PHILELPHUS, Franciscus (1398-1481). Satyrae. Milan: Christophorus Valdarfer, 13 November 1476.
Royal 4o (263 x 196 mm). Collation: [1-188 196] text, 19/5r poem on the work by Filelfo's student Calliphilus Bernardinus of Robbiati, colophon, 19/5v register, 19/6 blank). 149 leaves (of 150, without the final blank). 35 lines. Type: 2:107(103)R. One 8-line and numerous 3-line initial spaces with printed guide-letters. Unrubricated. (A few small wormholes, slightly affecting text at end.) 19th-century calf over wooden boards, blind-tooled in imitation of a 16th-century binding, edges stained blue (rubbed).
Provenance: Federico Gentili di Giuseppe (1868-1940), art historian and collector, by descent to -- Adriana R. Salem: booklabel with initials A.R.S. -- [Sotheby's, London, 22 November 1984, lot 77, to Lathrop Harper]
FIRST AND ONLY 15TH-CENTURY EDITION. Francesco Filelfo, among the most skilled classicists of his day, was one of the only Quattrocento poets to write extensively in ancient Greek, and the first to produce a large-scale work in that language (the Psychagogia, first published in part in 1892). Known for his extravagant life style and outspoken contentiousness, Filelfo, of humble family background, used his verbal skills to advance himself politically, leaving numerous enemies in his wake. In his twenties, a seven-year stint in Constantinople as secretary to the Venetian ambassador left him with a fluent knowledge of Greek and an impressive collection of Greek manuscripts. From 1428 Filelfo taught at the University of Florence, but his unrelenting criticism of the party in power led to his banishment in 1434, not before he had been assaulted and severely injured by a person whom he later described as an assassin hired by a member of the Medici entourage. He took refuge in Siena, remaining there for five years, teaching Latin and Greek and writing these biting satires, mainly directed against Cosimo de'Medici, which he circulated amongst his friends (cf. Diana Robin, Filelfo in Milan, Princeton 1991, p. 57). In 1440 Filelfo established himself under the patronage of the Visconti at Milan, where he soon became the leader of a circle of humanists whose works fed the new Milanese presses. Filelfo's interest in printing, evident from numerous references in his correspondence, contributed to a remarkable concentration of classical and humanist editions at Milan in the first decade of printing there.
Christoph Valdarfer printed about 15 editions at Venice in 1470-71, before moving to Milan, where he probably assisted both Philippus di Lavagna and Antonius Zarotus before setting up his own press in 1474.
H 12917*; BMV VI, 726 (IB. 26232-33); BSB-Ink. P-451; CIBN P-329; Harvard/Walsh 3078; IGI 3913; Goff P-615.