The Best Early Edition of Callimachus, Bound with Estienne's Apollonius, the Fine Syston Park Copy


([Geneva]: Excudebat Henricus Stephanus, 1574, 1577). 255 x 180 mm. (10 1/8 x 6 3/8"). 4 p.l., 240 pp. 8 p.l., 72, 134 pp.First work with Henri Estienne's textual notes on and analysis of the epic; both with Greek scholia. FIRST EDITION of the Epigrams of Callimachus.

Pleasing 18th century olive brown morocco, covers with triple gilt fillet border, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with central floral sprig surrounded by small tools, flower cornerpieces, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt (older repair to head of rear joint). Printer's devices on title pages, woodcut headpieces and decorative initials. Front pastedown with armorial Syston Park bookplate and monogrammed book label of John Hayfor Thorold; front free endpaper with bookplate of Stephen Winkworth, front flyleaf with ink presentation inscription to Winkworth as a wedding gift from L. and F. Campbell, dated April 7, 1895; flyleaf also with earlier notation at head edge: "L'archer's copy." First work: Renouard 141:1; Schreiber 188; Schweiger I, 38; Dibdin I, 275; Brunet I, 348-49; Graesse I, 164. Second work: Renouard 145:3; Schweiger I, 75; Dibdin I, 367; Graesse II, 17. Joints a bit worn, two small abrasions to lower board, one page of first work with printing flaw affecting half a dozen lines, occasional mild marginal foxing, but A VERY APPEALING COPY, clean and fresh in a sound, attractive binding.

Praised by Schreiber as "a very important and beautifully printed edition," this is the scholarly Estienne printing of a four-book epic based on the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, first composed when Apollonius (ca. 295 - ca. 215 B.C.) was still a youth in Alexandria. Smith gives special praise, among other things, to the poet's development of the "beautifully drawn" character of Medea, saying that "the gradual growth of her love is described with a truly artistic moderation." Whether owing to the enmity of other poets or to the poem's being as yet unripened, "it did not meet with the approbation" of the public. Apollonius left Alexandria for Rhodes, one of the great centers of Greek literature and scholarship at the time. There, he revised his epic poem, which was greeted with great acclaim among the Rhodians; when he returned to his birthplace, his revision was warmly received as well, and "he at once rose to the highest degree of fame and popularity." (Smith) The second part of the present volume contains what Dibdin says is the first genuinely critical edition of the extant works of Callimachus (ca. 305 - ca. 240 B.C.), perhaps the most distinguished scholar poet of the Alexandrine period, and the teacher and bitter rival of Apollonius. Legend says that Callimachus produced as many as 800 volumes (nearly all of them lost) in many genres, and he was most noteworthy as the proponent of perfection within a small-scale medium. (His feuds with Apollonius centered upon his contention that writing epics was inappropriate for the age.) Smith says that his hymns "are more overloaded with learning than any other poetical production of [his] time," and the dazzling erudition and polish in his epigrams and elegies had a profound effect on Propertius, Catullus, and many poets in succeeding generations. Appearing here are the six extant hymns of Callimachus, with Greek scholia, a life of the poet, a Latin translation, other variant texts, and additional scholarly apparatus. In addition, and appearing here for the first time in print, are 33 of the author's epigrams and other fragments. Ours is a much more complete edition than any previous one, including the first by Henri Estienne, which appeared in 1566, and no significant improvements in the present text were made for well over 100 years. The Syston Park library in Lincolnshire, established by Sir John Thorold around 1775 and expanded by his son John Hayford Thorold 40 years later, "was so large and so excellent" as to be ranked by Quaritch with the great libraries of Sunderland, Beckford, and Spencer, and the library's books are well known for their consistently fine condition.

Keywords: Estienne