A MONUMENT OF THE ART OF TYPOGRAPHY – ONE OF THE GREATEST WORKS OF PRINTING EVER ACCOMPLISHED
THE GREATEST EDITION OF HOMER IN GREEK EVER PRINTED.
‘UNQUESTIONABLY HENRI ESTIENNE’S TYPOGRAPHICAL MASTERPIECE,' INCLUDING THE FAMOUS FULL-PAGE EXAMPLES OF ACROSTIC POETRY ('SHAPE' POETRY).
A LARGE-PAPER EXAMPLE – VERY RARE AND HIGHLY DESIRABLE
THE 1566 ‘POETAE GRAECI PRINCIPES HEROICI CARMINES,’ THE DEFINITIVE GREEK HOMER OF THE RENAISSANCE, AND THE FINEST AND MOST INFLUENTIAL COLLECTION OF GREEK HEROIC POETRY EVER PUBLISHED, printed at Geneva in two large folio volumes by Henri Estienne in 1566 (here, as very often, bound as one), COMPLETE IN ALL RESPECTS INCLUDING THE BLANK LEAVES, a very rare large-paper example, and in excellent condition internally.
THE VOLUME CONTAINS THE COMPLETE TEXT OF HOMER’S ILIAD, ODYSSEY, BATRACHOMYOMACHIA AND HYMNS IN GREEK, as well as the ‘Works’ and ‘Days’ of Hesiod, the ‘Argonautica’ of Orpheus, the ‘Golden Sayings’ of Pythagoras, and numerous other works of ancient heroic poetry in the original Greek.
THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION THAT THIS IS A LARGE-PAPER EXAMPLE. Its leaves measure 373 mm by 234 mm, which makes it larger than Didot’s copy, and larger than any example we can trace in the auction record. Schreiber’s copy on ordinary paper measured only 355 mm by 215 mm.
The full title reads as follows:
“OI TES EROIKES POIESEOS PROTEOUTES POETAS / … POETAE GRAECI PRIN- / cipes heroici carminis, & alii nonnulli.. / Homerus, / Hesiodus, / Orpheus, / Callim. / Aratus, / Nicand. / Theocrit. / Moschus, / Bion, / Dionysius, / Coluthus, / Tryphiodorus, / Musaeus, / Theognis, / Phoclyides, / Pythagorae / aurea carmina. / Fragmenta Aliorum. / Henrici Stephani Tetra- / stichon de hac sua edition. / Quae facie invitat, plures invitat ocellos / Quum cultu corpus compta decente nitet. / Nativo prius hi nos illexere decore, / Illecebras cultus dat novus iste novas. / Anno M. D. LXVI / Excudebat Henricus Stephanus, illustris viri / Huldrichi Fuggeri typographus.”
PROVENANCE: 1. The Viscounts Downe – PEERAGE OF IRELAND – (18th century heraldic bookplate on the front endpaper with their arms and motto, ‘Timet Pudorem’ (‘He Fears Shame’)); 2. John or James Impey, Medical Doctor (17th or early 18th century ownership signature on the front endpaper.
OF THE GREAT ‘POETAE GRAECI’
Silver writes that the ‘Poetae Graeci’ “CREATED THE BASIS OF THE MODERN VULGATE OF HOMER.” (‘Ronsard and the Hellenic Renaissance in France’).
Fred Schreiber, in his definitive bibliography of the Estiennes, writes the following concerning the ‘Poetae Graeci’:
“HENRI ESTIENNE’S MONUMENTAL COLLECTION OF THE GREEK POETS, sumptuously printed in the two largest sizes of the ‘grecs du roi’ (from the duplicate set brought to Geneva by Robert Estienne). THIS IS UNQUESTIONABLY HENRI ESTIENNE’S TYPOGRAPHIC MASTERPIECE …
“The first part is devoted to the Homeric poems; BY COLLATING 18 PREVIOUS PRINTED EDITIONS AND A ‘VETUSTISSIMUM EXEMPLAR,’ HENRI ESTIENNE SUCCESSED IN ESTABLISHING A CRITICAL TEXT OF HOMER WHICH REMAINED STANDARD UNTIL THE 19TH CENTURY; it was Henri Estienne’s text which was used by Chapman for his English translations of Homer of 1611 and 1614.
“The second part contains improved texts of Hesiod, Orpheus (i.e. the ‘Orphica’), Callimachus, Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, Aratus, Nicander, Dionysius Periegetes, Coluthus, Triphiodorus, Musaeus, Theognis, Phoclydes, the ‘Golden Sayings’ of Pythagoras; also included is the editio princeps of the fragments of several early Greek poets: e.g. Solon, Tyrtaeus, Mimnernus.
“In this work Henri Estienne has employed his personal diacritical notations, which he devised for this volume for his edition of the ‘Anthology.’ At the end of the first part he has added 57 pages of ‘Annotationes.’
OF THE ESTIENNES
The Estienne (Latin ‘Stephanus’) printing house of Paris and Geneva can justifiably be considered as the greatest ever to have established itself. The stream of profoundly important works that issued from the press for almost a century has no equal in the annals of printing. The Estiennes produced the most significant Latin and Greek Bibles after the principes, as well as editions of Plato, Homer (in the ‘Poetae Graeci’), Plutarch, Cicero and Herodotus that continue, in many respects, to be the standard 450 years later. Above this achievement, the Estiennes produced a series of editiones principes in Greek and Latin that can be rivalled only by the Aldine press. These include the princeps of Appianus, the Anacreontea, Dio Cassius, Dionysius Halicarnassus, the ‘Agamemnon’ of Aeschylus, Diodorus Siculus, Xiphilinus, Justin Martyr, and numerous others. Finally, in the monumental Latin and Greek Thesauri, Robert and Henri Estienne produced two of the greatest scholarly achievements in the full history of human literary endeavour.
THE VOLUME IS COMPLETE IN ALL RESPECTS INCLUDING THE BLANK LEAVES. It is paginated as follows: 20, 72, 781 pp. (unnumbered blank leaf and special title-leaf to the Odyssey between pp. 410 and 411), (1) blank leaf, 56 (numbered 57) pp.; 492 (numbered 489) pp., (1) blank leaf. The volume measures about 38.3 cm by 25.5 cm by 10.3 cm; each leaf measures about 373 mm by 234 mm.
THE VOLUME IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION INTERNALLY. The leaves are generally quite clean, with clear print and ample to wide margins throughout. The title is lightly toned. The binding is of 18th century calf, with the leather absent from the spine and rear board. The spine is divided by raised bands into 7 compartments. The book-block is very strong, and the rear board holds by the cords. The front board is detached, and the title is hinged (i.e. attached) to the front board. This does not affect the condition of the title leaf in any way. Taken generally, this is quite an attractive example internally.
- Number of Books
- Astronomy, Bindings, Biology, Chemistry, Drama, History, Illustrated, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Science (general), Technology, Transport, Travels
- Author/ Illustrator
- Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, Pythagoras, etc. Henri Estienne II
- Book Title
- Poetae Graeci Principes Heroici Carmines [OI TES EROIKES POIESEOS]
- Very good
- Publication year oldest item
- 1st Edition
- Greek, Latin
- Original language
- Henri Estienne II and Huldrich Fugger
- Binding/ Material
- LARGE PAPER ISSUE OF THE FIRST EDITION (373 mm x 234 mm); THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS OF HOMER, HESIOD AND, other extra - see description
- 373×234 mm