PUBLICIUS, Jacobus (fl. 1465). Ars oratoria. -Ars epistolandi. -Ars memorativa. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 30 November 1482.
Chancery 4o (187 x 133 mm). Collation: A-D8 E6; a8 b6; c-d8 (A1 blank, A2r Ars oratoria: author's prefatory letter to Cyrillus Caesar, A2v text; a1r Ars epistolandi: prefatory letter to Frederick I of Aragon, text, a8v panegyric of Frederick of Aragon, b1r Suprascriptiones epistolarum; c1r Ars memorativa, c7r key to the woodcuts, c7v-d3v woodcut mnemonic aids, d7v woodcut of chess board and colophon, d8 blank). 68 leaves. 31 lines. Types: 7:92G (heading on A2r), 3:91G (text), 6:56(75)G (inscriptions on tree woodcut), 91Gk (alphabet on c7r). Heading on A2r printed in red. 11 pages of woodcut illustrations: full-page diagram of the tree of oratory (A3v); 42 roundels containing a pictorial alphabet (two images for most letters) printed on 7 pages, plus two unlettered roundels, one full-page woodcut of a mnemonic device of 25 animals in compartments, arranged alphabetically by the first letter of their (Latin) names, one full-page astronomical diagram (lacking the volvelle), and a nearly full-page woodcut of a chess board with the pieces in the opening position. 11- and 5-line woodcut white-on-black floriated initials; small woodcut Lombards. 20th-century dark brown morocco gilt, turn-ins gilt, floral silk endleaves, gilt edges, by Giuseppe Faciuoli of Florence (a few scrapes to lower cover).
Provenance: 16th- and 17th-century marginalia (cropped) -- Baron Horace de Landau (1824-1903): bookplate -- Grolier Club benefit auction: Swann Galleries, 17 March 1975, lot 118.
FIRST EDITION of this epitome of the rhetorical arts, in which the third of three parts is devoted to the art of memory. The first memory treatise to appear in print, the work harks backward rather than toward the Renaissance: "Far from introducing us to a modern world of revived classical rhetoric, Publicius's memory section seems rather to transport us back into a Dantesque world in which Hell, Purgatory and Paradise are remembered on the spheres of the universe... In short, this first printed memory treatise... comes straight out of the mediaeval tradition" (Frances Yates, The Art of Memory, Chicago 1972, p. 110-11). Little is known of the author, of whom no other works survive. He identifies himself in the text as a Florentine but may have been Spanish, and is known to have lectured at Basel, Leipzig and Erfurt in the 1460s (cf. P. O. Kristeller in Renaissance News XII (1959), p. 90). A manuscript copy written by an English monk in 1460 testifies to the text's circulation before this date (Yates, p. 111). Single copies survive of two earlier separate editions of the Ars memorativa (Toulouse ca. 1475-76, C 4979, and Paris ca. 1475-80, Pellechet Ms 9865), and of a different version of the Ars epistolandi (C 4978). Johannes Lucilius Santritter, who worked as an editor for Ratdolt, appears as the writer or recipient of several of the model letters in the Ars epistolandi, and Ratdolt is mentioned once. The pope specified in the model letter to a pope is Paul II, who died in 1471: thus Scholderer (BMC) suggests that the work was revised before then, presumably by Santritter, for publication by Ratdolt. Ratdolt reprinted the text in 1485 (updating the pope's name to Innocent VIII), and again, on his third, Augsburg press, in 1490, using the same woodcuts. These include two "visual alphabets," one based on objects of similar shape to the letters, and the other of animals, both common features of the traditional memory treatise.
HC 13545*; BMC V, 287 (IA. 20521-22); BSB-Ink. P-868; CIBN P-693; Essling 292; Harvard/Walsh 1814-15; IGI 8191; Sander 5982; Goff P-1096.