[EPISTOLAE]. PISTOLE DEL MORALISSIMO SENECA.
(Venice: Sebastiano Manilio, and Stephanus and Bernardinus di Nallis, 14 April 1494). 320 x 205 mm. (12 1/2 x 8"). 6 p.l., 170 leaves. Single column, 42 lines, roman type.Translated by Sebastiano Manilio. First Edition in Italian.
18th century sprinkled calf, joints renewed, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt quatrefoil, later red morocco label. Moss II, 591; Goff S-382; BMC V, 545; ISTC is00382000. The leather used for rejointing now beginning to lift, short crack at head of front joint, paper along front hinge separated (with the board beginning to wobble), leather with a few scratches and other minor problems. First quire a little soiled with slightly frayed fore edges, first leaf with blank corner replaced and with a four-inch arching tear into text (but no loss), n3 with repaired curving diagonal tear nearly the length of the page (three or four words affected, but no meaning lost), final leaf rather browned and with repaired marginal tear; unsightly at beginning and end, but quite pleasing in between, the text there being consistently fresh and clean.
This is the first appearance in Italian of Seneca's "Moral Epistles," a major resource for Stoic teachings that appeared in 25 incunabular editions following the editio princeps in 1475. These 124 letters, written late in the philosopher's life, spend much time on death, illness, and aging, but also discuss friendship, travel, study, and pleasure. The letters are notable for their conversational tone, and translator Sebatiano Manilio sought to preserve this by using the Tuscan vernacular for his Italian version. Manilio (fl. 1492-1504) was a classicist educated in Rome who worked for a number of Venetian publishers, producing Latin and Italian translations of several works, ranging from the "De Animalibus" of Aristotle to Ketham's "Fascisculus Medicinae." Our Seneca is the only work for which he also served as co-publisher. It was the first book published by the di Nallis brothers, who only issued two other works, both of which were printed by another pair of brothers, Joannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis. This is an uncommonly seen book in even reasonably good condition. (CBJ1752)