CATULLUS, Gaius Valerius, TIBULLUS, Albius, PROPERTIUS, Sextus. [with] LUCANUS.


CATULLUS, Gaius Valerius, TIBULLUS, Albius, PROPERTIUS, Sextus. [with] LUCANUS. Tibullus. Propertius. [with] [Pharsalia].

Venice, in aedibus Aldo Manuzio, I: January 1502, II: April 1502.


8vo. 2 vols in 1. I: first issue with ‘Propetius’ uncorrected on t-p, replacement t-p, corrected, at rear. 3 parts in one, 44 unnumbered ll., A-E8 F4; 36 unnumbered ll., A-D8 E4; 72 unnumbered ll., a-i8. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Small ink smudge and hole to blank section of title, affecting couple of words to verso, light age yellowing. II: 132 unnumbered ll., a-r8, s4. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Handsome copies in slightly later Italian (likely Bolognese) goatskin, lacking ties, double blind ruled, outer blind roll of interlacing vine leaves, central panel with (front) small gilt-stamped ivy leaves to corners and ‘CAT. TIB. PROP. LVCA’ gilt to centre, and (rear) identical gilt leaves to corners and gilt-stamped sun to centre, raised bands, compartments double blind-ruled, traces of paper label at head, a.e.g. (oxydised), minor expert restoration to head and foot of spine, and corners. Ms Latin ex-libris of Xanthe (Santi) Voconius to first title, two additional ms annotations in his hand to penultimate leaf of first part (Italian verse) and last of second part (Latin quotation from Pontanus), his occasional ms marginalia throughout.

The charming binding was probably produced in Bologna c.1530-40 by the Pflug and Ebeleben binder. To that workshop are also attributed two bindings at the Bib. dell’Archiginnasio (16.i.III.7, 4.Q.V.27), which share the same blind roll of vine leaves, a typically Bolognese motif. The early owner, Sante Voconio, is indeed recorded at Bologna in the 1530s. His vernacular literary skills – of which we have a rare ms example in this copy (‘Quand’io veggio la terra / Vestir dinuovo in falda un bianco’…) – were commended by the Italian scholar Claudio Tolomei (1492-1556) in his printed correspondence. Although he offered to facilitate the printing of Voconio’s works, nothing has apparently survived.

Very good copy of this Aldine first edition (first issue) of the poems of Catullus, Tibullus and Propertius—the three most important elegiac authors of the late Roman republic and early imperial era. ‘The ed. Of 1502 was composed by Aldus and Aavantius; the former wrote the preface, the latter the epistle, at the end of Catullus, to Marino Sanudo, a Venetian nobleman’ (Dibdin). First printed by Wendelin of Speyer in Venice in 1472, Catullus, Propertius and Tibullus’s poems revealed a new poetic feeling rejecting the heroic character of the epic tradition in favour of a more familiar tone and intimate subjects like love, erotic desire, rejection and mourning. Catullus’s (84-54BC) ‘carmina’, 116 of which are extant, include verse on his love and desire for ‘Lesbia’, and lampoons against public figures like Julius Caesar. Tibullus’ (55-19BC) verse survives in four books, only the first two of which are of safe attribution, and is mostly devoted to his intense and star-crossed love for the married ‘Delia’. Propertius (c.50-15BC) enjoyed the protection of Maecenas and Augustus and is most famous for his four books of poems, many written for his beloved ‘Cynthia’. This ‘elegiac collection’ format was successfully republished in Europe throughout the century. Bound together is a copy of the first Aldine edition of ‘Pharsalia’, an epic poem by the 1st-century Roman author Lucan on the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, a complex blend of fiction and historical reality. This ed. is ‘formed chiefly on the Venetian one of 1493, with the commentaries of Sulpitius; but Aldus in his preface mentions some corrections wich are made from an ancient and valuable ms. communicated to him by Mauroceno, to whom he dedicates the work’ (Dibdin).

I: Renouard 39:16; Brunet I, 1677: ‘Édition dont les beaux exemplaires sont rares et recherchés’; Dibdin I, 72; Ahmanson-Murphy 52. II: Ahmanson-Murphy 56; Renouard 33:3; Dibdin I, p.238. L. Simeoni, Storia della università di Bologna: L\\\\\\\'età moderna, 1500-1888 (1947).