HERMES TRISMEGISTUS -- Liber de potestate et sapientia. Translated by Marsilius Ficinus (1433-1499). Venice: Maximus de Butricis, 29 July 1491.
Chancery 4° (189 x 136mm). Collation: a-e4 f6 (a1r dedication by Ficino to Cosimo de Medici, a1v prefatory letter by Ficino to Cosimo, a3r text, f5v colophon, f6 blank). 26 leaves. 37 lines. Type: 2:81R, spaces for Greek, printed guide-letters. Contemporary northern Italian illuminated white-vine full border (trimmed) in red, blue, green and gold, a stag at rest in fore-edge, a bird in lower margin, 3-line initials and paragraph marks alternating in red and blue. Early 19th-century blue straight-grained morocco gilt over pastepaper boards, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (very lightly rubbed on rear cover and spine edges). Provenance: a few early marginal notes, early foliation.
Fourth edition. Although now known to be the work of various authors writing in Egypt in the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D., up until the 17th century they were considered to be the work of Hermes Trismegistus, an ancient philosopher-priest. His supposed genealogy, which is set forth here in Ficino's preface, placed Hermes before even Moses, and thus gave these Hermetic texts an authority on which was based the Christian humanism of Renaissance philosophy. HC 8560; BMC XII, 35 (IA. 23787); Goff H-80; CIBN H-48; Klebs 510.4; IGI 4687; BSB H-115