CAESAR, Gaius Julius (100-44 B.C.). Commentarii. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1471.
Median 2 (310 x 212mm). Collation: [1-210 3-58 6-910 10-128 1310 148 1510 1612] (1/1 blank, 1/2r text, 16/11v colophon, 16/12 blank). 146 leaves (of 148, without first and final blanks), fos. 15/10 and 16/1 bound in reverse order. 39 lines. Type: 1:115R. 6-line initials opening each book, the first in gold on a blue and red ground of white-vine ornament, remaining initials alternating in red and blue (initial space to 'Bellum Gallicum', book V, left blank), MS guide-letters. Pinhole in outer corners often still visible. (One leaf lightly browned, small stain at extreme fore-edge in latter half of the volume, 3 small marginal holes in final leaf, some off-setting of rubrication.) Late 18th-century English red straight-grained morocco gilt, Spencer arms on sides, octagonal ornament in spine compartments, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Provenance: George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1836, binding, modern label); John Rylands University Library of Manchester (bookplate, withdrawal label, sale Sotheby's, 14 April 1988, lot 17).
SECOND EDITION. The Commentaries, recording Caesar's victories over Gaul and Italy, are written in the third person, giving the impression of an objective history rather than a personal memoir. Caesar's 'Commentaries on the Gallic War' and the 'Civil War' are his only work to survive in their entirety. They are joined in this, as in all 15th-century editions, by Commentaries on the African, Alexandrian and Spanish wars, written by members of his staff. Jenson based his edition on that printed two years earlier at Rome by Sweynheym and Pannartz.
Of the beauty of this edition, Dibdin wrote: 'Clement justly praises the beauty of its typographical execution: and observes that "l'on peut assurer sans crainte que c'est un bijou de bibliothque"' (Bibliotheca Spenceriana I, p.289). In more modern times Jenson's roman type was admired by Bruce Rogers, who considered that with it 'the roman letter was done once, perfectly, and for all time.' BMC V, 169 (IB. 19632-34); Goff C-17; GW 5864; H 4213; Polain(B) 950.