21 May 2014
AMBROSIUS (Saint, ca. 340 - 397). Hexameron. Augsburg: Johann Schüssler, c. 5 May 1472.
Chancery 2° (310 x 212mm). Collation: [1-210 310(+1) 410 58 6-710 88] (1/1r text, 8/6r colophon, 8/7 blank). 76 leaves (of 77, without final blank). 35 lines. Type: 1:117G. First leaf with decorative coloured border and inhabited opening 7-line initial in red and blue, 4- to 8-line initials in red, one with blue penwork decoration, rubrication in red and red ruling on first 21 leaves. (Some dampstaining on first 6 leaves, some soiling to first leaf, occasional scattered stains.) 19th-century calf gilt by J. Mackenzie & Son, spine gilt in compartments with morocco lettering-pieces, gilt turn-ins and red edges (some light scuff marks, extremities lightly rubbed).
FIRST EDITION. Ambrose's Hexameron is a commentary on the six days of creation (Genesis 1.1-26) in the form of homilies collected in six books, and one of the earliest extant works of its kind, drawing on Basil the Great's work of the same name. Saint Aldhelm in his Carmen de Virginitate describes the Hexameron as 'a lucid little work, unfolding with devout reckoning how from the first beginnings the wisdom of the supreme Father had made this present world through six periods of days, disposing the ages with an eternal command' (trans. Lapidge and Rosier 1985 pp 117-18). This work is an established source for Bede's commentaries on Genesis, Ælfric's own Hexameron, and, along with Lactantius' Carmen de ave phoenice, the 9th-century Old English poem The Phoenix. H 903; GW 1603; BMC II, 329 (IB. 5630); BSB-Ink A-475; Bod-inc A-232; Goff A-555.
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Sarah van Welden
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