PHALARIS (pseudo-). Epistolae. Translated from Greek into Latin by Franciscus Griffolinus (Aretinus). [Rome: Johannes Reinhardi], 1475.
Royal quarter-sheet 8o, printed by folio imposition (195 x 131 mm). Collation: [112 2-38 4-510 68] blank, 1/2r translator's prefatory letter to Novello Malatesta of Cesena, 1/5r text, 6/8r colophon and register, 6/8v blank). 56 leaves. 27 lines. Type: 1:105(108)R. Spaces for initials. Opening 4-line initial illuminated in gold with white-vine decoration and two marginal extensions on a white-dotted magenta, green and blue ground, 2- and 3-line antiqua initials alternately red and blue. Early manuscript quiring. (Neatly repaired tear in fol. 5/5, slight abrasion affecting 3 letters on 5/6, first quire loose in sewing, occasional minor marginal staining.)
Binding: contemporary Italian blind-tooled brown hairsheep over pasteboard, sides with concentric panels of quintuple fillets, a border formed by a repeated palmette tool, repeated ropework tool decorating the central compartment, sewing supports of three double tawed thongs, thong endbands worked in blue and white thread, two nails on upper cover remaining from single fabric fore-edge clasp catching on back cover, board edges flush with the text block, vellum pastedowns from a 15th-century manuscript (text side pasted down), vellum manuscript quire liners (lacking clasp, covers rubbed, a few small wormholes, considerable wear to spine exposing a portion of sewing structure), entirely unrestored; folding cloth box.
Provenance: contemporary ownership inscription on first page (erased) -- a few early marginalia in a neat italic hand -- 19th or 20th-century library inkstamp on first page (effaced) -- [Lathrop Harper, cat. 239 no. 37].
Early dated edition of the spurious letters of Phalaris, a Sicilian tyrant of the 6th century B.C.. In 1697 Richard Bentley proved on the basis of the language (Attic, not Doric, Greek) and the use of anachronistic place names in the text that the work was a forgery by a 2nd century A.D sophist. Numerous editions of this translation appeared in the 15th century; the Greek editio princeps was published by Aldus in Venice 1498 (Goff E-64).
This edition was printed at Johann Reinhard's third press. A native of Eningen in the diocese of Constance, Reinhard, called Rothmann, printed two editions at Trevi (near Spoleto) in 1470 and 1471; his was the only 15th-century press of that town. In 1473 he appeared at Rome in partnership with Wendelinus de Wila and Theobald Schenkbecher, issuing a single shared edition before setting up his own press, for which he cut his own types. He remained active until 1476, producing 18 recorded editions, a few shared with Paulus Leener, a cleric from Liège, and about half unsigned.
FINE COPY OF A VERY RARE EDITION. ISTC lists only 3 complete copies, of which one in America (Huntington Library) and two in Germany, the two recorded Italian copies and the British Library copy being imperfect. HC(Add) 12893*; BMC IV, 53 (IA. 17718); BSB-Ink. P-413; IGI 7691; Goff P-554.