Hoffmann II, 229.


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