CICERO, Marcus Tullius.

THE ASHBURNHAM COPY – HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY BINDING

CICERO, Marcus Tullius. Rhetoricorum ad C. Herennium libri IIII.

Venice, Aldo I. Manuzio, 1546

£2,950.00

8vo. 179 (i). Italic letter. Woodcut Aldine device to tp and verso of last. Very light water stains to lower outer corners, paper flaw to lower outer corner of K3 and K8 (repaired). A very good copy in contemporary olive morocco, double gilt ruled, cornerpieces and lozenge centrepiece gilt to an arabesque design with fleurons, spine double gilt ruled in three compartments, gilt ropework and large fleuron to each, rebacked early 1800s, gilt lettering, aeg. Early casemark in red ink to front pastedown, C17/18 ownership inscription ‘Sum Johannes Paravicinus à capell. Rethus’ and Latin riddle ‘Mens pia mens hilaris virtutis et artis amatrix, haw sunt divitiae quas studiosus habet’, C16 inscription ‘Simleri et amicorum’ to blank lower margin of tp, occasional marginalia.

Exquisitely bound copy of Cicero’s Rhetoricorum by the Aldine Press. This copy contains the first of four works in Manutius’s 1546 edition of the Libri Rhetorici. It bears a general tp for the four but each was also titled separately. They are also independently dated, signed and paginated, and they either were purchased separately or together. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) was a Roman politician and lawyer. An increasingly prominent public figure as quaestor and consul during the rule of Sulla and Julius Caesar, he put his legal skills to the service of politics with speeches, like those against Catiline and Mark Antony, which became landmarks of forsenic oratory. Defined by Quintilian as ‘eloquence itself’, his copious prose production occupied a fundamental place in medieval syllabi. This volume features the greatly influential ‘ad Herennium’ by then presented as probably spurious (‘incerto auctore’) as well as ‘De inventione’ and ‘Topica’ (how to construct arguments in structure and content), and the major work of oratory technique (‘De partitione oratoria’).

This copy was at the Ashburham Library sale as part of lot 1110 featuring Paulus Manutius’ editions of Cicero’s works dating 1546-55. They were all bound in ‘contemporary olive morocco, gilt floriate backs, gilt corner ornaments, and centre cartouches, g.e., some copies with autographs of Joannes Pallavicini [sic] et Simleri et amicorum’ (‘Ashburnam Library’, 120). Like a copy of the same edition now at the John Rylands Library (R213653) sold as lot 1109 at the same sale, this copy bears the caremark 14.D inked in red to the front pastedown. Copies of other works in lot 1110 are now probably at the Henry Ransom Centre at Auctin (nos. 373 amd 374a in their Aldine list); dated 1555, they bear the same ownership inscriptions and C16 gilt morocco binding as this copy. The volumes in lot 1110 were probably bound and preserved in Switzerland. The HRC suggests that ‘Simleri at amicorum’ was the ex-libris of the Swiss theologian and classicist Josias Simmler (or Simler), who died in 1576; however, the same ex-libris, dated 1592, is present also in MS B.98 (a chronicle of Bern) at Zurich Central Library. According to Deutsche Biographie, another plausible owner was Josias’s son, Rudolf (1568-1611), physician and professor of logic and rhetoric at Zurich. The Swiss provenance continues with the C17/18 ex libris ‘Johannes Paravincinus…’. ‘Rethus’ was a form of nationalist identification of the Swiss of the Graubünden canton (Retia). This was probably Johan Caspar Paravicini di Capelli (1660-1761), born in Chur in Graubünden, from a noble family originating in the Swiss territory of Valtellina. He was captain of the Graubünden regiment at the service of the Netherlands. In light of this early Swiss provenance, this binding was probably made in Switzerland where French and Italian influences met in elegant simplicity, as in the Geneva bidnings in Hnery Davis Gift, 232 and BL Bookbinding Database Davis 593.

USTC 822282; BM STC It. p. 176; Ahmanson-Murphy 346; Brunet II, 28 (mentioned); Renouard 136:7 ‘elles forment le meilleur Cicérone des Aldes, aussi très rare.’
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