CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C.). Opera. Edited by Alexander Minutianus (c.1450-1522). Milan: Guillermus Le Signerre and brother (part I) [and ?Ambrosius de Caponago (parts II-IV)], for Alexander Minutianus, 1498-[after 15 October 1499].
4 volumes, royal 2° (388 x 272mm). Collation: I: \Kp\k6 2\Kp\k6 A-Q8 R10 S-Y8 (\Kp\k1r Minutianus's dedicatory letter, \Kp\k2r life of Cicero by Plutarch, translated from Greek into Latin by Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, 2\Kp\k3r index, verso blank, 2\Kp\k4r De petitione consulatus, A1r Scripta rhetorica, YY7v colophon dated 1498, YY8 blank). 188 leaves (of 190, lacking first leaf and without final blank). II: a8 B C d-z8 & \\j8 \\a8 aa-dd8 ee10 (a1r Orationes, ee10v colophon dated 23 November 1498, index of orations). 250 leaves. III: AA-II8 KK6 LL-XX8 YY10 (AA1 blank, AA2r Epistolae, YY8r Attici vita, YY10v blank). 175 leaves (of 176, without first blank). IV: \Kp\ka-\Kp\kc8 a-s8 (Scripta philosophica, s8v blank). 168 leaves. 52 lines and headline. Type: 1:111R, Greek. Initial spaces, some with guide-letter, catchwords in vols. I and II. (Some small wormholes, repaired marginal tear into text without loss in vol. I, margins repaired or partially renewed, primarily in vol. II, paper flaw in IV:e4 affecting a few words, very occasional light stain.) English morello morocco c.1830, tooled in gilt and blind, sides with saltire panels of interlace and palmette rolls, raised centre and corners, a crest of a cross pattée at centre, spine tooled in compartments with dotted-line lozenges and fleurons, wide gilt turn-ins, ochre silk liners, the flyleaf edged with palmette-tooled maroon morocco, edges elaborately gilt and gauffered, pink silk ribbon markers (small scratch on vol. IV). Provenance: annotations, occasionally extensive, in a contemporary humanistic hand (shaved, lightly washed) -- (?)17th-century Italian coat-of-arms (or, two bars checky, gules and argent) on first and last leaves of each volume, those at the front with initials CAS and DCAS and arms partially or wholly deleted -- David Stewart Ker (sale Christie's, 9 March 1847, lot 381, £10 to Payne and Foss for:) -- Beriah Botfield, (P. & F. Acquisitions, £10 plus £1 commission, p.17).
FIRST EDITION OF THE COMPLETE WORKS OF CICERO, and first appearance in print of the Aratea. The noted Renaissance scholar and professor at Milan, Minutianus, was a zealous proponent of Latin literature, who considered the works of Cicero to be the foundation of humanistic learning and language. 'If Petrarch was the father of humanism, Cicero was its grandfather' (B. Ullman, Studies in the Italian Renaissance, 1955, p.123).
The often-missing (as here) first leaf, containing a dedicatory letter by Minutianus to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio dated 15 October 1499, was most likely suppressed almost immediately after publication. The printing of the work commenced in 1498 under Lodovico il Moro, and his rule is acknowledged in the colophons of the first two volumes, but by the time the work was completed, Lodovico had been ousted from Milan by French troops, led by his arch-enemy Trivulzio as maréchal de France. Lodovico re-entered the city on 4 February 1500, rendering any public association with Trivulzio, such as Minutianus's dedication, dangerous; Lodovico was driven out a final time soon thereafter.
The brothers Guillermus de Signerre (curiously, the brothers shared their christian name) were hired by Minutianus to print the Cicero, but before the end of the second volume, they were dismissed and the work was transferred to the house of Minutianus, as stated in the colophon to that volume. Minutianus probably hired Ambrosius de Caponago to finish the work.
RARE; no copy has been sold at auction since 1956 (that copy also missing the dedication leaf). With variant setting in quires a and b of volume II as described by GW. (Cf. Aimé Guillon, 'Notice sur l'édition princeps du recueil des Ouevres de Cicero et sur Alexandre Minutianus auteurs de cette édition', 1820). HCR 5056; GW 6708; BMC VI, 790 (IC. 26894-4a-5, 2 copies lacking dedication); BSB-Ink C-377 (lacking dedication); IGI 2797; Goff C-498; Oates 2323 (lacking dedication); Flodr, Cicero 1. (4)