(Venice: Aldus cum privilegio Pontificis & Seantus Veneti, 1557). 143 x 95 mm. (5 5/8 x 3 3/4"). 10 p.l., 144 leaves; 4 p.l., 132 leaves; 133-432 leaves. Two separately printed works bound continuously in two volumes. Edited and with commentary by Paolo Manuzio. FIRST EDITION of the first work; Third Printing of the second.
APPEALING 19TH CENTURY MAROON STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT, BY R. STORR OF GRANTHAM (his ticket on rear pastedown), covers framed by cresting floral roll, Aldine dolphin-and-anchor device at center, raised bands, spine panels at head and foot with arabesque ornament, other panels with gilt lettering, that with volume number framed by foliate cornerpieces, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Aldine device on title pages. Front pastedowns with armorial bookplate of Syston Park and monogram label of "J H T" (John Hayford Thorold); front free endpapers with book label of Edwin Beresford Chancellor. Ahmanson-Murphy IIIa, 442, 441; Renouard 171:10, 9; Adams M-466, M-460; EDIT16 CNCE 28028, CNCE 28030; USTC 840469, 840471. Backstrips slightly sunned, just a hint of wear to spine ends and front joints, text apparently pressed (but not washed), first page in each volume and final leaf of second volume a little soiled, other minor defects, but a fine and attractive set, clean and fresh internally, and the bindings with lustrous leather and bright gilt.
Produced by the learned son of printer Aldus Manutius, these Ciceronian letters with Manuzio's scholarly commentary were bound for a distinguished collector by an excellent provincial English artisan. While his famous father Aldus had specialized in the publication of Greek works, Paulus (Paolo Manuzio, 1511-74) was drawn more to the Latin authors and developed a lifelong devotion to the works of Cicero. In 1533, when he took over the family press, Paolo published two volumes of Cicero's works, the treatises on oratory and the "Epistolae Familiares," a collection of letters to friends and family. Our volumes contain additional Cicero letters. The first volume collects those to his younger brother, the soldier Quintus Tullius Cicero, and to Marcus Junius Brutus, the Roman politician who was the most famous of Julius Caesar's assassins. The volume is the first edition of these letters with commentary by Paolo Manuzio, who had begun to expand his publications of Cicero's opus by analyzing the texts and shining the light of his erudition on the difficult textual and historical problems of Cicero's orations and letters. Renouard praised the "great merit" of Manuzio's commentaries.
The second volume here contains letters to Cicero's dear, lifelong friend Titus Pomponius Atticus (110-32 B.C). More than 800 genuine letters from Cicero to various persons are extant, but the largest group of letters to a single correspondent are those addressed (during the period 68-44 B.C.) to Atticus. Unlike his other letters, those written to Atticus were never intended for publication, and are much more personal in nature. According to the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, these are the "most interesting" of Cicero's epistles because they "throw a vivid light on Cicero's own character. They show him to have been a man of mercurial temper, impressionable, irresolute, and vain; but fundamentally honest, intelligent, affectionate, and amiable." Dividing his time between business and study, Atticus oversaw a contingent of slaves who copied books that he either sold or put into his own library, and he was frequently consulted for advice, comment, and editorial assistance by Cicero and by other authors prior to the publication of their literary works. The "Letters to Atticus" were not originally circulated until the middle of the first century A.D., long after both men were dead. Cicero's letters to Quintus, Brutus, and Atticus were rediscovered when Petrarch found copies of manuscripts in Verona in 1345. They joined the corpus of Cicero's orations and letters which were to have so much influence on rhetoric, composition, and the study of history for centuries to come.
Established by Sir John Thorold around 1775 and expanded by his son John Hayford Thorold 40 years later, the Syston Park library in Lincolnshire "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. Based in nearby Grantham, binder Robert Storr (fl. 1840-42) is described by Ramsden as a binder for Syston Park, and his work here demonstrates that not all fine binders were based in London. Found in the collections of John Roland Abbey, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and other distinguished libraries, Storr bindings are consistently well made and pleasing, even if they are not always elaborately decorated. (ST17919)