COMMENTARY REVEALING OF POLITICAL SUBTLETIES IN CICERO’S AGE, IN NORTH EUROPEAN BINDING

In Epistolas Ciceronis ad Atticum.

Venice, Paulus Manutius, 1553.

£1,350

8vo. ff. (iv) 414. Italic letter. Anchor and dolphin device to title; title page slightly dusty, light marginal damp stain to a few leaves, a few contemporary marginalia, underlinings, manuscript title on fore-edge, autograph Gourfat 1643 to front pastedown. A good copy in contemporary calf, blind tooled with border of figures, and fleurs-de-lys and Imperial double-headed eagle, with haloes to central panels, remains of clasps, spine mostly absent, revealing sewing bands with manuscript fragments, preserved in box.

Expanded edition, revised and corrected, of Manutius’ celebrated commentary on the 16 books of Cicero’s letters to his closest friend, T. Pomponius Atticus, and the starting point of all modern editions of the text. Written over the course of many years from 65 BC onwards and compiled by Cicero’s personal secretary, Marcus Tullius Tiro, the letters are frequently written in a subtle code to mask their political content. In his impressively detailed commentary, Manutius is clearly aware of this, discussing the implications of certain names and places thoroughly, explaining their relationships to each other, and their historical and social significance as appropriate. A valuable edition in a fine copy.

The contemporary binding, revealing the sewing structure of the book, is from Northern Europe, possibly Antwerp (for eagle motif see Goldschmidt 175).

“Perhaps the most valuable of Cicero’s surviving works are the letters, such a vivid commentary on the last years of the Roman Republic as we have of no other period of ancient times. Here alone, devoid of formality, the character of Cicero…can be seen.”

PMM 64, Opera 1534-7. BM STC It. P. 177. Ren 157:11. Adams M 459. Graesse IV 375. Brunet III 1383.

L963

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