Deipnosophistae [with] Dipnosophistarum sive Coenae sapientum libri XV.
Venice, Aldus Manutius and Andrea Torresani [with] Andreas Arrivabenus, 1514 [with] 1556.
FIRST EDITIONS, folio, pp. [xxxx] 192 [i]; [vi] 288 [xii]. First: Greek letter, title text in the shape of a martini glass, Aldine dolphin and anchor device on t-p and verso of last, some oil spots. Light waterstain to head of first couple of gatherings and to lower outer corner of last, 2 ll somewhat oxydised, else clean and good. Second: Italic letter, double column. Woodcut to t-p of Rebecca with Jesus at the well, floriated initials. Insignificant waterstain to blank upper outer corner of a few quires, a few ll slightly oxydised. A very good copy in C17 mottled sheep, upper joint cracked at head. Spine gilt in compartments, natural morocco lettering piece, edges speckled red. Illegible C17 ownership inscription to pastedown.
Probably the only copy combining the Editio Princeps with the first Latin edition. Written in Rome in the early 2nd century, the work provides a unique insight into the moneyed classes during the Hellenistic literary world of the Roman Empire. “A vast variety of erudition has been preserved by Athenaeus of Naucratis, who lived at Rome under Commodus and his successors. His comprehensive work ‘Doctors at Dinner’ originally consisted of thirty books. It was abridged into fifteen, and it is this abridgement that has survived in an incomplete form in a single ms. The scene is laid at the house of the Roman pontiff Larentius, and all kinds of accomplishments – grammar, poetry, rhetoric, music, philosophy and medicine – are represented among the many interlocutors. It is an encyclopaedia under the disguise of a dialogue. Food and drink, cups and cookery, stories of famous banquets, scandalous anecdotes, specimens of ancient riddles and drinking songs and disquisitons on instruments of music are only part of the miscellaneous fare which is here provided. We are indebted to the quotations in Athenaeus for our knowledge of passages from about 700 ancient writers who would otherwise be unknown to us, and, in particular, for the preservation of the greater part of the extant remains of the Middle and the New Attic comedy.” Sandys I:337. An important source of Classical Greek recipes, including the original text of the oldest recipe by a named author, Mithaecus, in any language, it also describes in detail different kinds of wine, categorizing them by place and origin and compares their characteristics, properties and effects. Sexual mores constitute another conversational focus, with pederasty discussed without restraint, including details of boy-lovers famed for their beauty and skill. In addition come insights into music, literary gossip and philology, as well as the stories behind the creation of many artworks and amusing stories. An invaluable resource for social historians.
Originating from Naucratis in Egypt, Athenaeus was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, who flourished at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd C. Deipnosophistae is his only extant work, though he mentions other works on the history of the Syrian kings and on fish.
i. Renouard 67:4 “fort rare”. BM STC It. 60. Adams A-2096. Hoffman I 394. Vicaire 50: “elle est magnifiquement exécutée”. Simon 58: “Dans le Premier Livre, il est traité des festins des Anciens, des mets, des boissons, des vêtemenets, danses, etc. Les façons de boire et les différents vins sont déscrits en détail: vin d’Italie, de Chios et Lesbos, d’Egypte, etc. Le Livre Second débute par une description détaillée de l’origine, de la nature, des propriétés et des principaux effets du vin”. Brunet I 535: ‘rare et assez recherchée’. Dibdin I 331. Graesse I 244. Bitting 18. This ed not in Oberlé.
ii. BM STC It. 60. Adams A-2098. Hoffmann I 397. Vicaire 50. Bitting 18. Oberlé 8,9,10: “Sa compliation est d’autant plus précieuse que la plupart des ouvrages qu’il cite sont perdus. C’est une encyclopédie de l’Antiquité, riche, variée, éblouissante.”