[Moralia] Opuscula LXXXXII. Index Moralium omnium & eorum quae in ipsis tractantur, etc. (ed. Demetius Ducas)(Venice, Aldus Manutius & Andreas Asulanus, March 1509)

PLUTARCH of Chareonea (1509)


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Large 4to. [16], 1050, [2]pp, Greek and Roman type (Gk 3 (2nd casting), Aldus’ device on title, late 16th-century vellum.                                                                                  

Editio princeps.  

Plutarch’s Moralia fill some sixteen volumes (including a copious index) in the modern Loeb Greek-English edition, and just as his Parallel Lives have had an enormous influence (through their translation into the vernacular) on such as Montaigne and Shakespeare, so too the Moralia have, through the multiple works (a total of seventy-eight, divided into fourteen books since 1572) that constitute them, been much read and studied. From De liberis educandis, an obvious candidate for educationalists, to De curiositate and the Quaestiones Romanae & Quaestiones Graecae¸ which afford massive amounts of information about the ancient world, to De Iside et Osiride an important source for the history of ancient religion, they have been quarried and used. Further Plutarch’s own citations of other writers (like those of Athenaeus in his Deipnosophistae) are often important records of otherwise lost texts. Plutarch himself (CE 45-120) was a priest of Apollo at Delphi. His importance for the history of the ancient world has always been highly regarded, but of recent years his rôle has been seen by such as Simon Swain as massively important.

‘Aldus, the saviour of the Greek language, sparing neither cost nor labour, has gifted you this spiritual wealth, namely Plutarch… Whosoever therefore has put on this book, let him journey cheerfully on the waves of life’. These words are a translation from sentences contained in the preface by the Cretan Demetrius Ducas (Doukas, ca. I 1480 – ca. 1527) the editor of the volume, addressed ‘To the zealous’, and whilst they are somewhat exaggerated (and tell us nothing of his editorial work) they complement Aldus’s own Latin preface which is addressed to Jacobus Antiquarius of Perugia (1444/5-1512, see DBI) secretary to Lodovico Sforza, duke of Milan, who was the dedicatee of many books printed in the late 15th century, and whom Aldus clearly knew well and visited in Milan. The preliminary matters include also a poem in Greek by Girolamo Aleandro (1480-1542). Printer’s copy for the book survives in a manuscript in the Ambrosiana in Milan (C. 195 inf.) and this manuscript, which was clearly used by Marcus Musurus, may have been lent to Aldus for the preparation of the edition.  

Light staining, heavier waterstaining to first and last quires, tear to title-leaf restored, small wormholes in first quire.                                  

References: UCLA 101; Renouard p. 55, no. 1; Legrand Bibl. Hellénique aux xv et xvieme siècles vol. 1 pp. 89- 93 no. 33; See f. M. Sicherl, Griechische Erstausgaben des Aldus Manutius: Druckvorlagen, Stellenwert, kultureller Hintergrund, Paderborn & Munich: 1997, pp.357-9).

Stock Code: 213525

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