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Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper

Wednesday 25th January 2017: 1:00pm GMT

Orpheus

Full Lot Details

Orpheus. Argonautica. Hymni [graece], collation: α-ζ8, η4, complete with final blank, [51]ff., text in single column, 28 lines, type: 3:114G (Latin colophon on fol. η3r), 4:121Gk (text), fine woodcut strap-work borders and 6-line decorated initials printed in red on fols . α1r and δ2r, a handsome, wide-margined copy, slightly browned, minor repair to lower blank margin of fol. α8, later red hard-grain morocco by Charles Lewis (1786-1836), boards framed within gilt roll, floral tools in the angles, spine with five small raised bands, richly gilt tooled, author's name and imprint lettered in gilt, cover edges gilt, inner dentelles, gilt edges, preserved in red morocco-backed cloth box, 8vo, 230 x 150mm., Florence, [Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, 19 September, 1500.

A fine copy from the library of one of the greatest 19th centruy collectors of Greek books, Beriah Botfield, of the editio princeps of all the writings ascribed in the Renaissance to Orpheus, the mythical singer; the second book issued from the Florentine press of Filippo Giunta, following Zenobios' Epitome in 1497 (see lot 4). "In the Renaissance, Orpheus was considered an ancient theologian [...] The magical effects of Orpheus' singing supported the view of the Florentine philosopher, Marsilio Ficino, that music was a conduit of celestial influences. Ficino had known the hymns through manuscripts and had translated some into Latin in 1462. Orphic hymns were performed at the Platonic Academy in Florence, often by Ficino" (H.P. Kraus, The Greek Book, p. 9).

The fragmentary texts circulating at the time under the name of Orpheus are of later date: the Argonautika are based on the work by Apollonius Rhodius, composed in the third century BC; the Orphic hymni were possibly written in Asia Minor, during the Roman period.

The Giunta publication also includes the hymns of the neo-platonic Proclus. BMC wrongly assigns the printing of Orpheus to the humanist Benedetto Riccardini, who in fact worked only as a corrector at Giunta's press. The texts are set into the same Greek type used by Bartolomeo de' Libri for the Zenobios of 1497, a recast of the font originally designed by Demetrios Damilas in Milan for Dionysius Paravisinus.

Provenance: Beriah Botfield (1807-1863); H.P. Kraus, The Greek Book, New York 1997, no. 4.

Literature: HC 12106; GW M28424; BMC VI 690; IGI 7039; Flodr, Orpheus 1; Giunta Annali 2; Sander 5229.

Full Lot Details

Orpheus. Argonautica. Hymni [graece], collation: α-ζ8, η4, complete with final blank, [51]ff., text in single column, 28 lines, type: 3:114G (Latin colophon on fol. η3r), 4:121Gk (text), fine woodcut strap-work borders and 6-line decorated initials printed in red on fols . α1r and δ2r, a handsome, wide-margined copy, slightly browned, minor repair to lower blank margin of fol. α8, later red hard-grain morocco by Charles Lewis (1786-1836), boards framed within gilt roll, floral tools in the angles, spine with five small raised bands, richly gilt tooled, author's name and imprint lettered in gilt, cover edges gilt, inner dentelles, gilt edges, preserved in red morocco-backed cloth box, 8vo, 230 x 150mm., Florence, [Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, 19 September, 1500.

A fine copy from the library of one of the greatest 19th centruy collectors of Greek books, Beriah Botfield, of the editio princeps of all the writings ascribed in the Renaissance to Orpheus, the mythical singer; the second book issued from the Florentine press of Filippo Giunta, following Zenobios' Epitome in 1497 (see lot 4). "In the Renaissance, Orpheus was considered an ancient theologian [...] The magical effects of Orpheus' singing supported the view of the Florentine philosopher, Marsilio Ficino, that music was a conduit of celestial influences. Ficino had known the hymns through manuscripts and had translated some into Latin in 1462. Orphic hymns were performed at the Platonic Academy in Florence, often by Ficino" (H.P. Kraus, The Greek Book, p. 9).

The fragmentary texts circulating at the time under the name of Orpheus are of later date: the Argonautika are based on the work by Apollonius Rhodius, composed in the third century BC; the Orphic hymni were possibly written in Asia Minor, during the Roman period.

The Giunta publication also includes the hymns of the neo-platonic Proclus. BMC wrongly assigns the printing of Orpheus to the humanist Benedetto Riccardini, who in fact worked only as a corrector at Giunta's press. The texts are set into the same Greek type used by Bartolomeo de' Libri for the Zenobios of 1497, a recast of the font originally designed by Demetrios Damilas in Milan for Dionysius Paravisinus.

Provenance: Beriah Botfield (1807-1863); H.P. Kraus, The Greek Book, New York 1997, no. 4.

Literature: HC 12106; GW M28424; BMC VI 690; IGI 7039; Flodr, Orpheus 1; Giunta Annali 2; Sander 5229.