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Tragwdéiai ‘epta metexhghséewn [sic].Tragaediae septem cum commentariis, etc. [ed. Joannes Gregoropoulos].   Venice, Aldus Manutius, August 1502

SOPHOCLES  (1502)

£24000.00 

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Aldus’ device on verso of final leaf, Greek type.   

8vo (148 x 91mm.) 196 leaves (including the 3 blanks). 19th century vellum over pasteboard, gilt spine, early title lettered in ink on lower edge.                         

Editio princeps and the first Greek text printed in the 8vo Aldine format.  

It is set in Francesco Griffo’s small Greek type (type Gk 4 as distinguished in the UCLA Ahmanson-Murphy catalogue), and was printed from a manuscript now in St. Petersburg (Ms. gr. 731) as was noted as long ago as 1926 by W. Beneševic (see Martin Sicherl Griechische Erstausgaben des Aldus Manutius: Druckvorlagen, Stellenwert, kultureller Hintergrund, Paderborn & Munich, 1996 p. 348 and pl. viii). Sales, it has been suggested by Nigel Wilson, may have been expected amongst the Greeks resident in Venice in the early 16th century, and possibly also amongst the Greeks of Crete.  

The preface by Aldus addressed to Janus Lascaris speaks of their sitting round the fire in the winter with their fellow members of the Neacademia when Marcus Musurus was singing the praises of Lascaris. ‘Therefore as I had been engaged in getting the tragedies of Sophocles printed in small format, I wanted them to come out from our Neacademia under your name, and to send the book to you as a gift and memorial of my deepest affection for you’. He then continues in Greek ‘the scholia on the tragedies had not yet been printed, but will be printed Deo volente … and in particular as they relate to metre [lit. opening of metres], and O that I had had that before the tragedies themselves were printed…’ The scholia were not in fact printed until 1518 in Rome.  

Provenance: Latin marginalia to Ajax and notes on first blank from c. 1800 (slightly cropped); bookplate of Sir Charles James Stuart, 2nd Baronet (1824-1901; there are two books from his collection in UCLA (nos. 250, 283); Herbert Thompson (name inscribed on front flyleaf).  

References: UCLA (The Aldine Press Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection etc., 2001) no. 60; Renouard p. 34, no. 6; Legrand Bibl. Hellénique… aux xve et xvie siècles, 1, pp. 77-79 no. 30.

Stock Code: 213524