Item #4501 Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works). Gaius Caecilius Pliny the Younger. Plinius Secundus, 61 or 62 – ca. 113.
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).
Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).

Epistolarum libri X. Eiusdem Panegyricus Traiano principi dictus (and other works).

Venice: In Aedib. Aldi, Et Andreae Asulani Soceri, June, 1518.

Price: $4,800.00

Octavo: 15.7 x 9.5 cm. [28] lvs., 525 pp., [1] leaf. Collation: *-***8, ***4, a-z8, aa-kk8. Including the two original blanks ****3-4.

SECOND ALDINE EDITION.

Bound in brown Morocco preserving the panels and spine from the original, probably Venetian, binding. The upper board with “EP.LE PLINII” (i.e. “Epistolae Plinii”) tooled in gold within a circle and framed by panels tooled in gold and in blind, with fleur-de-lys corner tools, also gilt. The lower board with similar gilt paneling and tooling, but with a large floral tool in the central compartment. “PLE PLINII” repeated in gold on the compartments of the spine.

A very good, crisp copy. Edges of t.p. lightly soiled. Final leaf supplied but genuine. Foxing to leaf G1, dampstain to lvs. n2, p2, dd2; small tears to x1 and ee4. All edges gilt. Aldine anchor device on title and at the end. The pagination is unusual. The page numbers appear at the top right on the rectos of the leaves, and at the inner right corner of the versos.

Second Aldine edition, with Aldus’ dedicatory letter (reprinted from the 1508 edition) to Alvise Mocenigo. This is the first edition with the index of Latin translations of Greek words found in the text (“Latina interpretatio dictionum et sententiarum graecarum”) and the index of “memorable things” (“Index rerum memorabilium”). Also included are Suetonius’ “De claris grammaticis et rhetoribus” and Julius Obsequens’ book of prodigies (“Prodigiorum liber”). In addition to Pliny’s letters, the book also includes his panegyric in praise of Trajan and the spurious “On illustrious men.”

“Details of Pliny's life and activities come for the most part from his own correspondence. Gaius Caecilius Secundus was born at Como in A.D. 61 or 62. Upon the death of his father he was adopted by Pliny, his maternal uncle (who would later die during the eruption of Vesuvius), whose name he took. Pliny studied rhetoric at Rome under the tutelage of Quintilian and Nicetes Sacerdos, a Greek rhetorician. He achieved success as a lawyer and a political figure. In 111 Trajan, with whom Pliny enjoyed a lively correspondence, appointed him his legate in Bithynia. Pliny died not long afterwards, probably in 113.

“Pliny has left us a collection of letters (the ‘Epistulae’) in ten books, the first nine containing letters composed from 97 to 108 and published by Pliny himself, the tenth containing private and official letters from Pliny to Trajan, as well as the emperor's replies… [I]t is likely that they were published after his death and added to his own collection as a tenth book. Pliny's correspondence preserves for us the names of many authors and gives us an overall picture of literature in the period of the Flavians and Trajan.

“It is easy to understand how Pliny's worldliness and his being simultaneously a very wealthy man, an important political figure, and a valued author placed him in a privileged position as an observer of his time. The greatest figures of the day appear in Pliny's letters, from the emperor Trajan to Tacitus (to whom the letter on the eruption of Vesuvius was addressed), and on to Suetonius (whom Pliny urges to publish once and for all the ‘De Viris Illustribus’ that he has had in the drawer for some while). The occurrences of the day also appear, including the most important and tragic, such as the eruption of Vesuvius...

“Pliny's letters are really a series of brief essays chronicling the fashionable, intellectual, and civil life of his day. He informs his interlocutors about his activities and recreations and his concerns as a large landowner. He depicts the country in mannerist tones, describing it principally as a panorama enjoyed through the windows of his villas, although some descriptions, such as the eruption of Vesuvius, in which his uncle, Pliny the Elder, died, are very powerful and have enjoyed great success with posterity. He praises various people, especially writers and poets who are alive or but recently dead, such as Silius Italicus and Martial. It is rare for him not to find for each person mentioned in his letters some courteous phrase that calls attention to his good qualities. Pliny shows himself to be a frequenter of the halls where recitations and declamations were held, cultural events that he himself to a large extent helped organize. He is an enthusiast who is not stingy with words of praise for nearly all the versifiers and lecturers he hears.

PLINY AND TRAJAN

Pliny has also left us his ‘Panegyricus’ is an enlarged version of the speech of thanks that he delivered to Trajan in the Senate on the occasion of his appointment as consul, in A.D. 100. The ‘Panegyricus’ has come down to us as the first in a collection of later panegyrics of various emperors, the virtual beginning of a literary genre. Pliny enumerates and celebrates the virtues of Trajan, who has restored freedom of speech and thought. After Domitian's grim tyranny, which he defames bitterly, Pliny expresses his hopes for a renewed collaboration between the emperor and the Senate and attempts to describe a model of behavior for the future emperors... Despite the fundamentally hopeful tone, here and there in the ‘Panegyricus’ the concern emerges that wicked emperors could come to power again and that the Senate could once again suffer as much as it had under Domitian.

The real relations between him and Trajan emerge clearly from the correspondence they conducted during the former's governorship in Bithynia, which is preserved, as was said, in the tenth book of the ‘Epistulae’. Pliny behaves like a scrupulous and loyal yet somewhat indecisive official, informing Trajan about all the problems he faces -public works, problems of finance and public order, among them the trials of the Christians- and waiting for advice and orders from him. In Trajan's replies one occasionally catches a light hint of annoyance at the continual queries Pliny puts to him, even on matters of secondary importance. The emperor is famous for his attitude of calm tolerance towards the Christians. There being no relevant laws on the books, he instructs Pliny not to try them except in the case of declarations that are not made anonymously and in any event to suspend the trial if the accused, by sacrificing to the pagan gods, gives evidence that he is not a Christian or is no longer one. He is obviously concerned not to punish offenses against religion, thus freeing himself from responsibility in regard both to informers and to public opinion.”(Gian Biagio Conte, Latin Literature, a History).

Renouard p. 82.1. UCLA II, 145. Adams P-1538