LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA. Dialogos de Luciano [...] traduzidos de Griego en lengua Castellana

Lyons, Sebastián Grypho, 1550


8vo, ff. 149 (i), lacking two final blanks. Roman letter. Printer’s device to t-p, woodcut floriated initials. Age yellowing to t-p, some lower margins lightly waterstained, printed marginalia just trimmed at fore-edge on a few ll. Occasional C16 and C17 ms annotations in French and Spanish, C17 ms. ex libris of ‘Adriano Moreno’ to t-p (cancelled) and to last, C17 ex libris of “A. M Gouneau” and note concerning the binding to t-p, pencil autograph of John Murray to pastedown. A good copy in C17 French calf over boards, spine worn, joints cracked, edges sprinkled red.

Charming and rare edition comprising five Lucian’s dialogues and a short poem by Moschus, translated from Greek into Castillian. During the 16th and 17th centuries, in Spain, Lucian was one of the most studied classical authors and the most translated among the comediographers and satirists. Of the two translations of his works published in the 16th century, this is the most important, defined as “the most extensive and most interesting” (Zappala). Although the name of the translator is not mentioned, it has been identified as the renowned hellenist, author and protestant reformer Francisco de Enzinas (1518-1552). Enzinas’ translation is praised as correct and authentic, but it is also rather free and peculiar, as he sometimes adds his own thoughts to the text of Lucian. Particularly appreciated for its style, this 1550 edition became a paradigm for the following translations of the popular Renaissance Spanish literature.

Lucian of Samosata (c. AD 125-180) was a Syrian satirist and rhetorician who wrote in Greek. Forgotten during the Middle Ages, his works were rediscovered in the Renaissance and became immediately popular for Lucian’s unique humorous, sarcastic and mocking style, which has inspired generations of authors ever since. Lucian proudly states that he invented the ‘satirical dialogue’, which is modelled on the Platonic dialogue, but comedic in tone, and it usually involves making fun of popular beliefs, philosophers and traditional Greek stories. This remarkable collection includes five famous dialogues. The first is ‘Toxaris or Friendship’, a dialogue between the Scythian Toxaris and the Greek Mnesippus about friendship. The second is ‘Charon or The Inspectors’, in which Hermes and Charon talk about the vanity of human wishes. In the third dialogue, titled ‘Gallus’, Pythagoras reincarnated as a cockerel grants the poor cobbler Micyllus the power of invisibility and shows him the life of the rich, in order to convince him that he is better off in his poverty. The protagonist of the fourth and fifth dialogues is the Cynic philosopher Menippus: in the ‘Icaromenippus’, he makes himself a pair of wings, like those of Icarus, and flies up to the gods where he discovers that Zeus has decided to destroy all philosophers as useless; in the ‘Necyomantia’, he visits the Underworld to ask Teiresias which is the true philosophy. The collection is concluded with a brief bucolic poem by Moschus of Syracuse, a Greek poet who flourished about 150 BC. Entitled ‘Love the Runaway’, it tells the myth of the goddess Afrodite who, having lost her beloved son Eros, promised a kiss to anyone who could find him.

The ex libris on verso of the last page belongs to Adriano Moreno, who says that he lives in Paris but is currently staying in Madrid, and it is dated 1663. His signatures appear in various places in the book, in one case suggesting his full name might be ‘Sanchez Moreno’. A second ex-libris on the title page is dated 1666 and reads “A. M Gouneau, en Paris”. Unfortunately, it has been impossible to identify these men with certainty.

USTC 343184, BM STC Sp. C16, p. 122; Palau 143415; Graesse IV, p. 288. Not in Brunet or Adams. M.O. Zappala, Luciano español (NRFH 31, 1982). USTC and Worldcat record no copies in the US.