Venice: Bonetus Locatellus, per Octavianus Scotus, 9 December, 1491.
Statius, Publius Papinius (b. ca. 45-50 – d. ca. 96)
Statii Achilleida cum comm. Ioannis Britannici
Brescia: per Iacobum Brtitannicum, 21 May 1485
Folio: 29 x 19.6 cm. Two works bound as one. I.  lvs. (the last leaf blank). Collation: a-c8, d-e6, f-s8, t-x6. II.  lvs. (the first leaf blank). Collation: A4, a-d6.
Bound in attractive 18th c. blonde calf, spine richly gilt with floral tools and morocco label; board edges also gilt (light wear, corners bumped). Fine, crisp copies with minor blemishes as follows: I. Title lightly soiled, marginal dampstain to the first three lvs., leaf l1, leaf g6, and a few lvs. in gathering h; 4 lvs. in gathering e and bifolium f1/8 lightly browned (f1/8 with light ink stain). II. Light dampstain blank margin. Both books with woodcut initials. First work with Octavian Scotus’ printer’s device on the final leaf. From the library of the French poet and journalist Frédéric Plessis (1851-1942), with his label “ex-libris Fridericus Plessis” on the front fly-leaf.
This volume comprises two incunabula. The first is the 1491 edition of the Roman elegiac poets, Catullus, Propertius and Tibullus, with the commentaries of (respectively) Antonio Partenio (1456-1506), Filippo Beroaldo the Elder (1453-1505) and Berardino Cillenio (b. ca. 1450) of Verona. The second is the 1485 Brescia edition of Statius’s “Achilleid”, an unfinished epic poem on the life of Achilles, with the commentary of the humanist Giovanni Britannico (fl. 1470-1518).
Catullus and Parthenius:
The commentary of Parthenius on Catullus is particularly important. His work was “not only the first but also the most important of the fifteenth-century commentaries on Catullus. He made significant improvements to the text and explained Catullan style and usage with parallels from a wide range of ancient authors, both Greek and Latin, including among others, Cicero, Vergil, Martial, Pliny Ovid, Lucretius, Donatus, Homer, and Sappho. He was also interested in interpreting the poems and successfully emended and explained several that had previously seemed pointless. The commentary was hailed in verse by several of Parthenius’ fellow citizens and other contemporaries, including Iacobus Iuliarius and Hieronymus Bononius.” (Gaiser)
Statius’ Interrupted Epic:
“Any judgment upon [the ‘Achilleid’] is difficult, since the text we have (interrupted by the author's death) deals only with episodes of the young Achilles on Scyros. The plan of narrating all of Achilles' life (1.4 ff.) suggests large literary ambitions. Statius, had he been able to continue, would have found himself facing Homer. And beginning with its title the work seems, even more than Statius’ ‘Thebaid’, to be heading towards a perilous confrontation with the ghost of its father Virgil.”(Conte).
ISTC it00372000; HC*4763=4765. BMC V, 439. Polain (B) 3783. Goff T-372. II: ISTC is00696000; HC* 14989. BMC VII, 973. Goff S-696