QUINTILIAN, Marcus Fabius

QUINTILIAN, Marcus Fabius Institutio oratoria

Venice, Aldus’s heirs, 1521-1522


4to, ff. [4]. 230. Italic letter, little Greek; Aldine device on title and last verso; very slight dampstains to first three leaves and tiny wormhole to blank outer upper corner of final three. A very good, well-margined copy in eighteenth-century French tan calf; gilt border, spine comparted with gilt floral decoration and morocco title label, gilt board edges, a. e. r.; rebacked, spine remounted, repaired at head and tail of spine and in two compartments.

Second Aldine edition of a milestone in Western pedagogy, including for the first time the Latin translation of Greek words used in the text. The Institutiones were written in about 35 AD by the great Roman rhetorician Quintilian, setting out the education of an orator from babyhood to manhood. First printed in 1470 and based on the complete manuscript found at St. Gall by Bracciolini in 1416, it proved deeply influential in the Renaissance, the humanists sharing Quintilian’s belief in the relationship between rhetorical skill and moral education. ‘Quintilian takes his future orator at birth and shows how this goodness of character and skill in speaking may be best produced. No detail of training in infancy, boyhood or youth is too petty for his attention. The parts of the work which relate to general education are of the greatest interest and importance. Quintilian postulates the widest culture; there is no form of knowledge from which something may not be extracted for his purpose; and he is fully alive to the importance of method in education…..[His] literary sympathies are extraordinarily wide…..[and] ancient literary criticism perhaps touched its highest point in the hands of Quintilian.’ (Enc. Brit., 13th. ed.).

The work is dedicated to Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557), the Orientalist, ethnologist and famous geographer who provided Aldus and Andrea Navagero with a reliable manuscript for this publication.

BM STC It., 546; Adams, Q 56; Brunet, IV, 1023; Graesse, V, 528; Renouard, 93:14.
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