TACITUS, Publius Cornelius


TACITUS, Publius Cornelius P. Cornelii Taciti ab excessu divi Augusti historiarum libri quinque

Florence, per haeredes Philippi Iuntae, 1527


8vo. ff. 363 (i). Italic letter, occasional Roman. Attractive printer’s device to t-p and last l., blank initials. Foxing mainly to t-p, early ll. and one subsequent gathering, occasional small marginal water or ink stains, intermittent slight marginal foxing, skilful marginal repair to last page. Very good, crisp, well-margined copy on thick paper in handsome probably Florentine or Roman red morocco, traces of ties. Blind-tooled to a double-rule panel design, grapes and curly vine leaves to second border, blind-tooled arabesques to inner border, central panel with gilt fleurons to each corner and gilt, rhombus-shaped arabesque centrepiece. Spine in four compartments, blind-tooled double-rule border and diagonals to each, raised bands, first band slightly cracked with minor loss, tiny worm hole to third. Extensive early annotations to first part, some perhaps editorial, ms. transcription of missing final paragraph, monogram ‘IS ’ to last two pages, early price (probably the binder’s) ‘3ii’ and inscription ‘Appio Pulcro’ to rear pastedown.

The attractive Italian (probably Florentine or Roman) binding is not recorded in de Marinis or Davis.

A very good, crisp, well-margined copy of this uncommon Giunta first edition of Tacitus’s ‘Annales’ (i.e., ‘Ab excessu divi Augusti’), ‘De situ moribus et populis Germaniae libellus’, and ‘Dialogus de oratoribus’, based on the editio princeps of Filippo Beroaldo the Younger published in Rome in 1515, with revisions by the humanist Antonio Francino. Publius Cornelius Tacitus (c.56-120AD), an aristocrat, senator and historiographer probably from Gallia, wrote extensive accounts of the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in 14AD to the Jewish-Roman War in 70AD. Rediscovered in monastic libraries between the C15 and C16, Books I-VI and XI-XVI of the ‘Annales’—the only ones that survive—cover the period spanning the accession of Tiberius and the reign of Nero. The first part of the ‘Annales’ features detailed accounts of the wars between the Romans—led by Germanicus and Tiberius’s son, Drusus—and the Germans. Tacitus’s skilful ethnographic accounts had revealed to their Renaissance readers the true history and customs of European peoples like the Germans and the Britons. This edition sought to capitalise on the increasing contemporary appetite for ethnography and national histories through the inclusion of ‘De situ, moribus et populis Germaniae’. Indeed, the careful early annotator of this copy—probably ‘IS ’—was especially interested in the Germanic material. Among the marginal drawings he added to the text, including the flooding of the Tiber, the statue of Augustus, and the Temple of Fortune, there are also the Arch of Germanicus and his auspicious vision of the eight eagles before the battle of Idistavisus.

Graesse (VII, 7-8) identifies two ‘exemplars’ of this edition; the first bears a typo on the title like this copy. The last lines on the verso of p. 363 were left out by the printer and are absent in all exemplars.

Michigan, Chicago, Yale, UCLA, and UCB copies recorded in the USA.BM STC It. p. 654; Brunet V, 634; Graesse VII, 7-8: ‘Texte de Beroalde corrigé par Ant. Francinus sur ses conjectures.’
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