HOMER (? 8th century B.C.). Opera, in Greek. Edited by Demetrius Chalcondylas (Athens 1423-Milan 1511). Florence: [Printer of Virgil (C 6061), perhaps Bartolommeo di Libri, and] Demetrius Damilas for the brothers Bernardus and Nerius Nerlius (with the financial support of Giovanni Acciaiuoli), 9 December 1488 [but not published before 13 January 1488/89, date of the dedication].
2 volumes, median 2° (318 x 204/202mm). Collation: [Vol. I:] A-D8 E10 (A1r Bernardo Nerli's dedicatory letter to Piero de' Medici in Latin, A1v editor's preface in Greek, A3r Herodotus' life of Homer, B1r Plutarch's life of Homer, E7v Dio Cassius' oration on Homer, E9v-10 blank); .A-Z ET \\j8 \\a8 (Iliad). 249 leaves (of 250, without blank E10). [Vol. II:] AA-ZZ8 ETET6 (AA1r Odyssey, XX2r Batrachomyomachia, XX6r Hymns to Apollo, ETET5v colophon in Greek, ETET6 blank). 189 leaves (of 190, without final blank). 39 lines. Types: text 121Gk (recast by Damilas on a larger body, with the addition of a few sorts, from the same matrices as Paravisinus type 1:117Gk), dedication 96R (Di Libri type 1), signatures 110R (Printer of Benignus type 1). 10-, 8-, 3- and 2-line initial spaces. Contemporary foliation in Vol. II. (Restoration to first leaf, fols. .D7, \\a6-8, LL3, LL5, and a few others, very slightly affecting text in places, LL4 remargined, discreet marginal repairs to approximately 40 leaves, a few closed marginal tears, one or two touching text, washed and pressed with occasional residual staining or discolouration.) Early 19th-century French red straight-grained morocco, gold-tooled in the style of Bozérian, covers with border of drawer-handle and small foliate tools framing a small floral roll-tool, corner squares with 4-part design of repeated gothic arch and fleur-de-lis tools, spines elegantly tooled and lettered in gold in 6 compartments with 5 false raised bands, turn-ins gilt, gilt edges, marbled endleaves (slight wear to joints and extremities, a few scrapes to covers, front inner hinge of vol.1 split). Provenance: contemporary marginalia (largely washed) and headlines designating books by letters of the Greek alphabet, later pagination in volume I -- Graf von Dietrichstain, given in 1679 to -- Klagenfurt, Jesuits (ex dono inscription on first leaf [faded]) -- Viscount Mersey (Bignor Park booklabels, shelf-mark labels on spines) -- Ned J. Nakles (sale Christie's New York, 17 April 2000, lot 140).
EDITIO PRINCEPS of all texts, with the exception of Batrachomyomachia, which was printed earlier in a Greek-Latin edition. THE FLORENCE HOMER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FIRST EDITION IN GREEK LITERATURE. Its editor, Chalcondylas, had enjoyed the patronage of the humanist Cardinal Bessarion at Rome before arriving in Florence in 1475. He was considered by Aldus Manutius the leading scholar of his day, and counted among his pupils Thomas Linacre, Pico, Politian, and the future pope Leo X. A fresco in Santa Maria Novella in Florence by Ghirlandaio pictures him, together with Ficino, Landino and Politian. In preparing his text Chalcondylas consulted Eustathius' monumental 12th-century commentary, which enabled him to clarify uncertain readings in the Iliad and the Odyssey, but he warns in his preface that the texts of the Hymns and of the Batrachomyomachia still leave much to be desired.
Earlier castings of the Homer type, whose design may have been modelled on Michael Apostolis' script (see N. Barker, Greek Script & Type pp. 28-31), had been used by Damilas and Paravisinus for the Lascaris' Erotemata (Milan 1476), the first book printed entirely in Greek, and by Bonus Accursius for his first editions of Aesop and Crastonus. Damilas took the matrices and perhaps the punches with him to Florence, where he recast the type for the Homer, adding several new sorts; it was subsequently used in only three other works. (Cf. Proctor, The Printing of Greek in the 15th Century, pp. 66-69, and R. Ridolfi, La Stampa in Firenze nel secolo XV, chapter 7.)
HCR 8772; BMC VI, 678 (IB. 27657); CIBN H-173; IGI 4795; Flodr, Homerus I; PMM 31; Goff H-300. (2)