INCUNABLE EDITION OF LATIN GRAMMAR IN CONTEMPORARY BINDING
Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1499
FIRST ALDINE EDITION. Folio, pp. (lx) 642. Roman letter, a little Greek. Large initial letter of text in red and blue, rubricated initials thereafter, some text underlining in red and black. Contemporary and early marginalia in several North European hands, occasionally in red, systematic to first 60 pages, one index passage extensive, intermittent throughout. Autograph of Father Labe S.J. 1698, and manuscript inscription of an anonymous Jesuit College 1728, both on recto of first. Three words in tiny hand (directions to binder?) on blank of verso last. Stubs from c. 15th rubricated manuscript on vellum, vellum paste-downs from c. 14th (?) hymnal, decorated initials in red and blue, three line musical notation. Recto of first couple of leaves a bit soiled, marginal finger marks and corner repairs to first gathering and last, water or oil splashes to edges in some places and two pages of text. A good, well-margined, thick paper copy, used but unsophisticated in elaborate blind stamped pigskin over wooden boards, double panelled within two four-line borders, elaborately patterned tooling of various flowers in overall design, strap leather replaced, original brass clasps and hasps, one corner restored.
First Aldine edition of Perottus’ monumental work on the language and literature of classical Rome, in the form of a commentary on Martial’s epigrams. It was the greatest storehouse of linguistic material of its day, and the source-book for generations of Latin writers, including Calepine for his great dictionary. In his long preface, Aldus tells the reader that he sees it as his duty to protect the treasures of literature from the ravages of time. The text is numbered by both page and line so that it can correspond exactly with the comprehensive alphabetical index, the first time this had been done and in fact the invention of a modern scholarly system of reference (see F. Geldner, Inkunabelkunde, p. 69).
The errors found in revision were all listed to help the student. This edition also contains the first use (possibly with the Discorides) of Aldus’ third and most influential Greek type inspired by Marcus Mursurus and engraved by Francesco Griffo. “A massive encyclopaedia of the classical world. Every verse, indeed every word, of Martial’s text was a hook on which Perotti hung a densely woven tissue of linguistic, historical and cultural knowledge.” B. Ogilvie ‘The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe.’
The best early edition of one of the most significant works on antiquity in an impressive contemporary binding.
BMC V 561. Goff P.296. IGI 7428. Renouard 19:2 “Première édition d’une grande rareté”. Brunet IV 505 “Livre fort rare”.