De Lingua Latina

Parma, [printer of the Jerome, Epistolae], 11th December 1480

£5,950

Folio, ff. (iv) 46. Roman letter, a little Greek, guide letters, spaces blank. Extensive early marginalia in at least two early hands (one contemp) throughout, final blank page filled with annotations in Italian (c.1600); uniform light age browning, waterstains to edges of some ll., mostly marginal but slightly affecting the text in places, ancient marginal ink splashes to a couple of ll. A very interesting, not unattractive and well margined copy, if well used at an early date. In modern vellum over boards.

A rare edition from an almost equally rare press; the identity of the printer is unknown, the style of his Greek type may indicate he came from Venice; the total known output of the press is only six titles, however the layout and typeface are handsome and accomplished.

An early edition of Varro’s pioneering work on Latin grammar (including inflexion and syntax) or more accurately of books V to X (of 25) which are all that have come down to us. It was regarded as a work of considerable importance by no lesser authorities than Cicero (the dedicatee), Quintilian and St Augustine, who wonders at the author’s learning in the De Civ. Dei, book VI; the text was edited for the press by Pompinius Laetus and Francisus Rolandellus and first printed in that form by an unknown press in Venice in 1478. It has a comprehensive index. “Varro’s treatise is the earliest extant Roman work on grammar. This great work, which was finished before Cicero’s death in 43 BC, owes much to the stoic teaching of Aelius Stilo, and also to that of a later grammarian who combined the Stoic and Alexandrian traditions. The first three of the surviving books are on Etymology, book V being on names of places, VI on terms denoting time and VII on poetic expressions. To ourselves the value of these books lies in their citations from the Latin poets, and not in their marvellous etymologies. The next three books are concerned with the controversy on Analogy and Anomaly: VIII on the arguments against Analogy, IX on those against Anomaly and X on Varro’s own view of Analogy”, Sandys I p.179. Of Varro’s vast literary output his three books ‘De Rustica’ is the only other survivor.

BMC.VIII p.942. Hain 11903 (3) Goff N267 (4 copies)

L276

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