CHRYSOSTOM, St. John
DE THOU À LA GRECQUE
Aliquot orationes [with] (2) Logos peri praot tos. De mansuetudine seu clementia oratio [with] (3) episcopi adversus eos qui castigationes aegra ferunt, oratio [with] (4) de Non contemnenda Dei Ecclesia et mysteriis [with] (5) de orando Deo, orationes duae(1) Basle, Per Ioannem Oporinum, 1552, (2)+(3) Paris, apud Jean Bienné, 1570, (4) Paris, apud Jean Bienné, 1576, (5) Paris, apud Jean Bienné, 1579
8vo. Five works in one. 1) pp. [xvi], 95 [i], 203, [xxi]. 2) two parts in one pp. 29 [iii] [last blank]: pp. 14 [ii] last blank. 3) pp. 32. 4) pp. 24. 5) pp. 75 [v] last two ll. blank. The last four works bound between the first and second parts of the first. Greek and Roman letter, some Italic. Bienné’s woodcut device on the second and third vols, De Thou’s autograph shelf mark ‘no. 232’ on pastedown, C18th engraved arms on rear pastedown with the insignia of the Order du St. Esprit, Later inscription in Greek on title page translates as “The sacred property of Andritsaina – a gift of Agathophron Nicholopolou”, Index in an early hand (de Thou’s son?) on rear fly. Light age yellowing, single wormhole in lower blank margin. A fine copy in exceptional contemporary French red morocco, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, the first, bachelor, arms of De Thou gilt at centre (Guigard II p. 450), spines with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments with De Thou’s monogram gilt at centres, double head and tail bands ‘alla Greca’, all edges gilt.
A most interesting Sammelband of Greek texts of St. Chrysostom, with their latin translations, including four very rare editions by the Parisian printer Jean Bienné, very finely bound for the extraordinary library of Jaques Auguste De Thou. De Thou (1553-1617) decided to unite these texts in one volume, ingeniously placing the Greek works first followed by the Latin translations at the end. It is possible that some of the earlier editions of the works were his as a student and he decided to have them bound as a collection later, adding more works to the collection. He certainly treasured this volume having it bound in the finest red morocco, with slightly raised headbands in a nod to earlier ‘alla Greca’ bindings. The orations of St. Chrysostom would have appealed to him particularly, as a statesman, in the troubled times of the civil wars in France when this book was bound, as St Chrysostom is especially admired in his preaching and public speaking, for his denunciation of the abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders. De Thou also owned an important early manuscript of St. Chryssthom’s Homilys. De Thou’s history of his own times in France, his “Historiarum sui temporis libri CXXXVIII”, which covered a period up to 1607, tried to be as impartial and as accurate as possible, but lead inevitably to his own downfall. His impartiality lead him to being accused of accommodating heresy, in failing to condemn all Protestants, and was overlooked for promotion to the office of Premier président of the Parlement. He drew much of the material for his History from his extraordinary library, which he eventually established permanently in the Rue des Poitevins in 1587, with the two brothers, Pierre and Jacques Dupuy, as librarians. He is now remembered as the possessor of this celebrated library which, in accordance with his wishes, was kept for years after his death not only intact but freely available to scholars: it was not finally dispersed until 1788. He was the most discerning and fastidious French collector of his age. His library was preserved by his sons until 1679 when it was bought in its entirety by Jean-Jacques Charron, Marquis de Menard who had it catalogued and this vol appears on P.31 of that catalogue. It must have been an early addition to his library. Although the nucleus formed by de Thou was relatively small, c. 8,000 books and 1,000 MSS., they were all exceptionally well chosen and beautifully bound. “Sa reputation est due moins au nombres et à l’ornementation des volumes qu’à ce choix exquis d’ouvrages ou le savant, le lettré et le collectionneur se révélait tout entier” Guigard.
This volume was later owned by the Greek Humanist, composer, archeologist, and philologist Konstantinos Agathophron Nikolopoulos (Greek , 1786 – 1841) who donated it, along with the rest his library, to the town of Andritsaina, where his family originated. His collection comprised many rare 16th- and 17th-century manuscripts and editions, in Greek and other languages, important documents from the period of the Greek War of Independence, rich folklore material, and created the foundations for the celebrated library in Andritsaina, named in his honour.1) Adams C 1568 2) Adams C1549. USTC 116632 Renouard, Imprimeurs Parisiens du C16th, III 636. 3) Adams G1114. Renouard, III 632. 4) Adams C1550 Renouard,, III 681. 5) Adams C1554. Renouard, III 699.