CAVENDISH, William. Earl of Devonshire. HOBBES, Thomas (?)


Horæ subseciuæ. Observations and discovrses.

London, [Eliot’s Court Press] for Edward Blount, 1620.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (viii), 222, (iv), 223-324, (ii), 325-417, (iii), 419-503, (iii), 505-542. A⁴ B-X⁸ Y⁴ Z-2K⁸ 2L-2M⁴ 2N-2O⁸. Roman letter. Title and text within double box rule, floriated woodcut initials and typographical headpieces, “The Earle of Devonshires Book, Pre: 10 R.E.” (probably Richard Evelyn, father of the celebrated John) and other early annotations in early hand on front fly, later inscriptions with various Latin and English mottos, ‘C.J.’ initialed at head of title. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary calf, spine bordered with gilt and blind rules large arabesque gilt to centers, spine rebacked to match, gilt and blind ruled in compartments with central fleurons gilt, new endpapers, lozenge on rear cover half chipped away and finely restored.

Rare, first and only edition of these important essays by William Cavendish, deeply influenced by Montaigne and Bacon, with the first edition of three discourses now attributed to Thomas Hobbes, Cavendish’s tutor, and thus the first edition of some of Hobbes’ earliest works. “Hobbes’s first discussions of substantive moral issues drew on these (skeptical) ideas, particularly as put forward by Bacon. … Hobbes and his pupils in the Devonshire household followed this precedent in a highly Baconian, and Montaigne-like, set of essays that they appear to have composed between 1610 and 1640. … The earliest example is a long ‘Discourse against flatterie’ which was published in 1611. This was an earlier version of a discourse with the same name which appeared in a group of four discourses as an adjunct to a collection of very Baconian essays, in an anonymous volume entitled Horae Subsecivae in 1620.

The essays (it is known from a manuscript at Chatsworth) were by William Cavendish, later the second earl, and Hobbes’s first ‘pupil’ (though that is rather a misnomer – Cavendish was only two years younger than Hobbes, had graduated from Cambridge the same year that Hobbes graduated from Oxford, and became his ‘tutor’ and had married the same year.) The ‘Discourse against flatterie’ is dedicated to Cavendish’s father in law in terms that are entirely appropriate for Cavendish himself. … The MS volume of Essayes at Chatsworth is dedicated by ‘Your Lordships most observant and dutiful sonne W. Cavendishe’ presumably to the first Earl by his son, Hobbes’ pupil, in Venice. The MS is in Hobbes’ hand and also contains some annotations by Hobbes. This not need mean very much however … clearly it was a matter of some indifference whether Hobbes or his pupil wrote out these treatises. …

(The essays and discourses are very important) as evidence for the intellectual life within the Cavendish household, and for the context out of which (at the very least) Hobbes’s own ideas developed. Hobbesian themes surface in these essays and discourses, however, and there seems to have been a complex intellectual relationship between Hobbes and his pupil.” Tom Sorell, ‘The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes.’

The three discourses, ‘A Discourse of Lawes’, ‘A Discourse of Rome’, and ‘A Discourse upon the beginning of Tacitus’ have now been more clearly established to be by Hobbes himself. “That the Horae Subsecivae had its origins in the Cavandish household and that Sir William Cavendish penned the ‘Observations’ and the ‘Discourse against Flattery’ published therein is certain. From the style, it is abundantly clear that the author of the three discourses now attributed to Hobbes was someone other than the author of the ‘Observations’ … and the three remaining discourses are in the style, and to some degree in the mode of argument strikingly similar to the later works of Hobbes. These discourses have recently been republished in a critical edition ‘Three discourses: A Critical Modern Edition of Newly Identified Work of the Young Hobbes.’ ed. Noel B. Reynolds…” Paul A. Rahe. ‘Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory Under the English.’ 

A very good copy of this rare work; ABPC records no copies sold at auction, and ESTC gives only four locations for the work in US libraries, at Folger, Huntington, New York Society and Northwestern University.

ESTC S105996. STC 3957.


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Praeciosa ac nobilissima artis chymiae collectanea.

Nuremberg, Gabriel Hain, 1554.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, ff. (8), 124. Roman letter; printer’s device on title, large historiated initials and full-page alchemical illustration; a few leaves lightly browned. A very good, wide-margined copy bound with folded fifteenth-century German manuscript leaf on vellum of liturgical music over eighteenth-century boards; black and red text of various Psalms with music sheet and two red and blue decorated initials; slightly rubbed on spine, a couple of small stains to rear cover, corners a bit bumped and chipped; on front endpaper, seventeenth-century owner’s inscription ‘Cathena,’ tiny old bookseller’s stamp on front pastedown and modern pencil shelf marks on front endpaper and title versos.

Fine copy of the rare first edition of a fundamental text on alchemy. Janus Lacinius, probably a humanist pseudonym, is thought to be Giovanni da Crotone, a Franciscan friar from Calabria. This German edition was considered for a long time a reprint of another alchemical collection by Lacinius, published by the Aldine press in Venice in 1546 (Pretiosa Margarita Novella de Thesauro); however, despite the similarity in the titles, the contents are substantially different, and this Praeciosa collectanea is now correctly regarded as a first edition.

In this book, Lacinius provides a detailed overview of the vast world of alchemy, describing in particular how to obtain the philosophers’ stone through many stages of metal refinement. The large initial woodcut depicts a sort of an outdoor laboratory, with a scholar handling a huge vessel, and a massive circular furnace crackling behind him.

The printer’s dedication presents alchemy as a useful and Christian discipline, and addresses Anton Fugger’s nephews, Johann (Hans) Jakob (1516 – 1575) and Georg (1518 – 1569). Their renowned book collections are extensively praised and hailed as unparalleled venues for the preservation and transmission of knowledge, where a book like Lacinius’ must not be missed. Hans Jakob Fugger was one of the greatest collectors of his time, gathering some 12,000 volumes, mostly provided with fine luxurious bindings and including the collection of Hartmann Schedel, the author of the Nuremberg Chronicle. In 1571, the bulk of Hans Jakob’s books was purchased by the Duke of Bavaria and is now held in the Bavarian State Library. The library assembled by Georg Fugger, less known and extensive, was nevertheless very rich in mathematical, astronomical, astrological, and other scientific works.

Rare. Not in Adams, Brunet or Caillet.

BM STC Ger., 480; Duveen, 332; Ferguson, II, 3;Graesse, IV, 63; VD16, L34; Wellcome, 3608.


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Nebulo nebulonum hoc est, jocoseria modernae nequitiae censura.

Frankfurt, Jakob de Zetter, 1620.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. (8), 164, (4), without final blank. Predominantly Roman letter, some Italic and Greek; engraved title within architectural border with allegorical standing figures of Deceit and Idleness, a few head- and tail-pieces and foliated initials, 33 large engraved curious illustrations of emblems; occasional light browning in margins, original paper flaw at foot of pp. 105 and 133. A very good copy in seventeenth-century calf, gilt panel and spine with floral motif, title gilt on olive morocco label, all edges sprinkled red; original comb-marbled pastedown and endpapers; corners slightly chipped, joints a bit cracked.

First edition of the Latin versification of Thomas Murner’s ruthless satire Der Schelmen Zunft (‘The League of Rogues’), published in 1512. Not to be confused with the contemporary Evangelic pastor and prominent hymn-writer, Johann Flittner was born in Schleusingen, became ‘Gerichts-Procurator’ in Frankfurt, and was appointed poet laureate of the Holy Roman Empire around 1620. This Latin translation after Murner – the early sixteenth-century master of satiric pamphlets who penned, i.a., a harsh parody of Luther – was Flittner’s most relevant and successful achievement.

It consists of a series of 33 erudite jokes in the form of illustrated verses against personal vice. Everything is taken and represented in its literal meaning, creating some funny emblems like the one depicting strict censors as people who ‘go around sifting excrement.’ Very fittingly, the work opens with a dedicatory epigram to Momus, the Greek god of mockery, which illustrates the meaning of the title (‘Rascal of Rascals: A Teasing Reproach of Contemporary Idleness’).

BM STC Ger., M1623; Brunet, II, 1293 (‘ouvrage singulier, dont les exemplaires sont peu commmuns’); Graesse, II, 597; Landwehr, 283; Praz, 337; VD17 1:029198C.


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Laberinto d’amore … con una epistola a Messer Pino de Rossi confortatoria.

Florence, [heirs of Filippo Giunta], 1525.


8vo. oblong, ff. 72. Italic letter; capital spaces with guide letters; title a bit dust-soiled, intermittent soiling and foxing, particularly to margins; marginal paper flaw in f. 22, two leaves loosened in final gathering, a few tiny worm holes in margins of first and final leaves. A wide-margined copy in contemporary Venetian brown morocco, gilt panel with four apple leaves at corners, in the elegant style of the ‘Venetian Apple binder’ (M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, III, nos. 297-298); gilt title ‘Corbacio’ on front cover and initials ‘M. [faint s or decorative piece?] M.’ on rear, all edges gilt; skilfully re-backed, outer corners restored. In slipcase.

The elegant binding provides a good example, unusual in shape, of the essential Venetian style of the second quarter of the sixteenth century (gilt external panel with apple leaves at internal or external corners, central title in capitals), which was brought to perfection by the so-called Mendoza Binder, recently identified as Andrea di Lorenzo. Though not his work, this was executed by a capable binder, probably pre-dating Andrea by a few years. The gilt initials on the rear cover appear to be those of the owner, perhaps pointing towards a member of the Venetian noble families of Mocenigo or Morosini, bearing the traditional names of Marco or Michele.

Early and accurate imprint of Boccaccio’s Corbaccio (or Labirinto d’amore) and his epistle to Pino de’ Rossi, both first published in 1487 in Florence. With Petrarch, Boccaccio laid the foundations for the humanism of the Renaissance and raised vernacular literature to the level and status of the classics of antiquity. His vivid prose was taken as a model by the sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars in their attempts to create a common written language for the Italian peninsula. Corbaccio (The Crow) recounts the dream of a young man, suffering from his unrequited love for a widow. It is essentially a misogynist invective, contradicting Boccaccio’s sympathies for the fairer sex expressed in many others works.

It is still not clear whether Corbaccio should be read as autobiographical or as a literary exercise adopting the anti-feminist point of view but ultimately dealing with torment of love. Written after the political crisis of 1360 in the Commune of Florence, the letter of consolation to Pino de’ Rossi, an exiled Florentine statesman, reflects Boccaccio’s disillusion with politics and his faith in the rise of a new cultural era opened up by Petrarch’s studies of classical literature. The preface by the publisher Bernardo Giunta is of particular interest. It addresses ‘gli amatori della Lingua Toscana,’ i.e. the humanists writing in Italian vernacular, who were praised for their constant effort to re-establish this style as a literary language, as it used to be in the time of Boccaccio.

Not in BM STC It. Adams, B 2182; Gamba, 67; Renouard, xlviii:79; Brunet, I, 1016 (‘assez rare’).


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MORE, St. Thomas


La Description de L’Isle Utopie.

Paris, Charles l’Angelier, 1550.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo., ff. (viii) 105 (vii). Roman letter, several woodcut cartouches, white on black woodcut initials, cartouche and printer’s device on verso of last, twelve circa half page woodcut in text. Very light age browning, a good, clean, well-margined copy in C19 crushed crimson morocco, inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt.

First edition of the first French translation of Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia,” by Jean Le Blond d’Evreux, lawyer, poet, and champion of the French language. Le Blond’s one great chance, as he recognized, was to bring himself to the attention of the elite of the French-speaking world; it did not succeed and Le Blond is only gradually being rediscovered. His translation includes also the prefatory address from Budé to Thomas Lupet.

By far the most important of More’s Latin works was the Utopia, the pre-eminent humanistic dialogue, appealing for the application of wisdom in the life and government of men and at the same time a delightful work of entertainment and irony. The origin of a new word in the English language (and subsequently in many others), the work was the model or source for innumerable ‘Utopias’ or ‘distopias’, from Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ in the C17, to Swift in the C18, to Huxley and Orwell in the C20. It was More’s greatest literary work, achieving immediate international success, probably the most significant and enduring by any Englishman of the age.

“It was written, like Gulliver’s Travels (…) as a tract for the times to rub in the lesson of Erasmus; it inveighs against the new statesmanship of an all-powerful autocracy and the new economics of large enclosures and the destruction of the old common-field agriculture, just as it pleads for religious tolerance and universal education. (…) Utopia is not, as often imagined, More’s ideal state; it exemplifies only the virtues of wisdom, fortitude, temperance and justice. It reflects the moral poverty of the states which More knew, whose Christian rulers should possess also the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. (…) [More] is both a saint to the Catholic and a predecessor of Marx to the Communist. His manifesto is and will be required reading for both, and for all shades of opinion between.” Printing and the Mind of Man 47, on the first edition.

BM. STC. Fr. p. 319. Gibson 19. Brunet III, 1894 “Edition rare.” Fairfax Murray 391 “In text are nine woodcuts apparently executed for this work, besides the pretty cut of a scribe in different style (…) which occurs on A2, E1 and D2.”

“Suite de cinq vignettes (56 x 78) dont deux répètées deux fois, d’un bon style, montrant divers personnages, drapés à l’antique, discourant ou rendant la justice. Petite vignette, répètée trois fois, de l’écrivain à sa table, un chien couché à ses pieds, utilisée dans de nombreux ouvrages.” Brun, p. 256.


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KETHAM, Johannes de


Fasciculus medici[n]e.

Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1522.


Folio, ff. (4), 58 (i.e. 59), (1). Roman letter; title within decorative border, printer’s device on penultimate verso, historiated and black-on-white decorated initials, ten detailed and neat full-page illustrations; a few dust-soiled leaves, minor oil splash on 23r-26v, just affecting one woodcut. A fine copy in crushed dark morocco gilt by Gruel, a. e. g.; several contemporary and late sixteenth-century Italian marginalia, manicula and emendations by different hands; small blue stamp of the Selbourne Library on title verso and foot of 51r. Preserved in slipcase.

Early edition of a masterpiece of the Renaissance art of the book, revised and expanded after the princeps of 1491. Little, if anything, is known about Kentham, who has been identified as Johannes von Kirchheim, a professor from Swabia teaching medicine in Vienna around 1460. Rather than the author of this influential collection of medical essays, he appears to be the owner of the manuscript used by the printer of the first edition who mistakenly took him for the compiler.

The work enjoyed great success and was soon translated into Italian, German and Spanish. This imprint includes Mondino de Luzzi’s Anatomia and the treatise on venoms of his pupil and commentator, Alessandro Achillini; most importantly, it retains all the superb apparatus of illustrations designed for the Italian translation of the Fasciculus published in Venice in 1493 by the de Gregorii brothers, incorporating also the minor changes introduced in the later reprints of 1500 and 1513.

“The typography and artistic qualities of this edition [Venice, 1493] of the Fasciculus make it of interest far beyond the world of medicine. It was the first printed medical book to be illustrated with a series of realistic figures: these include a Zodiac man, bloodletting man, planet man, an urinoscopic consultation, a pregnant woman and notably a dissection scene which is one of the first and finest representation of this operation to appear in any book (…) Most of these figures have medieval prototypes, but they are here designed by an artist of the first rank. His identity has never been discovered; it has been suggested – wrongly – that he was the Polifilo master; but he was certainly an artist close to the Bellini school.” PMM, p. 20.

Uncommon. Not in BM STC It. or Adams. Durling, 2660; Heirs of Hippocrates, 72; Essling, 592; Sandler 3753; PMM, 36 (1493/94).


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LUCIAN of Samosata and PUYS, Claude du


Toxare ou de l’amitié, dialogue non moins prouffitable que joyeux. Traduit du grec de Lucian par Claude Dupuys parisien, professeur de Messieurs de Louvain

Antwerp, Ian Waesberge, 1563.


FIRST EDITION thus, 4to. ff. (xlvi). Roman and italic letter, printed italic side notes, manuscript ex-libris on title page: « H-I.V La… », early printed library label “Philologi XXVI” on fly, floral and historiated initials, title within splendid architectural border, spots on gutter of A4 verso and B1 recto. A very good copy crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum over boards remain of ties, red edges, spine torn on the upper joint at head, stitching slightly loose, vellum manuscript internal stub.

Rare first edition of this early French translation of Toxaris by Claude Dupuy, the second after Jehan Millet’s translation of 1551. Lucian, Greek satirist of the silver age, is the author of some eighty prose pieces including satirical dialogues and fantastic tales, showing his wit and inventiveness as well as his hatred of cant, hypocrisy, and fanaticism, especially in religion and philosophy. He was the first Greek author translated by Erasmus and Thomas More. In the mid C16 he was an intellectually fashionable author, but a controversial one, as he was well-known to be an atheist. Bacon himself called Lucian a contemplative atheist, and as such Lucian evidently interested David Hume, who described him as a very moral writer, and quoted him with respect when discussing ethics and religion.

The main point of the present text is to praise friendship. Lucian begins with Mnesipe, a Greek and Toxaris, a Scythian. Toxaris presents Scythian relationships as the model of friendship; loyalty has a great place in the Scythian culture. As a counterpart Mnesipe describes tales of friendship between Greeks. Dupuy in his argument tells stories of how different characters in the tales overcome obstacles with the strength of friendship: “Lesquel estant ensemble conioints pars le lien d’amitié, font tombez en tresgrands dangez & inconveniens merveilleux, esquelz ilz ont enduré extresmes peines & griefz tournentz”.

Dupuy Claude (1545-1594), jurist and historian and relative of the great humanist Jacques-Auguste de Thou, was taught at Paris by Turnèbe and Jacques Cujas. He was councilor at the Parliament of Paris. He was also a bibliophile: one of the most valuable early medieval manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, known as the Codex Putaneus, was in his collection. However, according to C. Lauvergnat-Gagnière the translator could also be a different Claude Dupuys, a professor of literature at the university of Louvain, as she states the jurist Claude Dupuy could not have been in Louvain at this time.

Cioranesco, 288.  Not in the Belgica Typographica, Adams, Brunet, Court, Knapen, BB, Machiels, Matagne or STC Dutch.


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AMMONIUS, Alexandrinus Hermiae

Aristotelis categorias, et librum de interpretatione

Venice, Vincentium Valgrisium, 1559.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, ff. (cviii). Roman letter, text in double numbered column, printer’s device on title page, historiated initials, woodcut diagrams. Minor water stain to upper margin in places, a few marginal ink smudges, slight worming to some lower margins and in upper gutter a couple of old spots at end. “1564” on head of title page. Extensive contemporary ms. ex-libris of Johannes Rolandus on verso of last. A good copy, crisp and clean, in reversed vellum, lower compartment of spine and head cap torn, worn at corners, lacking ties.

First edition of Rasario’s translation. Ammonius Hermiae (435?-517?), Greek philosopher, Hermias’ son and fellow-pupil of Proclus, taught at Alexandria, and had among his students Asclepius, John Philoponus, Damascius and Simpliciu. Ammonius founded the school of Aristotle – interpretation in Alexandria. His method of exegesis of Aristotle and Plato and his lecturing style are all that remain of his reputedly numerous writings. The commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge may also be his, but it is somewhat corrupt and contains later interpolations. While almost all of Ammonius’ Aristotle commentaries were published by students from his lectures, the large commentary on De Interpretatione was written up by Ammonius himself for publication. These commentaries are largely dependent on the lectures of Proclus and thus indebted to Proclus’ style of Iamblichean Neoplatonism, which demonstrates the harmony of the ancient religious revelations and integrates them in the philosophical tradition of Pythagoras and Plato.

The first part discusses Porphyry’s text, the Isagoge, which is a standard introduction to Aristotle’s writings on logic, much admired by Ammonius. Next are Aristotle’s “In Categorias” and with “De Interpretatione,” they are the first of Aristotle’s treaties on logic of the Organon. It describes the ten Aristotelian categories: substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, attitude, having, doing and undergoing. In his commentary on De Interpretation, Ammonius adds determinist arguments to the famous ‘there will be a sea-battle tomorrow’ argument, where Aristotle debates whether every proposition about the future must be either true or false. Ultimately, all things which are going to happen happen necessarily and not by chance. At the end of his discussion, Ammonius brings together necessary and definite truths, but not clearly enough to resolve all questions about the latter. The translator, Giovanni Battista Rasario (1517-1578), an Italian doctor from the Novara province, taught Greek and rhetoric at Venice for twenty years. He translated several other Greek works to Latin including the Aristotle’s Physic.

Johannes Rolandus was probably an Austrian physician from Schweidnitz / Schlesien. In 1594 he was an itinerant doctor, remaining a short time in Mistelbach and in 1596 moving to Neustadt, with probably a practice in Vienna at the same time. His latin ex-libris warns future readers: I Johannes Bsc. (Baccalaureus Scientiae) Rolandus own this book, who doesn’t enter by the front door is a thief and a bandit.

Graesse, I, p. 106 “Il y a plusieurs éditions des traductions latines des trois différents écrits du philosophe Ammonius. (V. Hoffmann, Lex. Bib. Vol. lp. 121 et suiv.)”; Adams 998; BM STC IT, p.49, Index Aureliensis,1, p. 503.


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LOYOLA, Ignatius de


Exercitia spiritvalia.

Pont-à-Mousson, Melchiorem Bernardum, 1605.


16mo. pp. 256, (x). A-R⁸. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut Jesuit device on title page, another on verso of last, text within double ruled border, typographical ornaments, head- and tail-pieces, small woodcut initials, ‘Colleg. Societ. Jesu’ in contemporary hand on title page. Light age yellowing, very rare marginal spot. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, all edges with red and blue bands, vellum a little soiled, joints with some cracks.

A very charming, near miniature edition, of St Ignatius’ Exercitia Spiritualia finely printed at the Jesuit College at Pont-à-Mousson. St. Ignatius underwent religious conversion while recuperating in 1521 from wounds suffered in battle. He began writing down his experiences in order to help himself “converse about the things of God.” These were the origins of the Spiritual Exercises, on which Ignatius continued to work for the next two decades. The Exercises encapsulated the essence of his own spiritual experience and presented it in a form that would guide others. It is a design for a process of prayer, meditation, and discernment that would “allow the Creator to deal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with the Creator.”

In the 1530s Ignatius studied philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, where he guided six of his fellow-students in the Exercises who, as a result, formed with him the nucleus of what in 1540 became the Society of Jesus. The book circulated in manuscript among members of the Society until it was finally published in Rome by Antonio Blado in 1548. That edition is now unfindable and all early editions are rare. One of the most innovative and distinctive aspects of the Exercises was that individuals did not undertake them on their own but with the help of another, who acted as guide. “The ‘Exercises’ (…) form a unique book, inspired by a remarkable fixity of purpose and designed for a clearly defined and practical end. (…) Its asceticism is not one of resignation or withdrawal, but full of a positive recognition of an active life. It is this characteristic in particular which made the book such a powerful influence. (…) As a work of religious inspiration the impact has been almost as great outside the Society of Jesus as within” Printing and the Mind of Man, pp. 45.

Pont-à-Mousson was one of the Jesuit colleges that were turned into a full university with faculties in theology, law and medicine. It was very successful with 1,200 students of which 400 at the university faculties at the time Jean Bouvet took over as rector in 1607. It was also one of the first colleges where mathematics was taught, usually by the philosophy professor, before an official chair was founded in 1611. It was clearly large enough to have its own press. A very good unsophisticated copy of this work.

Not in BM STC Fr. C17th.


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Enchiridion, et Cebetis Tabula

Leiden, Ex Officina Plantiniana Raphelengii, 1616.


64mo, text 7.1cm x 4.4cm (2.8” x  1.7”) pp. 247, (9). Greek and Roman letter, single column parallel text within double-fillet border, including final blanks; decorative piece on title, paper very slightly yellowed. A very good copy in contemporary plain vellum, yapp edges, blind-tooled double-fillet border, a.e.r. On recto of front endpaper, contemporary manuscript ex libris of ‘Justi Boelij’ and his quotation from St Augustine of Hippo, De Doctrina Christiana.

A charming miniature edition of these two influential texts, forming a rare pocket-sized guide to life for any philosopher. Epictetus was a Stoic, who came to Rome as a slave and there studied philosophy under Musonius Rufus before his manumission. Banished by Domitian, he went to Epirus and opened his own philosophical school, which swiftly attracted pupils. His Enchiridion, here with a facing Latin translation, was a manual of Stoic ethics compiled by Epictetus’ most famous pupil, Flavius Arrian. In the Enchiridion, or ‘handbook’, Arrian distills the ideas of Epictetus’ Discourses and applies the Stoic precepts to daily life – it is appropriate that this text should be printed in so portable a form; a pocket reference work on dealing with life’s tribulations. For such a small text, by such a minor philosopher, the Enchiridion had a major impact. Popular amongst Christians and pagans alike, it was revived after its translation into Latin by Poliziano, published in 1497, and became exceptionally widely read.

The Cebetis Tabula, often printed with the Enchiridion, is an extensively allegorical work on the journey of human life. Taking the form of a dialogue between young visitors and an old man in the sanctuary of Kronos, the discussion centers around the interpretation of a picture. Set up as a Socratic dialogue, the Cebetis Tabula pairs nicely with the Enchiridion to show two complementary yet contrasting moral texts.

Among the smallest books printed by the Plantin press, this was probably intended for use in a travelling library, and a copy indeed featured in the travelling library of Sir Julius Caesar. Popularised in the 1600s after MP William Hakewill commissioned four such libraries to be made for his friends and patrons, travelling libraries were designed to allow gentlemen to educate themselves on the move; a 17th century precursor to the Kindle.

Justus Boelius we have not yet identified. His quotation from St Augustine, slightly misquoted, is a passage encouraging the application of ancient philosophy, especially that of the Platonists, in Christian theology – a very apt accompaniment to the printed text.

Rare. BL STC Dut, E46; Oldfather, Epictetus, 141-142; Walsh, Bibl. of miniature books, 2673.


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