PINDAR. Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia. Adiuncta est interpretatio latina.

[Geneve], Paul Estienne, 1599


4to, pp. (xvi) 487 (v). Greek and Latin letter, double column. Printer’s device to t-p, charming woodcut floriated and historiated initials, woodcut headpieces and tailpieces with foliage, animals and masks, typographical ornaments. Light age browning (indifferent paper), intermittent mainly marginal foxing, intermittent wormtrail to upper outer margins just touching a few words on 11 ll. Handsome copy in contemporary morocco, covers double gilt ruled to a panel design, four dentelle borders with rolls of flowers and small pointille tools, second and fourth with fleurons at corners, central panel with gilt scroll ornaments and large coat of arms of the Duke de Guise surmounted by a cartouche containing the lettering “DUX GUISIUS Hoc te munere donat”, spine with gilt double ruled dentelle border, repeated ornamental and floral tools at centre, ‘PINDAR’ at head, a.e.g., traces of blue silk ties. 9-lines prize inscription in Latin and autograph “Dionisius Troilliardus Aquensis Rhetor Anno 1624” to fly, contemporary price above, later autograph “P garidel” to t-p.

An excellent edition of Pindar’s victory odes, in a stunning contemporary French prize binding with a manuscript dedication.

The covers are richly ornated with the arms of the Duke de Guise and the gilt lettering in Latin reads: “the duke de Guise gives this (book) to you as a present”. Particularly in the 17th century, finely printed and elegantly bound editions of the classics were gifted as awards to outstanding students of academic institutions as well as winners of rhetoric and poetic competitions. The inscription on the front fly was written by Dionisius Troilliardus (corresponding to the French ‘Denis Trouillard’), a rhetor who humbly defines himself ‘indignus’ (unworthy) and acknowledges this book as an award for winning ‘the first prize of Greek poetry’ in 1624, although he does not specify where the competition was held. Unfortunately, no information appears to be available about his life, apart from his origins: he is ‘Aquensis’, thus probably a native of Aix-en-Provence (‘Aquae Sextiae’). The volume was presented to Dionisius by ‘Franciscus a Lotharingia, dux Guisius’, likely Francois (1612-1639) the eldest son of Charles de Lorraine, 4th Duke of Guise (1571-1640). The later autograph ‘P. garidel’ perhaps belongs to Pierre Joseph Garidel (1658-1737), a French botanist who worked and studied in Aix-en-Provence.

Pindar (c. 518-438 BC), a native of Thebes, was one of the greatest Greek lyric poets. Highly regarded in antiquity, he was defined by Quintilian and Horace as ‘inimitable for the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence’. Pindar composed forty-four victory songs to be performed by a choir during the formal celebrations at the four panhellenic athletic festivals. These are published here by Paul Estienne, grouped into four books named after the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean Games – held respectively at Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Nemea. Paul, son of Henry II, was highly educated and continued his father’s printing business, focusing especially on text by Greek authors. This edition, including the Greek text, a Latin translation and a detailed comment, was based on Brubach’s edition of 1542 and that of Henri Estienne of 1566.

USTC 451662; Renouard Estienne, 195:2; Brunet IV, p. 659: “Èdition correcte”; Graesse V, p. 294: “Bonne éd. Munie des scolies”; Adams P1232; BM STC Fr. 16th century (supplement), p. 60.