THE 1554 EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE ‘ANACREONTEA,’ THE EXTREMELY INFLUENTIAL COLLECTION OF ODES THAT CAUSED A POETIC REVOLUTION IN THE RENAISSANCE.
FROM THE MACCLESFIELD LIBRARY
THE FIRST WORK PUBLISHED BY HENRI ESTIENNE II, IT CONTAINS ALL THREE SIZES OF THE ‘GRECS DU ROI.’
THE RARE AND IMPORTANT 1554 EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE ANACREONTEA, printed at Paris in quarto by Henri Estienne II (Henricus Stephanus), from the famous Macclesfield Library, bound in full 18th century vellum over boards, in very good condition, and complete in all respects.
The full title reads as follows:
“ANAKREONTOS / Teiou mele. / Anacreontis / Teij odae / Ab Henrico Stephano / luce & Latinitate nunc primum donatae. / Lutetiae. / Apud Henricum Stephanum. / M.D. LIIII .”
OF THE ANACREONTEA
As Fred Schreiber has noted in his standard bibliography of the Estiennes, THE ‘DISCOVERY’ OF THESE POEMS, in a manuscript owned by Thomas More's humanist friend, John Clements, CAUSED A POETIC REVOLUTION, which culminated in the 18th century with the Anacreontic Poets.
SCHREIBER WRITES THE FOLLOWING OF THE 1554 ‘ANACREONTEA’ IN HIS DEFINITIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE ESTIENNES:
“Editio Princeps of what Henri Estienne and his contemporaries believed to be the ancient Greek lyrics of the poet Anacreon (6th century B.C.), who sang of the pleasures of sex and wine, but whose poems are not extant, except for some short fragments. The poems which are printed in this volume consist of the ‘Anacreontea,’ a collection of Greek lyric poems written in imitation of Anacreon at various dates – some as late as the tenth century. The ‘Anacreontea’ became the most influential ‘ancient’ Greek poetic text during the Renaissance, and Estienne’s editio princeps virtually caused a poetic revolution, not only in France, but also in Italy and Germany – where this influence culminated in the 18th century with the Anacrontic Poets (‘Die Anakreontiker’).
“The young Henri Estienne discovered these Greek lyric poems while in Louvain, in a manuscript owned by the Englishman John Clements, the friend of Thomas More. Their publication by Estienne “was a sensation of the first class and the starting-point for a new branch of modern literature” (R. Pfeiffer, ‘History of Classical Scholarship,’ p. 109). The first edition was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by the members of the Pleiade, who, like everyone else, believed the poems genuine, and each of whom immediately translated or imitated some of the ‘Anacreontea.’ Ronsard, in particular, was deeply influenced by the book, and immortalized Henri Estienne and his discovery in one of his odes (V, 16):
‘Verse donc et reverse encore /
Dedans ceste grand’ coupe d’or: /
Je vais boir a Henry Estienne, /
Qui des Enfers nous a rendu /
Du vieil Anacreon perdu /
La doucce lyre Teienne.’
“The Greek text is followed by the Latin translation by Estienne himself (though it has also been attributed to Jean Dorat); there is also Estienne’s commentary on the Greek text, and his address to the reader, written in Greek. The book is magnificently printed in all three sizes of the ‘grecs du roi.’ The largest font is used for the text up to page 51; the middle size for the text from pp. 52 to 63; and the smallest size he Greek cited in the notes (‘Observationes’), and for headings in the text.
“This is the first book published under the imprint of Henri Estienne II; its title-page bears the Estienne device number 7, first used by Robert Estienne, who left the block behind in Paris when he moved to Geneva. This device was later used by Henri’s younger brother, Robert II. Since Henri Estienne never owned a press in Paris, it is unlikely that he himself printed this edition; in view of the use of ‘grecs du roi,’ he probably commissioned Guillaume Morel, who succeeded Robert and Charles Estienne in the use of the Royal Greek types, to print the ‘Anacreon.’ Two years later, Morel produced a second edition of the ‘Anacreon’ in partnership with Robert Estienne II, whose first publication this also was. … On the immense influence of this editio princeps on French poetry, see A. Tilley, ‘The Literature of the French Renaissance’ I, 330f.”
ANACREON (c. 582 – c. 485 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. Anacreon wrote all of his poetry in the ancient Ionic dialect. Like all early lyric poetry, it was composed to be sung or recited to the accompaniment of music, usually the lyre. Anacreon's poetry touched on universal themes of love, infatuation, disappointment, revelry, parties, festivals and the observations of everyday people and life.
Of the five books of lyrical pieces by Anacreon which the Suda and Athenaeus mention as extant in their time, only the merest fragments exist today, collected from the citations of later writers.
A collection of poems by numerous, anonymous imitators was long believed to be the works of Anacreon himself. Known as the Anacreontea, it was preserved in a 10th-century manuscript which also included the Palatine Anthology. The poems themselves appear to have been composed over a long period of time, from the time of Alexander the Great until the time that paganism gave way in the Roman Empire. They reflect the light hearted elegance of much of Anacreon's genuine works although they were not written in the same Ionic Greek dialect that Anacreon used. They also display literary references and styles more common to the time of their actual composition.
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. It is paginated as follows: (8), 110, (2) pp. It collates *4, A-O4. The volume measures about 16.9 cm by 11.4 cm by 1.5 cm; each leaf measures about 163 mm by 109 mm.
THE VOLUME IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION. The leaves are generally quite clean, with clear print throughout. The outer and lower margins are sufficient throughout; the upper margin is trimmed a little closely, just affecting the top edge of some of the running headers, though never the text proper. The binding is of 18th century vellum over boards. The book-block and hinges are strong, and the edges and corners show only minor wear, save a chip from the foot of the spine.
- Number of Books
- Astronomy, Bindings, Biology, Chemistry, Drama, History, Illustrated, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Science (general), Technology, Transport, Travels
- Author/ Illustrator
- Anacreon / Anacreontea
- Book Title
- ANAKREONTOS Teiou Mele ... ANACREONTIS Teij Odae [Odes]
- Very good
- Publication year oldest item
- 1st Edition
- Greek, Latin
- Original language
- Henri Estienne II
- Binding/ Material
- Grecs du Roy; EDITIO PRINCEPS; From the Macclesfield Library, other extra - see description
- 163×109 mm