A Celebrated Work of Classical Scholarship, this Copy Owned by Richard François Philippe Brunck, Notorious Emender of Greek and Latin Texts


(Lugduni [Lyon]: Excudebat Guichard Julliéron apud Antoine de Harsy, 1599). 173 x 109 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 1/4"). 12 p.l., 349, [1] pp., [24] leaves.Edited by Isaac Casaubon. Editio Altera [Second Edition]; EDITIO PRINCEPS of books 24-28.

18th century French polished calf, smooth spine gilt in compartments with central floral sprig surrounded by leaf tools, gilt lettering of owner's name (Brunck) at tail of spine, red morocco label, marbled endpapers (older repairs to joints). Printer's device on title page. Text in Greek and Latin. Title page with ink ownership inscription of Bibliothèque Villelufpen and Richard Brunck; isolated ink marginalia in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, or Latin. Dibdin II, 501; STC French 419; Graesse VII, 125; USTC 158510. A couple of short scratches and two small water stains to upper board, shallow chip to head of spine, leaves somewhat browned (due to paper quality), a couple of tiny rust spots, but a very good copy, clean and fresh internally, in a sound binding.

From the library of a notable--and perhaps notorious--classical scholar, this is an important edition of the Greek philosopher's "Characters," with Isaac Casaubon's revisions to his translation and commentary of 1592, and the addition of five sections, printed here for the first time, that Casaubon had recently discovered at the Palatine Library. One of the earliest known works of psychology, "Characters" contains pithy descriptions of the various types of human foibles, noted by the Oxford Companion for their "remarkable vivacity and keenness of observation." A pupil of Aristotle and the master's successor as head of the school of Peripatetic philosophy, Theophrastus (ca. 371 - ca. 287 B.C.) wrote widely on a number of subjects, ranging from ethics to physics to botany (he is considered the "father" of the last discipline). He would have considered these descriptions of such characters as "The Flattering Man," "The Stupid Man," and "The Oligarch" a minor work, but it is one that has weathered the centuries. The present translation and commentary marked a milestone in the life of the great classical scholar Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614). Sandys says, "It is not until we reach his commentary on the 'Characters' of Theophrastus (1592) that we find a work that is marked by his distinctive merit, an interpretation of a text of the most varied interest founded on wide reading and consummate learning. It was a work that won the highest praise from Scaliger." Dibdin called the commentary "a rich mine of Grecian literature." Former owner Richard François Philippe Brunck (1729-1803) was a classical scholar of considerable note who devoted his leisure to the critical revision of the Greek poets. According to Britannica, "He spent considerable sums of money in publishing editions of the Greek classics." Flaunting the established mode of editing and criticism, he did not hesitate to make clarifying changes to difficult or inscrutable passages of text--whether these alterations were supported by manuscript authorities or not. Deprived of his royal pension by the French Revolution, Brunck was forced to sell portions of his library in 1790 and again in 1801.

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PJP Catalog: 77.092