PLUTARCH (46?-120?). Moralia, in Greek. Edited by Demetrios Ducas, assisted by Erasmus and Girolamo Aleandro. Venice: Aldus Manutius and Andreas Torresanus, March 1509.
Royal 4° (281 x 181mm). Collation: *8 a-z8 &8 aa-zz8 aaa-sss8 ttt6 (*1r title in Latin, Aldine device [Fletcher f2], *1v-2r Aldus's Latin dedication to Jacopo Antiquario, *2r Latin verses on Aldus, contents, *2v index in Greek, *8v Greek epigram by Aleandro, Greek preface by Ducas, a1r text, ttt5v register and colophon in Latin, ttt6r blank, ttt6v Aldine device [f1]). Greek type 3bis:90, roman 11bis:91 (incidental). 46 lines and headline, paginated. English gold-tooled red morocco c.1830s, sides panelled and with Aldine dolphin-and-anchor device, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.
EDITIO PRINCEPS. Although numerous 15th-century editions of Plutarch's Lives were printed, this is the first edition of the Moralia in any language, perhaps owing to the difficulty in establishing a text; the editor of the Aldine edition, Demetrios Ducas, admits that in some passages the Greek text is corrupt to the point of being unintelligible, and that he decided to leave them as they stand. This is borne out by the surviving 13th-century manuscript used as printer's copy (Ambrosiana C 195 inf.), where it is evident that Ducas's editorial intervention was variable, and that in some sections he let simple scribal errors stand uncorrected. This manuscript also contains additions by Musurus, who is not known to have worked on the edition, and in fact his MS additions were not incorporated into the Aldine edition. Sicherl surmised that he may have loaned the manuscript to Aldus for printing, and, after its return, continued to use it for his teaching at the University of Padua. It is also clear that at least one other manuscript was collated with it to establish the printed text and that editorial work was carried out simultaneously with the printing. (Cf. M. Sicherl, Griechische Erstausgaben des Aldus Manutius, Paderborn: 1997, pp.357-9.)
Different Aldine devices appear in different copies. Fletcher (p. 53) states that f2 was used on both title and at end; a copy sold in these rooms, 3 May 1995 (lot 56) had f3 on both pages; the Laurenziana copy has f2 on the title and f1 at the end; and the Botfield copy has f2 on the title and f3 at the end. Adams P-1634; Hoffmann III, 182; Ahmanson-Murphy 84; Bigliazzi, Laurenziana, 103; Renouard Alde 55:1.