PHALARIS -- \kEpistolai\K. Letters, in Greek, wrongly attributed to Phalaris (fl. mid-6th century B.C., tyrant of Acragas), doubtfully authentic letters by APOLLONIUS of Tyana (fl. early 1st century A.D., Neopythagorean sage), and by Marcus Junius BRUTUS (ca. 85 - 42 B.C.) in the collection of Mithridates VI, King of Pontus (d. 63 B.C.). Edited by Bartholomaeus Pelusius Justinopolitanus (fl. 15th century). [Venice:] the editor, Gabriel Bracius, Johannes Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, first press, 18 June 1498.
Chancery 4° (209 x 138mm). Collation: \kaa\K-\kdd\K8 \kee\K4 (\kaa\K1r-v editor's dedicatory letter in Latin to Pietro Contareno, \kaa\K2r pseudo-Phalaris); \kzz\K8 \khh\K4 (Apollonius); \kuu\K10 (1r-v Mithridates' preface, 1v-10v Brutus, 10v privilege, colophon and woodcut printers' device of a pine-cone). 58 leaves. Types 1:109Gk (text), 2:109R (dedication). 29 lines. Initial-spaces with guide-letters. Oliver straight-grained (diagonal) morocco gilt, edges gilt, [probably by Charles Lewis].
EDITIO PRINCEPS of all letters. The letters traditionally bearing Phalaris's name were actually written by a sophist, perhaps in the 2nd century A.D., as proven by Richard Bentley in his celebrated A Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris (1697).
The first of only two Greek productions from this Venetian partnership. Mangius was the printer and Bissolus supplied the type; Pelusius and Bracius acted as editors. In the dedicatory letter, Pelusius (not Bracius, as Proctor and Barker have it) regrets that lovers of the humanities have been wanting in the business of printing, and no doubt intends an insult aimed at Aldus when he speaks of those who put private benefit above the public good. On 7 March 1498 Bracius had taken out a ten-year privilege for the company on this Phalaris, an Aesop (GW 312) and two other Greek books that in the end were never printed. Unlike Aldus's petition to the Signoria in 1495, Bracius asked protection for specific books rather than for a new typographical invention. The company's type was, in fact, a shameless imitation of Aldus's second Greek fount. Aldus was probably the less disposed to overlook this infringement of his rights as Bracius - and quite possibly also Bissolus and Mangius - had recently been in his own employ. 'It is clear that he took prompt action in the matter, though we have unfortunately no record of its precise nature, and that he succeeded in breaking up the rival syndicate before it could realize its original programme. Pelusius and Bracius are no more heard of, and their craftsmen partners removed with the type to Milan soon enough to have an extremely bulky Suidas [ed. Chalcondylas, H *15135] ready for the market in November of the following year, 1499, while Aldus was able to incorporate a reprint of the Phalaris in his collection of Greek letters [H *6659] issued as early as the preceding spring' (V. Scholderer in BMC V, p. liv).
FINE CONDITION. HC *12871; BMC V, 578 (IA. 24703-04); Goff P-545; IGI 7681; CIBN P-280; Hoffmann III, 53-54; Flodr, Phalaris 1; Proctor, Printing of Greek p. 110-11; Barker, Greek Script & Type p. 68. Botfield 222.