EARLIEST DATED COUNTERFEIT ALDINE
Salustius [De coniuratione Catilinae.]
[Lyon, n.pr.], 1504.
8vo. 116 unnumbered ll., a-o8 p4. Italic letter, little Roman. A little thumbing and few ink marks to margins of first and last gathering. An excellent, wide-margined copy, on thick paper, in c.1600 sprinkled hairsheep, double blind ruled to a panel design, large fleuron in blind to corners, raised bands, spine in three double blind ruled compartments, richly gaufered edges gilt. Autographs ‘Robertus Levé 1678 Rhetor’ inked to fep, contemporary inscription in red ink ‘Ego sum de Electis Toli de Fourrier(?)’ and ‘Cessus(?) hic liber jure (?) Jacobo babinio p[u]bl[ic]o, parochialis Eccl[es]ia de baysse Rectori 1598’ to t-p, first text leaf underlined in red, slightly later inscription ‘Jacobum babinium (?)’, 12 lines of contemporary ms. inked over and autograph ‘De Fourrier(?)’ to verso of last, early faded child’s autograph in red crayon ‘Jean Caillet’ to rear fep.
An elegantly bound, remarkably fresh Lyonnaise ‘Aldine’—‘the earliest dated counterfeit edition’ (Shaw 44)—attributed by Baudrier to the press of Balthasar de Gabiano (VII, 20). It sought to counterfeit Aldus’s style using an imitation of his distinctive italic type although the first Aldine Sallust would only be published in 1509. Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-c.35 BC) was a politician and the first Roman historian whose works have reached us with a safe attribution. ‘De coniuratione Catilinae’ recounted the events of Catiline’s second conspiracy in 63 BC through which he sought to overcome the power of the consuls Cicero, who uncovered the plot, and Hybrida, as well as the Republican Senate and major figures like Julius Caesar, of whom Sallust was a keen supporter. The annotator of this copy was interested in Sallust’s preface on the nature of man—introducing the complex portrait of Catiline as a fallen hero—how mind should rule over body to maintain the right wisdom and how such balance and imbalance affected history causing war or peace. He also highlighted a passage celebrating how both those who make history through wars and those who record wars in writing can do good to their country. In 1598, this copy belonged to Jacques Babin, rector of the church of Bayes, near Bourdeaux, and ‘maistre et regent aux arts’ at the University of Paris. In that same year, he became director of the Collège de Saint-Thomas in Rennes. He was dismissed in 1601, having been accused of maintaining lax discipline within the Collège where even a ‘femme de mauvaise vie’ was found (‘Le Collège de Rennes’, 22, 31). Robert Levé, who owned this copy in 1678, was probably a professor of classics (‘rhetor’) at the same college.
Only UCLA and Pierpont Morgan copies recorded in the US.
Shaw 44; Ahmanson-Murphy 1115; Renouard 48:10, 308:22; Baudrier VII, 20; BM STC French p. 392; Brunet V, 83. Not in USTC. ‘Le Collège de Rennes’, Bulletin et mémoires de la Société archéologique du département d’Ille-et-Vilaine 46:1 (1918).
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