Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller


Venice: Bernardino de Vitali, 1505. Hardcover. Nine parts, small quarto. [pi]4 a-t4, A-D4 [chi]2 (= 98 unnumbered leaves). 12 woodcut initials (11 arabesques; 1 depicting a noble and attendant on black ground). Recent limp boards. Faint waterstain in the margin of a few pages, else fine throughout.

Rare early Latin versions of nine works from the "Moralia," a designation used since medieval times for the voluminous and varied writings (apart from the Lives) by the historian, biographer, essayist, and philosopher, Plutarch of Chaeronea (50-after 120 C.E). As seen in the present collection, much of this corpus consists of short treatises on themes of popular moral philosophy. The first three selections, On Tranquility of Mind, On the Fortune of the Romans, and On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander, are translated by Guillaume Budé (1467-1540) and are preceded by the original dated prefaces. They were first published by Josse Bade at Paris in 1505. Along with a Latin version of Plutarch’s On the Opinions of the Philosophers which Bade published in 1503, these opuscules are the first published works of the celebrated Budé and the earliest printed translations from the Greek prepared by a Frenchman. “Budé had first forged his skills by translating into Latin four treatises of Plutarch (De placitis philosophorum, De fortuna Romanorum, 1503; De tranquillitate et securitate animi, De fortuna vel virtute Alexandri, 1505)..." (Bietenholz). According to Aulotte, Budé made his translations on the basis of a single Greek manuscript which is now preserved in the Leiden University Library (codex Vossianus graecus Q2), and contains Budé's marginal annotations. In 1502 Louis XII sent Budé as ambassador to the coronation of Pope Julius II in Rome, where he visited ancient sites and the papal library. It was on this trip to Italy that Budé found time to work on his translation of Plutarch. He may have been encouraged in these efforts by his occasional tutor in Greek, Janus Lascaris (McNeil), who was at the time too busy to prepare a translation of On the Opinions of the Philosophers requested by Germaine de Ganay (Budé Exhibition). Sir Thomas Wyatt’s English edition of De tranquillitate (London: Pynson, 1528) was translated from Budé’s Latin version “At new year 1528 Wyatt presented Katherine of Aragon with Quyete of Mynde, a translation of Plutarch from Guillaume Budé's Latin version” (ODNB).

The collection continues with Angelo Poliziano’s Latin version of Love Stories. While the brief dedicatory epistle to Lorenzo de’ Medici is dated 1478, this opuscule may not have been published prior to the 1498 Aldine edition of Poliziano’s Opera. The anonymous translation of On Envy and Hate which follows appears as an appendix to Beroaldus the Elder’s edition of Censorinus published at Bologna in 1497; this edition was reissued the following year by Vitalibus at Venice. Advice to the Bride and Groom and On Moral Virtue are translated by Carlo Valgulio; they are preceded by the translator’s undated dedication to Pope Alexander VI and and Giovanni Borgia, and appear as appendices to his Latin version of Cleomedes published at Brescia in 1497. The collection concludes with How to Profit by One’s Enemies and On Listening to Lectures, here translated by Giovanni Calfurnio. We have not located earlier publications of these two essays translated by Calfurnio. They may in fact make their only appearance here, as Erasmus’ version of How to Profit by One’s Enemies supplants Calfurnio’s version in later collections, and Ottomaro Luscinio’s version of On Listening to Lectures appears in the Vasconsan & du Pre collection (Paris, 1544).

Regarding the date of this rare Venetian edition, we note that the copy (K1171a) at the Bibliothèque Humaniste Sélestat bears the entry of Beatus Rhenanus, dated 1514. As Norton observes, “Bernardinus printed extensively... but after 1507 only occasional books signed by him are known until he renewed his activity in 1517-19.” Thus it appears likely that our edition was printed prior to the hiatus. The association with Beatus is intriguing as he was a student in Paris at the time when Josse Bade first published Budé’s translations of Plutarch, and is known to have done correction work for the bookseller Jean Petit (Bietenholz), and most likely for Bade, as well (Budé Exhibition). Apart from the Bibliothèque Humaniste Sélestat, we have been able to locate only four other copies: Biblioteca di Studi giuridici e umanistici (Milan); Biblioteca del Centro APICE (Milan); Biblioteca del Collegio Ghislieri (Pavia); British Library Reference Collection, which assigns a date of 1505.

Provenance: With the dated manuscript entry of “Jo. Jacobi. Turresini, civis Cremonen, anno 1549” (perhaps a member of the Torresano printing family), and a few annotations in the same hand at the margins. Nearly Fine. Item #49132

Expanded title and imprint: Moralia Plutarchi traducta. Plutarchi Cheronei libellus quo pacto quispiam ab inimicis emolumentum seu utilitatem capere possit: Ioanne Calphurnio Brix. interprete. Plutarchi liber qui de audiendo inscribitur eodem Calphurnio interprete. Plutarchi liber de tranquillitate & securitate animi: Guillielmo Budeo Parisiensis ... interprete. Plutarchi liber de fortuna seu excellentia rei. p. Romanorum eodem interprete... [Colphon:] Impressum Venetii: per Bernardinum Venetum de Vitalibus.

References: BM STC Italian, p. 527. EDIT16 CNCE 53607. Cf. Renouard, Josse Bade, 3, p. 172. Not in Adams. Sources: Bietenholz, Contemporaries of Erasmus 1, pp. 105; 213-217. Guilliaume Budé [Exposition], (Paris, 1968), pp. 9-10; V. Cian, “Un umanista bergamasco del Rinascimento Giovanni Calfurnio” [in:] Archivio Storico Lombardo, ser. 4, vol. 14 (Milan, 1910), pp. 221-248; D. O. McNeil, Guillaume Budé and Humanism in the Reign of Francis I (Geneva, 1975), esp. pp. 10-14; Norton, Italian Printers 1501-1520, p. 160. For a discussion of Bude’s translations in context, see R. Aulotte, 'Autour de Guillaume Budé: Traductions latines des 'Moralia' de Plutarque au début du XVI s.' In: R. Aulotte, ed. Association Guillaume Budé: Actes du VIIIe congrès (Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1969).

Price: $4,500.00