Venice: In Aedibus Aldi, Mense Novembri, 1503.
Octavo: 16.6 x 10.5 cm. Collation: A-Z8, AA-MM8, NN10
FIRST ALDINE EDITION (the first ed. of the text was published in 1494). Also includes the EDITIO PRINCEPS of the 6th-century Byzantine poem “In Thermas Pythias et aquarum miracula”(on the warm baths of Pythia in Bithynia) attributed to Paulos Silentiarius.
Text in Greek type 4:79, (first part of title, register, and colophon in roman 10:82.) Bound in a contemporary Greek-style binding (see below). A tall copy, contents in very good condition with scattered ink stains (mostly light) and minor marks, dampstain at head of some gatherings and in a few gutters; half of leaf L2 supplied from another copy, text-block slightly rounded at corners, minor marginal worm in a few gatherings, not affecting the text. Woodcut Aldine device on title and final leaf. With scattered contemporary annotations, additions, and corrections, longer ones on C6, E6v, E8r, I8v, GG4r, and HH3r (those on C6 with added verses of Theocritus(?) concerning Aphrodite (“he kupris ou pandemos”).
This copy is remarkable for its Greek-style (“alla greca”, “à la grecque”) binding, very worn, board edges damaged, slight losses at head and tail of spine; lacking straps (but remnants preserved inside both boards) and clasps, one clasp peg preserved. Both end-bands are intact.
The Greek-Style Binding:
“The book was undoubtedly bound by a Greek bookbinder in the genuine Greek style, possibly coming from Crete or trained in the tradition of Cretan bookbinding, who was probably working in the Veneto, but not necessarily Venice (i.e. perhaps Padua, as the university there would have provided a good market for such bindings), and that the book was certainly tooled in Italy (making the supposition that the binder was working in the Veneto more likely). The worn condition of the book makes it very difficult to get an accurate impression of the book as it looked when new, but it is not finished with the precision of the best work in Venice of the time, though the cutting of the grooves in the edges of the boards and working of the endbands are both very nicely executed. It is always possible, therefore, that the book was bound up the point of being sewn, in boards and with endbands, by a very competent Greek binder (it was work that fell outside the experience of Italian binders at the time), and that the covering and decoration was done afterwards, possibly by another, not necessarily Greek, binder. The tools have not been identified, but there are some structural features that might yet lead to a more precise provenance.”(Nicholas Pickwoad)
“From archival data cited by De Marinis (1960 vol. 1 pp. 31ff.; vol. 2 p. 45) it is clear that in Italy the term 'alla greca' was in use by the second half of the fifteenth century: documents dating from 1455 to 1499 clearly distinguish bindings with 'une serratura greca', 'libri ala grechessa' and 'legate alla greca' from those of the kind 'ligatum more latino'. A bill made out for four bindings of either type, 'doy in grecho e doy non grechi' proves that the same workshop could handle either technique; the specification that 'sei volumi greci [should be bound] ala grecha' attests the early humanists' traditional preference to have classical Greek texts bound accordingly. In his chapter on 'alla greca' bindings De Marinis (1960 vol. 3, pp. 36-49) lists 225 examples from Italy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (c.15 per cent and 85 per cent respectively); Venice and Rome are the most frequent places of origin. The 'alla greca' vogue had equally caught on in France, where the royal libraries of Francis I and Henri II at Fontainebleau assembled a rich collection of no less than 600 Greek works bound 'alla greca', now in BNF (A. Hobson 1989 pp. 172-212). Humanist collectors far and wide followed the fashion: members of the Fugger family in Augsburg had their Greek books bound in Paris, Venice and also in Germany, and Cardinal Granvelle, even if he knew no Greek, made sure that the Greek texts received an appropriate binding (probably from Italy; see Piquard 1942; 1951).”(Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding)
“The fashion for Greek-style bindings amongst the wealthier humanist scholars and book collectors of Western Europe appeared first in Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century. The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 led to the arrival in western European countries of increasing numbers of Greek scholars and scribes, and with them, their books. Famous libraries, such as that of Cardinal Bessarion (1403-1472), became available to western scholars, and, as the Italian binding historian Tommaso de Marinis has claimed, the association between Greek texts and ‘alla greca’ bindings became firmly fixed in the Italian humanist’s mind. The demand for texts was such that there was an active trade in copying Greek manuscripts, mostly in Italy but even as far afield as England, where the scribes Joannis Serbopoulos and Emmanuel of Constantinople worked together in the last quarter of the fifteenth century. It would seem that a high proportion of these books, followed in the last quarter of the fifteenth century by books printed in Greek, were bound in the Greek style. This phenomenon is in part explained by the highly recognisable differences between Greek and western bindings, which are immediately evident to the most casual observer.
“The differences may be simply summarised as the smooth spines which result from unsupported sewing techniques as opposed to raised bands across the spine created by raised sewing supports; wooden boards which are the same size as the textblocks, often with grooved edges; endbands which therefore project beyond the height of the boards, and which are sewn to the head and tail edges of the boards; clasps formed by metal rings attached to the back board by double or triple interlaced straps which fasten onto pins which project from the edges of the front board. The placing of the fastenings at head and tail is often eccentric, in that they are in many bindings located closer to the foredge than the spine. The spines are often heavily rounded, but the foredges are cut square, flush with the board edges. This results in foredge margins of different widths throughout the book. All or any of these features might be taken up by the binders who made versions of these books in western Europe, depending on how close they came to Greek originals.”(Pickwoad, “How Greek is Greek? Western European Imitations of Greek-Style Bindings” in Vivlioamphiastis 3, ed. Niki Tsironis (2008)).
The “Planudean Anthology” was written by the Byzantine scholar Maximus Planudes. It was the first collection of Greek epigrams to be printed (1494) and the only one known until the Palatine Anthology emerged from obscurity (1606) to supersede it. Planudes’ work is based upon the compilation of Constantine Cephalas (Konstantanos Kephalas), a Byzantine schoolmaster who, in about the year 900, excerpted all the major ancient manuscript collections of epigrams.
Planudes lived during the reigns of Michael VIII Palaiologus and Andronikos II Palaiologus. He was born at Nicodemia in 1260 but the greater part of his life was spent in Constantinople, where as a monk he devoted himself to study and teaching. On entering the monastery he changed his original name Manuel to Maximus.
Planudes’ anthology of Greek epigrams is neatly arranged in seven books with complex subdivisions. It is not known what sources he used: certainly the collection of Cephalas, probably two others closely resembling the Palatine Anthology… He included nearly 400 epigrams which are not in the Palatine manuscript; in modern editions these are printed as book 16 of the Greek Anthology. The result, called the Planudean Anthology, has survived in Planudes’ own autograph (now in Venice, dated 1301, perhaps a mistake for 1299): it was the first collection of Greek epigrams to be printed (1494) and the only one known until the palatine Anthology emerged from obscurity (1606) to supersede it.”.
Ahmanson-Murphy 62; Renouard, Alde 42.9; Adams A-1181. See Paton, The Greek Anthology, 1920; Jay, The Greek Anthology, 1973