Diversorum veterum poetarum in Priapum lusus.

Venice, in aedibus haer. Aldo I Manuzio & haer. Andrea I Torresano, 1534.


8vo. ff. 79 (i). Italic letter, little Roman. Printer’s device to t-p and last. Marginal foxing to a couple of ll., paper flaw to lower outer blank corner of fol. 12, verso of last a little bit soiled. A fine, clean copy in slightly later polished calf, single gilt ruled border, gilt acorns to corners, outer and inner edges with rolls of fronds and fleurons, a.e.g. Rebacked, spine with large gilt fleurons, some minor repair to extremities. Bookseller’s label and printed ex-libris to front pastedown, earlier shelfmark ‘7 B 22’ to fep.

A fine, clean copy of a famous collection of pseudo-Virgilian poems followed by ‘argumenta’ (or short verse commentaries), first printed by Aldus in 1517. Believed in antiquity to be the work of young Virgil and later attributed to a circle of poets from the first century AD, these compositions included the racy ‘Priapeia’, the ‘Appendix Virgiliana’ and ‘Aetna’. The ‘Priapeia’ was a florilegium of 95 compositions dedicated to the god of fertility Priapus. It featured bespoke verse and alleged epigraphs found on votive statues for the ‘Rigid God’, which allowed readers to peep through the secret prayers and offers of worshippers—including young women praying for their husband’s virility and toothless matrons ‘older than Hector’s mother’. Within the ‘Appendix Virgiliana’ were some of the most unconventional poems of late Latinitas, like ‘Culex’—a shepherd’s dream of a gnat he had killed who tells him about the underworld—and ‘Moretum’, which narrates a poor man’s preparation of his meal. ‘Aetna’ was devoted to the namesake Sicilian volcano, with scientific observations, vivid descriptions and anecdotal digressions.

Rénouard 110:1; Brunet II, 772; Bernoni 310:328; Gay III, 848; BM STC It., p. 539.


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