CLASSICAL LATIN IN THEORY

Apparatus latinae locutionis.

Venice, Niccolini Brothers, 1533.

£2,450

FIRST EDITION. Folio, (4) f., 598 col., (12) f., wanting final blank. Neat Roman letter, double-columns; title within elegant architectural woodcut boarder with monsters, cupids and soldiers; few rust spots on cviii; tiny worm trail over internal upper margin of ff. rviii-ti; margins very occasionally marked. An extremely good copy in contemporary vellum from an early fifteenth-century manuscript missal, black-and-red; on both boards, decorative border in red and capitals in red and blue (some beautifully decorated); slightly rubbed; front lower corner a bit chipped; original binding, not recased. Contemporary ex libris on title, ‘Valvasor’ and ‘Valvassoris et amicorum’ (repeated on head of ai) as well as ‘Franciscus Hieronimus De medicis … anno curente 1551.’

First edition of this successful lexicon of Latin terminology drawn from the best ancient writers, especially Cicero. A respected scholar and writer, Bartolomeo Ricci (1490 – 1569) taught the Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este. He left several speeches and letters, together with a famous treatise on the stylistic imitation of the Latin classics. His Apparatus offered readers a tool to enlarge and refine their knowledge of Latin, exclusively on a classical basis. It was published following the favourable judgement of Pietro Bembo, the founding theorist of the Italian language. Both Bembo and Ricci thought the purest Latin prose should resemble the style of Cicero as close as possible. This view was broadly shared by sixteenth-century Italian humanists. In their excess of zeal, many of them were regarded as pedantic emulators, ultimately falling into the category mocked by Erasmus in his Ciceronianus.

This remarkable copy was almost certainly inscribed in a very elegant humanist handwriting by Clemente Valvassori. A Venetian men of letters, he glossed and commented on an Italian translation of Sallust and provided an allegoric Christian interpretation of Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso (nothing more distant from the author’s original purpose!). The printer Giovanni Andrea Valvassori was probably a relative of his. In 1551, the book was acquired by (presumably) Girolamo de Medici, most probably the jurist from Lucca who was active in Mantua in mid-sixteenth century.

Not in BM STC It. nor Adams. Graesse, VI, 109.

L1927

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