Item #4266 Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio. Dionysius HYBRID BOOKS. INCUNABULA. Cato, Philippus de Bergamo, ca. 3rd c. C. E., d. 1391.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.
Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.

Disticha de moribus. Philippus de Bergamo, Speculum regiminis, with additions by Robertus de Euremodio.

Basel: Michael Wenssler, about 1486-, 1487.

Price: $28,000.00

Chancery Folio: 31 x 22 cm. [342] lvs. plus [26] leaves (2 manuscript indices). Collation: A-D8, E10; G-K8, L10, M-V8, X10; aa-yy8. Indices: a12 (-a1 blank), b10, c8 (c6-8 blank).

THIRD EDITION (1st ed. 1475).

A very fine copy, rubricated, annotated, and with contemporary manuscript indices appended, bound in contemporary blind-stamped calfskin over wooden boards (slight wear, front hinge repaired), with the metal bosses, catch-plates, and clasps all preserved. An original vellum label is affixed to the upper board. The boards have been ruled in blind and impressed with attractive floral tools. The original vellum manuscript printer’s waste paste-downs (Gospel of Matthew, 13th or 14th c., Germany) have been robbed out (aside from a long strip at the back) but have left a substantial amount of ink transfer onto the bare boards. Extremely rare. ISTC records only this (formerly Elaine and Alexander Rosenberg) and the Grolier copy in North America.

This copy is remarkable for the inclusion of a contemporary manuscript index and a register on paper. At the beginning of the volume, on the verso of the last leaf of the second printed index, is a contemporary note alerting us to the presence of the additional index and the register, which have been appended to the end of the printed book. This long note includes instructions for using the index. No other copy that I have examined has these added manuscript sections nor do this third index or register appear in earlier printed editions.

The Text:

Written ca. 1375, the “Mirror of Governance” is a highly-influential philosophical guide to proper moral conduct, structured around a late antique (ca. 3rd c.) collection of moral maxims known as the “Disticha Catonis”(the “Distichs of Cato”), which presented a wide range of edifying maxims drawn from ancient authors. In its revised form (ca. 1388) -dedicated to Gian Galeazzo Visconti (d. 1402), lord and later first duke of Milan- the “Mirror of Governance” placed a stronger emphasis on the conduct of rulers. In this respect, it has strong affinities with the genre known as the “Speculum regum” (“The Mirror of Princes.”) The “Distichs” themselves also circulated independently; Caxton published an English translation c.1476, and Chaucer refers to it in the Canterbury Tales (the Miller’s Tale, I.3227)

The text of this copy is rubricated throughout with hundreds of alternating red and blue Lombard initials, red capital strokes and underscores, and a single initial with green tessellated infill on the second leaf. There are numerous contemporary marginal annotations in red throughout the text, some which have been cancelled and in some instances overwritten. There are also a number of deletions within the text.

The text is in excellent condition with minor faults: The half-title (with two lines of type) has been repaired at the edges and a hole (not affecting text) has been backed with early paper and there is a small amount of moderate staining on the second leaf, with a few small holes repaired (affecting a few letters.) There are occasional marginal repairs and occasional light damp-staining. There are twelve original rawhide tabs, dyed red and affixed to vellum supports, along the edge of the text-block.

I. The Distichs of Cato:

The “Distichs of Cato” is a late-antique (ca. 3rd c. C.E.) collection of proverbs, sentences, and maxims -partly in prose, partly in verse- taken from a wide range of ancient authors, from Plautus to Quintilian. The 'Distichs’ conveyed precepts intended to instill rules of honest living in accordance with good morals, at all levels of society, from school children to rulers. Originally attributed to Cato the Elder (or Cato the Censor, 243-149 B.C.E.), internal evidence shows that this is not the case (especially given that the author references historical figures such as Virgil, who lived long after Cato.

The literature of edifying proverbs and ‘sententiae’ enjoyed enormous success during the early Middle Ages. The ‘Distichs’ were a particularly successful example of this genre, being read widely from the Carolingian period up to the 16th century. From the 12th century onward, the readership broadened and it began to be used outside of the “collective” settings of the schools and universities, as edifying reading for private, personal contemplation.

II. The “Speculum regiminis” (Mirror of Governance)

Commentaries on the “Distichs” can be traced back, “directly or indirectly, to that of Remi of Auxerre at the end of the 9th century”(Michel). Those commentaries that address the concerns of the nobility fall within -or share close affinities with- the genre known as the “Speculum regum” or “Mirror of princes”. The “Speculum regiminis” is such a text. And indeed, numerous royal tutors and advisors (such as Robert Blondel, tutor of Charles de France, youngest son of Charles VII and Marie d’Anjou) used the “Speculum regiminis” when instructing their noble charges; deluxe, illuminated copies were prized by kings and high-ranking nobles.

While it has been traditionally attributed to the Giacomo Filippo Foresti (1434-1520), known as Philippus de Bergamo, recent scholarship indicates that the extended commentary known as “Speculum regiminis” (Mirror of Governance) was actually written a generation before Foresti by a different Philippus de Bergamo (d. 1391), a Benedictine monk who served as prior of the monastery of Santa Maria in Vanzone in Padua.

The initial version of the work, written around 1370-1375, was commissioned by Francesco de Carrara (1325-1393), Lord of Padua, for his son, Francesco II, known as il Novello. A few years later, between 1388 and 1390, the author wrote an expanded version of his treatise (printed here), this time for the attention of one of the most powerful Italian nobles, Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), lord of Milan from 1385 and later, from 1395, the first duke of Milan, whose power was rapidly increasing.

In this second version, Philippe retains the original structure, while adapting it to the new audience. He sometimes reworks certain passages or deletes others and replaces them with new ones. The prologue is significantly longer, the quotes more numerous, and the emphasis is placed more on the function of the ruler. In short, Philippe’s work went from a moral-didactic treatise composed for the attention of a young adolescent, to a more complex work, more suited to the figure of a mature, ambitious (and sometimes ruthless) lord.

“[Philippus’] objective is clearly to offer his reader a tool for personal introspection, with moral value, with a view to improving their virtues and erasing the vices that blemish their image… The work consists of three parts, themselves subdivided into different sections, according to the structure of the ‘Disticha Catonis’.

Each part begins with Cato's maxim, in prose or in verse, followed by Philippus’ commentary. To construct his argument, the author draws on numerous patristic, biblical, and philosophical works, including those of Augustine, Boethius and Charlemagne, three earlier figures who were adept at mingling classical pagan sources with Christian ones. In order to give greater weight to his role as ‘advisor’, the author does cites examples of famous teachers who instructed noble students, such as Aristotle, who taught Alexander the Great, Plutarch, who instructed Trajan, and Seneca, who educated Nero. It is in the first part of the work that the author explicitly develops political precepts for the attention of rulers, such as the necessary degree of autonomy offered to the populace, and the importance of establishing laws for curtailing vice.

A note on the text: The text as printed here (f. x10v) includes an introductory letter from another commentator on the Distichs, the French Cistercian cleric Robert d’Envermeuil, “Robertus de Evremodio” (fl. Last 3rd of the 14th c.). D’Envermeuil wrote his own commentary for the instruction of a young noble, Pierre de Saluces, son of Frédéric II, Marquis of Saluces and Béatrice de Genève. For the relationship between the two commentaries, and the confusion of these texts in the manuscripts, see Michel, “Le Speculum Regiminis de Philippe de Bergame: Recension manuscrite et problèmes d’attribution” in “Revue d’histoire des textes XIV”, Vol 14, 2019, on whose work the preceding description is largely based.

The printed indices:

The text is preceded by two printed alphabetical indices, in which various notable terms are discussed – ranging from ‘abstinere’ to ‘zelus’ –, largely oriented towards the moral education of a ruler, with an indication of the context of use, a short commentary as well as -in many cases- a reference to the sources of canon or civil law. The table itself is introduced by a long prologue of a didactic nature which describes, for example, the functional role that this table occupies in the work. There is also a second table, from Adam to Xpistus – which is in reality only the erratum of the first which it directly follows (See Michel).

ISTC ic00294000; HC 4712*; BMC I 100 (NOTE: Proctor and BMC I assigned the book to Strasbourg, Printer of the 1483 “Vitas Patrum”) = III 729; BSB-Ink D-194; GW 6279; Goff C-294