PLATO (427?-347 B.C.). Omnia opera, in Greek. Edited by Marcus Musurus (c.1470-1517). -Timaeus Locrus, in Greek [Hellenistic paraphrase of the Timaeus in Doric dialect]. - DIOGENES Laertius (1st half of the 3rd century A.D.). Vita Platonis, in Greek. Venice: Aldus Manutius and Andreas Torresanus, September 1513.
2 parts in one volume, 2° (291 x 191mm). Greek and roman types, initial spaces with printed guide-letter. Aldine device [Fletcher f4] on title and final verso. With blanks 2/4 and ii4. (Occasional faint marginal dampstain, more noticeable in several leaves at beginning and end.) Bound for King Charles II by Samuel Mearne in 17th-century English red morocco gilt, sides paneled with fillets with crowned royal cypher at corners, cypher repeated in spine compartments, gilt edges, flyleaves watermarked with crowned fleur-de-lis and initials I A, grapes countermark (old repairs at head and foot of spine, very slight darkening or bumping at extremities). Provenance: Charles II, King of England (1630-85; binding) – British Museum (1804 duplicate stamp) -- A.H. Bright (bookplate) – H.A. Bright (bookplate).
EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE WORKS OF PLATO BOUND FOR KING CHARLES II. A patron of the arts and sciences, Charles II inaugurated a golden age of English bookbinding on his restoration to the throne in 1660. He appointed Samuel Mearne, (1624-83) the most notable artisan of his era, Bookbinder to the King and from 1675 Samuel and his son Charles Mearne held the offices of Bookbinder, Bookseller and Stationer to the King. Mearne bound over 700 volumes for the Old Royal Library, some of which, like the present volume, left the British Museum Library in 19th-century deaccessions.
The centrality of Platonic thought to the Renaissance cannot be overstated. Under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici, Marsilio Ficino translated Plato's works into Latin (1484). Aldus too considered the publication of Plato, now in the original Greek, as one of his most important undertakings. Marcus Musurus, working closely with Aldus and apparently using manuscripts belonging to Cardinal Bessarion and others, edited the texts, which were largely 'in a much better state than that of most authors, and therefore did not invite editorial intervention on the same scale' (N.G. Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy, p.151). Aldus dedicated the editio princeps to Giovanni de Medici, newly elected Pope Leo X, seeking his patronage and paying tribute to his father's earlier patronage of Ficino's Latin translation. Aldus sets out a vision for classical studies and the foundation of a Greek academy; his letter is ‘one of the most comprehensive statements of the humanist position to be found outside Erasmus’ (Lowry, p. 205). In predicting great achievements for Leo’s papacy, Aldus includes bringing the Gospel to the farthest flung inhabitant of the world, beginning with the Indians and the peoples discovered in recent years by the Spaniards in the western Ocean. Adams P-1436; Hoffman III, 117; Isaac 12828; Ahmanson-Murphy 97; Renouard 62, 4.