HERMOGENES Ars Oratoria absolutissima

Geneva, Petrum Aubertum, 1614


8vo., pp (xvi) 568 (xvi) 229 (iii). Principal text double column, Greek and Roman letter, commentaries mostly in Roman, ruled in red throughout. Printer’s woodcut device on t-p, woodcut initials and ornaments, autograph of Jacques Auguste de Thou to t-p and recto of penultimate leaf. Light yellowing, C20 bookplates on front pastedown and fly, a good clean copy in spectacular contemp. tan citron calf, covers quadruple ruled gilt, florets at corners, panel fillet with small tools of leaves and tendrils, triple laurel wreath surrounded by urns and dragonflies at centres, repeated motif of hounds and huntsmen chasing the hare. Spine all over richly gilt, a.e.g. deeply gauffered with flower, leaf and tendril pattern, lacking ties. Upper joint cracked at head, edges a bit worn in places, a beautiful ornate artistic binding of the earlier C17. In fleece lined box.

Rare and important edition of the rhetorical works of Hermogenes complete with the separately paginated commentary which is often missing (see Brunet). This is the first edition of the translation of Gaspard Laurent, and of his extensive commentary. Laurent, a French Huguenot in origin, established himself at Geneva where he taught literature (1597) and in 1600 became Rector of Academy. He published principally on religious topics but he had a particular interest in public theological disputations and may well have been attracted to Hermogenes as a practical manual of reference. The especial importance of the volume however lies with the binding which is at once unusual, lovely and skilfully executed. It must be one of relatively few volumes in De Thou’s extraordinary collection (Bibl. Thuanae part II, p.241) that he did not have rebound with his own arms – really the highest compliment. An early typed note in the book states that at W.H. Corfield’s sale in 1904 the binding was described as French and there are common elements but there seems no reason to suppose that the volume travelled very far from the press before it was bound. Despite the unusual huntsman tool however we have been unable to find a comparable or identify the binder, so the only description we can offer is ‘probably Geneva’ 1614 or shortly thereafter.

Brunet III, 118. Édition recherchée et devenue rare.”

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