PLOTINUS (c.205-270). Opera. Translated and with commentary by Marsilio Ficino (1433-99). Florence: Antonio di Bartolommeo Miscomini, 7 May 1492.
Median 2° (350 x 237mm). Collation: a10 b8 c-n10 o12 p10 q-z10 &10 aa-tt10 uu10 vv2 (a1 [usually] blank, a2r Ficino's dedication to Lorenzo de' Medici, Life of Plotinus by Porphyry, list of Plotinus' works, testimonials on Plotinus, b2r Ficino's Exhortatio and Argument, b7v Plotinus text, uu10r colophon and printer's device, uu10v blank, vv1r addenda, vv2v blank). 442 leaves. Printer's device (Kristeller 47). 45 lines. Type: 112R, quire r-end printed with a new casting, printed guide-letters. Opening text page illuminated by a contemporary north-Italian artist with initial depicting a scholar in his study and border with classical ornament, other 3- to 8-line initials and paragraph marks alternating in red or blue. (One page very lightly soiled, repaired small hole in last leaf affecting 3 letters.) Red straight-grained morocco gilt by Kalthoeber, with his ticket, Barclay arms on sides, edges gilt and gauffered, ?17th-century ms. quiring (recased by W.H. Smith for St. Hornby). Provenance: Earl Spencer (duplicate) -- Charles Barclay (binding, bookplate, sale Sotheby's 17 November 1916, lot 513, £19.10s to Leighton for:) -- Charles Harry St. John Hornby (1867-1946, bookplate, notes on the binding work) -- Clifford Rattey (bookplate, collection dispersed by Maggs).
FIRST EDITION. The works of Plotinus, gathered together by his disciple Porphyry, are the primary documents of Neoplatonism. As such, they played an important role in the revival of Plato in the Renaissance; Ficino considered Plotinus the summus interpres of Plato. Ficino, encouraged by Pico della Mirandola, translated the works for his patron, Lorenzo de' Medici, completing the translation in 1486 and his commentary on them in 1491; Lorenzo died one month before their publication. Ficino's dedicatory letter to Lorenzo in this edition is an important document in the history of Florentine Platonism, as it recounts how Lorenzo's father, Cosimo de' Medici, having heard Pletho's lectures on Plato, had commissioned Ficino to translate the Platonic corpus. In the midst of his labours the first works of Hermes Trismegistus came to light, and Cosimo requested that Ficino interrupt his work on Plato in order to translate Hermes. HC *13121; BMC VI, 640, XII, 46 (IB.27194a, IB.26193-4); Polain(B) 3207; Goff P-815.