16 July 2014
GELENIUS, Sigismund (1497-1554), editor. Notitia utraque cum orientis tum occidentis ultra Arcadii Honoriique caesarum tempora, illustre vetustatis monumentum. Basel: Hieronymus Froben and Nicolaus Episcopus, 1552.
2° (298 x 210mm). Woodcut and metalcut historiated initials, woodcut printer's device on title and verso of last leaf, 106 woodcut illustrations, of which 85 full-page and 16 half-page variously attributed to Conrad Schnitt or Christoph Schweytzer. (Title with neatly repaired tear, occasional light spotting, a few leaves lightly browned.) Full red morocco by Bruyere, spine lettered in gilt, gilt turn-ins, gilt edges. Provenance: P. Desq (label) -- Marigues de Champ Repys (label) -- S.A. Thompson Yates (bookplate) .
THE FIRST COMPLETE AND FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of the Notitia dignitatum, a list of high officials of the Roman Empire, compiled c. 400 A.D. Sigismund Gelenius based his edition on a manuscript at Speier lost in the 17th century. The cuts include representations of the insignia of all the Roman legions, the costumes and hairstyles of roman women, and the form of ancient codices and book bindings. This edition also includes a tract by Alciati on Roman military and civil organization, Victor Publius's topographical description of ancient Rome. The last two pages comprise the first printing of a medieval collection of enigmas concealed in the form of a dialogue, the Altercatio Adriani Augusti et Epicteti philosophi. The anonymous section preceding this, De rebus bellicis, includes probably for the first time the idea of propelling a ship without oars or sails, and the invention of the paddle-wheel, which inspired Leonardo da Vinci. Adams N-354 (variant collation as often); Rosenwald 909; Nagler IV:3987; Potthast II: 668 and 945.
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