([Parma]: Ex Regio Parmesnsi Typographio, 1797). 300 x 210 mm. (11 3/4 x 8 1/4"). 1 p.l. (half title), 16, , 110 pp.; 279 pp.; 104 pp.Edited and translated into Latin by Bernardo Zamagna; translated into Italian by Giuseppe Maria Pagnini.
Contemporary sprinkled calf, covers framed by triple gilt fillets, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with acorn centerpiece accented with fleurons on the side and volutes at the corners, red morocco label, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt (inexpert older repairs to head and tail of spine). Title page of each section with engraved portrait of Hesiod. Brooks 689, 690; Brunet III, 141-42; Dibdin II, 38. Very short crack to head of front joint, boards a bit chafed, small patch of worming to front cover, extremities rather rubbed, upper corners somewhat bumped, light freckled foxing to first and last page, first two gatherings with faint dampstain to head edge, a couple of short closed marginal tears, other trivial imperfections, otherwise an excellent copy internally, crisp, clean, and bright with generous margins, in a serviceable binding.
This new edition of Bodoni's acclaimed 1785 printing of Hesiod is augmented with an Italian translation praised by Brunet for its beauty. Hesiod is, with Homer, one of the earliest of Greek poets, having lived ca. 700 B.C. Whereas Homer composes for the nobility, Hesiod, a shepherd and farmer, reflects the life of the lowly in his main extant work, "Works and Days." This famous piece contains four parts that lay out ethical, political, and economical rules in connection with agriculture, commerce, navigation, choosing a wife, and educating one's children, often featuring disarmingly practical directives. In the second part, on the practical operation of a farm, there is a significant section devoted to viticulture and wine making. His "Birth of the Gods," the other major work in the present volume, concerns the mythical origins of the gods and heroes; it tells of the war between the Titans and the Olympic gods, gives the stories of Pandora and Prometheus, and examines the four ages of man (Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron). Our volume concludes with a short piece, ascribed with some doubt to Hesiod, entitled "The Shield of Hercules." All three works appear in Greek, Latin, and Italian, with commentary in Latin. The Carmelite scholar Giuseppe Maria Pagnini (1737-1814) translated a number of works into Italian for Bodoni from Greek, Latin, French, and English. Greek was his specialty (he held the chair at the University of Pisa in that subject), and he was responsible for Bodoni's Italian versions of Anacreon, Theocritus, Epictetus, and Callimachus, in addition to the present work. Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) worked for more than 20 years at the Royal press in Parma before obtaining permission to set up his own private press in 1791. Brooks says, "He took his printing in all its branches very seriously, laboured incessantly to perfect his type, had a fine artistic sense, . . . and produced books not only of a very high standard, but also showing a remarkably distinct individuality." Bodoni used the finest quality paper available, and his clear beautiful types have been envied and copied for many generations. "The result of his labours is a long list of books which . . . reach a very high, many of them the highest, level of technical excellence." Although there is no disputing the beauty of their typography and the elegance of their composition, one of the most striking things about Bodoni imprints is their thick, luxurious paper, which has withstood the ravages of time far better than that used in most works of the period. T. M. Cleland give us some insight into the phenomenon: "When it came to paper [Bodoni] preferred what was then called vellum paper and which was made on a woven wire screen invented in England. The paper thus obtained resembled vellum a good deal more than did the papers made on the laid screens which were commonly in use at that time. He had a way, too, of rolling his sheets after they were printed to smooth out the excess of impression left by the forms." The result is remarkably like vellum in look and feel, and in its imperviousness to aging. (ST12697e)
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PJP Catalog: Cat 69.096