SIGONIO, Carlo. Fasti consulares, ac triumphi acti [with] In fastos consulares, ac triumphos Romanos commentarius.

Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1556


Folio, ff. 16; ff. 169 (i). Two works in 1, FIRST EDITION of the second. Roman and italic letter, occasional Greek. Printer’s device to both title-pages, historiated woodcut initials and 2 woodcuts of Roman coins in second. Rare Latin marginalia, ms. title to lower edge. Age yellowing to first t-p, small hole to first t-p and next l. slightly affecting edge of printer’s device and a couple of letters, occasional very minor marginal finger soiling and spotting, light waterstain to lower outer corner of f. 161 of second work, ink smudges to verso of final leaf. A good, well-margined copy in C17 half sheep decorated paper boards. Spine single blind ruled in compartments, title label gilt. Bookplate of the Italian mathematician and physicist Sebastiano Canterzani (1734-1818) to front pastedown, two C17 religious stamps with the initials ‘N E’ to first t-p.

A remarkable Aldine edition of Carlo Sigonio’s fundamental work on Roman history, accompanied for the first time by an extensive commentary by the author. Sigonio’s treatise on Roman names is included at the end.

An Italian humanist and historian, Carlo Sigonio (1524-1584) was elected professor of Greek in Modena, his native city, in 1546. Later, he worked as a professor of humanities in Venice, Padua and Bologna. A scholar of Livy and Dionysus of Halicarnassus, Sigonio was already interested in the problem of Roman chronology when, in 1546, a mass of fragments of the monumental Fasti of Augustus was discovered in the Forum Romanorum in Rome. This new epigraphical document of great importance is at the basis of his ‘Fasti Consulares’, a revised list of Roman kings, republican consuls, consular tribunes, censors, dictators and magistri equitum, with the triumphs they had celebrated, from the regal period to Tiberius. Sigonio’s Fasti represents a crucial development to the previous chronologies based only on literary sources, and his “insistence on critical methods for reconstructing the past revolutionized the study of ancient Roman history” (McCuaig). A complete commentary on the Fasti was published in this 1556 edition for the first time, and it is essentially a manual of Roman history.

‘De nominibus Romanorum liber’ is a short but noteworthy treatise on Roman names. It begins with a presentation of the roman system of three names (praenomen, nomen, cognomen); then, it provides a list of all Roman personal and family names with an explanation of their geographical origin and etymological meaning. The etymology of the name Cesar is one of the most fascinating: Sigonio, quoting the grammarian Servius, notes that in the Punic language ‘Caesar’ means elephant, and that this name was originally attributed to a man who killed an elephant during the Punic wars. This interpretation is accompanied by two woodcuts depicting a Roman coin with an elephant and the inscription ‘CAESAR’ on one side, and weapons on the other side.

USTC 856325; BM STC It. p. 626; Adams S1115; Renouard 169:16. McCuaig, William, Carlo Sigonio: The Changing World of the Late Renaissance (Princeton University Press, 2014).
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