CICOGNA, Strozzi.


Magiae omnifariae, vel potius, universae naturae theatrum.

Cologne, sumptibus Conradi Butgenij, 1607.


8vo. pp. (viii) 568. Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, woodcut initials and tailpieces. Varying degrees of age browning (poor paper), original edges untrimmed, last leaf minimally adhering to rear fep, small ink burn to outer blank margin of 2L1, little spotting to first and last gatherings and another handful of ll., all edges untrimmed. A good copy in quarter calf over marbled boards, spine and extremities rubbed. C17 or later Inscription c.1800 ‘Paulus du Mont’ to t-p and couple of early annotations.

A very good copy, with edges fresh from the press, of the scarce second Latin edition of this occultum—‘a very curious and uncommon work’ (Caillet I, 2373). Strozzi Cicogna (1568-1605) studied law at Padua; a late humanist, he devoted himself to poetry and philosophy, achieving lasting fame with ‘Il Palagio degl’incanti’, published in 1605. It was translated into Latin by Gaspare Ens in 1606; the 1607 Latin edition is an exact reprint of the first. It is a treatise on daemonology—a winning combination of ancient and Scholastic theories on god, the nature and origin of the world, with a Renaissance interest towards pagan, Christian, Hermetic and Cabalistic ideas, and a wealth of learned and popular anecdotes. Some of these Cicogna had heard from the archpriest of Barbarano, near his hometown Vicenza, who recounted supernatural events which had happened to him (‘Storia popolare d’Italia’, VII, 163). This ‘dense and almost unknown treatise’ contains ‘the most systematic taxonomy of the demonic presences inhabiting the creation’ and is ‘the most comprehensive and original treatise on angelic beings ever written in early modern Europe’ (Maggi, ‘Company of Demons’, 17). Book II is devoted to the nature of angels with comparative theories drawn from the classical and Hebrew tradition. Book III discusses the hierarchies and types of demons (aerial, earthly, aquatic, etc.), and Book IV studies the foundations of demonic magic and the demons’ interactions with human beings. Although the work was approved by the Inquisition in 1605—as ‘delightful for the vague and varied narrative’ and  constantly ‘safe doctrine’—it was included in the Index in 1623. Robert Burton drew heavily from Cicogna’s work for his ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’; one of Cicogna’s anecdotes inspired a poem by the English Gothic novelist Matthew Gregory Lewis.

Chicago, Vanderbilt, Columbia and GW copies recorded in the US.

Caillet I, 2373; BL STC Ger. C17 C647; VD 17 39:135414Z. Not in Thorndike. A. Maggi, In the Company of Demons (Chicago, 2006).


Print This Item Print This Item

BRANT, Sebastian.


Stultifera navis.

Basel, Johann Bergmann, de Olpe, 1 Aug. 1497.


4to. ff. 159, wanting final blank. Gothic letter. T-p with superb half-page woodcut of Ship of Fools, another 117, full-page or smaller, portraying the Fools in their various satirical occupations, handsome woodcut printer’s device to verso of X4. T-p and margins of first two ll. a little soiled, small expert repair touching a handful of letters (couple partly supplied in ink on verso of t-p), upper and outer edge of first two gatherings a trifle frayed, intermittent light oil stain towards upper margin, small clean tear from outer edge of e8 just touching two words, annotations removed from first leaf of Registrum. A very good copy in early C19 crushed green morocco, sympathetically rebacked with onlaid spine, blind tooled to a panel design, title gilt-lettered to covers, raised bands, spine tooled in blind. Bookplate of S.H. Hodgson (1832-1912) and Rugby School (Hodgson bequest) to front pastedown, the odd C16 editorial annotation.

A landmark of early printing, with superb woodcut illustrations partly attributed to the young Dürer, as well as with early references to Columbus’s discoveries and, for the first time in this first enlarged Latin edition, a poem on the Ottoman threat. A German humanist from Strasbourg, Sebastian Brant (1458-1521) completed his studies at Basel. There, until 1500, he published his major works, the most renowned of which, ‘Das Narrenschiff’, in 1494. The humanist Jakob Locher translated it into Latin as ‘Stultifera navis’ in March 1497, adding four woodcuts and—in this fifth and first enlarged Latin edition—also a new poem by Brant, ‘De pereuntibus’. ‘Stultifera navis’ is a powerful satirical poem. ‘In a ship laden with one hundred fools, steered by fools to the fools’ paradise of Narragonia, Brant satirizes all the weaknesses, follies and vices of his time. Composed in popular humorous verse and illustrated by a remarkable series of woodcuts—of which 75 are now attributed to the young Dürer—the book was an immediate success’ (PMM 37). The nautical theme was probably strengthened under the influence of contemporary debates on voyages of exploration and the vanity of seeking knowledge of God’s creation. Most famous is the chapter on the ‘inquisition of geographical regions’, or the foolishness of those who want to measure the earth, illustrated by a fool’s-capped figure holding a compass. It also mentions Columbus’s recent discoveries, which had first appeared in print in his letter to Ferdinand and Isabella of 1493, reprinted by Bergmann, Brant’s Basel publisher, in 1494. The verse states that Ptolemy, Pliny and Varro were all wrong, and the ‘terra’ that was previously ‘incognita’ was now revealed; these Western Hesperides now belonged to King Ferdinand. Brant’s new and final poem, ‘De pereuntibus’, deals with the Ottoman threat, and bears a separate t-p with figures engaged in foolish activities and a diagrammatic horoscope. After foreseeing a nefarious planetary conjunction on 2 October 1503, he bemoans the dangers in which Christianity has been cast by the Turks’ ‘irruptio’ and argues for the support of the Emperor Maximilian in his fight against them. A lavishly illustrated important work and a fascinating edition.

PMM 37 (1494 ed.); Goff B1090; HC 3750*; ISTC ib01090000; Alden 497/5; Church 13 (first Latin ed. of March 1497); Harrisse, Additions, 5 (first Latin ed. of March 1497). Not in BMC XV or Sabin. Göllner does not mention it in the C15 section of his introduction.


Print This Item Print This Item

MONTENAY, Georgette de.


Stamm buch, darinnen Christlicher tugenden beyspiel/einhundert ausserlesener emblemata.

Frankfurt am Main, John Charles Unckel, 1619.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. 447 (i). Roman letter, with Gothic and Italic. Engraved architectural t-p with female allegorical figures, half-page engraved portrait of the author, 100 half-page engraved emblems, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p slightly dusty, backed, light marginal spotting, the odd mark. A good copy in (C18?) morocco, rebacked, original spine onlaid, double and triple blind tooled to a panel design with floral borders, raised bands, spine blind-tooled and gilt-lettered, inner edges gilt, a.e.g., richly gauffered to a floral design (C17).

A good copy, with handsome gilt and gauffered edges, of the first polyglot edition, printed in Germany, of this famous C16 emblem book by the Calvinist Georgette de Montenay—’the very first realisation in the immense field of religious emblems’ (Choné, ‘Lorraine’, 19) and the first emblem book to use engravings instead of woodcuts. Though married to a Catholic, Georgette (1540-81) was associated with Jeanne d’Albret, the Protestant queen of Navarre. This work was first published in French as ‘Emblemes ou devises chrestiennes’ in 1567-71; in the dedication to the Queen, the author called them ‘the first Christian emblems’. In 1584, it was published in Latin in Zurich and reprinted in Heidelberg in 1602. In the present polyglot edition—the title of which is recorded in several of the languages it features—the 8-line verse accompanying each emblem is presented in German, English (not very good), Dutch, French (from the first edition), Latin (from the 1584 edition), Spanish and Italian. At the end of each section a page is left blank to host the autographs of acquaintances, turning the book into an ‘album amicorum’ or ‘stamm buch’, as explained in the title. The superb 100 engraved allegorical emblems were produced by Peter Woeiriot and pulled from the original plates. Montenay ‘stands at the beginning of the line of Christian and at first specifically Protestant emblem books in France’, assuming a Protestant identity through ‘outspoken attacks on the papacy’ and ‘her association of evil with the representatives of Catholicism’ (Adams, ‘Webs’, 9-10).

 SMU, Delaware and Trinity College copies recorded in the US.

Praz, Studies, p. 431 (1571 French ed.); BerlinCat 4516 (1584 Latin ed.); Landwehr, German Emblem Books, 445. Not in BL STC Ger. C17 or Brunet. A. Adams, Webs of Allusion: French Protestant Emblem Books of the 16th Century (Geneva, 2003); P. Choné, ‘Lorraine and Germany’, in The German-Language Emblem in Its European Context, ed. A. Harper et al. (Glasgow, 2000), 1-22.


Print This Item Print This Item

CALEPINUS, Ambrosius.


Linguarum novem […] Dictionarium.

Leiden, A. Commelinus, [1654].


FIRST EDITION thus. Small 4to. 2 parts in 1, separate t-p to each, pp. (viii) 628. Roman and Italic letter, little Gothic, Greek, Hebrew and Greek, double column. First engraved t-p with Fame as angel playing trumpet with small map of Europe and North Africa (plate inverted), second t-p in red and black with woodcut printer’s device, woodcut initials and ornaments. First t-p very slightly dusty, intermittent faint marginal water stain to couple of gatherings, a handful of pages a bit browned, very small ink splash to fore-edge of couple of gatherings, tear to blank fore-edge of first 3O2 and lower outer corner (blank) of 4T1, tiny ink burn to first 4F3 touching one letter, little worm hole to fore-edge of first 4H4-second I4. A very good copy in contemporary German calf, traces of ties, tripled blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with rolls of palmettes in blind, raised bands, spine triple blind ruled, title gilt to spine, extremities worn, spine and joints bit cracked. Modern bookplate to front pastedown, early ex-libris of D.(?) Massel to first t-p.

Finely bound, very good copy of the first edition of this scarce, abridged version, in no less than nine languages, of the most influential early modern polyglot dictionary. This is variant A, with the imprint ‘in Bibliopolo’ (Jones, ‘German Lexicography’, 261). Ambrogio Calepino (1440-1510) was an Italian lexicographer renowned for his Latin dictionary of 1502; known as ‘il Calepino’, it was reprinted dozens of times in the course of the C16. Despite the changed ‘intellectual climate’ beginning from the second half of the C16, ‘with vernacular languages throughout Europe conspiring to defeat the humanists’ project and make classical Latin an irredeemably foreign language to all, Calepino’s dictionary became the main translation dictionary in use’ (Moss, ‘Renaissance Truth’, 24), especially thanks to the subsequent enlargements by sundry European scholars, which turned it into a polyglot dictionary featuring up to 13 languages.3 This 1654 Leiden edition included additions by Jean Passerat (1534-1602), the successor of Ramus to the professorship of Latin at the Collège de France, and was edited by Cornelis Schrevel (1608-64), professor at Leiden and author of a Latin-Greek lexicon. Extremely successful thanks to its portable format, it features definitions in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, German, Spanish, English and Flemish. The preface remarks indeed that ‘the weight of the original work, and the crowding of the numerous examples, had become very confusing, and made reading tedious’. In layout, format and content, Schrevel’s edition made it a more useable instrument for private study. A solid reference work in a handsome binding.

Pettegree & Wasby, Netherlandish Books, 6393; Sommervogel 186:7; Graesse I, 15. W.J. Jones, German Lexicography in the European Context (Berlin, 2000); A. Moss, Renaissance Truth and the Latin Language Turn (Oxford, 2003).


Print This Item Print This Item





PETRARCA, Francesco.


Il Petrarcha con l’espositione d’Alessandro Vellutello.

Venice, Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari e Fratelli, 1552.


4to. ff. (viii) 216. Text in Italic, commentary surrounding in Roman. Architectural woodcut t-p with caryatids, putti, cornucopiae and printer’s device, full-page woodcut map of Vaucluse, 6 ¼-page vignettes of the Trionfi, woodcut device to last leaf, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p slightly dusty and trimmed, small hole affecting imprint, minor loss to lower outer blank corners of Q8 and 2D2 and fore-edge of last, handful of light marginal ink splashes, a little finger-marked. A very good copy in C18 sprinkled calf, marbled eps, C19 reback, double gilt ruled, raised bands, spine gilt with gilt monogram of Duke of Devonshire at head, edges sprinkled red, joints bit rubbed. Bookplate of Chatsworth Library to front pastedown, couple of C16 Italian marginalia.

Handsome edition—from the great collection of the Dukes of Devonshire—with intriguing marginalia referring to the ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum’. It was edited by Alessandro Vellutello (b.1473), one of the greatest C16 commentators of vernacular authors whose work on Petrarch, first published in 1525, rivalled that of Pietro Bembo and Lodovico Dolce. This edition includes Petrarch’s ‘Sonnets and Songs’ (newly subdivided into three parts) and ‘Trionfi’. Vellutello was very critical of the Aldine edition, proposing a reorganisation of the sonnets according to a narrative based on chronological and biographical information. The ‘Trionfi’ were illustrated with six exquisite allegorical woodcuts; that of Fama reprised the design of its counterpart in the 1490 Venetian edition. These and the other superb illustrations, including a full-page map of Vaucluse drawn by Vellutello after two visits to Avignon, were the same used for the first Giolito edition of 1544. ‘This map […] struck the phantasy of the Petrarchists of the Cinquecento. It reappears, in one form or another, in twenty of the hundred-odd editions of the “Canzoniere” published in the next hundred years’ (Wilkins, ‘Vellutello’s Map’, 277). The map, together with a life of the poet and a brief essay on the identity of Laura and her place of origin, were new additions intended to assist the reader—‘hugely influential in satisfying the taste for both Petrarch’s poetry […] and details of his life and Laura’s’ (Trapp, ‘Petrarchan Places’, 4).

The contemporary annotator of this copy was interested in the philology of the Petrarchan sonnets: e.g., he glossed ‘E quei, che del suo sangue’ with ‘E quel’—a less frequent variant. He also marked the notorious four ‘Babylonian sonnets’ as ‘sospesi’ (‘suspended’) from publication. In them, the ‘avaricious Babylon’ stands as a harsh critique of the Avignonese schismatic church. Much admired by Protestants, three were added (without title) to the Roman Index of 1559, as they featured in Vergerio’s notorious (and prohibited) anti-Catholic pamphlet of 1555 (Stallybrass, ‘Petrarch’, 588-93). Whilst the ‘Canzoniere’ as such was never prohibited, the three sonnets, plus a fourth, were eventually listed individually in the Roman Index of 1590. The marginalia were thus probably added by an early reader (Inquisitors would have removed or inked over the text) after 1590.

Nebraska, Illinois and Cornell copies recorded in the US.

Catalogue of the library at Chatsworth III, p.195; Fiske Pet N 552a; Brunet IV, 550 (1547 imprint); BM STC It., p.505; Annali dei Giolito I, 356; Sander II, 962 (1547 ed.). E.H. Wilkins, ‘Vellutello’s Map of Vaucluse’, Modern Philology 29 (1932), 275-80; J.B. Trapp, ‘Petrarchan Places’, JWCI 69 (2006), 1-50; P. Stallybrass, ‘Petrarch and Babylon’, in For the Sake of Learning, ed. A. Blair et al. (Leiden, 2016), 581-601. 


Print This Item Print This Item

KÖNIG, Georg Matthias.


Bibliotheca vetus et nova.

Altdorf, impensis W. Mauritii & hæredum J. A. Endterorum, typis H. Meyeri, 1678.


FIRST EDITION. Small folio in 6s. pp. (xii) 888. Roman letter, little Italic, occasional Greek. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, woodcut initials. Typeset area browned in a few places (poor paper not properly dried), marginal spotting to last two ll., occasionally elsewhere. A very good copy in contemporary sprinkled calf, triple gilt ruled, ornate gilt monogram CJ surmounted by ducal coronet to corners, gilt armorial centrepiece of the Duc de Montausier to covers, raised bands, spine gilt with CJ monograms and gilt-lettered, a.e.r., corners worn, spine repaired at head and foot. Early ms. casemarks and ‘Portal’ to front pastedown, and verso of half-title, the odd early annotation.

Grandly bound with the arms of Charles de Sainte-Maure, Duc de Montausier (1610-90) and his wife, Julie d’Angennes (1607-71). Appointed governor of Louis XIV’s son, he oversaw the creation of the collected editions ‘ad usum Delphini’; he famously commissioned a lavishly bound manuscript collection of poems composed by renowned authors, in honour of his fiancée. First published in 1678, the ‘Bibliotheca’—a universal bio-bibliographical dictionary listing 25,000 authors, from the Creation to 1678—was compiled by Georg Mathias König (1616-99), professor of history, orientalist and librarian at Altdorf. He listed alphabetically, within a single volume, the names, short biographies and significant works of major Jewish, Chaldean, Syrian, Arabic, Persian, Egyptian, Greek and Latin authors in numerous disciplines, including theology, poetry, medicine, philosophy, history and geography. Unlike its most illustrious predecessor and the first of its genre—Gesner’s ‘Bibliotheca universalis’ (1545)—it was not circumscribed to printed material, and encompassed Arabic languages. Although entries were of varying length and quality, which caused a mixed critical reception, ‘Bibliotheca’ was one of the earliest, most portable and comprehensive biblio-biographical dictionaries yet produced. Konig presented it as an instrument to be used ‘to satisfy erudite curiosity, to provide a blueprint for the creation of private or public libraries, or to help editors choose which works to publish’ (Serrai, ‘Storia’, 18). It remained indeed a frequent presence in the libraries of major European collectors, including Richard Heber and the Earl of Sussex, well into the C19.

Serrai, Storia della bibliografia, pp.15-19; Besterman 331, 2121. Not in BL STC Ger. C17, Brunet or Graesse.


Print This Item Print This Item

[FRANZINI, Girolamo].


Las cosas maravillosas de la S. Ciudad de Roma.

Rome, por Girolamo Francino: por Alessandro Gardane & Francesco Coattino, 1589.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. (xvi) 260. Roman letter, little Italic. T-p in red and black with small woodcut view of Rome, allegorical figure and arms of Sixtus V, 103 half-page woodcuts of Roman monuments, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p a bit dusty, thumb marks to a few ll., a little marginal spotting. A very good copy in polished calf by Hering, rebacked with onlaid spine, double gilt ruled, border of tendrils with large fleurons to corners in blind, gilt arms of William Stirling Maxwell to upper board, joints and extremities a bit rubbed, ffep and fly detaching. Armorial label of Charles Brooke to front pastedown, William Stirling Maxwell and binder to ffep, bookplates of J.B. and Michael Bury to rear fep, another of Stirling to rear pastedown.

Scarce first edition in Castilian of this early illustrated guide to Rome. Born in Brescia, Girolamo Franzini (1537-96) moved to Rome, retaining business connections with Venice, to work as a printer and publisher. He specialised in the production of works on the city of Rome and its monuments, from 1588. ‘The history of his publishing house was crucial for the development of a specific type of Roman guidebook’ (Schudt, ‘Guide’, 32). ‘Las cosas maravillosas’ was a translation of his ‘Le cose maravigliose dell’alma città di Roma’ (Venice, 1588), of which it reprised the woodcuts, with a few additions to the text. Probably cut by Franzini himself, the illustrations depict ‘extremely schematically drawn monuments’, with a simplicity which ‘imitates images of sculpture and architecture on ancient coins’ (Tschudi, ‘Baroque Antiquity’, 55). Catering for the international market of religious pilgrimage, it explained how to see the major sights of Rome, the parishes and antiquities, including obelisks and columns. For the pilgrims, it included a list of churches functioning as stations for indulgences and a treatise on ‘the way to earn the indulgence at the stations’. For tourists, it provided a three-day sightseeing programme, since ‘for those who wish to see the marvellous antiquities of Rome it is necessary to proceed in an orderly fashion, not doing like those who look at one thing and then another, and eventually leave having seen only half’. The last part includes useful factual information like chronological lists of popes and emperors, of parishes and confraternities, and a brief survey of the customs of ancient Rome.

No copies recorded in the US.

Schudt, Guide di Roma, 163; Wilkinson, Iberian Books, 9197. Not in Fowler, BM STC It., Berlin Cat or Palau. V.P. Tschudi, Baroque Antiquity (New York, 2017).


Print This Item Print This Item





Orationes sex, sex presbyterorum societatis Iesu.

Milan, ex officina typographica haer. Pacifico Da Ponte, 1598.


FIRST EDITION, second issue. 4to. pp. (viii) 69 (iii). Roman letter. Large woodcut device of Society of Jesus to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight, mainly marginal, spots or marks to a handful of ll., fore-edges untrimmed and a little dusty, minor paper flaw to lower outer blank corner of F1. A very good, largely uncut, copy in modern wrappers, the odd early ink doodle.

Scarce Japonicum—including an account of the famous Japanese Tenshō embassy and its introduction to the Pope. This is the second issue, the first dated 1597 on the t-p. This copy was probably never bound in anything else but paper wrappers; with its untrimmed fore-edge and partly crudely cut lower edge, it looks just as it would have done then, fresh from the press. Dating from 1585-95, the six orations, on subjects spanning papal funerals and theology, include one delivered by Gaspare Consalvi—only published in this edition—on the arrival of the Tenshō embassy in Rome in 1585. First planned by the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano and headed by the nobleman Mancio Itō, it was sent by the Christian Lord Ōtomo Sōrin in 1582. In the course of eight years, it visited Portugal, Spain and Italy, meeting Philip II, Francesco de’ Medici, Pope Gregory XIII and, after his death in the same year as the oration was written, Sixtus V. Consalvi’s oration introduced the legation to Gregory XIII remarking on the distance separating Japan and Rome, on the cultural differences, but also on the religious devotion of those new, remote Catholics. A scarce, important text.  

No copies recorded in the US.

USTC 832514; Sommervogel I, 64; Pagès, Bib. Japonaise, 24. Not in Cordier, Bib. Japonica, Brunet or BM STC It.


Print This Item Print This Item




Sergius vel capitis caput.

[Leipzig, in aedibus Valentin Schumann, 1520].


Small 4to. 12 unnumbered ll., A-B6. Roman letter, little Greek. Woodcut ornament with Leipzig arms to t-p. Slight age browning, minor tear to upper edge of t-p and small hole just touching two letters, light water stain and minor fraying to first outer blank margin, verso of couple of ll. dust-soiled, outer blank margin of last seven ll. trimmed. Disbound with traces of sewing, first five ll. with extensive contemporary annotations.

Interesting annotated copy of this famous anti-Catholic satirical play. Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522) was a German humanist, and one of the earliest scholars of Greek in Germany, trained at Paris and Basel; he was known for his theories of Greek pronunciation. Having fled to Heidelberg after the death of his patron, Count Eberhard of Württenberg, he gained the position of tutor to the children of Philip, Count Palatine of the Rhine. His sister’s grandson was the Protestant Philip Melanchthon, with whom he fell out after the Reformation. Despite his Catholicism, Reuchlin was critical of aspects of the Roman Church like the frequently debatable behaviour of monks and the commerce of false relics—the subject of this play. First published in 1504 and much reprinted, ‘Sergius’ marked ‘the beginning of Neo-Latin comedy in Germany’ (Dall’Asta, ‘Lateinische Drama’, 14). Its title refers to Sergius/Bahira, a Nestorian monk of the 6th century—and the narrative persona of Reuchlin’s adversary, the Augustinian Conrad Holzinger—who prophesized to Muhammad his glorious future. Considered a heretical monk and the inspiration to the Christian content of the Qur’an, he was a frequent presence in Renaissance anti-Islamic writings. In the play, Sergius stands as the heretical monk par excellence—’the chief of the chiefs’ of ‘all lechery […], the head without soul or reason’. The other characters take on the role of social critics following the ancient Roman comic tradition. The contemporary annotator was especially interested in Act I. He studiously noted information on Reuchlin on the t-p, and appears to have been studying the text as a fine example of Neo-Latin prose. He glossed it with interlinear and marginal notes on metrics (linked to debates on Neo-Latin poetry), figures of speech, synonyms and references to Quintilian and the work of contemporary scholars like Jacob Spiegel, close to Protestant humanist circles.

No copies recorded in the US.

USTC 669227; BM STC Ger., p. 733 (not this edition). Not in Graesse. M. Dall’Asta, ‘“Histrionum exercitus et scommata”’, in Das lateinische Drama der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. R.F. Glei and R. Seidel (Tubingen, 2008), 13-30.


Print This Item Print This Item



Moralia sive expositio in Job.

Venice, Andreas Torresanus, de Asula, 11 Apr. 1496.


Folio. ff. (xv) 327, lacking a1 (blank except title ‘Moralia Sancti Gregorii Pape Super Job’) and I8 (blank). Gothic letter, double column. Outer margin of a2-3 and lower blank margin of I7 repaired, light water stain to upper blank margin of early ll., a few small, scattered, mainly marginal worm holes, intermittent marginal foxing in places, occasional ms. marginalia and image, few scattered ink spots, upper margin of I7 strengthened, early ms note on lower. A very good, generally clean copy, on thick paper, in polished C17 calf, C18 reback in straight-grained morocco, marbled eps, raised bands, spine double gilt ruled, gilt-lettered morocco labels, scattered worm holes at head and foot of spine, extremities a bit rubbed. Bookplate of George Fletcher to ffep, occasional early marginalia.

This edition—‘rigorous […] with a handsome Gothic typeface’—is included among those ‘of priceless value according to the unanimous opinion of bibliographers’ produced by the Torresani two years after Manutius had left, on amicable terms, to set up his own press  (Bernoni, ‘Dei Torresani’, 79, n.89). This was also the penultimate edition of the C15. From a Patrician Roman family, Gregory (504-604AD) served as prefect, the highest office in Rome, before deciding to devote his life to the Christian church. Albeit keen on monastic meditation, he was, for his talents in diplomacy and administration, elected pope. He famously organised the first systematic mission to Britain, including Augustine of Canterbury, to convert the Anglo-Saxons. ‘Moralia’ was written during his diplomatic stay at the court of Tiberius II in Constantinople, and it was completed after his papal appointment. His major work, ‘Moralia’ is also one of the longest Western theological texts. It is a monumental commentary on moral questions raised in the book of Job—addressed in their historical, moral, allegorical and typological sense—Job being interpreted as a prefiguration of Christ and of the persecuted Church. ‘Encyclopaedic and synoptic, it is a cornucopia brimming with odd bits of information about the natural world, medicine, human nature, and society mixed unpredictably with sober analyses of guilt and sin, disquisitions on Christology, and reflections on the Church’s place in the world, along with the unfolding of Job’s story’—a manual for Christian life (Straw, ‘Job’s Sin’, 72-73). The sparse annotator of this copy glossed two sections as ‘allegoria’ and ‘moralitas’. Handsome, fresh copy of one of the most influential theological works.

BMC V 312; Goff G433; HC 7933*; GW 11435; Bernoni 89; Renouard 19:1. C. Straw, ‘Job’s Sin in the Moralia of Gregory the Great’, in A Companion to Job in the Middle Ages, ed. T.F. Harkins (Leiden, 2016), 71-100.


Print This Item Print This Item