Selectiores epistolae clarorum virorum. (with) MACROPEDIUS, Georgius. Methodus de conscribendis epistolis.

Antwerp, Apud Ioannem Bellerum, 1573-74


8vo. pp. (xvi) 148 (ii). ff. (ii) 123 (i), with parts of two related works: pp. (viii) 74. (ii, blank). ff. 16-40. Italic and Roman letter, a little Greek, printers’ devices on both t-ps, a few woodcut initials and tailpieces. Light age yellowing, contemp. ms marginal notes on three ll. of second work, light marginal waterstain to final gathering, contemp. ms autograph “M. Christoph. Gri[…] Pannonii” and of “[…] Rhetorica […]” on first t-p, contemp. ms rhetorical passage on final pastedown. A good, clean copy in C16th German blind-stamped ¼ pigskin with a roll of Biblical portraits, boards from a C15th liturgical vellum ms (with neumes), spine with three raised bands (two holes), contemp. ms title on top fore edge, long leather ties.

Rare editions of a collection of Renaissance treatises on rhetoric and epistolary science, designed for students, by three north European authors and teachers. Simon Verepaeus (c. 1522-1598), philosopher and theologian, compiled various textbooks including the present. His work includes letters by famous Italian Humanists such as Pietro Bembo, Iacopo Sadoleto, Cristoforo Longolio and Paolo Manuzio, chosen as models of current literary style. Macropedius Georgius, or Joris van Lanckvelt, (1487-1558), was educated at the grammar school of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, where Erasmus of Rotterdam had been some twenty years before. In 1502 Macropedius became a member of the Brothers of the Common Life in the same town and from the age of twenty he had begun writing Latin plays and textbooks for students’ use. The present work, his most famous, was first published in 1543 in Antwerp under the title of Epistolica, and successively in ten different editions in the Netherlands. Between 1580 and 1649 the work was published no less than six times in London alone and it seems to have been used at schools throughout western Europe.

Macropedius’ success was not only limited to his writing. As headmaster in ‘s-Hertongenbosch, Liège and Utrecht he taught many students who later became influential men in government, science and the arts, such as the geographer Gerard Mercator, the printer-editor Laurentius Torrentinus and the physician Johannes Wier, who doubted belief in witchcraft as early as 1563. Christoph Hegendorf (1500-1540) was a philologist who played an important rule in the history of the German Reformation, taught Greek literature and wrote many works, most of which are rare. The related fragments at the end belong to two different books. The former, without the title page, is a rhetorical work by Audomarus Talaeus dealing with the figures of speech, the types of metre and the use of the voice and the body. The latter is not identified and comprises some chapters about the liberal arts and the five senses.

Verepaeus: Not in BM STC Dutch, Adams, Graesse or Belgica Typographica. Macropedius-Hegendorf: This edn. not in BM STC Ger, Adams or Graesse.


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