Geneva, Henri Estienne, 1575


Folio, pp. [xii], 191, [l], 178 [ii] [last blank]. Roman and Greek letter, some Italic. Estienne’s woodcut Noli Altum Sapere device on title, fine woodcut initial and headpieces. T-p slightly dusty. North Library bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on pastedown, arms blindstamped on t-p. A very good, clean copy, in English speckled calf, contrasting tan border, darker panel within, decorative borders and corner pieces, red morocco label, c. 1700. Edges speckled red.

Beautifully printed and very impressive edition of the Attic Orators, the second edition of these texts, first printed by Aldus in 1513. The Greek text is followed by several Latin translations of selected orations, by Hieronymus Wolf, Denis Lambin, Claude Groulart and Estienne himself. The collection contains the Greek texts of speeches by Aeschines, Lysias, Andocides, Isaios, Lycourgos, Antisthenes, Alcidamas, Gorgias et al. In his dedicatory epistle, to Pierre Boullioud, ‘procureur général’ of Lyon, Henri Estienne states that his edition is a great improvement on that of Aldus, and on the edition of Aeschines published in Basle in 1571. He also cites his edition of the ‘Thesaurus graecae linguae’ his most important work. The speeches of such orators as Lysias, Aeschines and Lycourgus provided the models for such great Roman statesmen and speech-makers as Cicero, and are the basis even for standard modern rhetoric today. Devices such as tricola, litotes etc first popularised by the Attic orators are regularly employed by politicians all over the world. The speeches themselves take as subjects everything from matters of Athenian democracy (e.g. Andocides’ speech against the Athenian general Alcibiades) to domestic disputes – cf. Lysias’ farcical speech on the Murder of Eratosthenes, in which he argues that a wife having a consensual affair is far worse than her being raped, since the latter corrupts the body only while the former corrupts both body and mind.

“Belle édition, pour laquelle les texts d’Eschine et de Lysias one été revue sur les manuscripts”, Brunet IV 201. Renouard 141:3 (long bibl. note), Adams O246.

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