Rome: Zacharias Kallierges for Cornelio Benigno, 15 January, 1516.
Octavo: 16.5 x 11.2 cm. leaves (88 for the text, 116 for the scholia). Collation: alpha4, beta-lambda8, mu4, Alpha-Omega4, 2alpha-2e4. (α4 β-λ8μ4Α-Ω, αα-εε4)
FIRST COMPLETE EDITION and FIRST EDITION OF THE SCHOLIA.
"Edition rare et très recherchée" (Legrand). Variant with "enestin" spelled correctly on t.p. and the Latin privilege printed on the verso of the final leaf. A nice, tall, generally clean copy with good margins (t.p. and conjugate leaf lightly foxed and probably supplied in the 18th c., occ. light foxing to scattered leaves). Bound in late 18th c. red straight-grained morocco, bards ruled in gold, spine ornately tooled in gold. Text in Greek throughout with the exception of the Latin privilege. The text of the shape poems is set in the form suggested by the poem (axe, flute, wing, altar). Two of them, “Pelekus” (leaf mu1v) and “Syrinx” (iota8v), are set within woodcut borders to accentuate their shape. The other two, “Pterugion” (mu3r) and “Bomos” (mu3v) do not have borders. With Kallierges’ double-headed eagle device on the title and his caduceus device on the final leaf, below the privilege.
PROVENANCE: Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (1730-1799), his arms on both covers and his monogram CMC on flyleaf. This is one of the very few books once owned by Cracherode that did not form part of his bequest to the British Library.
Cracherode "bequeathed the whole of his collections to the nation, with the exception of two books. A copy of the Complutensian Polyglot was given to Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham, and a Princeps of Homer, to Cyril Jackson, Dean of Christ Church; but these volumes ultimately rejoined their former companions in the British Museum."(Fletcher, English Armorial Bindings and Their Owners). Another of Cracherode’s books (also an exceptional Greek book), the editio princeps of Eustathius (1542-1550), was purchased by Cyril Jackson from Cracherode himself. That book is now at Yale (placed by this bookseller.)
The Kallierges Theocritus was the first complete printed edition of the extant poems of the Hellenistic Greek poet and the second Greek book printed at Rome. After producing the “Etymologicum Magnum” and several other landmarks of Greek humanist printing at Venice, Kallierges was invited to Rome by Pope Leo X to head the newly established Greek College. He was also recruited by the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, patron of Raphael and other Renaissance luminaries, to print Greek books at his Roman villa. The first book printed by Kallierges on this press was an edition of Pindar (1515), edited by Chigi’s chancellor, Cornelio Benigno, Kallierges landmark edition of Theocritus, also edited by Benigno, appeared the following year.
The Theocritus was, like the 1515 Pindar, financed (ἀναλώμασι in the colophon) by Benigno, who obtained a loan from Chigi. On the partnership of Kallierges and Benigno see: S. Folgemark, The Kallierges Pindar … pp. 36ff.
The printing history of Theocritus:
The first printing of Theocritus’s “Idyllia” was an incomplete edition produced by Demetrios Damilas for Buono Accorsi at Milan in 1480. This was followed by the augmented (but still incomplete) edition of Aldus (Venice 1495), reprinted by Giunta at Florence in 1515. Kallierges’ Rome edition of 1516 is the first complete edition of Theocritus’ extant poems. It includes for the first time an additional 19 epigrams, 6 Idylls, and the two shape poems (technopaigneia) “Axe” (Pelekus) and “Wing” (Pterugion). The book also marks the first appearance of the Byzantine Greek scholia, including a dissertation on the shape poem “Pan flute” (Syrinx) by the Palaeologan intellectual Ioannes Pediasimos (1282-1326).
Kallierges as printer:
“Zacharias Kallierges of Rethymnon, active as a scribe at Venice in the 1490s, went into partnership with a fellow Cretan copyist and stationer, Nikolaos Vlastos, to print Greek books. In the years 1499-1500 their press brought out four titles considered to be among the most distinguished Greek books ever produced. But the partnership soon came to an end and a minor part of the printing materials went to Filippo Giunta at Florence (initials and decorations, such as headpieces).
“Kallierges' second appearance as a printer came in 1509, again at Venice, where he printed three small books of mainly religious content with a new, smaller and less distinguished Greek font, again of his own de sign. This second attempt to establish a Greek press was likewise destined to be short-lived as the war with the League of Cambrai, which had invaded Venetian territories in 1509, soon forced Kallierges and other Venetian printers to suspend operation. Some five years later we find the Kallierges font in the hands of Filippo Giunta at Florence, who began printing Greek books with it in 1515. After Filippo's death on 16 September 1517, his heirs continued to use the Kallierges types for all their Greek books until 1541; at some later date a new Greek font was introduced, which was first used in 1547.
“Kallierges' third and last Greek press was established at Rome in late 1514 or early 1515, to begin with in partnership with Cornelio Benigno, who financed the first two books. The first book, a Greek Pindar with both the ancient and medieval scholia, is dated 13 August 1515; the second, a Theocritus, again with the scholia, left his press on 15 January 1516. Apparently Kallierges had kept the basic typographical materials, for the Greek type he used at his Roman press is practically identical with that of his second press at Venice in 1509. Both have a body depth of 90 mm. over 20 lines. With these types Kallierges also printed a Horae in laudem beatissima virginis (1516), a Thomas Magister (1517), a Phrynichus (1517) and finally the huge Lexicon of Guarino of Favera (1523).”(Fogelmark)
Full provenance information:
1. Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (1730-1799), his arms on both covers and his monogram CMC on flyleaf (his date of acquisition has been erased). “Upon his father’s death in 1773 Cracherode inherited a fortune and lived quietly in London … He walked daily to Elmsly and Thomas Payne [both bookdealers] to buy books and never travelled farther than Oxford. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Society and obtained in 1784 the blue ribbon of literature - a Trusteeship of the British Museum. He collected right up to his death in 1799 and bequeathed his collection of art and his library to the British Museum … Besides many sixteenth century bindings he ’is supposed to have more books bound by the late unrivaled artist, Roger Payne, than any other person”. In his collection in the British Library there are well over thirty books bound by Roger Payne, which he acquired between 1790 and 1798 …” (M. Foot, The Henry Davies Gift. A collection of bookings, I, 102). The Database of Bookbindings of the British Library shows 272 bindings of the Cracherode collection, among these 4 bindings of Jean Picard and 2 of Claude Picques for Jean Grolier, several Duodo bindings, a great number of books bound for de Thou - to name but a few.
Stephen Weston( 1747-1830) “Antiquary and man of letters“ (DNB), his stamp and initials SW on flyleaf, his library sold at Sotheby’s, 7 May 1830; the Theocritus was lot 1056. 3. William O’Brien (1832-1899), Irish judge, the collection was purchased from many of the most important sales of the nineteenth century, including Henry Drury, Gosford, Hamilton Palace, Syston Park, Osterley Park, Michael Wodhull and the Sunderland Library. Much of his library was purchased at the sale of his friend Sir Edward Sullivan, which was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 1890. His pencil note on verso of first fly-leaf: very scarce Bought of Priestly, who bought it in St. Weston's sale (a fine copy). His booklabel dated 1899 on paste-down. The collection was bequeathed to the Jesuit Milltown Park Library/Dublin, its ticket on paste-down.
Legrand I, 49 ("Édition rare et très recherchée"); Graecogermania 42; Hoffmann III, 474; Schweiger I, 309 (“sehr seltene und gesuchte Ausg."); BMSTC (Italian Books) 667; Adams T 460; Staikos 29