Paris: Henri Estienne, for himself and Jean Petit, 10 December, 1510.
Folio: 28 x 20 cm. 126, , 36, 38 lvs. Collation: a-p8, q6; a10, a-d8, e4; A-D8, E6
SECOND ESTIENNE EDITION (after the first of 1505) and the third edition overall (1st printed at Paris in 1497 by Wolfgang Hopyl) of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples’ compilation of Aristotle translations. Both Estienne editions are extremely rare. North American copies: The 1505 edition is held at Illinois and Yale; the 1510 at Indiana, Union College, and Iowa. The incunabulum is held by Harvard, The Morgan, The Newberry, Illinois, and Penn.
An excellent copy, bound in contemporary, blind-tooled calf over wooden boards (brass catches preserved, lacking clasps, expert, very discreet restoration to spine). Internally very fine, crisp, and broad-margined, with contemporary annotations in sig. q of the first part and only trivial faults as follows: small marginal nicks to lvs. C8 and E7, small stain in lower margin of gathering k and with a larger but very light stain in the text on leaf k8, rust marks in margin of lvs. l5, m8, 3rd d1. With an elegant woodcut title page border populated by angels. Unidentified (blurred impression largely illegible) seminary library stamp on title.
Pasted to the inner, lower board is a complete fourteenth-century vellum bifolium (282 x 191 mm.) with part of the text of Adam of Aldersbach’s (ca. 1253) verse summary of Raymond of Peñafort’s “Summa de casibus conscientiae”. The bifolium is from the summary of Book IV, which deals with marriages, their making, and dissolution (See below.) Text in two columns, 28 lines, with marginal commentary in a different hand.
For his Parisian edition of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the French humanist Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples’ brought together three important translations of the text: those of Leonardo Bruni Aretino (d. 1444), Joannes Argyropoulos (d. 1486), and Robertus Grosseteste (d. 1253). These were supplemented by Lefèvre’s commentary on the Ethics, as well as Giorgio Valla’s (d. 1499) translation of the pseudo-Aristotelian “Magna Moralia”, and Bruni’s “Isagogicon”. The Grosseteste translation is sometimes wrongly attributed to Henricus Krosbein (R.A. Gauthier, L'Éthique à Nicomaque, Louvain, 1970 p.143).
“Lefèvre (c. 1450–1536) taught philosophy at the University of Paris from around 1490 to 1508, and then applied his erudition and textual scholarship to biblical studies and religious reform. Lefèvre traveled to Italy in 1491, 1500, and 1507. There he sought out Ermolao Barbaro, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Angelo Poliziano, and other famous humanists. He himself became famous for the many introductions, commentaries, and editions relating to philosophical works he published in Paris…. Even after he retired from teaching philosophy, his versions of Aristotle were published in new editions, sometimes with new commentaries, for several decades—for historians of Renaissance philosophy, they mark the northward, university-based movement of a humanist approach to Aristotle which earlier scholars such as Leonardo Bruni and Ermolao Barbaro had pioneered in Italy. The university environment gave Lefèvre’s vision of philosophical reform a broad scope, extending even to mathematical works of the quadrivium.
“It was only on Aristotle’s moral philosophy treatises—the Ethics, Economics, and Politics —that Lefèvre wrote full-scale commentaries. In addition to his brief Ars Moralis, an introduction to Aristotle’s ethics (1494b), he devoted considerable energy to making available the recent translations of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics by the Byzantine émigré Johannes Argyropolus and the Florentine humanist Leonardo Bruni, as well as the “old” translation, now known to be by Robert Grosseteste (1497). Beginning a tradition of editing philosophical works which would span the sixteenth century, Lefèvre typically encouraged readers to compare texts, publishing the three translations of the Ethics together in one volume (his own commentary accompanied the translation of Argyropolus). These editions and commentaries have been seen as the origin of a distinctively humanist tradition of moral philosophy.”(Richard J. Oosterhoff, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)
“Johannes Argyropoulos (ca. 1415–87) was a Greek emigrée from Constantinople, who lectured on Aristotle’s Ethics at Florence in 1457–58. Those lectures took their starting point from Leonardo Bruni’s translation of the Ethics (1416/17), but Argyropoulos subsequently wrote his own translation. Both men’s translations are present in this Parisian edition.
“Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (d. 1253) perfected his knowledge of Greek in his mature years and seems also to have used the services of several Greek scholars in England to produce a number of Latin versions (many were revisions of earlier imperfect translations) of Greek works of science, philosophy, and theology. It is difficult to determine how much Grosseteste contributed personally to these translations and how much was done by assistants such as Robertus Graecus, Nicholas Graecus, John of Basingstoke, and possibly Adam Marsh. However, D. A. Callus, O. P., who probably knew this field better than anyone, considered Grosseteste a very good Greek scholar -and Paul F. Mercken (who published a monumental scholarly edition of Grosseteste’s translations of the NE and early Greek commentaries on the text) agrees. At some point Grosseteste had procured a Greek codex of the NE, to which had been added several sets of annotations which formed a Greek commentary on all ten books. This collection is still extant in two Greek MSS at Oxford… Grosseteste's translation of this gathering of moral treatises provided the only complete Latin text of NE, translated directly from the Greek, for thirteenth-century students at the universities and monastic houses of study. Aristotle's Ethics was eagerly studied all through this century.”(from Vernon Bourke’s review of Mercken’s edition)
About the manuscript fragment:
Raymond of Peñafort’s Summa de casibus conscientiae, including its fourth book, the Summa de matrimonio, was one of the most successful texts for pastors and confessors composed in the Middle Ages. Written by a Dominican friar in the thirteenth century, it treated cases of conscience in a systematic manner. It also examined matrimony and the other sacraments…
“The Summa de casibus conscientiae was a creation of the later Middle Ages, displacing the earlier Libri poenitentiae. The earlier texts listed sins and the penances to be done by those who committed them. The later texts dealt more with the individual conscience, treating each in a larger context of canon law and disciplinary theology. One of the most successful of these texts was the Summa of Raymond of Peñafort, an early leader of the Dominican order and the editor of the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234). Raymond’s Summa was divided into four books. The first two books dealt with categories of sins and sinners. The third dealt with ordinations, sacraments, spiritual penalties, and clerical discipline. The fourth dealt with marriages, their making and dissolution. This book was distinguished in manuscript copies as the Summa de matrimonio. Raymond also composed a commentary on the arbores consanguinitatis et affinitatis. The one “tree” outlined marriage impediments based on kinship by blood. The latter dealt with impediments caused by sexual congress inside or outside matrimony. That work endured until it was displaced by a commentary by the Bolognese canonist Johannes Andreae during the fourteenth century…
“The Summa was summarized in verse, a Summula de summa Raymundi. Some copies of this work attribute it to Adam, a Cistercian monk of Aldersbach. The Summula was divided into a prologue (occasionally absent in manuscripts) and four books. The first book deals with baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. The second treats marriage and holy orders; the third, clerical discipline and other topics. The fourth and fifth focus on penance. The Summula later received an extensive commentary. The text was diffused in multiple manuscript copies, most often in Germany or nearby lands. It entered print with or without the prologue and often with the commentary by the late fifteenth century.”(Thomas Izbicki).
Renouard, Annales des Estiennes, I, 7, no. 6; Schwab, Bib. d'Aristote, 2108; Not in Schreiber and Adams. The book has four dated explicits, on lvs. o1 and q6 (1st count), e4 (second count), and E6 (third count).