De bellis civilibus Romanorum

1526 ·Venice
Appianus Alexandrinus

Sixteenth-century Italian brown leather over pasteboard, panel binding tooled in blind on both boards and on spine with rules and a small X-shaped tool used in repeating pattern to form the shape of a Roman cross within multiple borders, which may be considered an odd decoration for a secular text. Titled in ink on fore-edge. Ink capitals (BE and NI) on top and bottom edges. Spine in four compartments, ruled in blind. 25mm restoration at tail of spine. Faint remains of straps, indentations where catch plates had been. Pastedowns consist of vellum waste fragments from a Latin manuscript in two columns, rubricated, with decorated initials in red and blue ink. Front blanks inscribed–one with a ditty in Latin about law and responsibility, together with pen trials, the second blank with an allegorical figure drawing of a palm tree (?) clinging by its roots to a rock (or an egg), bordered by the outlines of a crest. Printed shoulder notes and manuscript commentary in margins in contemporary hand. Table of contents in manuscript facing title page. First leaf reinforced at top edge; few insignificant holes in final leaf above colophon.

References: Adams A-1343; BM Italian, p. 34;

Appian of Alexandria (2nd century CE) relocated from Greek-speaking Alexandria to Rome in order to practice law. He wrote his Roman Histories in common Greek, for a Greek-speaking reception. The Latin translation was made by the Humanist Pietro Candido Decembrio, who learned Greek directly from Manuel Chrysolorus (celebrated for introducing ancient Greek literature to Western Europe). The 15th-century translation as reviewed and revised by Lucio Paolo Rosello makes its first appearance in print here. This copy, published by the scholar-printer Bernardino de Vitali, is remarkable for the unusual binding with its somewhat amateurish but energetic tooled boards and spine, employing religious symbols.

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