GREEK ANTHOLOGY -- Anthologia Graeca Planudea, in Greek. Recension by Maximus Planudes (c.1299), edited by Janus Lascaris (1445-1535). Florence: Laurentius Francisci de Alopa, 11 August 1494.
Median 4° (226 x 162mm). Collation: A-ς AA-KK8 (A1r blank, A1v Greek alphabet and vowels, title and table of contents, A2r-KK8v text); [ΛΛ8] (1r Lascaris' verse epilogue in Greek, 1v-7v editor's dedicatory letter to Piero de' Medici in Latin, 7v Latin colophon, 8 blank). 280 leaves. Types: 5a and 5b:114Gk (text) and 116R (dedication). 28 lines. Initial spaces. Irregular line-endings. (Some light spotting.) BOUND FOR THE DUKE OF ROXBURGH, c.1800, in English red straight-grained morocco gilt, sides panelled with triple fillets, Roxburgh arms at centre, spine lettered in gilt, gilt edges (very slightly rubbed), modern burgundy morocco-backed solander box. Provenance: contemporary marginal and interlinear annotations in Greek -- John, third Duke of Roxburgh (1740-1804, binding, purchased from Molini, Paris, for £17.17, May 1789, Roxburgh sale, 1812, lot 2354, £14.5) -- George W. Fitzwilliam of Milton Hall, Peterborough (bookplate, sale Sotheby's, 29 April 1918, lot 19, £31 to Quaritch] -- C.S. Ascherson (bookplate) -- Viscount Mersey (Bignor Park bookplate, sale Christie's, 27 November 1991, lot 4).
EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE PLANUDEAN ANTHOLOGY. Under Emperor Constantine VII (912-59) Cephalas rearranged the anthologies of Meleager, Philippus and Agathias, and added others such as Straton's homosexual poems. It was Cephalas' Anthology that Planudes, a Byzantine monk, revised in 1299. His holograph manuscript is extant (Venice, Marc. gr. 481), but Lascaris, who thought that he was working on the 6th-century version of Agathias, used another manuscript. The Planudean Anthology was adopted by all subsequent editors until the earlier extant version of the poetic collection known as the Palatine Anthology was rediscovered and published several centuries later.
The Greek Anthology is printed entirely in Lorenzo's fount of two sets of Greek capitals, designed by Lascaris. Lascaris explains in his dedicatory letter how unsatisfactory Greek typography was to reader and printer alike and how difficult it was for punch-cutters and typefounders to reproduce Greek script. He therefore proposed to go back to the capital letter forms found in antique inscriptions, and designed the two founts used here. Breathings and accents were cast and set separately and the body of the smaller capitals with accents together match exactly that of the larger set. The Greek Anthology is one of only 3 books printed by Lorenzo di Alopa by this method; two years later a true lower-case fount -- every bit as complicated as any predecessor condemned by Lascaris -- was introduced in order to print scholia.
VERY RARE IN COMPLETE CONDITION. The Roxburgh copy belongs to the first issue, including the editor's dedicatory letter as the final quire. It was suppressed from the second issue, no doubt because of Piero de' Medici's proscription and flight from Florence. Proctor, Printing of Greek p. 78-79; Barker p. 39-42; Wilson p. 98-99; HC *1145; GW 2048; BMC VI, 666 (IB. 28002-5); IGI 599; CIBN A-410; Rhodes, Annali 40; Flodr, Anthologia 1; Goff (+ Suppl.) A-765.