CICERO, Marcus Tullius [with] APHTHONUIS, Sophista 

CICERO, Marcus Tullius [with] APHTHONIUS, Sophista Philippicae [with] Praeexercitamenta Fabula

London, R. Pynson, 1520-1


8vo. Two works in one. (1) ff. 137 (i.e. 138, misnumbered). Roman letter. Title within elaborate woodcut architectural border (McKerrow & Ferguson 9a) ‘a compartment with two boys at upper corners; fanciful pillars at sides; below two men supporting a shield…in solid black’. The same border, with Pynson’s device in shield, repeated on verso of final leaf. Large, 9-line, white on black floriated initials at the start of each section. Faint, mostly marginal dampstaining to the first couple of quires. A few near-contemporary ms marginalia, explaining vocabulary. Contemp. Latin ex libris of ‘Johannes May’ and ‘James Dodwell’ on t-p recto, on verso early ink drawing of two-headed man (Janus?) in a hat, a creature emanating from one mouth, contemp. ms in two hands beneath, the first noting acquisition of the volume, the second elaborating. (2) 24 unnumbered ll (a-c8). Roman letter. Title within elaborate woodcut border (McKerrow & Ferguson 1) ‘a compartment of floral scrolls’, cornflowers and daisies. Large and small white on black floriated initials at the start of each section. Contemp. schoolboy’s Latin acquisition note and pen portrait of Dodwell to verso of t-p. Mostly faint, entirely marginal dampstain throughout. Copious Latin and English jottings in contemp. English hand to verso of final leaf: ‘liber domini Dodwell’, ‘liber domini caverham’, ‘in the name of the father of the sonne and the holy ghost’. Light age-yellowing. Very good copies in early limp vellum, recased, C19 eps.

The first editions printed in England of both texts. Two exceptionally rare schoolboy editions of Cicero and Aphthonius, by the renowned printer Richard Pynson. Any note on Pynson is really surplasage. He was the worthiest of Caxton’s successors, printing works of the highest standard and finest execution, unusually favouring Roman type, many of Caxton’s publications were his work typographically. The King’s Printer, initially focused on law, he was one of the first English printers to publish Classical texts. The common ownership inscriptions indicate that these works were first acquired at the same time, and have been together ever since.

1) Pocket edition of Cicero’s 14 speeches condemning Mark Anthony in 44 and 43BC. These speeches played an uncomfortable role in Cicero’s downfall after the formation of the second triumvirate, which included Mark Anthony. After a period on the run, Cicero was eventually tracked down and murdered. They were highly valued amongst schoolmasters exemplars of both Latin and rhetoric.

2) First English edition of the Praeexercitamenta of Aphthonius, the elusive 4th century Greek sophist and rhetorician, a collection of short compositions on various topics designed for philosophical study, edited by Gentian Hervet. Beginning with the definition of narration, there follow i.a. discourses on roses, Thucydides, Hector and Achilles, and definitions of oratorical devices – sententia, confutations, laudations, accusations, allocutions, et al.

It has not been possible to identify the former owners. There is a John May of a credible date (d. 1598 – DNB), who was bishop of Carlisle, pleading poverty to save himself from taking his seat in the House. A James Dodwell was a 16th century Oxford woollen draper who rose to the position of Bailiff on Oxford Council.

We have not located any copy of either work in North America. In the British Isles they are recorded only at the BL and Cambridge UL, the latter both imperfect. Index Aureliensis adds none in Europe.

1) STC 5311. Lowndes 462. Not in Ames.2) STC 699. Lowndes 55. Not in Ames.

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