T. Livius Patavinus historicus duobus libris auctus cum L. Flori epitome. Addito indice copioso et Leonardo Aretino de primo bello punico. Ac imaginibus res gestas exprimentibus.
Venice: per Melchiorem Sessam & Petrum de Rauanis socios, 3 May, 1520.
Folio: 30.5 x 20 cm. , 295,  lvs. Collation: aa-ff8, gg4, a8, b10, A-L8, M10, N-Z8, Aa-Kk8, Ll-Mm6, Nn8, Oo10 (complete with the final blank leaf)
AN IMPORTANT ILLUSTRATED EDITION, THE FIRST WITH THESE WOODCUTS.
Bound in 18th c. stiff parchment (lightly soiled and spotted, corners bumped.) Overall a very nice copy of this beautifully-illustrated edition, with minor cosmetic faults as follows: title and opening leaves lightly damp-stained, title and second leaf soiled, corner of title with a few marginal tears and nicks, and some pin-prick wormholes; small stain to lower corner of lvs. in gathering bb (index), lvs. N2/3 and 6/7 lightly browned, small paper repair in upper blank margin of last leaf of text. Early annotations to numerous leaves (shaved by the binder when rebound in the 18th c.).
The text is illustrated with a large portrait of Livy by Zoan Andrea (active ca. 1475-1519) (see below for a full discussion), a xylographic inscription (Livy's epitaph) -here with an extensive manuscript note beneath, and 31 large vignettes, one at the beginning of each of Livy’s 30 books (arranged in 3 "decades") and one at the beginning of Leonardo Bruni Aretino's "De primo bello Punico liber primus"; in addition, the vignette and text of the first book of the first decade are enclosed within a 4-panel illustrated border featuring scenes of Roman history, arranged in strips of six compartments each, and two large horizontal compartments, one in the upper portion of the leaf and one along the bottom margin (Andrea’s signature appears on four of the vignettes and the right side of the border); The text also features 39 large white-on-black foliated and pictorial initials, and large white vine initials. The Sessa cat-and-mouse device appears on the title page; another Sessa device, featuring printer's initials "M.S." within a white circle surmounted by a double cross on a black background, appears below the colophon.
Origins of the Portrait:
The striking title page woodcut portrait of Livy by Zoan Andrea was based on a mid-fifteenth century relief still affixed to the Porta delle Debite of the Palazzo della Ragione in Livy’s home town of Padua. Behind the relief the Paduans enshrined what were believed to be Livy’s bones, which had been discovered in a sarcophagus excavated at Padua in 1413.
“The bones were definitively identified as Livy's by eager Paduans predisposed to no other conclusion… Sicco Polentone (1376-1447), a notary in the city's chancery who later became chancellor, rushed to the site and validated the discovery. Sicco rescued Livy's remains from the monks at Santa Giustina, who began to crush them, fearing that the crowds of Paduans who congregated at the church would return to paganism. Sicco then arranged for the bones to be carried in a ceremonial procession through the streets of Padua to the town hall, the Palazzo della Ragione, and to be stored there safely until the city could build a suitable mausoleum to Livy. [The lapidary inscription reproduced as a woodcut in this 1520 edition of Livy was carved and installed at the palazzo on this occasion; the second inscription recorded in the book is that of a freedman of Livy’s fourth daughter, Livia, which was installed at the aforementioned church of Santa Giustina.]
“Livy's bones were [later] moved and enshrined behind the relief on the Porta delle Debite, which depicts a half-length image of Livy, posed with his forefinger resting against his cheek and dressed in professorial garb in deliberate reflection of an earlier, unexecuted statue (designed in 1410). Like that project it continued the combination of anachronistic (i.e. contemporary) dress and archaeologically correct thoughtful pose, here refined so that Livy's forefinger is isolated against his cheek. Wolfgang Wolters convincingly associated the relief with the style of Andriolo de Sanctis, who was active in Padua in the mid-fourteenth century, but as there is no record of the sculpture before the mid-fifteenth century, it is likely to have been done then in conscious imitation of the earlier style.”(McHam, ‘Renaissance monuments to favourite sons’, Renaissance Studies Vol. 19 No. 4, p. 466 ff.)
This edition of Livy’s history “Ab urbe condita”, “From the founding of the City (i.e. Rome)” includes Leonardo Bruni’s “De primo bello Punico” and Florus’ “Epitome”. Also included is Erasmus’ letter written for Johann Schöffer’s edition of 1519.
"Livy's narrative began with the mythic origins of Rome, that is, with Aeneas' flight from Troy, and came down to the death of Drusus, Augustus' stepson, in Germany in 9 BC. It is possible that Livy's plan, interrupted by his death, was to reach the death of Augustus in AD 14.
"Several times, both in the preface and elsewhere, Livy refers to the fact that for him the narrating of Rome's glorious past is a refuge from the distress he feels when he comes to narrating more recent and contemporary events -the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the subsequent war waged by Octavian (soon to be the first Roman emperor, Augustus) against Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Although he recognizes that the crisis is epochal rather than episodic, Livy refuses to focus on that alone; rather, he strives to view it within the general context of Roman history.
"When Livy turns his gaze to the more than seven centuries that have brought Rome, a small city of Latium, to mastery of the world, he shows reverence, almost dismay, before such vast time and vast achievements. In evoking that immense journey, he feels the pressure of history, the weight of the influence that the images of the past exercise upon the consciousness of the present time. These images act as models of social and individual behavior, positive and negative; they are invitations to virtue and warnings against wickedness. The mythology of the past, in short, not only has meaning for his contemporaries but also gives meaning to their actions, in that it can illustrate through examples their own ideological needs.”(Conte).
Edit16 30060; Mortimer Harvard Italian 261; Sander, Livre à figures italien depuis 1467 jusqu'à 1530, 4004; Brunet, Manuel du libraire et de l'amateur de livres (5e éd.), III:1104