MANUTIUS, Paulus. Pauli Manutii in orationem Ciceronis pro P. Sextio commentarius.

Venetiis, Paulum Manutium, 1556


8vo. Ff. 146 (ii). Italic letter. Dolphin and anchor device to tp and last. Ms to verso of last and rear fep. ‘Rpm’ and ‘D.T.’. Light age yellowing, occasional very minor spot. A very good clean copy with generous margins in C1700 sheep, single fillet border, spine gilt with floral tools, blue silk bookmark, lower corners worn, a bit rubbed, worn at foot and joints, aer.

Pro Sextio, or Sestio, was written in 56BC by the famed Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC). It was delivered on behalf of consul Publius Sestius who “had assisted him (Cicero) in keeping an eye on his fellow consul C. Antonius during the Catilinarian conspiracy and who was instrumental in Cicero’s return from exile” (Melchior, “Pro Sestio”, The Literary Encyclopedia, 2014). The charge against Sestius was ‘vis contra rem publicam’ and his friend and ally Cicero formed part of the legal team employed to defend him. This speech was to be the last forsenic performance before Caesar and Pompey met at Luca; following this Cicero was inactive until the outbreak of civil war and Caesar’s murder. It is a readable and important insight into the history of the Republic and specific figures that were present during this tumultuous era. It includes public meetings, political demonstrations and violent uprisings, and in a way epitomises the era.

Paulus Manutius (1512-74) was a Venetian printer and passionate humanist, third son of the prosperous printer Aldus Manutius, founder of the Aldine Press. Paulus was mentored by important figures of the Venetian intellectual scene including Pietro Bembo, the Italian poet, scholar and literary theorist. Andrea Torresani, Paulus’s grandfather, managed the Aldine Press during this time. He died suddenly, and disputes emerged over who should take over the enormously successful business. Paulus took over in 1533; in his first year alone eleven new titles were published. On top of his work as a printer, Paulus retained his passion for humanist scholarship and writing. He was a passionate devotee of Cicero and published a collection of the Roman statesman’s letters and orations in 1540 as well as his own epistles in a Ciceronian style. This work contains a great deal of his own insights and commentary on the speech. Paulus was invited to Rome by Pope Pius IV in 1561, who offered a generous stipend for him to re-establish the Aldine Press there instead of Venice, with the profits to be split between Paulus and the Papal Treasury. He accepted the offer, and spent the next nine years publishing works that had a typically anti-Protestant emphasis.

BM STC It. p. 180; Ren. 168:4; Adams C1894; Not in Brunet.
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