ALDINE CELEBRATION OF NEO-LATIN LITERATURE

Orationes XXIII (with) Eiusdem interpretatio quincti libri Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nicomachum (and) Hymnorvm sacrorvm liber.

Venice, Aldus, 1575.

£1,500

FIRST EDITIONS. 8vo. Three works in one, pp. (xvi) 320 (vi) 37 (i) (ii) 57 (i), second with half, third with separate t-p. Italic letter, with Roman, little Greek. First and third t-ps with Paulus Manutius’s woodcut portrait to recto and arms of Emperor Maximilian II with Aldine device to verso; woodcut portrait of Muret within oval cartouche, grotesque headpieces, decorated initials and tailpieces. A few ll. lightly browned, upper margins a bit trimmed, occasional slight marginal foxing, tiny worm trail to inner gutter of a few gatherings. A good copy in contemporary vellum, spine in four compartments, raised bands,  lettering in two hands, shelfmark at foot. ‘12-5’ (price?) on front pastedown, illegible later annotation to first t-p, ‘K.2. II app. Le (?) 762’ (bibliographic reference?), ‘Calle(?)’ in red crayon, ‘170’ and ‘19/46’ ms. to rear eps.

Good, original copies of the first editions of Marc-Antoine Muret’s much-commended rhetorical, philosophical and poetic works. Muret (or Muretus, 1526-85) was a French humanist and talented Latin author skilled—like his classical model, Cicero—in all genres. Among his admirers were Henry II and Ronsard. After years of wondering to escape persecution for his alleged homosexuality, he spent the rest of his life in Rome under the auspices of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. This was the first florilegium of his complete works. His 23 orations, which bear the date of their first delivery, deal with rhetoric (e.g., a defence of ‘humanae litterae’, the conjunction of ‘eloquentia’ and philosophy); commentaries on Aristotle’s ‘Nichomachaean Ethics’, Cicero’s ‘Tusculanae disputationes’ and Justinian’s ‘Pandectas’; apologies for European princes and funeral elegies for Charles IX of France and Pope Pius V. The second part is devoted to a commentary of Book V of Aristotle’s ‘Nichomachaean Ethics’, a foundational text for medieval legal, theological and moral debates. Following Aristotle, Muret reflects on justice, how it relates to virtue, what virtue signifies for individuals, communities and lawmakers, and when justice should be considered virtuous. The ‘Hymns’ are outstanding instances of Neo-Latin verse devoted to sundry topics including liturgical days (e.g., Saint Barbara’s day, Christmas and Epiphany), of which they summarise the devotional essence, odes to friends, scholars, politicians, and the celebration of great minds like a poem on Raphael’s tomb. Muret also admitted that two poems he had officially attributed to the Roman playwrights Trabea and Accius were in fact his own work. ‘Hymnorvm…liber’ was originally intended as the third part of the florilegium; although here it bears a separate imprint, there is no USTC number for this 1575 first edition, and it is missing from some recorded copies.

USTC 843780; Rénouard 219:11; Brunet III, 1952; BM STC It., p. 457. Not in Gamba.

L2832b