Nova editio, ex museo Petri Scriverii.  Iusti Lipsii, Iani Rutgersii, I. Isaci Pontani, Notae in Martialem. Ad Petrum Scriverium.

Leiden, apud Ioannem Maire, 1619.


FIRST EDITION thus. 16mo. Three vols. in one. pp. [viii], 16, 312; pp. 285 (i); pp. 24, 280. Roman and Italic letter, some Greek. Plantin’s small woodcut printer’s device on first two titles, Maire’s device on the third, small woodcut initials and ornaments, contemporary ms. shelf mark on pastedown, list of the commentators in French on fly in contemporary hand. Light age yellowing, some light browning, the odd marginal spot or mark. A very good copy in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rule with central oval containing De Thou’s and his second wife’s arms gilt, spine with gilt ruled raised bands gilt ruled in five compartments with De Thou’s monogram, title gilt in the other, shelf mark inked on front cover, joints and extremities a little worn, a.e.r.

A very interesting copy of this scholarly edition of the works of Martial with the best commentaries of the period, from the celebrated library of Jaques August De Thou. Martial, certainly a Spaniard, and probably a Basque, spent his working life in Rome carefully observing his fellow men and recording them for us in these exquisite vignettes. The Epigrams are Martial’s most important work. They are short poems, each expressing pointedly and concisely some single idea, and are generally in the form of a satire. His short poems are among the most vivid glimpses which have come down to us of real life in the first century AD. Martial describes with the most realistic detail the vices of his age. The fortune hunters, gluttons, drunkards, debauchers, hypocrites of various kinds and stingy patrons come back to life in his verses – along with the occasional plea for a gift or a loan; thanks to a faithful friend or honest critic, or a simple hello or farewell. Many give vivid glimpses of the contemporary Roman scene; the hot sausage vendor on his round, the tiresome guest who arrives too late for breakfast and too early for lunch, others are simply obscene. But beneath the humour there is the serious purpose of exposing the frailties of humanity, albeit more with amusement than indignation. Martial himself pleaded that his epigrams were far more serious than most other authors’ tragedies and he was probably right. Perhaps because of allegations of obscenity, the Epigrams were relatively neglected in the first century of printing.

“In his preface, Scriverius acknowledges the ascertainment of the text as his primary interest; and for this achievement, he earned the praise of Schneidewin and Friedlaender. But the works 950 pages contain more than the text and Scriverius’s own emendations and readings, which comprise the first two volumes. The third volume presents a collection of readings on Martial by other scholars, including those of Scriverius’s own circle at Leiden; Joseph Scaliger, Janus Rutgers, the Jesuit Johan Pontanus, Janus Gruter, and Justus Lipsius. Gruter, who was Scriverius’s student at Leiden contributes two collections of readings, the second of which, Appendicula ad Martialem, is interpretive and yields some correspondences between Martal and Seneca.Each of these contributions is accompanied by a letter to Scriverius, in effect bringing to life again the circle of foremost classical scholars of the early seventeenth century. From an earlier age, there are the readings of Joannes Brodaeus ; excerpts from the Adversaria of Hadrian Turnebus; and, as a final ornament, excerpts on Martial from the Miscellanea of Angel Politan, one of the earliest umanisti.” Paul Maurice Clogan. ‘Monsters of Architecture: Anthropomorphism in Architectural Theory.’

A most prestigious provenance; Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617), statesman and historian of his own times, is now known almost equally as the possessor of a celebrated library which, in accordance with his wishes, was kept for years after his death not only intact but freely available to scholars: it was not finally dispersed until 1788. He was the most discerning and fastidious French collector of his age. This volume has his arms in their final state that incorporate the arms of his second wife, Gasparde de la Chastre, whom he married in 1605, and their joint initials in four compartments of the spine. Although the nucleus formed by de Thou was relatively small, c. 8,000 books and 1,000 MSS., they were all well chosen and well bound. His son continued to add to his library after his death using his arms in their final state, and the shelf marks and ms. notes could well be in his hand. 

BM STC Low Countries 1601-20, p. 374 M48.