Κωμῳδίαι ἐννέα. Comoediae novem.
Paris: Pierre Vidoue, for Gilles de Gourmont, 1528.
Quarto: 19.4 x 14 cm. (292) leaves.
FOURTH EDITION OF THE GREEK TEXT (1st ed. 1498) and the FIRST PRINTED IN FRANCE.
An exceptional, broad-margined copy, with a few deckled edges, bound in contemporary blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards, with clasps intact. A near-spotless copy, the title with light finger-soiling at upper corner, a few light marginal spots in 2 gatherings at end.) With tiny, neat interlinear annotations in four comedies: Each of the nine parts with Geofroy Tory’s illustrated title-page; 4 parts with Gilles des Gourmont’s device at the end. Mortimer, French 16th Century Books no. 38. For the border and printer’s device, see A. Bernard, Geofroy Tory, peintre et graveur, p. 256f., 347, passim; and Silvestre, Marques Typographiques, 83 and 826.
The colophon reads: Ἐτυπώθη ἐν λευκετία παῤῥησίων, ἀναλώμασιν ἐγιδίου γορμοντίου [Gilles de Gourmont, the publisher] διὰ παραινέσεως καὶ ἐπιμελείας ἰωάνου χραδάμου [Jean Chéradame, the editor], πόνῳ δε καὶ δεξιόθητι πέτρου οὐιδουαίου [Pierre Vidoue, the printer] … αφκη, dated in different months of the year. It seems that printing started in winter 1527. There a separate dedicatees to each of the comedies. The signatures show, like the dating of course, the chronology of printing of the individually purchasable parts: a, aa, aaa, A, AA, AAA, Aa, Aaa, AaA.
“In 1 528 Pierre Vidoue printed, at the expense of Giles de Gourmont, nine comedies of Aristophanes, in Greek, which were published separately, in quarto form, under the editorship of Jean Chéradame. All of these have a frontispiece engraved by Tory, of which a description follows. At the foot, under the words 'Egidivs Gormontivs' in large letters, is a shield with the Gourmont arms (three roses in chief and a crescent in point), supported by two winged stags with ducal coronets about their necks, the crest being a helmet above which is a St. Michael holding a naked sword. At the left, a Greek inscription; at the right, an inscription in Hebrew. The two uprights represent the wise men offering their gifts to the Child Jesus lying on his mother's knees. At the top is a shield with three crowns in chief (this was the sign of Gilles de Gourmont, as may be seen on the title-page of 'Champ fleury '), and tears in the field. This shield has for supporters, on the right a lion, on the left a griffin, and for crest a helmet surmounted by a fan-shaped ornament. On either side is an angel with wings holding a shield ; that on the left enclosing an E, that on the right a G, the initials of Gilles de Gourmont's name in Latin (Egidius Gour/montius). The Lorraine cross is at the foot of the border, on the left.”(Bernard, Geofroy Tory (English trans. by Ives), p. 197-198)
Provenance: Joh. Jacobi Zur Linden…, 17th century ink inscription at head of title; Joseph von Laßberg (1770-1855) and bibliographical note to front free endpaper. Laßberg’s library, 11.000 printed books, 263 manuscripts, was sold to the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek in Donaueschingen; shelf mark at foot of spine and inner pastedown of the Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen; exlibris Livio Ambrogio on pastedown.
The first edition of Aristophanes’ comedies printed in France. The book was edited by Jean Chéradame (c.1495–c.1543) and printed by Gilles de Gourmont (c.1480–c.1535), the first French printer to print a Greek book (the “Liber gnomagyricus”), in which he self-consciously called himself “primus Graecarum et Hebrearum litterarum Parrhisiis impressor.”(See Bastin-Hamou, Teaching Greek with Aristophanes in the French Renaissance, p. 73 ff.)
The 9 plays and their dedicatees are as follows. Two of the nine parts are dedicated to significant Englishmen resident in Paris (see below):
Plutus: a-g4: (28) ff. Colophon on recto, device on verso of g4. Dated: μαιμακτηρίων ιθ = 19. Nov. Dedicatee: Ιωάννης Κληρικός/John Clerk (1482-1541), English diplomat and bishop, served under Cardinal Wolsey. “Clerk had been bishop of Bath and Wells since 1523, after Wolsey, who protected him, had become cardinal. He came to France for a diplomatic mission in 1526 escorting Cardinal Wolsey's natural son, Thomas Winter (c.1510-c.1546). In 1528, when Chéradame published his edition of Aristophanes, Winter was staying in Paris with his tutor Thomas Lupset (c.1495-1530) in order to learn Greek. Lupset is mentioned and praised -in the address to Clerk and in the address to Winter, which precede Clouds."(Bastin-Hamou)
Nebulae: aa-gg4 h6: (34) ff. Dedicatee: Τωμὰς Οὐιντήρος/Thomas Winter, illegitimate son of Wolsey (see above).
Ranae: aaa-iii4: (36) ff. Colophon on iii3 verso, device on verso of iiii4. ποσειδώνιων ιε = 15. Dez. Dedicatee: Πέτρος Δανησίος/Pierre Danés (1497-1574), first professor of Greek at the Collège Royal.
Equites: A-H4: (32) ff. Colophon on recto, device on verso of H4. ποσειδώνιων κζ = 27. Dez. Dedicatee: Ιωάννης Βιολλείος/Jean Biollay.
Acharnes: AA-GG4: (28) ff. Colophon on GG4 verso. ποσειδώνιων λ = 30. Dez. Dedicatee: Ιωά-ννης Ταρτάοσος/Johannes the Tartessian (Juan de Carteia?, Juan de Cadiz?, Juan Luis Vives?)
Vespae: AAA-III4: (36) ff. Colophon on III3 verso, III4 blank. γαμηλιών κθ = 29. Jan. Dedicatee: Ἀνθονίος Λαπιθέος/Antoine Lapithe, French humanist, brother of Stephanus L.
Aves: Aa-Ai4 KK4: (40) ff. Dedicatee: Νικόλεος Βηράλδος/Nicolaus Berauld (1473-1550), French humanist, editor of Politianus, Philelphus, Theophylactus and more, held lectures in Paris on Cicero, Aristotle, Quintilian etc.
Pax: Aaa-Fff4 Ggg6: (30) ff. Colophon on Ggg6 verso. ἐλαφηβολιών κθ = 29. März. Dedicatee: Ιοωάννης Ρουηλλίος/Jean Ruell (1474-1537), French physisican, botanist, author of De natura stirpium, collector of manuscripts and books.
Concionantes: AaA-GgG4: (28) ff. Colophon on GgG3 verso, device on GgG4 verso. ἐλαφηβολιών λ = 30. März. Dedicatee: Γουιλλέλμος Κουίνος/?Guillaume Cuin?
The comedies of Aristophanes were first printed in Greek by Aldus Manutius (1498), followed by the Giunta editions of 1515 and 1525.