Epigrammata paucis admodum vel reiectis, vel immutatis nullo Latinitatis damno, ab omni rerum obscoenitate, verborumque turpitudine vindicata.Rome, in aedibus Societatis Iesu, 1558.

MARTIALIS Marcus Valerius (1558)


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Woodcut Jesuit 'IHS' device on title-page, initials.

Sm. 8vo (170 x 108mm). 344pp. Expertly bound in recent cartonnage boards.

Rome, in aedibus Societatis Iesu, 1558.

First edition of the first Jesuit edition of a classical author, expurgated for a juvenile audience as the title suggests: "The Epigrams, only a few of which have been rejected or changed without damage to the Latin, stripped of every sort of obscenity and raised above every distasteful form of language."

This is one of the earliest Jesuit school books, edited by the French Jesuits André des Freux and Emund Auger at the request of Ignatius Loyola, to serve the growing number of Jesuit schools. Des Freux, one of only two Jesuits present at the founder’s death in 1556, had been charged by Ignatius to compose a work on Latin style and a Latin Syntax, and also expurgated editions of Martial, Horace and Terence. From these authors only this edition of Martial’s Epigrams was published in 1558; it was one of the first books printed at the Collegio Romano, the first press operated by the Jesuits, and went into 18 editions.

From the founding of the first school at Messina in 1548 there had been demands for specific text books for use in the schools and Des Freux’s books were composed to meet this immediate demand. 

André des Freux, or Frusius, was born at Chartres c. 1502. He was well educated and was for many years a priest at Thiverval, near to Paris, but travelled to Rome to seek membership of the newly founded Society of Jesus. Shortly after his admission in 1541 he became secretary to Loyola and contributed to the establishment of the Society at Parma, Venice, and many towns of Italy and Sicily. He was the first Jesuit who taught the Greek language at Messina and he also gave public lectures on the Holy Scriptures in Rome. In a letter to Fr. Domenech of 1548 on the men he was sending to Messina, Ignatius said of des Freux, “He is a universal genius, deeply versed in arts, in theology, in Scripture; and eminent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Though he is a rhetorician, he has a special gift for poetry. In fact, I know of no one here whose muse so combines learning with piety and facility”. One of his most enduring works was his Poemata, posthumously published (Cologne, 1582) and later edited by Scaliger, containing epigrams against the heretics, amongst whom he placed Erasmus. He was appointed Rector of the German College at Rome shortly before his death, which occurred on the 25th of October, 1556, three months and six days after the death of Loyola.

Lightly washed; a good copy.

Censimento Edit 16 CNCE 34324. OCLC: USA, only 8 copies listed (Loyola & Newberry Chicago, Boston College, U North Carolina, UCLA, Folger, Gleeson Library SF, College of the Holy Cross MA).

Stock Code: 233722

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