CAESAR, Gaius Iulius

CAESAR, Gaius Julius Commentarii tradotti di latino in volgar lingua

Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1547


8vo, ff. [7], 256 [i.e. 251]. Italic letter, large printer’s device on title and final verso, 5 full-page woodcut illustrations and two double-page maps; very light, mainly marginal foxing and occasional small damsptain to gutter or margins, minor stain to upper edge of ff. 51-52; small clean tear at head of f. 54, not affecting legibility; original paper flaws touching a few letters on f. 245. A good copy in contemporary vellum, recased probably in C19th, contemporary title inked on lower edge, others on spine, a. e. r.; a few tiny wormholes, mainly at spine and rear; early bookplate scratched off front pastedown, early initials ‘LB’ on title.

The best edition of this first Italian translation of a landmark in Western literature, first published in 1512. Caesar’s own account of his military campaigns in Gaul, Spain, Africa, Egypt and the Civil Wars have been a perennial textbook to learn a terse and lively Latin but also proved very successful as a reading for a broader non-learned audience. The first vernacular translation appeared, for obvious reasons, in France and was rapidly followed by a Spanish and German edition. This transposition into the Italian vernacular was made by Agostino Ortica Della Porta, an early sixteenth-century poet from Genoa who also translated Sallust’s works. This accurate edition retains the famous set of illustrations of the 1513 Aldine edition of the original Latin text as well as the additional map of the Iberian peninsula taken from the Giunta edition of 1514 (cf. Mortimer, 96 and Essling, II/1, 1728).

BM STC It., 135; Adams, C 84; Brunet, I, 1461 (l’édition d’Alde ... est la meilleure et la plus recherchée’); Graesse, II, 9; Renouard, 142:10 (‘la meilleure edition de cette traduction’).

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