CICERO, Marcus Tullius
Epistole famigliariVenice, Paolo Manuzio, 1554-1555
8vo, ff. 319, . Italic letter; large printer’s device on title and, within floral border with putti, on last; occasionally lightly age yellowed, light damp stain to lower gutter of a few central gatherings. A very good copy in contemporary rustic limp vellum, contemporary title inked on spine; pasted stubs from fourteenth-century ms, remains of ties; slightly worn; contemporary ex libris of ‘Pompeo del Capellan’ at foot of final verso and couple of marginalia in his hand; inscriptions, drawings and scribbles, partly faint, by other contemporary hands on front and rear endpapers and flys and formerly on covers.
An interesting copy of the earliest influential Italian translation of a masterpiece of Latin literature, first published by the Aldine press in 1545. The translator, Guido Logli from Reggio, was a man of letters in service of the Farnese family and acted as agent of Paolo Manuzio in contracting the publication of some works of Annibal Caro and Girolamo Ruscelli. This edition is part of the ambitious plan pursued by Paolo Manuzio to provide his readership with the complete works of Cicero not only in Latin, but also the Italian vernacular.
The vast corpus of Ciceronian Epistolae and Orationes was for a long time used as foundation texts in early modern schools. Indeed, this copy bears an inscription of the otherwise unknown ‘Pompeo de’ Capellan’, written in a childish hand and employing Venetian dialect (‘Questo libro siè de mi’). The other inscriptions, scribbles and drawings – some only visible under UV lamp – by Pompeo or slightly later students comprise try-outs of Latin alphabet, a passage from the prayer to Virgin Mary (‘sancta Maria ora pro nobis’) and a formal address for a letter in Italian vernacular (‘Al Mag.co sig.or Manoli amico et come patron mio sempre osser[vantissimo]’). A charming Italian Renaissance school-book.BM STC It., 179; Adams, C 1985; Graesse, II, 185; Renouard, 161:16; Fontanini, I, 233-234.