The First Printing of Josephus in the Original Greek, Bound with an Important Work on the Black Sea, with the Earliest(?) Map of its Region


(Basileae: J. Froben, 1544; Geneuae: apud Eustathium Vignon, 1577). 337 x 210 mm. (13 1/4 x 8 1/4"). 6 p.l., 967, [1] pp.; 12 p.l., 193, [25] pp., [1] leaf (blank); 18 p.l., 109 (i.e., 108) pp., [8] leaves. (Arrianus conforms to Adams A-2015, the Pembroke copy, with ¶2 after I6.) Two separately published works bound in one volume. EDITIO PRINCEPS of Josephus.

Contemporary blind-stamped pigskin, covers with multiple frames of decorative rolls, including one of the Virtues (Faith, Hope, Patience, Prudence, Justice), upper cover stamped with initials "F I M" and the date "1580," raised bands, early ink titling on fore edge, brass clasps and catches incorporating pigskin thongs (all original). Arrianus with a folding map of the Black Sea. Josephus text in Greek, Arrianus in Greek and Latin. Front pastedown with late 18th or early 19th century engraved bookplate of W. P. Perrin, Bloomsbury Square (see below). Adams J-351; VD16 J 955; USTC 683976; Adams A-2015. For the binding: Haebler II, 286 #6 ("source unknown"). Binding a bit yellowed at spine and edges, a couple of light scratches to boards, first work with intermittent minor foxing, a score of leaves more noticeably (but never severely) foxed, a couple of dozen leaves with mild browning, the second (much shorter) work with the same minor foxing or browning, but with half a dozen leaves noticeably browned, one with conspicuous marginal foxing; still, a pleasing copy, with the folding map entirely unaffected, the text very clean and still quite fresh, and the original unrestored binding entirely solid and with blind decoration extremely sharp.

This is a pleasing contemporary copy of two important Greek accounts of the Classical world--the first printing in the original Greek of Froben's Josephus, which was for generations the standard history of the Jews upon which subsequent editions were based, and Arrian's account of his circumnavigation of the Black Sea, which seems to contain the earliest map to show separately the immediate region of that body of water. Born in Jerusalem to Jewish parents, Josephus (ca. 37 - ca. 100) was swept up in the Jewish rebellion against Rome begun in 66, and eventually captured by Vespasian's troops. Brought before the commander, he was inspired to prophesy that Vespasian would become emperor. As a consequence of this propitious forecast, his life was spared, and when the prophecy came true two years later, he was freed, awarded Roman citizenship, given the Vespasian family name of Flavius, and eventually pensioned on an estate, where he devoted the rest of his life to writing Jewish histories. Included in this corpus are his "Jewish Antiquities," comprising 20 books on the history of the Jews from the Creation to the outbreak of the war with Rome; "The Jewish War," eight books covering the years of the revolt until 73, written largely from his own knowledge; a narrative of his own life, apparently to defend himself against the charge that he had been the cause of the Jewish rebellion; and two books "Against Apion," an attempt to dispel current misrepresentations of the Jews. An ethnic Greek from Nicodemia, Arrian (86-160) studied with the Stoic philosopher Epictetus in his youth, and then served the Roman Empire as a soldier, consul, and governor. It was while serving as governor of the Black Sea province of Cappadocia that he penned these reports to the emperor Hadrian, recounting his travels around the Black Sea region, then largely unknown to the authorities in Rome. A reliable map of a previously uncharted area would have been especially valuable to his patron. Gibbon notes in "Decline and Fall" that Arrian's descriptions contain "whatever the governor of Cappadocia had seen from Trebizond to Dioscurias; whatever he had heard, from Dioscurias to the Danube; and whatever he knew, from the Danube to Trebizond." A man of considerable importance, our early owner was William Philp (or Phelp) Perrin (1742-1820), whose London home was in Bloomsbury Square. In 1759, he inherited from his father five Jamaican sugar plantations worth about £60,000, a vast fortune at the time. He was a close friend of Sir Joseph Banks at Eton and Christ Church Oxford, studied law at Oxford, and later became high sheriff of Kent.

Price: $12,500.00