PONTANO, Giovanni Gioviano

PONTANO, Giovanni Gioviano Opera omnia soluta oratione composita...

Venice, in aedibus Aldi, 1518, June; 1519, April, September


Large 8vo, 3 vols. ff (iv) 326, lacking final but with original integral blank+ 318 with both original integral blanks and fol 64, often censored + 301 (xix). Italic letter, guide letters, spaces blank. Anchor and dolphin device on t.p of vol I and final verso of vol III. Partially inked over early C17 ex libris of at foot of each t.p., C20 bookplate on blank versos, C19 Harvard armorial bookplate on front pastedown of each with release stamp to vol I, attractive contemporary ink title to fore edge of each. First t.p. strengthened at gutter, faint blind stamp in blank upper margin of t.p. to vol. II, very slight foxing, the odd minor marginal tear or blemish. Good, clean, well margined copies in uniform, Harleian style, English red morroco c 1700, covers with panels, borders and cornerpieces gilt, rebacked (in modern red morocco) incorporating earlier labels, a little wear.

The complete 3 vol. set of the first collected Aldine edition of the prose works of Pontanus, published by Aldus over a period of 15 months and rarely found together and uniform. The fore edge lettering indicates that these three volumes have coexisted since the first half of the C16 and almost certainly since publication. The text is the edition of J. F. Asulanus (or Tornesanus); the first vol., the poems re-printed from that of 1505 but the other two here published by the Aldine press for the first time.

Volumes I and II contain Pontanus’ political works such as De principe, De liberalitate, and De Magnanimitate and his speculative and theoretical work on art and language such as De aspiratione and De sermone. The third volume, which also contains an index to all three, consists of scientific, astronomical and astrological works, a translation and commentary on the Centium Sententiae Ptolemaei and other briefer treatises such as De luna and De rebus coelestibus.

Pontanus (1429-1503) humanist, diplomat, scholar and poet is a prime example of the power and prestige attainable by men of letters in Renaissance Italy. A poor boy from Perugia he became the driving force behind the Neapolitan Academy, its official leader after 1471, Secretary of State and trusted friend and counsellor of his sovereign, whom he deserted in favour of Charles VIII of France, and rich. He was hugely esteemed by contemporaries who thought his writings quite equal to their classical models.

BM STC It. p. 533. Renouard 82:3, 87:6, 87.7. Brunet IV 808 "Bonne edition, et dort ou trouve diificilement les trois volumes réunis et bien conservés". Houzeau and Lancaster I, 1.2334 "beaux caractères italiques -- Rare." cf Cantamessa II 3556.
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